VANCOUVER - About 800 people rallied in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery April 25 to oppose the NATO war against Yugoslavia. After being addressed by a number of speakers, the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate. The protest by the "Anti-war Coalition" was organized around the demands "Stop the bombing of Yugoslavia," "NATO out of the Balkans," and "Canada out of NATO."
After a sharp debate, the coalition, in a close vote, had decided not to take a position for or against the right to self-determination for Kosova. Instead, the coalition called for "No forced expulsions." As a result there were speakers at the rally who took opposite stands on the fight of the Kosovar Albanians for their national self-determination.
The Communist League and the Young Socialists were able to carry a banner in the march and put up a table with demands opposing NATO's war and supporting the fight for an independent Kosova.
A few Serbian chauvinists were openly hostile to the slogan "Independence for Kosova." Many students and workers, however, were interested in discussing how supporting independence for Kosova strengthens the defense of the Yugoslav workers state.
Following the rally, the Young Socialists held an open house at the Pathfinder bookstore. Speaking there, Young Socialists member Aiden Ball explained that among the imperialist countries, "There is a drive towards war, and today the conflicts are becoming sharper and the weapons more devastating."
Dragan Jovanovic, a young worker and a supporter of the Militant who is Yugoslav, also spoke. He explained the conflict in Yugoslavia is not an age-old ethnic dispute, as the big-business media presents it. Jovanovic argued that the only way forward was to unite the Yugoslav working class, as had happened during the Yugoslav revolution in the 1940s, on the basis of support for the national rights of all of Yugoslavia's peoples, including the right of the Kosovar Albanians to form an independent country.
A group of five high school students came from the rally to the open house. One of these students, Marjory Ditmars, explained they had talked about the war in a discussion group. Ditmars said that in the group "most of us came to the conclusion there were two issues involved," support for Kosova's independence and opposing the imperialist war.
Another student, Jesses Winter, explained they had attended a meeting where David Orchard spoke against the war. Orchard, a prominent Canadian nationalist, recently was second in the elections for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. The students were repelled during Orchard's meeting when people in the crowd shouted down "an Albanian man who asked why he [Orchard] skipped over the issue of the Albanians in Kosova." Orchard is a prominent demagogue in the small section of the Canadian bourgeoisie that opposes the war. He argues that the Serbian dominated government of Yugoslavia is justified in taking military action to prevent Kosova from becoming independent. He insists that Ottawa would need to take similar action if Quebec declared its independence from Canada.
Through the rally and open house, members and supporters of the Communist League and the Young Socialists sold 46 copies of the Militant, one subscription, and eight copies of The Truth About Yugoslavia: Why Working People Should Oppose Intervention.
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