The Guardian October 3, 2001


Act now for peace!

Anti-war demonstrations have erupted in over 40 countries in the two 
weeks since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and the 
militarist response of the US and some other governments. More and more 
people are taking to the streets to counter the war danger.

More than 180 demonstrations have already taken place around the world, 
bringing on to the streets an estimated 285,000 people. A very wide range 
of community, trade union, political, solidarity and other organisations 
are backing and taking part in the peace actions.

In Rome 100,000 marched, in Naples 30,000 in Washington upwards of 20,000, 
in Athens 10,000. The biggest peace action to have taken place in Amsterdam 
since 1980 brought 10,000 people on to that city's streets. Over 150 
organisations supported the action.

Demonstrations have already taken place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, 
Adelaide and Perth. The Sydney demonstration drew upwards of 1500 people 
with a meeting at Town Hall Square, followed by a march to Martin Place and 
a further meeting there. A number of organisations formed the Network 
Opposing War and Racism (NOWAR). The meeting was addressed by speakers from 
the Muslim and Afghani communities, the Greens, the Communist Party, the 
Socialist Alliance, the NTEU and a church group.

All are united on the common NOWAR aims which are:

* No War!
* No Australian support for war
* No racist scapegoating
* Respect democratic rights!

The next Sydney demonstration will take place on Saturday, October 13. 
Sydney-siders are urged to keep that day free and to make it a tremendous 
show of strength with thousands more demonstrating that there is a 
democracy of the streets which is committed to a peaceful world without 
racism.

Dangerous build up

Meanwhile the dangerous build up of military and naval forces continues in 
the Middle East threatening military action against Afghanistan.

While the target is said to be the oppressive Taliban regime and Osama bin 
Laden, the statements of American leaders that the US is facing an 
"infinite war", is a clear message that many other countries are also in 
the sights of the US administration.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the US would engage in a "multi-
headed effort" to target terrorist organisations and up to 60 countries 
believed to be supporting them. The US "had no choice" other than to pursue 
terrorists and countries giving them refuge, he said.

In pursuit of this objective the US has initiated and rushed through a 
resolution at the UN Security Council which demanded that all nations 
freeze finances of suspected terrorists and crack down on groups that help 
them.

The measure requires countries to deny "safe haven" to anyone responsible 
for, or supporting a terror attack, and criminalises the financing of such 
attacks.

The resolution, which was voted for unanimously, stipulates economic and 
diplomatic sanctions or the use of military force against countries which 
fail to comply with Security Council decisions.

However, it does not define a terrorist and provides a blank cheque to be 
used against any country that the US may brand in the future as harbouring 
or allegedly financing what the US might choose to regard as a terrorist.

Russia and China have stressed that any anti-terrorist operations should be 
conducted under the principles of the UN Charter and international law and 
must have specific targets and conclusive evidence. The two countries have 
also declared that it is necessary to avoid hurting innocent people and 
that any action taken should "boost global peace and development".

Military force

The present military force being assembled under the command of the US is 
NOT acting with any UN authority. The threatened US action is NOT covered 
by any UN resolution. It has NOT even been discussed formally by the UN 
Security Council.

Furthermore, talk by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the danger of 
biological and nuclear weapons being used by unnamed terrorists against 
unnamed targets has taken all the pressure and focus off the need to reduce 
existing stockpiles of such weapons and to end their production altogether. 
It is no accident that the US has the world's biggest nuclear and 
biological arsenal. Such speculation also provides the US with a 
justification to continue on with its "star wars" missile defence system.

The best guarantee for peace is the mass actions of the people on the 
streets uniting every person and every organisation that opposes the 
carnage of endless war. War will not end terrorism but will promote it. 
Violence begets violence and to quote Mahatma Ghandi: "An eye for an eye 
makes the whole world blind", while a Chinese proverb also declares that 
"One who pursues revenge should dig two graves".

It is not too late to act!

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