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In solidarity with the worldwide victims of violence

Opinion article by:
Lieve Snellings (Women in Black/Vrouwen in het Zwart, Leuven)
Dr. Jef De Loof (chairman Artsen voor Vrede, Aalst)
Pol D’Huyvetter (Voor Moeder Aarde, Gent)
Ludo De Brabander (Vrede vzw)
Jennie Van Lerberghe (Moeders voor Vrede/Mothers for Peace)

We are still deeply shocked by the suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. We sympathize with the victims and strongly disapprove of these acts of terror. We also agree that the perpetrators should be found and put on trial. But as pacifist organisations, we call upon the United States and their allies to refrain from the military bravadothey usually display. For just like in New York and Washington hundreds of innocent civilians will be the victims. The enormous stream of innocent Afghan refugees show once again that safety is not a military affair. We should break the cycle of violence and not tolerate that Belgium takes part in a megalomaniac military operation.

It is our opinion that first of all the breeding grounds for acts of violence and terrorism need to be taken away. According to us one of these breeding grounds is the overwhelming poverty that keeps ravaging our “civilised world community”. 20% the world’s population consumes 80% of the raw produce. 3 billion people – half of the world population – lives on less than 2 dollars (2,5 euro) a day. Every day 30.000 innocent children are dying due to the unequal and unjust distribution of the world’s wealth. The overall Gross National Product of the 48 poorest countries is less than the overall capital of the world’s three richest people. This painful inequality has to be handled first. The death of innocent children is a weight on our consciousness and illustrates the selfishness of the thriving West. An increase in defence expenditure is no guarantee for peace. On the contrary. It will only improve the position of the weapons industry on the stock market. Therefore, we demand that the EU not chose warfare, but instead tackles these economical and political inequality. And we ask the EU for immediate programmes that deal with the problem of poverty.

On 11 September we undoubtedly turned an important page in the violent history of humanity. These risky but apparently easy suicide-attacks made the over-armed American authorities and security forces shiver. Their sophisticated weaponry was useless against this kind of attack. Star Wars could not change that. Because every day people who are driven by hatred can turn civil airplanes into murderous bombs.

In 1945 the US-government consciously killed hundreds of thousands of citizens by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not to make Japan surrender – that was already accomplished – but to use and test their new weapon and to make sure the world would know their power. Millions of people were killed in violent and often secret wars, justified by the business interests of the wealthy West. No stone is left unturned by them to ensure that their economical needs are being defended in every place on earth: at the expense of human rights, a livable planet and durable peace. It is not surprising therefore, that the US (and by extension their allies) have created many enemies. Revenge is the last thing humanity needs. It will only add fuel to the flames. We need to take a new road. Peace might come more easily by dropping food instead of bombs on Afghanistan.

It would be a convincing move towards peace if the current political representatives of the US were to apologize to the other peoples – including their indigenous population and the descendants of the slaves. From their early beginnings the US have a history of violence against anybody who formed an obstacle to their economic interests. Over 40 million Native Americans were killed, and are discriminated against until today, rendered invisible, and put away in reservations where their utter poverty cannot be seen by the outside world. Africans were brought into the country as slaves, were exploited, battered, humiliated or killed whenever they resisted or no longer made a good price. After the apologies the US government should start paying compensations to these domestic peoples. US politicians should step down from their ivory tower and take up a position as equal partners of all peoples.

President Bush should make the US participate again in the world community by finally ratifying, and more importantly observing, numerous UN-treaties. One example is the Kyoto agreement, the agreement for the establishment of an international Court of Justice, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the general teststop, etc. In their own country they should start immediately with observing the hundreds of treaties they entered into with the Native Americans. Until today not one of those treaties has been observed.

Together with For Mother Earth, Women in Black, Physicians for Peace, Vrede vzw and Mothers for Peace, we wish to make clear that we resolutely prefer active non-violent resistance to defend basic human rights and a viable environment. We therefore call on everybody to join the national peace walk on Sunday 7 October in Brussels. We meet at 3pm at the Noordstation (Albert II-laan).

The slogans are:
In solidarity with the victims of violence throughout the world

  1. break the cycle of violence
  2. no revenge but justice
  3. no Belgian participation in a war
  4. disarmament for development
  5. respect, stop racism

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last updated: 13th of June 2005
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