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Cablegate: Anti-War Protests in Halifax

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HALIFAX 0086

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

DEPT FOR DS/IP/WHA, DS/DSS/ITA, DS/ICI/PII, DSERCC, WHA/EX

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PREL CA US
SUBJECT: ANTI-WAR PROTESTS IN HALIFAX


1. SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - ENTIRE TEXT.

2. (SBU) AS REPORTED VIA E-MAILS OVER THE PAST WEEK, CONGEN
HALIFAX HAS BEEN THE SITE OF THREE MAJOR (BY ATLANTIC CANADA
STANDARDS) ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATIONS SINCE THE COMMENCEMENT OF
HOSTILITIES IN IRAQ. ALL THREE PROTESTS---ORGANIZED BY A
COMBINATION OF MILITANT STUDENT GROUPS, CHURCH GROUPS, AND THE
SELF-STYLED "HALIFAX PEACE COALITION"---TOOK THE FORM OF MARCHES
ACROSS TOWN, ENDING UP IN FRONT OF THE OFFICE BUILDING HOUSING
THE CONGEN. ALL THREE TOOK PLACE WITHOUT VIOLENCE, ALTHOUGH
DEMONSTRATORS ENGAGED IN STRONG ANTI-U.S. RHETORIC AND BURNED
U.S. FLAGS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.

3. (SBU) BOTH HALIFAX REGIONAL POLICE AND THE ROYAL CANADIAN
MOUNTED POLICE (RCMP) TRACKED THE DEMONSTRATIONS CAREFULLY AND
PROVIDED PROTECTION TO CONGEN OFFICES, PROVIDING 20-30 UNIFORMED
POLICE OFFERS AT EACH EVENT. RCMP CONTACTS HAVE KEPT CG AND PSO
INFORMED IN DETAIL OF THESE AND OTHER PLANNED PROTEST
ACTIVITIES.

4. (SBU) THE FIRST DEMONSTRATION OCCURRED AT 1400 HOURS (LOCAL)
ON THURSDAY, MARCH 20. APPROXIMATELY 100 PROTESTERS ARRIVED AT
THE FRONT ENTRANCE TO THE OFFICE BUILDING (PURDYQS TOWER II) IN
WHICH CONGEN HAS ITS NINTH-FLOOR OFFICES. THE DEMONSTRATORS
CHANTED, PLAYED DRUMS, AND SOUNDED AIR HORNS FOR ABOUT 25
MINUTES BEFORE DEPARTING. THE PROTESTERS ALSO THREW BAGS OF
WATER-SOLUBLE PAINT AT THE FRONT ENTRANCE AREA AND DREW FIGURES
AND GRAFFITI ON THE STREET WITH CHALK. BUILDING MAINTENANCE
QUICKLY CLEANED THE AREA.

5. (SBU) THE SECOND DEMONSTRATION OCCURRED LATER THE SAME DAY AT
1755 HOURS. MORE THAN 600 PROTESTERS ARRIVED AS A GROUP AT THE
FRONT ENTRANCE TO PURDYQS TOWER II. THE DEMONSTRATION LASTED
ABOUT ONE HOUR AND FEATURED SEVERAL SPEAKERS. THE CROWD WAS
WELL BEHAVED AND DEPARTED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SPEECHES.

6. (SBU) THE THIRD DEMONSTRATION TOOK PLACE ON SATURDAY, MARCH
22. PROTESTERS ARRIVED WITH POLICE ESCORT AT THE FRONT OF
PURDYQS TOWER II AT ABOUT 1400 HOURS. PROTESTERS ORGANIZED BY
THE "HALIFAX PEACE COALITION" MARCHED ACROSS TOWN CARRYING IRAQI
FLAGS, ANTIWAR BANNERS, AND ANTI-U.S. PLACARDS. SEVERAL
DEMONSTRATORS BURNED A LARGE U.S. FLAG WHEN THEY ARRIVED IN
FRONT OF THE CONSULATE. STUDENT LEADERS, CHURCH LEADERS, AND
MEMBERS OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY DELIVERED SPEECHES AND CHANTING
SLOGANS EXCORIATING THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, IN SOME CASES USING
FAIRLY VIRULENT LANGUAGE. SEVERAL TV NEWS CREWS COVERED THE
EVENT. MEDIA REPORTS DESCRIBED THE CROWD AS NUMBERING BETWEEN
1,000-2,000, BUT WE CONSERVATIVELY ESTIMATE THE TOTAL NUMBER AT
CLOSER TO 600-800.

7. (SBU) INDICATIONS OF A MAJOR ANTI-U.S. PROTEST AT THE CG
RESIDENCE FORCED CONGEN HALIFAX TO CANCEL A LARGE RECEPTION WE
WERE SCHEDULED TO HOLD THERE ON MARCH 25. POLICE AND UNIVERSITY
OFFICIALS WARNED US THAT THEY HAD RECEIVED CLEAR INDICATIONS
THAT STUDENT GROUPS WERE ORGANIZING THEMSELVES TO CONDUCT A
MAJOR PROTEST AT THE CG RESIDENCE TO DISRUPT OUR RECEPTION.
SOME OF THE 30 LOCAL ART STUDENTS WHO WERE TO ATTEND THE
RECEPTION AS GUESTS OF HONOR HAD BEEN THREATENED AND PRESSURED
TO BOYCOTT THE RESIDENCE. ON THE ADVICE OF THE RCMP, WE
POSTPONED THE EVENT.

COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) THESE DEMONSTRATIONS ARE SMALL COMPARED TO THOSE THAT
HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN LARGER CANADIAN CITIES SUCH AS TORONTO OR
MONTREAL, BUT SIGNIFICANT BY HALIFAX STANDARDS. AS IS USUALLY
THE CASE IN THE MARITIMES, THE PROTESTORS ARE CONDUCTING
THEMSELVES IN A RESTRAINED, MOSTLY NON-VIOLENT MANNER. THE FACT
THAT CONGEN HALIFAX IS LOCATED IN A LARGE OFFICE BUILDING
(CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC ON WEEKENDS) WHICH ALSO HOUSES DOZENS OF
OTHER COMPANIES TENDS TO UNDERCUT ANY DANGER OF DIRECT ACTION
AGAINST OUR OFFICES. WE UNDERSTAND THAT MILITANT STUDENT GROUPS
AND THE "HALIFAX PEACE COALITION" INTEND TO ORGANIZE PROTESTS
EVERY SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN FRONT OF THE OFFICE BUILDING HOUSING
THE CONGEN.

9. (SBU) WE ARE COORDINATING CLOSELY WITH THE RCMP, THE HALIFAX
REGIONAL POLICE, AND OUR OWN BUILDING SECURITY PEOPLE TO
MINIMIZE ANY RISK. PSO HAS REVIEWED PROCEDURES WITH THE LOCAL
CONTRACT GUARD TO CONTROL ACCESS TO THE ENTRANCE OF THE
CONSULATEQS OFFICE SPACE. NO PROTESTERS HAVE TARGETED THE CG
RESIDENCE AS OF YET, BUT RCMP CONTACTS HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THE
LOCATION OF THE RESIDENCE IS KNOWN TO LOCAL ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS.
KASHKETT

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