Connecticut Activists Rally in Solidarity with Ukrainian Victims of the Russian Invasion
by Erwin Freed, Socialist Resurgence, March 8, 2022
[Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in its entirety at socialistresurgence.org/2022/03/08/connecticut-activists-rally-in-solidarity-with-ukrainian-victims-of-the-russian-invasion].
Responding to an international call initiated by major antiwar groups, activists in Connecticut organized an emergency protest at the Federal Court Building in New Haven in solidarity with Ukrainian victims of the ongoing Russian invasion on March 6. The main slogans of the international call, initiated by Code Pink and two British antiwar coalitions, were “Stop the War in Ukraine! Russian Troops Out! No to NATO expansion!” The international call also opposed U.S./EU sanctions against Russia, which are a way of waging war by economic means, and demanding opening borders to refugees.
Endorsers of the Sunday action included Unidad Latina en Acción, New Era Young Lords, Promoting Enduring Peace, Mending Minyon, 350CT, International Marxist Tendency (Socialist Revolution), Socialist Resurgence, and a number of individual members of local clergy, labor, and other social movement groups. The protest was quickly organized on an emergency basis in a collaborative manner with much collective discussion on slogans, speakers, and building activities by activists from endorsing groups. Despite the limited time to build the action and bad weather conditions, over 100 people showed up to listen to a broad range of speakers, to stand in solidarity with Ukrainians struggling against Russian occupation and against U.S./NATO intervention.
Speakers at the demonstration connected the war on Ukraine and mounting inter-imperialist militarism with a diverse range of different local and international issues. Stanley Heller of Promoting Enduring Peace kicked off the rally by denouncing the Russian invasion and calling for international solidarity for the Ukrainian people and Russian antiwar activists, as well as victims of imperialist violence in Syria and Yemen.
Melinda Tuhus, speaking on behalf of 350 Connecticut, spoke about the devastating human and environmental cost of militarism. Melinda pointed out how “the war in Ukraine highlights dirty energy’s role in destabilizing our geopolitics,” giving specific examples of how the war and responses by various countries and companies have horrific implications for the environment. This includes a planned increase in liquified natural gas by the United States, a type of fuel whose production releases methane emissions, which are 100 times worse for the climate than CO2. She pointed out that “militaries around the world, with the U.S. far in the lead, consume massive amounts of oil and gas” and that the U.S. military’s almost $800 billion budget should be converted to human needs.
Nika Zarazvand, a local Iranian activist involved with many struggles for justice, spoke about the devastating effects of sanctions for working and oppressed people. She mentioned her own experience: “As an immigrant from Iran, I am used to people not knowing anything about my country other than the talking points of sanctions and nuclear weapons.” She continued that her family members in Iran were unable to access COVID vaccines, PPE, and health care due to the crippling unilateral sanctions on Iran. In the U.S., Nika’s family members “are interrogated for over two hours at their own bank … because they send money to Iranian medical students in Ukraine.”