February 29, 2020 - No. 6

Stand with Wet'suwet'en -- Might Does Not Make Right

Canada Must Take Responsibility
and Build a New Relationship
with Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous youth re-occupy the entrance to the BC legislature, February 24, 2020.

• Actions Across Canada Condemn Police Attacks on Blockades
Statement of Indigenous Youth Standing
in Solidarity with Wet'suwet'en

Renewed Effort by Quebec Premier to Criminalize
the Struggle of the Indigenous Peoples
- Pierre Soublière -
Rule of Law According to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair
- Philip Fernandez -

Statement on the Arrest of Documentary Filmmaker Melissa Cox

- Yint'ah Film -

• Alberta's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act Criminalizes the Affirmation of Rights

- Peggy Morton -

Oppose Extraterritorial Application
of U.S. Sanctions Against Cuba!

• Open Letter to François-Philippe Champagne,
Minister of Foreign Affairs

- Canadian Network on Cuba -

56th Annual Munich Security Conference

NATO War Conference Vigorously Opposed
- Nick Lin -

U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement

People's Forces Not Diverted

Communist Party of Vietnam's 90th Anniversary

Vietnamese People Celebrate Momentous
Achievements of Their Party

• Celebration in Toronto

Stand with Wet'suwet' en -- Might Does Not Make Right

Canada Must Take Responsibility and Build a New Relationship with Indigenous Peoples

BC Legislature, February 25, 2020

It is the responsibility and duty of the federal government to provide the hereditary rights of Indigenous peoples with a guarantee. This means that what the Trudeau and other governments call Canadian rule of law cannot be the reference point to settle disputes between the Crown and the Indigenous nations. So long as this is the reference point, an end will not be put to colonial and racist practices.

The stubborn refusal of the Trudeau government and the government of British Columbia to break with the racist and colonial treatment of Indigenous people and nations is the immediate cause of the growing actions in support of the Wet'suwet'en people in British Columbia. Lip service to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and repetition of the "most important relationship" are exposed as just so many provocations. Instead of instilling hope, every statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers breeds contempt and resistance. And this is coupled with the continuing tragedy of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, the over-representation of Indigenous people in the prison system, the unacceptable living conditions on reserves and, particularly, the conditions that have caused an epidemic of youth self-harm and suicides.

Since early January, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have been asking for federal and provincial government leaders to meet with them on a nation-to-nation basis. Trudeau, until February 18, refused to acknowledge that the federal government, which he leads, had any responsibility to address the situation of the violation of rights on Wet'suwet'en territory. BC Premier John Horgan has also refused to meet with the Wet'suwet'en chiefs and has repeatedly stated that, regardless of what anyone says or thinks, the pipeline will be built, indicating that he too disrespects the chiefs and the responsibility of the government he leads to break with the old relations and establish new relations.

The demands of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are straight-forward: the RCMP must withdraw from Wet'suwet'en territory, which means removing their mobile base and officers, who continue to harass and intimidate Wet'suwet'en and their supporters on the land, and that Coastal GasLink ceases activity on the land while discussions between the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments take place. It is in support of these demands that the railway blockades in Ontario, Quebec and other places were set up, to express the solidarity across the country with the just demands of the Wet'suwet'en.

The government says it wants a peaceful resolution but keeps on criminalizing everyone, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who are taking action in support of the just and legal request of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Every attempt is made to insinuate that while Wet'suwet'en might have legitimate grievances, as Trudeau put it in his press conference on February 21, non-Indigenous people do not. In other words, the matter is not of a Constitution that requires renovating, and upholding Indigenous hereditary rights is of no concern to Canadians. It shows the backward outlook of those in power in Canada, which is made all the more anachronistic the more they declare that either the Indigenous and non-Indigenous submit to the law and order agenda or they will face the full force of the law.

The Ontario Provincial Police arrests of Tyendinaga Mohawk, and injunctions and threats against others across the country, show that the only "peaceful resolution" that the government wants is one in which Indigenous people agree to the violation of their rights. That is not peace and it will not pass! Might DOES NOT Make Right.

Police attack and dismantle the Tyendinaga blockade, February 24, 2020.

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Actions Across Canada Condemn
Police Attacks on Blockades

In the hours after the police attack, arrests and dismantling of the Tyendinaga blockade in Ontario, more actions of resistance followed. The Gitxsan re-established a blockade of the CN rail line in northern BC that had been taken down on February 13 with the understanding that discussions between the Wet'suwet'en and the federal government would take place. The RCMP arrested several people, including Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, at that blockade. Others then shut down Highway 16 in northern BC demanding the release of those arrested. Blockades of the Port of Vancouver continued, in defiance of an injunction, and Indigenous and other youth are occupying the steps of the BC legislature. In towns and cities across the country rallies and demonstrations are taking place.

There are road and rail blockades in the Mohawk communities of Kanesatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke in Quebec which have been in place for some time. On February 25, a Quebec court granted CP an injunction requiring the dismantling of a barricade on the rail line through Kahnawà:ke. Enforcement there is the responsibility of the Mohawk Peacekeepers police service which has said that it has no intention of carrying out the court order. Quebec Premier François Legault declared, with no proof whatsoever, that dismantling that blockade is dangerous because of the presence of AK-47s, which is categorically denied by the Peacekeepers. Legault said that the Sûreté du Québec is working on a plan to bring down the barricades. Authorities openly admit that police actions to dismantle blockades has resulted in new actions in other locations. 

Violent repression of unarmed demonstrators standing in solidarity with the just demands of the Wet'suwet'en will not succeed in convincing anyone that the state is in the right. The Wet'suwet'en are defending their hereditary rights as well as the well-being of Mother Earth, which appeals to those who are concerned about the despoliation of the natural environment, and are asking for nation-to-nation dialogue. The onus is on Canada to uphold the hereditary rights of Indigenous peoples. That is the path to peaceful resolution of outstanding conflicts.

Victoria, BC

Saanich, BC

Vancouver, BC

Abbotsford, BC

Winnipeg, MB

Six Nations of the Grand River Territory

Hamilton, ON

London, ON

Toronto, ON, rally and round dance.

Toronto, ON, rail blockade

Orillia, ON

Ottawa, ON

Kanesatà:ke Mohawk Territory

Kahnawà:ke, Mohawk Territory

Montreal, QC

Halifax, NS

Fredericton, NB

St. John's, NL, occupation of MP Seamus O'Regan's office.

(Photos: TML, Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en, Wet'suwet'en Solidarity Vancouver, Climate Justice Ottawa, Rising Tide Toronto, Ricochet, Red Braid Collective, CoC, WCCFM, Eastern Door, BC Blackout, T. Coste, ellouis, E. Goodridge, C. Darimont, S. May, D. Cowan, Kawisahawii, T. Devonport, R. Burnell, H. Elliott, smogelgem, witchvsbitch, J. Jeandron, B.R. Armyot, S. Gomez, F. Lopez)

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Statement of Indigenous Youth Standing in Solidarity with Wet'suwet'en

Youth hold press conference on the steps of the BC Legislature, February 26, 2020.

These are demands for Canada, for BC, for Canadian officials. We are Indigenous youth from nations across Canada standing independently in solidarity with all five clans of the Wet'suwet'en nation who have unanimously rejected the Coastal GasLink (CGL) project. In standing with our Wet'suwet'en relatives we will occupy Ministry offices, rail lines and legislative and parliamentary precincts in order to hold all levels of the Canadian government responsible for their perpetuation of Canada's genocidal legacy. We are committed to holding Canadian officials accountable. This means continually returning to the spaces of governance and law until Canada abides by Wet'suwet'en traditional governance and law. It is our inherent responsibility as Indigenous youth to resist injustice and defend Wet'suwet'en sovereignty. We recognize that the Wet'suwet'en upholding their responsibilities to lands, waters and climate justice protects our collective futures.

Indigenous youth stand in solidarity with all Indigenous peoples defending their lands across Canada, from Wet'suwet'en to Tyendinaga. We resist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Ontario Provincial Police violently criminalizing Indigenous peoples for demanding a bare minimum of Canada. Through these shameful arrests the world has witnessed the colonial façade of reconciliation come crashing down to expose the Canadian reality of Indigenous genocide that has never been interrupted or reconciled. Indigenous youth across the country declare that reconciliation is dead. We condemn the coercive tactics employed by CGL, the lack of meaningful dialogue from the Canadian state, and the overall attempted erasure of Indigenous rights, title and law.

The situation on Wet'suwet'en territory has revealed the true nature of Canada's predatory consultation practices. It has been made clear that the Indigenous nations do not have the right to free, prior and informed consent. The ongoing raid against the Wet'suwet'en shows that saying NO results in a paramilitary invasion. Good faith negotiations do not look like seizing Indigenous lands at gunpoint while simultaneously denying critical programs and services for our communities. Not only is the RCMP raid of Wet'suwet'en territories a coercive force on behalf of Coastal GasLink, but so is the systemic treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Our communities should not be subject to predatory consultation practices that exploit cycles of poverty that Canada intentionally maintains, meanwhile generating immense wealth from our territories since colonization. Boil water advisories, near extermination of traditional foods like wild salmon, caribou and buffalo, as well as underfunded social, health and education programs accessed by regular Canadians are all coercive conditions for negotiations with industry. This is the inescapable economic component of ongoing colonization. There is undue pressure for Indigenous nations to engage in impact benefit agreements/mutual benefit agreements with environmentally destructive projects. The economic oppression of colonization is leveraged by corporate interests and supported by the government. The impact benefit agreements negotiations are a corrupt process. This is not equivalent to true consent.

Our human rights as Indigenous peoples are inherent and cannot be contingent upon a transaction and annihilation of our lands. As Indigenous youth we will do everything in our power to protect our future and Wet'suwet'en lands from destruction. It's time for Canadian officials to do the same. If you do not stand with us you are complicit in ongoing injustice. Our generation and all future generations of our nations will remember those who took a stand against genocide. We will also not forget those who were complacent in ongoing colonial acts of violence.

We demand that the leadership of British Columbia and Canada enter into nation-to-nation discussions with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. In order for these discussions to take place in good faith and without duress, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police must be withdrawn from Wet'suwet'en territories. All ongoing RCMP patrols and surveillance must also cease. The removal of the Community Industry Safety Office will not satisfy this requirement unless all RCMP activities are discontinued. Coastal GasLink must cease activity and withdraw personnel from Wet'suwet'en territories in accordance with the eviction [order] that was issued by Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs on January 4, 2020. Canada must critically examine how the systemic treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada is a coercive factor in negotiations with industry. There can be no free, prior and informed consent while many Indigenous nations in Canada still have boil water advisories. British Columbia must revoke all permits granted to CGL, especially in light of the BC Environmental Assessment Office's rejection of CGL's technical data report. British Columbia must also cease its defamation and criminalization of Indigenous leaders and governments. The inflammatory rhetoric of the BC Premier only serves to incite hate and violence against Indigenous peoples standing up for our inherent rights and livelihoods. Canada must cease the criminalization of all peaceful Indigenous solidarity actions and blockades that exist because of Canada's failure to adhere to diplomacy and meet with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Call off OPP from Tyendinaga Mohawk territory. It is time for you to act upon your responsibilities.

(Issued at B.C. Legislature, February 26, 2020.)

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Renewed Effort by Quebec Premier to Criminalize the Struggle of the Indigenous Peoples

Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs pay a visit to Mohawks of Kahnawà:ke to express appreciation for their solidarity in defence of Indigenous sovereignty and rights, February 22, 2020.

With his most recent declaration about dangerous weapons on the Mohawk territory Kahnawà:ke, the Quebec Premier François Legault is continuing his rant. He seems to want to contribute at any cost to criminalizing the just and courageous struggle of the Indigenous peoples. This is the definitive modus operandi of what are called the democratic institutions which cannot solve any of the historic social or political problems. Solutions to these problems must be based on the recognition of Indigenous rights and must give rise to the new harmonious and respectful relations among us that everyone longs for, as opposed to this hate-fueling and sowing of division, and attempts to stop dissident voices.

As the TML Weekly of February 22 aptly pointed out, the workers and people of Quebec have a lot of experience with such criminalization of resistance and struggles for rights. Exasperated, Legault claims that he "understands that there must be dialogue." But this criminalizing of struggles is aimed precisely at stopping all dialogue and discussion, and to misrepresent the Indigenous peoples by claiming there are "extremist" elements in their midst and thus divert attention from the necessity to respect the hereditary rights of the Wet'suwet'en and put an end to old colonial arrangements based, among other things, on a racist and outdated Indian Act.

Legault and others probably have no interest in recalling that at certain moments in our history, Quebec missed opportunities to forge an alliance with the Indigenous peoples in opposition to the Anglo-Canadian state, such as the 1982 constitutional repatriation from which the Quebec government and Indigenous nations were excluded. At that time, Georges Erasmus, President of the Assembly of First Nations, made a vibrant appeal to then-Premier of Quebec René Lévesque, asking that Quebec and the Indigenous peoples join forces and form a common front against the constitutional process taking place.

"We Indigenous peoples," he declared, "have been, along with Quebec, pushed under the rug of the country Trudeau and his stooges from the English provinces have just constituted. I call upon the Quebec government and people, and René Lévesque in particular, to react to this matter and speak out on the question of the rights of the Indigenous populations to self-determination. I am putting the Quebec people to the test -- if, in fact, the people believe in self-determination -- the time is now to support the Indigenous peoples. It is not the time to stay divided and to head individually towards defeat. The time to act is now. The time has come. First Nations need the support of Quebec in the hours to come. We need the support of the Quebec people. The country is in a state of national emergency which demands that First Nations and Quebeckers join in a common force."[1]

At that time, the Quebec government refused its support, and decided against forming an alliance with the Indigenous peoples. Such an alliance is needed once again. But rather than being created by today's democratic institutions, it will be forged in the unity in action of the Quebec workers and people and the Indigenous peoples in the historical struggle for the renewal of the democratic institutions and for constitutional arrangements that are based on, among other things, compensation for historical wrongs, nation-to-nation relations, and a free union -- in other words, principles in step with a modern society.


1. As raised in Sur la piste du Canada errant, Jean Morisset (2018), p.355.

(Photo: WCCFW)

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Rule of Law According to Public
Safety Minister Bill Blair

On February 23, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair spoke on CBC's radio program Cross Country Checkup about policing the Wet'suwet'en people, who are waging a determined struggle to affirm their sovereignty and rule of law on their traditional territory, with the support of the Canadian people from coast to coast to coast.

On air, Minister Blair contradicted Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chief Woos who had said earlier on the same program: "We will not talk with the government until the RCMP are completely out of our territorial land. We're not going to talk with a gun pointed at our heads. That's not the way to do it." Chief Woos noted as well that, rather than de-escalating the situation, the RCMP had increased surveillance and made more arrests.

Minister Blair asserted that Chief Woos had got it all wrong and that the RCMP had decamped to nearby Houston but were continuing to patrol the area, completely ignoring the point that continuing to patrol the area means the RCMP have not left Wet'suwet'en territory. When pressed by the CBC program host that Houston was in fact in Wet'suwet'en territory and reminding him that Chief Woos had said: "Out means Out," Minister Blair asserted: "No. Let me be very clear. There is no place in Canada that can be deprived of the service and protection of the police. The police have a responsibility in every place in Canada to uphold the rule of law."

In an arrogant fashion -- when asked by the program host: "... so how are the police supposed to minimize the use of force and act as peacekeepers in the situation they're now in?" -- Minister Blair replied, "... As you know, I was a police officer for 39 years and I have actually attended quite a number of these protests, and I know exactly what that framework for dealing with critical Aboriginal incidents says, and how the police have been trained to respond. They are absolutely committed to resolving this peaceably as have we, in all of our discussion....The prime minister's direction was not to the police, and we've been crystal clear on this. We are not giving direction to the police. That's not the law in this country."

Minister Blair should well know that the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and the Canadian people have a pretty good idea of what the rule of law means when it comes to their rights. The rule of law that Minister Blair is sworn to uphold is that of the Canadian state of the rich. It was on full display at the G20 in Toronto in the summer of 2010 when Blair was Chief of the Toronto Police Services.

At the 2010 G20 Summit, some 30,000 workers, youth and broad sections of the Canadian people came to protest the neo-liberal agenda and the policies of the G20 governments that represent the international financial oligarchy that are the source of war, poverty, environmental degradation and other social problems that humanity is facing. They came to raise high the banner for their rights.

Toronto Police Chief Blair was in charge of policing the summit, working closely with the office of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the RCMP, which was coordinating security with U.S. Homeland Security and U.S. intelligence. On the ground were 21,000 security personnel, including 6,200 Toronto officers, 5,000 RCMP, 3,000 Canadian Armed Forces, 3,000 Ontario Provincial Police and 740 Peel Region Police, along with reinforcements from Halton, York, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Niagara Falls, Peterborough, Durham, Sudbury, Waterloo, Barrie, Newfoundland and Labrador, Winnipeg, Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary.

It is well known what happened at the G20. The police terrorized the protesters. Many Toronto police removed their badges so that they could not be identified. More than 1,140 people, including many bystanders, were arrested. Mounted police, along with others on foot, charged the demonstrators with batons and injured countless people. Hundreds of people were "kettled" and kept, without cause, for hours in the pouring rain to suppress the people's affirmation of their rights.

In the end, the public outrage was so great that various inquiries were organized under the pretext of holding the police to account to diffuse the people's outrage at the widespread brutality and violations of people's civil and political rights. Several inquiries, including one by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, found that the police had acted unlawfully in many instances during the G20 Summit. Yet, when the dust settled, the people got no justice, even when they collectively and individually brought legal action against the police. A few "bad apples" in the police force were charged but Police Chief Blair refused to issue a public apology for the police violence and brutality.

Blair did such a fine job for the Canadian state during the G20 that when, in 2015, the Toronto Police Services Board chose not to renew his contract, he was courted by all three main cartel parties to be their candidate in the federal election. He agreed to stand for the Liberal Party in the riding of Scarborough Southwest after Trudeau met with him personally.[1]

At the time of the G20 and today, the question remains -- whose law do the police enforce and in whose interest? The Indigenous peoples, the Canadian people and the Quebec people are striving for a rule of law that upholds their rights, not those of a handful of parasites and profiteers of the international and Canadian financial oligarchy who hold dictate over the whole society through their governments, courts and police.


1. One of the candidates who ran against Bill Blair in the 2015 federal election was Tommy Taylor, the Green Party candidate. He ran simply to oppose Blair and what he had done during the G20 Summit in Toronto. Mr. Taylor was one of the bystanders who was arrested, and he spent 24 hours in handcuffs. In the aftermath of the G20, he noted to the press at the time: "Everyone keeps passing the buck," and while Canada is "good at telling others about civil rights and how to treat protesters, when it comes to Canada, it is another story." "We get in other countries' faces about that," he said. "When it happens here, we're trying to sweep it under the carpet."

(With files from the CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star)

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Statement on the Arrest of
Documentary Filmmaker Melissa Cox

RCMP move in and arrest Gitxsan people blocking CN tracks near New Hazelton in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en land defenders, February 24, 2020.  

We are outraged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) decision to arrest our long-time colleague, journalist and filmmaker Melissa Cox, on the evening of February 24, 2020, at New Hazelton on unceded Gitxsan territory.

Ms. Cox has been documenting Wet'suwet'en land defenders' efforts to resist Coastal GasLink's pipeline project for nearly two months, filming for a documentary by the working title YINT'AH of which we are the producers, and filing video reports with other media outlets.

On February 24, she was filming as Gitxsan hereditary chiefs and supporters blocked the tracks at New Hazelton in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en and the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. She was wearing a press credential from the National Press Photographers Association.

Ms. Cox had just filmed as the RCMP arrested Gitxsan hereditary Chief Spookw. In spite of the fact that she was clearly marked press, RCMP officers chose to arrest her, thus making it impossible for her to carry out her work documenting and bearing witness to the events underway.

Moreover, RCMP used an undue amount of force, twisting Ms. Cox's left arm in a painful manner as multiple officers pried her camera out of her other hand, which ripped her headphones off. They tossed her camera on the ground, and later appeared to be manipulating the camera and pressing various buttons. A legal observer asked repeatedly if she could pick up the camera to protect it, requests ignored by the RCMP.

RCMP cuffed Ms. Cox with her hands behind her back which aggravated a pre-existing injury in her left shoulder. She repeatedly stated that her injury was being aggravated and requested that they change the position of the cuffs, which they refused to do as they read her rights and searched her. By this point, she was in tears from the pain.

Having been arrested herself, Ms. Cox was unable to document the arrest of 71-year-old Head House Chief and Matriarch Gwininitxw (Yvonne Lattie), and other arrests made subsequently by the RCMP.

Ms. Cox was held by the RCMP approximately seven hours and released on restrictive conditions including that she "keep 10 meters off any CN property or work-site." Abiding by that condition would restrict her ability to cover further rail blockades. Moreover, she is required to appear in court on April 24, 2020 to face further prosecution.

We are deeply disturbed by the RCMP's arrest of Ms. Cox, which is part of a pattern of detentions, arrests and efforts to limit the access and mobility of journalists that we have witnessed across the country over the past month. Freedom of the press and other media of communication is a fundamental freedom protected by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In March 2019, a landmark decision by a Newfoundland and Labrador court known as the Justin Brake case reaffirmed that even when an injunction order has been issued, special considerations apply to journalists working in good faith and reporting on matters in the public interest. The decision states that: "To achieve the goal of reconciliation, better understanding of aboriginal peoples and aboriginal issues is needed. This places a heightened importance on ensuring that independently-reported information about aboriginal issues, including aboriginal protests, is available to the extent possible."

Security forces arresting journalists and filmmakers causes a chilling effect on freedom of speech and interferes with the public's right to be informed, which are cornerstones of democracy. Transparency and communication in a fair, accurate, nuanced and honest way is also the only basis on which right relations between people and between nations can ever be achieved. This has been Ms. Cox's stance as a documentary filmmaker, and we wholeheartedly stand with her. We expect that no charges will be laid, and that as matters of public interest related to policing of Indigenous communities continue to unfold throughout Canada, journalists and filmmakers will be able to report and film unimpeded.

Franklin López
Michael Toledano
Sam Vinal
Andréa Schmidt

(medium.com, February 26, 2020. Photos: Dinize Ste (Rob), M Keir Knight)

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Alberta's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act Criminalizes the Affirmation of Rights

The Alberta legislature began its spring session on February 25 with the introduction of Bill 1, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, immediately following the Speech from the Throne. Albertans and Indigenous peoples are affirming their rights and demanding an end to the brutal anti-social offensive and destruction of the social fabric of society. Instead of addressing their concerns, the first act of the Kenney government was to escalate the offensive against all who are defending rights and laying their claims and to call on all the other provinces to adopt such legislation.

The Kenney government stated that the aim of the bill is "to protect essential infrastructure from damage or interference caused by blockades, protests or similar activities, which can cause significant public safety, social, economic and environmental consequences." Bill 1 applies to public as well as private infrastructure.

Bill 1 provides penalties of up to $10,000 for a first offence, up to $25,000 for subsequent offensives, with possible prison time of up to six months, and up to $200,000 for "corporations that help or direct trespassers." Each day that a "contravention" exists constitutes a new offence. Police can make arrests at their discretion without a warrant or injunction.

The bill provides a long list of "essential infrastructure," including pipelines, oil and gas production and refinery sites, utilities, highways, railways, telecommunications, mines, agricultural sites, and the land on which infrastructure is located, plus "a building, structure, device or other thing prescribed by the regulations." In short -- "essential infrastructure" is anything the government declares it to be. Regulations are enacted under the prerogative or police powers of the executive and can be changed at any time by executive decision.

The Kenney government claims to be defending law and order against anarchy and chaos. "Over the last number of weeks, we've seen growing lawlessness across the country, pushing our railway lines to grind to a halt," Alberta Minister of Justice Doug Schweitzer said. "This is simply unacceptable. This is a mockery of our democratically founded country. So we're now taking decisive action to respond to this."

Kenney's rage, hatred, vitriol, and spirit of revenge against those who defend their rights reveals in all its ugliness the face of the old society where "anything goes" to preserve the rule of the rich and serve the mainly foreign monopolies who have seized control of all decision-making. Unable to solve any problem facing the people, their answer is to lash out, defaming individuals and criminalizing ideology and acts of resistance.

This "rule of law" negates the reality that Indigenous peoples in Alberta are not a conquered people and their land rights have never been extinguished. Most of the traditional Indigenous territories in Alberta are covered by treaty in which the Indigenous peoples agreed to share the land. They are not land surrender treaties, and there is no rule of law when treaty and inherent rights are negated.

Bill 1 is also directed against workers who defend their rights through strike action, and against the resistance to the anti-social offensive and the united stand and No! of the public sector workers to the assault on their wages, conditions of work and security in retirement. It is intended to target workers defending their picket lines, which are already confined by injunctions and other means intended to make them ineffective. Bill 1 adds to the arsenal used to impose huge fines on unions which uphold the right of workers to decide the wages and working conditions acceptable to them.

It does not stop there. Kenney's contempt for international rule of law was evident in the Throne Speech when he declared, "The Government of Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to develop our resources responsibly and get them to global markets to compete with and displace energy from some of the world's worst regimes." "Whatever it takes" means support for regime change, murderous sanctions, aggression and war, used in part to "displace" oil from countries such as Venezuela, Iran and Iraq. It means an Alberta economy tied to the U.S. war machine and attempts to criminalize all opposition.

It goes without saying that Bill 1 will be challenged on the basis that it is illegal and a violation of the Charter or civil right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. It will also certainly be challenged by the people in action to defend their human rights as well as their civil rights. When laws do not recognize the rights which belong to people by virtue of their being, including the sovereign rights of Indigenous peoples and the rights of workers as the producers of all social value, a serious problem arises. This refusal creates a conflict between the authority and the modern conditions. That is a big problem facing the people and society, which needs to be addressed and resolved. It is not a problem which can be sorted out by using force and violence in the name of "law and order."

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam noted, "Looking at all the issues and concerns that First Nations people have regardless of where they're living, major cities or reserves, they're all living the same conditions. Nothing has improved so you're going to probably see more demonstrations in that regards.

"You've got to remember that Jason Kenney was part of the Harper government in Ottawa which was pretty much run like a police state; so if he's following the same footsteps in that regard, I guess we're going to have a police-state province," said Adam.

Adam's comments reflect the reality that people will not accept a rule of law in contempt of a modern understanding of the purpose of law to serve the cause of justice. No matter how hard Kenney tries to sow division and rancour, incite vigilantism, tear up agreements and impose the will of the oligarchs through the use of police powers, it is not going to stop the forward march of Albertans and the Indigenous peoples. The need for democratic renewal to provide the working people with a say in governance and for nation-to-nation relations between Canada and the Indigenous peoples has never been more urgent. Bill 1 must be repealed!

Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!

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Oppose Extraterritorial Application of U.S. Sanctions Against Cuba!

Open Letter to François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Vancouver monthly pickets against U.S. blockade of Cuba, January 17, 2020, (left) and
February 17, 2020.

Re: Western Union and U.S. Economic Sanctions Against Cuba

I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC), which represents Canada-Cuba friendship and solidarity organizations across Canada, ranging from Vancouver to Halifax and with over 50,000 in membership. One of the CNC's principal objectives is advocating that Canadian foreign policy regarding Cuba remains based on equality and respect for sovereignty and the right of self-determination.

Consequently, the CNC is deeply concerned by the decision of Western Union Financial Services (Canada), Inc. to end the transfer of funds from Canada to Cuba. As Elizabeth Hill, a Toronto resident, was informed on February 21 at the Western Union outlet on St. Clair Avenue, "Western Union employees got a memo today saying they can no longer transfer funds to Cuba. They can only send funds to relatives of U.S. people."

This decision will not only cause significant damage to people-to-people contacts and Canada-Cuba relations but is also a violation of the sovereignty of Canada by raising U.S. law above that of Canadian law. This is an unambiguous act of hostility against Cuba carried out within Canada by Washington.

As Ms. Hill observes, "How can this happen in Canada? I am a Canadian citizen, and Canada has had good relations with Cuba for more than 70 years. We do not have a blockade against Cuba as the United States does. We do not have rules against citizens sending funds to Cuba."

Does U.S. law supplant Canadian law within Canada? Is this decision by Western Union not only a violation of the sovereignty of Canada but also a contravention of the Canadian Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act (FEMA)?

The Government of Canada enacted FEMA in 1984 in order to protect Canada against the increasingly extraterritorial nature of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. It was further specifically amended and strengthened in direct response to the United States' Torricelli Act of 1992 and the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. In short, FEMA prohibits Canadian corporations from complying with the extraterritorial measures of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba.

We, therefore, wish to inquire: What concrete measures will the Government of Canada implement to oppose the extraterritorial application of U.S. sanctions against Cuba and enforce the FEMA?

This violation of Canadian sovereignty by Western Union Financial Services (Canada), Inc. illustrates that Washington not only wages an economic blockade against Cuba but also a diplomatic and political blockade. For 28 consecutive years, the General Assembly of the United Nations has rejected and condemned these economic sanctions -- an economic blockade -- imposed on Cuba by the United States. Washington's policy, with its extraterritorial character, is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and customary international law. In 2019, as in previous years, the global community overwhelmingly stood with Cuba, voting 187-3 against Washington. Canada was once again counted in the vast ranks of the world's nations resoundingly rejecting the coercive, unilateral and extraterritorial U.S. policy.

The CNC calls on the Government of Canada to uphold Canadian sovereignty and reject this or any other effort to implement in Canada the internationally condemned and illegal U.S. economic blockade of Cuba.

In closing, I wish to thank you in advance for your consideration of the issues raised and answering the questions posed.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Isaac Saney, Co-Chair and National Spokesperson
Canadian Network on Cuba

Monthly picket against U.S. blockade of Cuba, Ottawa, January 17, 2020.

(Photos: OCC, VCSC)

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56th Annual Munich Security Conference

NATO War Conference Vigorously Opposed

At least 4,000 people from Germany, along with others from across Europe, converged in Munich on February 15 to vigorously oppose the 56th annual Munich Security Conference (MSC), held from February 14 to 16. The protest made it clear that NATO warmongers are not welcome and that the people of Germany are doing their duty to uphold the historic verdict of World War II, "Never Again!"

The MSC is a war conference in the same vein as the Halifax International Security Forum. It is based on an imperialist definition of "security" to justify NATO aggression and war against countries that will not submit to imperialist economic and political dictate. This year's MSC brought together some 500 warmongers and others said to be from the "fields of politics, business, academia, and civil society [to] discuss current crises and future security challenges," all of whom the MSC refers to as "decision-makers." Thirty-five heads of state or government, as well as over 100 foreign and defence ministers were expected at the conference.

This year's MSC was preoccupied with a phenomenon the organizers refer to as "Westlessness." Namely, the political crises in NATO member countries and what they perceive as the loss of influence of  so-called Western values. Life has shown that liberal democracy's "universal Western values" of a market economy and representative democracy -- said to be the endpoint of human social and political development -- cannot provide solutions to the problems the people are facing. Consequently, the people are rejecting the anachronistic liberal democratic institutions, based on their own experience that these are the very means by which they are deprived of a say in the direction of the society, including on the key questions of war and peace.

Among those attending the MSC was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who delivered remarks to the conference on February 14. Much of the speech was an attempt to wrangle support for Canada to have a seat on the UN Security Council, and suggested that Canada has a vital role as a middle power in the international order. He also espoused the need to prop up neo-liberalism -- called liberal democracy, and maintain the status quo in international relations, and for a rules-based order. His speech presented the scenario that working people are to blame for electing "populist" governments, covering up that part of the crisis of liberal democracy is that the people are blocked from having a say, while establishment political parties do their utmost to sow divisions among the people. Those countries that are affirming their right to be and to set their own course politically and economically, including the rejection of U.S. hegemony in politics and trade, he referred to in saying the "global balance of power is shifting, with new powers rapidly rising and others becoming more assertive in their regions." He specifically singled out Venezuela, presenting Canada's dirty attempt to foment the regime change of a democratically elected government via the Lima Group -- a clear breach of international law -- as defending democracy.

This clash between authority and conditions was on full display at the MSC: so-called leaders attending to decide who will be made the target of warmongering by NATO countries enforcing imperialist dictate under the mantra "Western values" versus those demonstrating outside to uphold the interests of the oppressed peoples of the world and defend the cause of international peace.

In the call for the mass demonstration at this year's conference, anti-war activists pointed out the definition of security espoused by the Munich war conference is "not -- as conference leader Wolfgang Ischinger says -- the 'peaceful resolution of conflicts;' it is not for the safety of the people here, nor the safety of people elsewhere in the world, but for the supremacy of the West with its capitalist economic system based on the exploitation of human beings and nature."

The activists pointed out how this economic system, and the military aggression used to enforce it, is responsible for the putsch-promoting and sanctions policies against Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, for example, and the trade and economic confrontations with China and Russia, which threaten to turn into hot wars. They stated that, "The prevailing policy of regime change and forcible access to resources means destabilization, sanctions, economic boycott, civil war and war."

While Prime Minister Trudeau and others claim that Canada and other "Western countries" stand for rules-based governance, the anti-war activists pointed out that under the auspices of these countries, "[International] law is systematically broken; recent examples are the hidden genocide in Yemen by the Saudi war coalition, the ongoing war for the destruction of Syria and Turkey's attack on the Kurds in northeast Syria." In other words, the claim that "Western" countries have the moral high ground to dictate and intervene in the affairs of others is soundly dismissed.

The activists raised the alarm about Germany's increasing militarization. They explained that since 1992, the Defence Policy Guidelines of the German government define the "maintenance of global free trade and unrestricted access to markets and raw materials around the world" as "vital German security interests." The German government has pledged to double its 2018 level of military spending by 2031. Germany and France have the most expensive weapons programs in Europe, and the massive rearmament of the German army can only be for purposes of aggressive intervention, not defence, and is part of the overall militarization of the European Union, the activists noted. This, they pointed out, is a continuation of the rearmament of Germany when, 20 years ago, a coalition government of the Social Democratic Party and Green Party authorized Germany's participation in NATO's illegal invasion of Yugoslavia.

As the example of Yugoslavia shows, the wars waged by NATO countries to enforce power and economic interests cost countless lives, devastate entire regions of the world, rob future generations of their livelihood and drive people en masse to flee, the anti-war activists pointed out. Yet, fully aware of these consequences, "the representatives of the Western 'community of values' continue to escalate."

The latest MSC underscores that so-called Western values and the countries whose governments espouse them through threat of force and the use of force by NATO and other aggressive means, face an irreversible crisis. What is key is that the working people of the world rise to the challenge of the times, continue to speak in their own name, actively oppose NATO warmongering and organize and empower themselves so that the crises facing humanity are resolved in favour of the people and the interests of international peace.

(Photos: Anti Siko, Sabine, Pressenza Deutch, M. Bernstein, Indian Solidarity Network)

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U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement

People's Forces Not Diverted 

March in Manila, Philippines, on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2019, part of ongoing fight
of the people against the brutal Duterte regime.

On February 11, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines informed the U.S. government that he is terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement signed between the Philippines and the U.S. in 1999. Media reports speculate that he took this action in response to the U.S. government cancelling the travel visa for Senator Ronald de la Rosa, one of Duterte's cronies and the former head of the Philippine National Police, who is responsible for executing Duterte's so-called "war on drugs," under which an estimated 30,000 people have been killed and a reign of terror perpetrated targeting progressive people and their mass organizations.

Philippine revolutionary and patriotic forces have since day one demanded the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and other unequal treaties, and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Philippine territory.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) notes that the Visiting Forces Agreement is an affront to the sovereignty of the Philippines. "These unequal treaties allow U.S. military forces to control the security and intelligence apparatuses of the Manila government, to maintain secret facilities and stockpile weapons on Philippine territory, as well as to commit crimes against the Filipino people, including rape and murder," the NDFP underscores.

The Visiting Forces Agreement is part of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defence Treaty of 1951 and the 2014 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement which enables the U.S. to carry out joint military exercises with the Philippines military and assist the Philippine state in repression of the people and the national liberation struggle being waged by the New People's Army under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The Visiting Forces Agreement is the Philippine-U.S. version of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which the U.S. has concluded with more than 100 countries around the world. Such agreements are instruments of U.S. occupation and impunity, and enable the U.S. to place troops and weapons in countries around the world, such as in south Korea where it has THAAD missiles and other weapons, 28,500 U.S. troops and military bases to threaten the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and China.

Jose Maria Sison, the Chief Consultant of the NDFP notes that it will take six months before the withdrawal from the Visiting Forces Agreement takes effect and many things can happen between now and then. He says that there are many in the leadership of the Philippines Armed Forces who were trained in the U.S. and who are paid agents of the CIA and U.S. secret service who have a vested interest in maintaining the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. and who will be told to oppose Duterte because the agreement is vital to U.S. hegemonic interests in the Philippines, East and South East Asia, and the world.

The fighting people of the Philippines have their own long experience with the U.S. imperialists. In the civil war that they are waging against the Philippine state -- which defends the private interests of the rich local capitalists and landlords and gives carte blanche access to foreign monopolies, including Canadian mining companies and others to rape and pillage the people and resources of the Philippines -- they have kept the initiative in their hands. They are waging armed struggle with the New People's Army under the seasoned leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines to rid their islands of the domination of U.S. imperialism and its military and all foreign interests that exploit and oppress their peoples. They will not be diverted by the shenanigans of Duterte who is caught in the web of U.S. and other big power manoeuvring for geopolitical control of the region for their own narrow interests.

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Communist Party of Vietnam's 90th Anniversary

Vietnamese People Celebrate Momentous Achievements of Their Party

Cultural performance in Hanoi, February 1, 2020, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

On February 3, the people of Vietnam marked the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), founded by their legendary leader Ho Chi Minh.

General Secretary of the CPV Central Committee and President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong speaks in Hanoi, February 3, 2020.

At a ceremony in Hanoi, General Secretary of the CPV Central Committee and President Nguyen Phu Trong stated that the CPV is the only political organization in Vietnam with the quality, brainpower, experience, prestige and capacity to lead the country to overcome all difficulties and challenges, and drive the national revolutionary cause from one victory to the next.

Those in attendance included Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and many other incumbent and former leaders of the Party, State and Vietnam Fatherland Front, and veteran revolutionaries.

President Nguyen looked back over the process of the establishment, training, devotion and development of the CPV and highlighted the historical significance of its founding on February 3, 1930.

"The Vietnamese revolution's diverse and vivid reality over the past 90 years has demonstrated that the Party's sound and clear-sighted leadership is a leading decisive factor to ensure all revolutionary victories and make many exploits in Vietnam," he said.

Mentioning Vietnam's achievements during nearly 35 years of reform, President Nguyen said Vietnam has emerged as a developing country whose people have reached middle-income status. Its politics and society have been stabilized; national defence-security, independence and sovereignty have been firmly maintained, and its position and prestige in the international arena have been enhanced.

The country has to date joined most international organizations and become an active and responsible member of the international community, he stressed, noting that Vietnam was recently elected for the second time as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in a landslide vote.

On the front of party-building, President Nguyen emphasized the need to carry forward Vietnam's beautiful traditions, while maintaining and building on the Party's revolutionary nature and its pioneering role. He said that the Party must be principled and strong when it comes to its politics, ideology, morality, apparatus and personnel. It must revamp its leadership methods, strengthen the close-knit relations between the Party and people, prevent and counteract degradation, and enhance the Party's ability to lead and fight the battles to come.

President Nguyen also pointed out major tasks in 2020 -- the final year of the 12th National Party Congress -- such as completing all socio-economic development targets, reinforcing macro-economic stability, accelerating the implementation of strategic breakthroughs, restructuring the national economy in tandem with reforming the growth model, ensuring social security and welfare and improving people's living standards.

He also called for greater efforts to firmly maintain national independence and sovereignty, as well as  a peaceful and stable environment to serve national development and promote external relations.

He said, attention must be paid to the successful organization of Party congresses at all levels, in working towards the 13th National Party Congress, as well as to the implementation of resolutions on party-building adopted at the fourth plenums of the 11th and 12th Party Central Committees, and the Politburo's Directive No. 5 on promoting the study and implementation of President Ho Chi Minh's theory and practice, to strengthen party-building and rectification work.

The CPV received congratulations from political leaders and parties from around the world.

Educating the Younger Generations About the Party

Cultural performance "Mau co toi yeu" in Hanoi, February 1, 2020.

A contest to educate Vietnamese youth at home and in the diaspora about Vietnam and the CPV culminated with an awards ceremony during an art performance titled "Mau co toi yeu" (The flag colour I love) on February 1 in Hanoi.

Organized on the social network VCNET by the Party Central Committee Commission for Popularization and Education, the contest aimed to celebrate the founding of the CPV and the upcoming 13th National Party Congress. Eighteen weeks of competition began August 22, 2019, and was open to all Vietnamese teenagers and youth,  9-30 years of age, at home and abroad. The 138 questions were related to the history of the CPV, highlighting the historic moments which were connected to the country's important achievements under the leadership of the CPV and President Ho Chi Minh, especially in earlier struggles for national liberation, national construction and protection as well as the current renewal process.

The organizing committee awarded 198 prizes, including 18 first prizes, 36 second prizes, 54 third prizes and 90 consolation prizes.

Book Launch

The book Nguyen Ai Quoc -- Ho Chi Minh on the Way of Founding the Communist Party of Vietnam by Associate Professor Dr. Le Van Yen, was launched on February 6 by the People's Public Security Publishing House. It has three chapters: Ho Chi Minh -- From a Patriotic Person to a Communist Soldier; Ho Chi Minh's Activities and Contributions to International Communist Movements; and Ho Chi Minh -- the Founder of the CPV.

Release of Anniversary Stamp

A stamp celebrating the CPV's anniversary was revealed to the public on January 31. Designed by painter To Minh Trang of the Vietnam Post Corporation, it features the number 90 on the Party's flag with a portrait of the late President Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the Party. It includes an image of a dove representing peace and national independence. Also featured are images that represent the country's achievements in the economy, industrialization and modernization under the Party's leadership.

Celebrations in Ho Chi Minh City

A program of artistic performances and a photo exhibition were organized in Ho Chi Minh City on the occasion of the CPV's anniversary.

The art program featured 200 artists performing works celebrating the achievements of the Party and Ho Chi Minh, as well as glorious feats of the Vietnamese army and people in the struggle for national liberation, national unity, and the construction and defence of the country.

The photo exhibition about the leadership of CPV, located on Nguyen Hue Street, was comprised of 300 black-and-white and colour photos featuring all of the important struggles taken up under the Party’s leadership over the past nine decades, and the city's revolutionary tradition.

(With files from VNA, CPV Online Newspaper. Photos: CPV, VNA, thanhuytphcm.vn )

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Celebration in Toronto

On February 1, a commemorative meeting was held at the Steelworkers Hall in Toronto to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) by the legendary leader of the Vietnamese people, Ho Chi Minh. The meeting was organized by the Canada-Vietnam Friendship Society, whose main aim is to strengthen and promote fraternal ties between the Vietnamese and Canadian peoples.

The first speaker was Ms. Thanh Trinh, a Vietnamese youth who is studying at York University. In her presentation, Ms. Thanh highlighted the work of the CPV in mobilizing Vietnamese youth in all aspects of nation-building. She noted that youth were front and centre in Vietnam's long struggle for independence and that this legacy has been brought forward today with youth in Vietnam being trained by the CPV in the Communist Youth League and other organizations to take their place as leaders of Vietnamese society, by contributing their individual and collective skills and talents to the nation. She pointed out that there are many Vietnamese youth who are students in Canadian post-secondary institutions who will return to Vietnam and contribute to building their country.

Speaking on behalf of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), Louis Lang paid tribute to the historic contribution of Ho Chi Minh, who concluded early on in Vietnam's anti-colonial struggle that without a communist party guided by Marxist-Leninist theory, the Vietnamese people would not be able to crown their struggle for independence and self-determination with victory. He noted that the legacy of Ho Chi Minh lives today in the CPV as a seasoned revolutionary political party that is able to renovate and strengthen itself in the face of complex international developments and to continue to inspire, lead and organize the people to meet the goals that Vietnam sets for itself. He noted that the role of the CPV has been decisive in raising the prestige of Vietnam both in the eyes of its citizens and internationally.

One of the main things Louis pointed out was that the example of the CPV shows that the current campaign by the defenders of liberal democracy to caricature the communist party and communism is to cover up their own crimes, and that without a communist party guided by Marxist-Leninist theory, the people are left without the outlook needed to help them find their bearings in today's complex political world. He concluded by observing that the CPV has renovated itself so that it is up to the task of mobilizing the Vietnamese people to strengthen their socialist democracy and build their independent economy while standing for peace and fraternal relations with all nations and peoples. He extended warmest greetings and congratulations to the CPV.

Many people who joined in the discussion that followed were youth at the time of the Vietnam War. They spoke about their experience of the inspiration provided to the whole world by the valiant Vietnamese people, who stood together under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh and the CPV to organize the people to make the sacrifices necessary to defeat the U.S. imperialists. For example, Rolf Gerstenberger, former president of United Steelworkers Local 1005 in Hamilton, who was born in the U.S., spoke of resisting the draft, giving up his U.S. citizenship and moving to Canada, like tens of thousands of others. He said that as a Canadian, he participated with the youth of the day to oppose the U.S. war in Vietnam and noted that at that time the Marxist-Leninists in Canada were in the forefront of the anti-war movement. He said that to see today what Vietnam has been able to accomplish under the leadership of the CPV is truly inspiring.

Following a break for refreshments and a cultural program, the chair of the meeting thanked everyone for coming and called on them to help build the Canada-Vietnam Friendship Society and strengthen the relations between the people of Vietnam and Canada in the interests of peace and friendship.

(Photos: TML)

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