National day of action against war on Iran

February 9, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO--Some 200 people demonstrated February 4 against sanctions and the threat of war on Iran in coordination with dozens of cities worldwide. The event began at San Francisco's Powell Street BART station and included a number of individual activists and organizations, including Occupy San Francisco, World Can't Wait, ANSWER, Code Pink, Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Bayan, which is a Filipino American antiwar group.

The opening rally included Iranian activists, antiwar activist and Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan and Daniel Ellsberg, who 40 years ago leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the lies of the Lyndon Johnson administration about the U.S. war on Vietnam.

American and Israeli pressure on Iran has intensified over the last few weeks, threatening military action should Iran not accede to demands regarding their nuclear program. The U.S. and Israel claim that Iran is intent on building a nuclear weapon, a charge that Iran vehemently denies, insisting that its efforts are directed at developing a nuclear energy program. The European Union supports the sanctions and has imposed an embargo on Iranian oil.

Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has told reporters that there's a better than 50-50 chance that Israel will strike Iran this spring. Already drones--the same unmanned aircraft that have wrought devastation in Afghanistan and Pakistan--are flying over Iranian territory, and four Iranian scientists involved in the country's nuclear program have been murdered, most likely by Israeli operatives, though Israel will not confirm or deny the charge.

Given the sanctions and looming threat of military strikes, there was a sense of urgency at the demonstration. "We meet before one bomb drops on Iran so no bombs fall on Iran," an Iranian activist told the crowd.

During the march to United Nations Plaza, protesters chanted, "Same lies, same plans, no war against Iran!" and one activist carried a sign that read, "War makes 1 percent richer and 99 percent poorer."

Members of Courage to Resist, an organization that defends war resisters, carried a banner in defense of Bradley Manning who's facing trial for leaking U.S. diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks--much as Ellsberg did four decades ago. Ellsberg addressed the military's decision to court-martial Bradley Manning, and an activist from Courage to Resist announced plans for protests around the country once a date for Bradley Manning's court-martial is set.

During the closing rally, Occupy San Francisco member Kelly talked of her first protest, which was the massive February 15, 2003, demonstration just weeks before the start of Iraq war. Bayan member Chester recalled the "tragic history of the Philippines" as a result of U.S. imperialism, and members of IVAW spoke of the need to help returning veterans.

Several protesters held a banner that read, "99 percent San Francisco in solidarity with Egypt! Stop military murder and repression! End U.S. $ support." The sign was photographed to be sent to Egyptian activists who continue to face violent repression by the ruling interim military council.

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