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Anti-war activists meet with, challenge U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s support for war on Syria

By staff

Minneapolis, MN – More than 50 people met with Congressperson Keith Ellison at the Masjid An-Nur mosque in North Minneapolis, Sept 6. This was meant to be a low profile, private ‘listening session’ with 20 invited people – the vast majority in favor of bombing Syria. Although discouraged by Ellison’s office and told there would be no opportunity to speak, 30 anti-war activists mobilized on very short notice and succeeded in speaking.

Representative Ellison opened the meeting by explaining his decision to vote for bombing Syria. His reasons follow the administration’s line. He said, “Every country has an obligation to defend its citizens from mass atrocities and when they don’t the U.S. has the responsibility to do it by force if necessary.”

Ed Felien cited the reports which dispute the claims the Syrian government used sarin gas and asked, “How'd you get your evidence?” Ellison replied that he got it from the Syrian American community.

John Kolstad called on Ellison to call for the release of the documents which the administration claim shows the Syria government is guilty of using chemical weapons. He recalled Representative Alan Grayson’s (Democrat from Florida) Sept. 5 questioning of Secretary of State John Kerry, at the House hearing on releasing the communication report of the Syrian generals, which some sources say contradicts the administration version.

One activist asked, “Are we going to drop DU [depleted uranium], white phosphorous and cluster bombs – all weapons of mass destruction – to deal with weapons of mass destruction?”

Steve McKeown of Vets for Peace questioned why Ellison is so ready to bomb Syria because of their alleged use of sarin gas when he won’t see vets outside his district who suffer from Agent Orange.

Bruce Nestor from the National Lawyers Guild of Minnesota noted that it’s against international law to go to war without authorization from the UN. He said, “Would it have been OK if Russia or China had shot missiles at U.S. troops to stop the slaughter of 100,000 Iraqis by the U.S. and NATO?”

Margaret Sarfehjooy of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) said, “Hagel has said this will not be a pin prick. Will it be like shock and awe? You will have blood on your hands.”

Sarah Martin of WAMM said, “You are on the wrong side of history. The U.S. public, the world and many governments including the UN oppose this rush to war.”

A protest opposing the war will be held at Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street on Saturday Sept. 7 from 12:30 to 1:30 In Minneapolis. This will be the fourth demonstration against war on Syria this week.

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