CANADA: Afghan-Canadians Tell the Real Story Behind Remembrance Day Protest

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes

On November 11, 2012 we attended the Remembrance Day ceremony at Old City Hall in Toronto as an Afghan anti-war presence. Some sections of the conservative media have inaccurately portrayed our identity, action and purpose. We are Afghan-Canadian women peace activists with a voice that can stand for itself. We have a message which cannot be silenced by such tactics to censor and demonize us.

In 2001 we watched the invasion of our home country, Afghanistan. Fast forward 11 years later: Afghanistan is still occupied, and every year on Remembrance Day we are reminded of it. It has become painfully obvious that Remembrance Day is used as a war propaganda tool. If one is going to take offense to our presence, direct your misguided anger at those responsible for why we are taking offense.

The war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, and further escalated violence in an already war-torn nation. This war has created a platform where foreign military forces perform terrifying acts against the civilian population. The Canadian military is responsible for the detainment, torture and murder of Afghans.

We do not support the NATO-led occupation and war in Afghanistan. We also do not support the increasing militarization of our Canadian generation -- Remembrance Day indoctrinates each new generation by glorifying militarism so as to mislead them to the conclusion that the Canadian Armed Forces are morally superior, while omitting the reality that it is in fact an occupying force here on stolen, Native lands and overseas in Afghanistan. The former continues to fight for sovereignty and the latter for self-determination. It is an arm of the state to maintain the imperialist system that it has been founded by, thus there is no real freedom in Canada from cultural, economic, political or military forms of Western imperialism.

This is a settler-colonial society, reinforcing itself through racism, which we witnessed at the Remembrance Day ceremony. This is what explains why a handful of racist, white men screamed in our faces to "go back to your country." They believe that they are the rightful owners of this land. We are never accepted as real Canadians in their rigid, exclusionary and alienating cultural terms. We are always deemed as a potential foreign threat especially when we reveal this status quo and hypocrisy.

Our aim at the Remembrance Day ceremony was to project the voices of Afghans who wish to remember the Afghan people who have been directly killed by the Canadian military, in opposition to Canada's mission in Afghanistan. The pain and loss of the Afghan people is dishonoured and disrespected on this day when it is used in support of Canada's mission in Afghanistan. We refuse to keep silent in their memory. The unknown names and faces of our voiceless brothers and sisters who continue to suffer every day is what motivates us in our peace activism.