Milwaukee, WI – On August 26, organizers with the Milwaukee Anti-war Committee (MAC) and their supporters, numbering around 20 in total, gathered in downtown Milwaukee to protest the threats of the U.S. government at intervening in the internal politics of the west African country of Niger.
Remi Schueler, the emcee of the event, began by explaining the situation in Niger to the crowd that had gathered. A month before, a military government took power in Niger, led by the commander general of the presidential guard, Abdourahamane Tchiani. Tchiani quickly proclaimed that Niger would no longer be welcoming to former colonial powers and that the wealth of the country would no longer be freely accessible to them. Further, Tchiani moved to align with other recently established governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.
These decisions did not sit well with the U.S government and their European allies. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a Western-aligned organization that threatened combined military intervention if Tchiani and his new government do not step aside. Mass protests have occurred in Niger demonstrating support for the Tchiani leadership and their new anti-colonial outlook.
The crowd in Milwaukee stood in solidarity with the mass protests in Niger, chanting, “From Niger to the Philippines, end the U.S. war machine!” “Hands off Niger!” and “Got money for war? Feed the poor!”
The spirited group marched from their initial meet-up location of Red Arrow Park to City Hall, where they stopped to hear speeches from Milwaukee Anti-war Committee, the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR), Students for a Democratic Society chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (SDS-UWM), and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Farzad Ghodsi, speaking for MAC, brought up the real reason that the U.S. is so interested in intervening in Niger, stating, “Democracy is clearly not under threat in Niger, so what possible reason do the U.S. and France have for this intervention? Perhaps what’s more important for the U.S. are the three, formerly four, active drone bases that give them the power to unilaterally kill anyone they see fit in the region in coordination with their AFRICOM bases.”
Offering perspectives from other areas of organizing, Alan Chavoya of MAARPR and Patricia Fish of SDS-UWM connected the events in Niger to the struggles of Black and brown people in the U.S. and the student movement respectively. They both stressed the Nigerien people’s right to self-determination and related it to the denial of rights at home. Fish said, “the U.S. doesn’t care about the people of other countries – they don’t even care about their own people. All that matters to the American government and military is resources, money, and power.”
Sam Charnon from FRSO followed them up by naming that the exploitation of Niger and other countries in Africa did not simply “happen.” He said, “When the billionaires and corporations find that their own countries are overripe from exploitation, their insatiable pursuit of profit turns them towards other parts of the world.”
After four rousing speeches, the group marched back to Red Arrow Park, with chants of “Hands off Niger! Hands off Africa!” filling the air.