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!