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Jersey City Protest

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Mark Pothen

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On Jan. 25 the “No War on Iran” protests kicked off all over the United States. One of these protests was hosted in neighboring Jersey City by Anakbayan – North Jersey (a Filipino advocacy group) in conjunction with many other groups including NJ Action 21, Jersey City Peace Movement and Veterans for Peace (VFP) Chapter 021.  

Chanting “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation” and “U.S. imperialists, Number one terrorists,” the fifteen protestors walked down John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Journal Square and stopped in front of the local Goodwill so that the speakers could give their remarks. 

On Jan. 3 United States armed forces killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq. Shortly later, Iranian forces launched ballistic missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq with no casualties. While on high alert, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet in Tehran, killing all 176 passengers aboard. Escalation of tensions in Iran led to this national day of protest against another Middle Eastern war. 

One of the speakers, by the name of Annmarie, representing Bayan, a national grassroots alliance trying to achieve sovereignty in the Philippines, argued that the “wars and military intervention by the U.S. are created for murder and plunder” and that “the U.S. has destroyed the lives of millions for the sake of profit and resources.” She ended her speech by saying, “We stand with all the oppressed people in Iran as they fight for their sovereignty and self-determination.” 

Many of the speakers that followed spoke along those same lines, including a representative from Anakbayan, who would not give his name, that posited that the action of killing Soleimani and the purported threats made by the Trump administration towards Iran “reveal to the world what billions of people already know, the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence and the single largest threat to peace and security to the southwest Asian and North African region and [is] a rogue state with no regard for international law.” 

Other notable speakers include the Socialist Workers Party senatorial candidate, Lea Sherman. 

When asked what tangible evidence the event coordinators had that the United States is going to go to war in Iran, Ana Robelo, one of the organizers from Anakbayan NJ, asserted that the long-standing sanctions on Iran were an “act of war.”  

According to the Coordinator for Counterterrorism of the U.S. Department of State, Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism and the implementation of sanctions is necessary to deter Iran’s aggressive actions in the region.  

The organizers were asked whether they were willing to condemn the Iranian government for human rights abuses and repression of its own people. In response, Robelo likened the killing of more than one thousand civilians in the last few months by the Iranian government to actions taken by the American government. She says, “Our government is responsible for the killings of many peoples around the world…if you see like our police brutality even the people that are dying from lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to all these services. It may not look the same way but…our government is guilty of a lot of human rights violations.”  

As of today, there has been no active attempt by the Trump administration to get involved in an armed conflict with Iran nor any major escalation within the region. 

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