Hello sisters and brothers,
My name is Laila Rashidie.
I would first like to share my condolences to the loved ones of the 170 Palestinians murdered by the Israeli Occupation Force this past week - the youngest being 11-month old Omar Al-Mashharawi [and 10 month old Hanin Tafesh]. May their souls rest in peace, their energy lives on forever, and through us right now.
I am here to talk about the connections between the various struggles against occupation. Firstly, we are here on occupied land, standing on the traditional territory of Mississauga New Credit First Nations. Canada is a settler-colonial society. Our struggles are interwined but we should not be complicit in or contradict one another’s oppression. We need solidarity with the Indigenous people against occupation of this land to prevent reinforcing the states genocidal policies domestically and overseas.Our struggle is globally and locally an anti-colonial one for freedom against cultural, economic, military, financial and political imperialism. Canada and its mining companies are especially complicit in DR Congo - where nearly 6 million Congolese have been killed since 1996. 80% of the worlds capital mining comes from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
As Huey Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, said: “There can be no real freedom until the imperialist – world enemy number one – has been stripped of his power.”
In 2010, my sister and I started the group Afghans Against Israeli Apartheid. We promote Afghan participation in the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Apartheid Israel. Our group is to show the connections between the NATO-led occupation of Afghanistan and the Israeli occupation of Palestine; both occupations serving the interests of Western imperialism – specifically, the global white supremacist-capitalist-patriarchal power structure. Apartheid Israel and the so-called Global War on Terror are both strongly supported by Canada, the US and other western allies. As Afghan-Canadians, we remember Canadas military training mission Operation PROTEUS in the West Bank. After Canada cut funding to Palestinian refugees, it diverted most of those funds towards training a repressive Palestinian Authority security force in the West Bank. In 2010, Operation PROTEUS in the West Bank was Canadas second largest deployment after Afghanistan. Canadian Armed Forces now play a training role for the Karzai government police. The Canadian military is directly responsible for the detainment, torture and murder of Afghans.
Last week, myself and Suraia Sahar were present at Old City Hall Remembrance Day. We held a banner remembering the deaths of Afghans in the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan. The police confiscated our banner after a disruption caused by another protest group nearby us. We have faced death threats and hate speech by islamophobe-zionist-white supremacists for challenging the status quo and revealing hypocrisy. Remembrance Day is but a nationalist spectacle manipulating Canadians sentiments into the false belief that its military is morally superior while omitting the reality that it is in fact an occupying force here on stolen, Native lands and in Afghanistan. Indigenous people continue to fight for sovereignty and Afghans for self-determination
We should support the Palestinian national fight for liberation against a military super-power threatening the Near East. The Zionist project is founded upon colonialism and genocide of Palestine. Palestine acts in defense to a colonizer that has been viciously taking Palestinian land and lives in one hand while shamelessly claiming peace and negotiations in the other. The comparison maps of Palestine since 1946 till today speak for itself about the intentions of Apartheid Israel: its about land, not peace.
As the neo-colonialists dominate many lands and peoples, generation after generation will pick up where we leave off for a dignified existence as our ancestors have passed on to us. We also face a spiritual and cultural battle due to the white supremacist status quo. Lets self check for any internalized inferiority, we need to support one another personally and in this anti-imperialist international struggle.
As Black consciousness leader Steve Biko said: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. And as Black liberation leader Marcus Garvey said: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” I wish my people self-love and honesty with self. May we be proud of our ancestry because we would not be here without them. May we continue connecting with our ancestors struggles and and the process of de-colonizing lands, structures and our minds, and hearts.