WOMEN OPPOSE WAR
WOMEN OPPOSE WAR
AS A WOMAN I HAVE NO COUNTRY. AS A WOMAN, MY COUNTRY IS THE WHOLE WORLD.
Newsletter Jan – Apr 2002
With most of the world, we the undersigned women’s organisations, condemn both the tragic events of September 11 and the war unleashed by the US on the people of Afghanistan as deplorable acts of terrorism. We condemn the slaughter of thousands of Afghans, the destruction of cities, the bombing of hospitals and old people’s homes, and most of all the trauma, horror and suffering caused by this war to ostensibly avenge the crimes committed by Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. Victimising thousands of poor ordinary people who have already suffered 23 years of the destruction and devastation of war in no way can wipe out the roots of terrorism.
It is common knowledge that the terrorist groups the US is trying to eliminate were its own creation. In addition, the US has trained, supported, and supplied with arms various groups, invasions, and dictators all over the world. The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, in Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the millions who died in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama — are all victims of such state terrorism. Nor has the US been alone in this, for in Afghanistan, if the killing squads were financed by the US, the Russian occupation too was responsible for colossal death and destruction.
And it is well known too that wherever fundamentalism has taken root, women are among its first victims. In Afghanistan, after the Taliban came back to power with CIA support, it unleashed a reign of terror whose fist victims were its own people, particularly women. It closed down girls’ schools, dismissed women from government jobs, and enforced Shariat laws under which women deemed to be “immoral” are stoned to death, and widows assumed to be guilty of being adulterous are buried alive.
OPPOSE RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM ACROSS THE GLOBE
Religious fundamentalism and military aggression are two sides of patriarchy, that aim to seek control and wield power over women and other oppressed sections. The struggle for abortion rights by women in the US and other parts of the western world is a struggle against such fundamentalist governments and policies. The denial of education to women in Afghanistan, acid throwing attacks on young women to impose the burkha in Kashmir, the attacks by the Hindu Right in India on films depicting lesbian love or the travails of widowhood are all part of the same orchestrated campaign of religious fundamentalists to terrorise and control women. The women’s movement opposes the forces of religious fundamentalism whether they are from the US or Afghanistan or from India or Pakistan because fundamentalist forces in essence trample upon all democratic and women’s rights and seek to reverse the gains made by women’s liberation movements.
WAR IS PATRIARCHY
We see the violence, death and destruction caused by wars as an extension of the violence we confront daily within the family, in the community, and by the state. We have seen the aftermath of war and related crimes; thousands of women have lived through the burden of bearing the “honour” of the community and nation in war after war. Bruised minds and battered bodies: that is all war achieves. In 1992, more than 20,000 women and girls were raped in the Balkans followed by 15,700 in Rwanda.
The disruption of normal life in military situations adds additional burdens and dangers to women’s continuing responsibility for subsistence and household provisioning. The militarisation of our societies has made brutalisation a way of life. War films, war toys and video games, and daily violence in films and on television have created a militaristic chauvinistic macho culture. For women, this means an increase in violence within the home and by the “custodians of law”. As women, we are deeply concerned about the increased regional hostility, fanning of communal hatred and violence, and the deepening of inequality and prejudices being caused by this war.
THE POLITICS OF MILITARISATION
The increasing communalisation of politics can lead to more violence and war. In both India and Pakistan, in the name of ‘security’, the state is already becoming more repressive and intolerant of dissent. National security is being used as an excuse for both Pakistan and India to increase their levels of militarisation. National and religious chauvinism built on mutual hostility becomes the binding force to maintain the nation state. It becomes possible, even commendable, to kill, humiliate, maim and threaten citizens of another country, religious or ethnic group, or nationality in the name of preserving the unity of one’s own country.
The existence of any manufacturing base for armament production in India creates a demand for more and more wars and lays the material basis for Indian dominance in the South Asian region. In the 1980s, India’s defence expenditure shot up from Rs 4,329 cores to 14,500 crores in 1989-90. It is 66,382 crores (2000-2001) today, which is more than what the central government spends on health, education, women and child “welfare” and other social services put together!! This is also 89% higher than the entire country’s expenditure on primary education!! The doubling of the defence expenditure in just the last 5 years in India, the biggest ever increase since independence, shows the priorities of our war mongers in a country in which people continue to die of starvation deaths.
The global arms export market is valued at 54.2 billion dollars of which US controls 50% while Britain, France together control 30%. Russia, China, Germany, Israel, South Africa, Belgium etc control the rest. Only because weapons of war, huge military machines exist everywhere that genocides/war take place. If organised violence, terror, genocide, wars have to end, the military establishment and also the monstrously big police and torturing apparatuses have to be abolished from the face of this. But can one hear even faintly about any such measures from the US and other big powers or any states anywhere?
WHOSE FREEDOM, WHOSE JUSTICE, WHOSE DEMOCRACY?
While claiming to fight for freedom, justice and democracy, the USA is itself behaving in the most unjust and undemocratic manner. Their President has the audacity to threaten the world at large with the words, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” No nation, organization, or individual has the freedom to even express a contrary opinion, let alone act on it.
The USA seeks to avenge the tragic loss of 5,000 lives through bombing Afghanistan. But if the rest of the world were to live by the same logic, then who shall we destroy for the 16,000 who perished at the hands of the US multinational Union Carbide in Bhopal, the 500,000 Iraqi children who died due to US sanctions, the thousands killed in Vietnam by the US military....? Even after victory was already assured for US in the 2nd World War they dropped the horrific nuclear bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demonstrate their awesome killing power to the world. Generations bear the torture and the scars of such irreparable damage.
And yet, if this were a concern about peace and democracy, it should start by destroying its own monstrous stockpile of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. All peace loving people will welcome such a move. But in spite of tens of millions of people around the world, especially in western Europe demanding total nuclear disarmament, the US and other nuclear countries have turned a deaf ear to this. Western powers and US have used every violent means to keep their stranglehold over all resources of the world, particularly oil. Often they have used the weapon of economic blockade to starve people to death, to strangulate them economically. This is almost like a permanent class war waged by the rich and the powerful against the poor and the powerless. Hundreds of millions died and are dying in just over five decades after the 2nd WW due to hunger, disease, wars, genocide, violence and due to the poisoning of the biosphere and ecological disasters.
Large sections of the media everywhere are of course part of the apparatus to manufacture and force consent for the war in the name of democracy, to spread misinformation, to wage campaigns for the rulers, to whip up war hysteria, rabid nationalism, and hatred of the ‘OTHER’.
To speak the truth is to invite the wrath of the local global rulers.
We believe that armed conflict can never be and will never be a substitute for dialogue. The failure to pursue democratic dialogue is to betray the aspirations of millions, to jeopardies the future and to put into question the very existence of democratic institutions and mechanisms.
If we want to end terrorism we need to address all the structured sources of injustices that are increasingly widening the gap between the rich and the poor, men and women, nature and humans and create the pauperization and hopelessness that leads to terrorism. The women’s movement seeks to challenge the structures of oppression that people all over daily face:
the fear of domestic violence within the home
persistent poverty and the desperation it leads to such as to the sale of body and life organs
the loss of our children to a culture of violence and to all kinds of conflicts and wars
the loss of jobs, home, homeland, family and community and becoming a refugee
the invisibility and violation that comes along with being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered in a predominantly homophobic and patriarchal society
the fear of enforced prostitution as a means of survival
the fear of living in a society where rape, molestation, female infanticide, widow burning and witch hunting are daily realities
the authoritarianism of having our voices silenced when ever we dare to protest.
THIS IS NOT OUR WAR. WE REJECT IT UNEQUIVOCALLY.
WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN THIS WAR FOR IT SNATCHES AWAY FROM US THE MOST BASIC RIGHT: THE RIGHT TO LIVE.
We represent forces that are engaged in struggles and processes based on respect for human life, on yearnings, desires, and dreams for a pluralistic peaceful egalitarian world. We raise our voice for peace and freedom against repression, war, terrorism, and pogromist politics to make the world a better place to live in. We are protesting against this war along with thousands and thousands from the US, Britain, France, Germany, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and India.
FOR LOVE PEACE FREEDOM EGALITARIAN VALUES AGAINST DEATH, TERROR AND WAR!!!
Ankur, Action India, Caleri, Forum Against Sexual Harassment (D.U.), Jagori, Kali for Women, Saheli, Sangini, Stree Adhikar Sangathan