[Marxism] Montrealers close down the US consulate (April 18, 2004)

Raymond Chase r_chase at sympatico.ca
Mon Apr 26 12:57:50 MDT 2004

From: <psi at riseup.net>
Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 12:38 AM
Subject: [psi-news] Montrealers close down the US consulate

Interrupting the empire Montreal, 18 April

As US bombers continued to terrorise people in Fallujah, and as their troops
surround the holy city of Najaf, a small group of people in Montreal
succeeded in closing down the US consulate for four hours on Friday.

Five organisations - Block the Empire Montreal, Canadian Muslim Forum, Iraq
Solidarity Project, Parole Arabe, and Voices of Conscience - came together
for the first time to plan the interruption of business as usual at the
imperial outpost. The Canadian government having failed to condemn the war
crimes and the illegal occupation of Iraq, it is left to us to respond. We
lay seige to the consulate and break the guilty silence with anti-war music
and the protest of our pots and pans orchestra, slogans and drums. A
security agent who works at the building tells us that only a few consulate
staff have showed up because of the shut-down.

"Yes!" said an older man, stopping to nod with feeling at a banner which
reads, "US Imperialism: Vietnam 3 million; El Salvador 200,000; Iraq 600,000
kids and still counting ... God bless America!" He is from El Salvador. We
read the poem by Emmanuel Ortiz, "A moment of silence in honor of those who
died in the World Trade Center last September 11th ... also for all of those
who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed
in retaliation for those strikes in both Afghanistan and the US ... Six
months of silence for the million and a half Iraqi people, mostly children,
who have died as a result of an 11-year US embargo ... An hour of silence
for El Salvador ... An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua ... Two days of
silence for the Guetmaltecos ... 25 years of silence for the hundred million
Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building
could poke into the sky ... We could be silent forever, or just long enough
to hunger for the dust to bury us ... Here is your silence. Take it. But
take it all. Don't cut in line. Let your silence begin at the beginning of
crime."  A Muslim couple stops to thank us warmly for organising the shut
down. Passing trucks and cars honk in solidarity. Even several of the people
prevented from entering the consulate support the action. There is enough
support to build on, out of which something significant could come.

Echec a la guerre, the 160-member anti-war coalition in Montreal, begins a
press scrum in front of the shut-down. They demand that Canada denounce the
massacre and the illegal occupation of Iraq. Then the good folks of CKUT
90.3 FM radio bring in a live report from Iraq Solidarity Project delegate
Andrea Schmidt in Baghdad. Her disembodied voice comes to us through one of
the car-battery powered Sonic Resistance mobile sound units built by these
same local community radio activists. She describes what she has witnessed
first-hand in Baghdad and the reports she has heard from people coming out
of Fallujah. She talks about the blast walls in Baghdad which separate those
whose security is deemed to deserve protection from those who can be bombed
with impunity. Every hour or so, the police caravan down the street in a
display of legitimate force. Otherwise they seem shy of media attention.
Only a few were visible, grimly guarding the consulate's locked door, when
we arrived. But in a nearby alley, nine vans full of riot police are hiding,
and a little police army lurks in the neighbouring carpark, poised to come
to the defense of the empire should we get out of hand.

We don't get out of hand, chosing for various reasons to leave the more
confrontational roles in the capable hands of the police, well-equipped with
their guns and swagger. We let them bar the door and tell people that the
consulate is closed for the morning. We step in only to explain that the
closure is due to the massacre at Fallujah. The police are silent on this

At one point we threaten security by chalking the names of Iraqis killed
since the beginning of the invasion on the walls of the consulate. Ali
Hamada; parents of Seif Saleh, age 10; Mustafa Mohammed Saleh, age 7;
Hussein Abdul Fattah; Haki Ismail; Hakim Abdul Reza, age 36; Ali Bakr, age
9; Salwan Jalami; Jafer Abdulmajid Bilbas; Cimshid Khorshid Rashid; family
of Metaq Ali; Salima Hashem; Fateha Ghazzi, age 8; Nada Abdallah, age 16;
Khowla Abdel-Fattah; a sister of Thamur Sheikel and also his 2 nephews; ...
On and on and on until the police become alarmed by the dangerous rise in
the level of reality in the area. We are ordered to stop by the security
forces. So much truth threatens our freedom.

Stories from un-embedded reporters have been coming out of Fallujah of
snipers shooting anyone who moved - children, grandmothers, fathers - of the
use of cluster bombs, of F16s bombing residential areas ... of hundreds of
people killed, the power station bombed, the main hospital bombed,
ambulances being shot at, and medical supplies blocked. One hundred dead in
Sad'r City, the poor Shi'a neighbourhood of Baghdad. Najaf, the holy city
for Shi'as, is surrounded by US troops. They threaten to enter and trigger a

But the tidal wave of disgust and anger that should rise up against such
terrorism hasn't even made it over the blast wall. It has, in part, been
quieted in these parts by the dominant media outlets, which give far more
importance to the deaths of relatively few soldiers and mercenaries who are
in Iraq to uphold an illegal occupation, than to the deaths of thousands of
Iraqis -hundreds in the past week in Fallujah alone. In most mainstream
outlets, the detention of an astounding 18,000 Iraqis by Occupation Forces
has been overshadowed by foreign hostage-taking, as though the Iraqis have
no families who weep over them and fear for their lives. An embedded
journalist nonchalantly reports watching an F16 drop a 2000 lb bomb on a
building in Fallujah, whether an apartment block or a business, we are not
told. It is an aside in an article whose chief concern is with the boredom
facing US troops - and it normalises the extraordinary violence. News
agencies even lend credibility to Bush's hypocrisies about terrorism and
Bremer's risible account of the uprising, "Iraq's democratic future is
challenged by violent minorities".

The shut-down succeeds at least in interrupting the empire for a few hours.
We end it when visiting hours are over. The names of the dead remain on the
walls when we leave.

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