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Anti-war organizations hold press conference to cancel RIMPAC and resist NATO

By Iain McNeely

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, June 26, the Resist NATO coalition and the Cancel RIMPAC campaign held a joint press conference ahead of the upcoming Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise and the NATO summit.

“Rim of the Pacific is the largest military exercise held anywhere in the world and takes place every two years in U.S.-occupied Hawai'i,” said Katie Comfort, a member of the International Women's Alliance's Global Secretariat and representative for the Cancel RIMPAC campaign. “Organizers in Hawai'i have been mobilizing against RIMPAC for decades, drawing attention to the environmental degradation, violence against women, and overall negative impact on the people living on the islands.”

“Today is an important and significant day to hold this press conference, as RIMPAC's opening banquet is kicking off tonight in San Diego with the heads of U.S. and foreign militaries,” continued Comfort.

Organizers from both Hawai'i and San Diego spoke about the disastrous effects these exercises have on both areas. Rose Elovitz, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Hawai'i, spoke about the effects RIMPAC has on Hawai'i and its people, saying, “The rate of sex trafficking – which disproportionately affects native Hawaiian women and girls – rises 30% during RIMPAC. The use of navy sonar has been proved to confuse and harm whales, leading to mass die-offs and beachings. The wellbeing of people, land and water are not a concern to the U.S. military agenda.”

From the other coast, members of the Resist NATO coalition spoke about their efforts to fight back against the upcoming 2024 NATO Summit.

Speaking for the Resist NATO coalition, BAYAN USA and Anakbayan Montgomery County member Gabby Rivera said, “Since its creation in DC in 1949, NATO has served as the armed wing of U.S.-led imperialism. This upcoming NATO summit on July 9 through 11 marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in DC — and with it the founding of NATO.”

Rivera continued, “Here they will introduce major policies such as new sanctions, military budgets, mass surveillance and cyberwar initiatives. None of these will be in the interests of the international working class and oppressed, but rather the imperialist leaders with the US at their head.”

In addition to the Cancel RIMPAC Campaign and the Resist NATO Coalition, the press conference also featured speakers from the International League of Peoples' Struggle, Malaya San Diego, Jewish Voice for Palestine Hawai'i, the African National Women's Organization, the Palestinian Youth Movement, Pan-African Community Action, and BAYAN USA.

This press conference is one of a variety of actions in San Diego and Hawai'i, all of which lead up to a people's summit and mobilizations against RIMPAC in San Diego on June 29 and June 30, respectively. Next week, the Resist NATO coalition will also hold a people's summit on July 6 and a march on July 7 to protest NATO's 75th anniversary summit in DC.

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