ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE (occasional newsletter)
Issue No. 01-2003:
1. APA Joins Anti-Iraq War Actions
2. Reports from the Ground
3. Solidarity Statements
Message of Support to Anti-War Protest and Solidarity to Iraqi People (from the APA Secretariat)
Solidarity Greetings (from the People’s Democratic Party, Indonesia)
Solidarity Message against War on Iraq and for Peace (from Women Making Peace, and other Korean groups)
APA JOINS ANTI-IRAQ WAR ACTIONS
In middle of January this year, hundreds of thousands of peace-loving people around the world filled the streets, plazas, concert halls and other public places with sounds and images of protest against the impending invasion of Iraq by the United States and Britain. Outside the US, the voice of peace echoed loudest in Asia, with APA members taking lead roles in organising anti-Iraq war mobilisations in key cities in the region. The Pakistan Peace Coalition, APA-Japan (in particular, the Peopleâ?Ts Security Forum, People’s Plan Study Group, and Peace Link Hiroshima Kure and Iwakuni), Peopleâ?Ts Democratic Party (Indonesia), Women Making Peace (Korea), Peace Camp (Philippines), Forum Asia (Thailand), Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (Hong Kong) and Committee for Peace Not War (Hong Kong) were among the APA members at the forefront of anti-Iraq war actions this month.
In Japan, APA-Japan participated in organising simultaneous peace actions in at least 23 cities on January 18, with around 8,000 gathering in Tokyo alone. Protest actions were held in the cities of Sapporo, Otaru, Omiya, Kofu, Nagano, Toyama, Kanazawa, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Shjizuoka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Tokushima, Kumamoto, Okinawa, Wakayama, Tottori, Matsue, Fukuoka and Nagasaki in the form of rallies, public lectures, hunger strikes, anti-war concerts and marches to US consulates.
In Hiroshima, Peace Link–Hiroshima, Kure and Iwakuni joined the Hiroshima Committee to Oppose the US War against Iraq and Japanese Emergency Law, which mobilised thousands of people in a two-hour demonstration at the Hiroshima Shirokita Park. The rally was aimed to express solidarity with anti-war movements in the US and all over the world. In Pakistan, the Pakistan Peace Coalition joined forces with anti-war networks, launching demonstrations against the war on Iraq as early as January 9. On January 18, the Anti- War Committee, formed on December 23, 2002 by several political and social organisations, organised a huge mobilisation in front of the US consulate in Lahore. In Rawalpindi, a coalition of peace and civil society organisations mounted on January 18 a large demonstration in the form of a seven-kilometre human chain, with schoolchildren displaying their self-made peace posters.
In Korea, Women Making Peace joined the Pan National Committee for Two Girls Killed by US Military Vehicle and the Korean Action Network Against War, which organised a rally against the war on Iraq and a candlelight vigil for the two girls on January 18.
In the Philippines, Peace Camp, a coalition of organisations and networks working on peace and justice issues in the country, staged an anti-Iraq war rally in front of the US embassy on January 17.
In Hong Kong, ARENA and the Committee for Peace Not War joined local NGOs and regional organisations based in Hong Kong in leading a march towards the offices of the US and British Consulate General on January 18. The mobilisation, which started at 3:00 PM from the Chater Garden in Central, carried in slogans, placards and streamers the appeal “No War in Iraq!”
In Thailand, Forum Asia organised a public discussion on the war on Iraq at the parliament on January 24. Together with other organisations, Forum Asia set up the United Front for Peace of Thailand, which will organise public events leading up to the International Day of Protest on February 15.
REPORTS FROM THE GROUND Tokyo, Japan (on-the-scene report) By Kimiko Ogasawara People’s Security Forum 01/18/2003
We are now at this moment gathering for a peace rally named WORLD PEACE NOW, at Hibiya Park in Tokyo. We have just returned from a peace march where we walked, starting from this park, around Ginza with many young people, including Peace Boat, Chance, trade unions, citizens’ groups, religious people including Buddhists and Christians, and NGOs. Okinawans, Korean residents in Japan, and foreign residents are here wishing for peace. We walked with photographs of Iraqi children and mothers, singing a new peace song, and Buddhists, walked with drums. Just now, messages from ANSWER and APA and was introduced, with reference to the movements in Pakistan, Korea and so on. Some people just came back from visiting Iraq, and reported the situation there. Among them, young nursery school teacher, high school students, a high school teacher who was recently forced to resign his school because of his will to visit Iraq again to become a human shield.
Young musicians held a peace concert this afternoon here, which began by ringing the Bell of Hiroshima Peace Cathedral for three minutes.
From January 13 to 21, seven Okinawans will be visiting Iraq.
Japan By Muto Ichiyo Peopleâ?Ts Plan Study Group 01/19/2003
The World Peace Now action in Tokyo on January 18 had a turnout of approximately 8,000, the largest on the issue of the Iraq war. We started from the Hibiya Park outdoor amphitheatre for a march through Ginza and came back to the same place for the rally. When those at the front of the column arrived at the park from Ginza, those at the end of the column were still about to leave the park.
The action was held by a coalition of 32 groups and networks, with APA-Japan among them. Long-time movement groups, new groups of the young, NGOs, environment groups, and others with different histories and background collaborated.
The 118 action was held as part of the international anti-Iraq war campaign, which was carried out on the same day in 25 different countries. In Japan action was held in 23 places all over the country. (Sapporo, Otaru, Omiya, Kofu, Nagano, Toyama, Kanazawa, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Shjizuoka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokushima, Kumamoto, Okinawa, Wakayama, Tottori, Matsue, Fukuoka).
This can well be the beginning of a new peace action in Japan open to civil society. It was impressive that so many small groups (hundreds) and organizations, whose main concerns were not peace, each with its own voices and expressions, voluntarily participated in the spirit of working together. It was not another “mobilization” but spontaneous self-mobilization. The planning and organizing were done largely by the young generation, which is something new on the Japanese movement scene. The whole action was colorful, cultural, and sonorous, drums of all kinds — Okinawan, Korean, Japanese, jazz, and Nichiren Buddhist drums effectively used to heighten the spirits. Kina Shokichi, a very popular Okinawa musician, closed the Hibiya rally with his peace songs.
In Okinawa, Ms. Taira Etsumi, Kuwae Teruko and two others are on 9-day hunger strike in front of the US consulate in Naha opposing US war against Iraq. Earlier, on January 13, the Okinawa peace liaison council sent a seven-member peace mission to Iraq. Etsumi is the mother of Taira Natsume who heads the mission. The hunger strikers are drawing many people supporting them, turning the space a continuing protest meeting. Around 300 citizens have partially participated in the hunger strike. (Ms. Kuwae in December visited Seoul as part of the APA delegation to convey a solidarity message to the big Korean candle march protesting against the acquittal of US soldiers who had killed two Korean girls).
On January 18, about a hundred Okinawa peace activists went to the US Kaneda airfield to protest. Japanese police and US soldiers came to protect the gate, and protesters chanted “No war on Iraq” messages to GIs beyond the fence. I talked with Ms. Takazato Suzuyo over the phone just now, and she said that GIs coming out through the gate were listening, some showing support. On the base fence a large streamer reading “Don’t kill Iraqis” was put up.
The Asahi Shimbun this morning (January 19) covered the Tokyo event favorably, placing a photo on the front page and printing a long report on an inside page. The Asahi article reported the activities of peace groups in Yokosuka, a major US naval base near Tokyo, to collect signatures in the street for an anti-Iraq war statement. Of the 1,000 signatures, 30 were by US navy crew and their family members. A crewman on the USS Blueridge, the flag ship of the 7th fleet, according to the report, told the peace group that of the 1,100 crew of the ship, 300 were against the planned US attacks on Iraq. A crewman on the aircraft carrier Kittyhawk told the Asahi that he had to obey the order but he did not want to kill human beings.
Korea By Gyung-Lan Jung Women Making Peace 01/20/2003
On 18 January, over 400 people attended the candle lights vigil organized by the Pan National Committee for Two Girls Killed by US Military Vehicle.
The vigil started with the Candle Dance for Peace and Against War and continued with poems, songs and speeches. Solidarity messages from Asian Peace Alliance and East Asia-Puerto Rico-US Women’s Network Against Militarism were read to the participants at the rally. The vigil was a cultural event against war and for revising the US and ROK Status of Forces Agreement.
Later, conservative Christians organized two big rallies against the withdrawal of the United States Forces Korea from Korea and against the North Korea nuclear development program. The rally gathered around 30,000 participants.
On January 25, there will be another big candlelight vigil for revising SOFA and against war and for peace in Seoul.
Rawalpindi, Pakistan By Abdul Hameed Nayyar Pakistan Peace Coalition 01/27/2003
Rawalpindi, the twin town of Islamabad, saw the largest protest in Pakistan. On the 18th of January, a 7-kilometer long human chain was formed for two hours on the main road of Rawalpindi by over 3,000 people at the call of a new coalition of some two dozen organisations formed for protests against the US policies. In the chain were industrial workers, traders, lawyers, school, college and university students and teachers, shanty town dwellers, political workers, members of NGOs, and others. The banners and placards described how the real causes of the impending war on Iraq were oil and Israel, that it was a war meant to consolidate imperialism, and that the Muslims need to combat the US imperialism by joining hands with the rest of the world and not by taking it as a war of religions. Tens of thousands of leaflets were distributed. Among the participants were about a thousand school children in their uniforms who were brought out by their teachers and principals. The children had brought their own posters that they had made in a city-wide competition on peace posters held a couple of days earlier by the protest organisers.
Two interactive street theatre groups gave a number of performances, devised on the politics of hegemony and wars of resources, on street corners and seen by thousands of passers-by. One youth music group rode a truck along the length of the chain singing peace songs. The protesters were of different hues and colours. While at one place Christian missionaries were imploring Jesus Christ to help stop this madness, at another Shiite clergy were cursing the great Satan that the USA is, and at yet another place a communist group was waving red flags and asking workers of the world to rise against capitalism as embodied by the US.
After the protest was over, a child protester of class six asked in all innocence, “The war will not break out now, will it? The coalition now intends to take the protest further, with plans to launch a move to strike at the US corporate interests by boycotting Macdonald’s and KFC franchises and Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. The medium of street theatre will be used for this campaign.
By Roysepta Abimanyu Peopleâ?Ts Democratic Party 01/28/2003
The action started with 100 people at 1:00 PM of January 22, under the banner of Front Anti Imperialis (Anti Imperialist Front). The masses rallied to the US Embassy as planned, but before they reached the premises, a 200-strong police phalanx blocked the rally in front of Tugu Tani (the statues erected as commemoration of the peasants guerrilla fightersâ?T contribution in the independence revolution). Using the arguments that the action was not reported to the police and therefore it broke the demonstration law of 1999, the police forced the masses to withdraw their plan. First, the people marched to Gedung Juang (the building where the radical youth who were the vanguard of independence stayed back in 1944-1946) and made public speeches there. After that, they marched to LBH building (legal aid NGO), and ended their action there. The only media coverage was from SCTV, because the mass arrests that took place in another protest action in front of President Megawati residence in the same afternoon attracted the attention of the media. Some participants of the anti-war action were also arrested. In the morning before the action started, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hasan Wirayudha stressed that the issue on US invasion to Iraq would increase the political turmoil in Indonesia. The Anti Imperialist Front now discussed the possibility of another action on February 6, which is hoped to be more successful than January 22 action.
Lahore, Pakistan By Rizwan Atta Pakistan Peace Coalition 01/31/2003
On January 18, more than 800 activists from different political parties and civil society organizations gathered in front of Hotel Flatties in provincial capital, Lahore, to participate in the protest rally against possible attack on Iraqi people. The event was organized by Anti War Committee Pakistan, which is formed by different progressive political parties, civil society organizations and individual activists. Many organizations brought their banners and play cards. The rally started at around 3:30 p.m. with a large banner in front saying “Stop War on Iraq” and “Down with US imperialismâ”. The participants chanted slogans Stop War.” “Bush, killer of Iraqi people and “We want peace.
The rally was planed to march up to US Consulate but a heavy contingent police forces stopped the march just after it began. An intensive discussion took place between the leaders of the rally and police but the march was not allowed to go further except a few steps. Speakers addressed the rally, exposing the lies of the Bush administration. They emphasized that there is no justification to attack Iraq. A group of protesters managed to sneak to the US Consulate and presented a memorandum to the consulate officials.
Some organizations distributed pamphlets and handbills to create awareness among the general public against the ill effects of war. On December 8, around 150 people attended the seminar on “Possible US Attack: Dangers and Consequences”, which was organized in preparation for the January 18 rally and to promote awareness on the issue. Daily protests were also held at the Mall Road from December 9 to 17.
SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS Message of Support to Anti-War Protests and Solidarity to Iraqi People From the APA Secretariat
The Asian Peace Alliance greets your organisation on this day of anti-war protest. We stand side by side with you in extending our solidarity to the people of Iraq as they face another crisis that promises to heighten their already unimaginable suffering. For there is already a war on Iraq.
The governments of the United States and Britain have consistently been waging a war on its people since the end of the first Gulf War. Over the last 12 years, barbaric economic sanctions have claimed the lives of more than half a million children, according to UNICEF. This means that 5,000 to 6,000 children are killed in Iraq every month, due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition: the direct result of American attacks against water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, electrical generating plants, and communications centers during the Gulf War, and the subsequent imposition of sanctions.
500,000 children. Every single one of them is a young life snuffed out forever by easily preventable causes. It is a human tragedy on a scale few of us can comprehend. How can we comprehend that the infant mortality rate in Iraq rose by 100% between 1991 and 1995? That chronic malnutrition in Iraqi children under 5 shot up by 72% in the 6 years following the Gulf War? That Iraqis are now dying from diseases that were once easily treated in their country? Under the noses of UN inspectors combing Iraq for “evidence” of a weapons programme, very real weapons of mass destruction, economic sanctions, continue to be deployed against the Iraqi people.
It is also often forgotten by the media that a military campaign has continued to be waged against Iraq by the US and its allies over the past 12 years. Almost completely hidden from international scrutiny, US and British planes have continued to bomb Iraq an average of 3-4 times per week, killing hundreds in their enforcement of so-called “no-fly zones.” These no-fly zones blanket more than 60% of Iraq, 60% of a country over which no plane can fly without prior approval from Washington. The cost of reconstructing an economic infrastructure in Iraq is estimated to begin at US$50-60 million. And while most Iraqis are forced to subsist upon an average of US$130 a year, the US has continued to spend $1.4 billion annually on further bombing their battered country.
There is already a war on Iraq. Any further military action by the US and Britain will only increase the suffering of a people who have known only misery, violence, and tragedy for a decade.
Can the world watch, give its tacit consent, as the US and British militaries pummel them even further? How can anyone support this war and still call themselves human? In the name of humanity and peace, it is time to stop this war on the innocent. There is no justification for a new military campaign, and there must be no new military campaign. We extend our strong solidarity to your efforts against the planned escalation of US and British violence on the people of Iraq. Similar efforts are being carried out throughout Asia and around the world. The collective strength of peace loving people around the world can and will stop this insanity. It is also time to end the sanctions, time to let the people of Iraq enjoy their right to life and security. Their suffering must end. We demand peace for the people of Iraq, for the people of Asia, for the people of the world.
Solidarity Greetings from Indonesia From the People’s Democratic Party, Indonesia
Comrades and Friends,
Today we are facing the problem that is continuing day by day to strangle and suffer the majority of the world population, that is militarism and imperialism. After the terrorists attack on WTC building on September 11, 2001, the US, with the unconditional support of the UK, has been trying to establish its power by military might, to dictate the global policies in the interest of the first world countries. The US military power grows in the Asia Pacific, thus its influence intervenes in the domestic politics in the region. What is happening in the Philippines and in the Korean peninsula are clear proof of the rise of US power in many Asian countries.
What is happening these days in Indonesia is a form of resistance — the people of Indonesia against the oppression and deprivation done by the states and governments of the first world countries. The US has destroyed the Afghanistan people’s independence and self-determination as well as robbed their lives, created draconian governments of the Mujahidin, the Taliban, and the newly installed puppet government. Their imperialist interest in the Middle East had brought misery to the Iraqis, and now the US and its allies want to complete their control of the Iraqiâ?Ts oil. These are the facts of the policies pursued by the imperialist powers to destroy and dominate the peoples and countries that hinder or endanger their predatory interests.
Under these conditions, the People’s Democratic Party of Indonesia calls on the peoples of the world to:
1. Stop the US-led invasion to Iraq. 2. Stop imperialist interventions in third world countries, like Venezuela, Columbia, etc. 3. Gather around the International Solidarity to fight against the US imperialist might.
The Central Leadership Committee The People’s Democratic Party Solidarity Message Against War on Iraq and for Peace From Women Making Peace and other Korean groups
We, APA Korea member organizations, extend our strong voice against the US’s impending attack on Iraq. We know that there is no just cause for the US attempt to attack Iraq but craving for oil at innocent Iraqi people’s expense. The Bush administration should immediately stop its attempt to attack Iraq. It should stop its sanctions against Iraq so that innocent people, especially children, women and elderly people will not suffer and become victims any more.
While raising our voice of opposing the US attempt to begin a war in Iraq, we cannot help but turn our eyes to the current nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula which has been escalated since October 2002. In November 2002, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared that the US is capable of waging two wars against Iraq and North Korea and it can win in both frontlines. We demand the US government solve the nuclear issue through peaceful means. The US government should begin dialogue and negotiation with North Korea immediately.
On January 18 2003 there will be another rally, in which Korean people will express their strong opposition against the US war on Iraq and demand the peaceful resolution of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula. We hope that our voices and messages of solidarity for peace and against war will grow throughout Asia and the world. We believe that people’s efforts for peace will make a difference and can change the world.
In Peace and Solidarity,
Women Making Peace Council for National Reconciliation, Self-reliance and Reunification of Korea Korea Nonviolent Peaceforce Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea
ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE © COPYRIGHT
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2003