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DAGAinfo

29 September 2001
No. 124


In this issue:
  1. FEATURE
    How can the US bomb this tragic people?
    We have to learn to listen to be free.
    The Challenge of Terror
  2. Statements from September 11, 2001
    USA - I will not put more innocent lives at risk
    Palestine - The View from Palestine
    Indonesia - Jihad in Islam: A Look Behind the Myths
    NCC-USA - Deny Them Their Victory: Religious Response to Terrorism
    NCC-Philippines - LEARN FROM HISTORY - - HEED THE PEOPLE'S CRIES
    NCC-Japan - We strongly demand peace without military force!
  3. NEWS in Brief
    Japan - Japan's military role undergoes a sea change
    East Timor - Exile returns to run East Timor
    Laos - ADB plans to halve Laos's poverty figure
    Russia - Attacks to spur Russian defense spending
    Australia - Free trade pact could be a double-edged deal
  4. Urgent APPEALS
    Appeal for Peace
  5. ANNOUNCEMENT
    Asia Regional Working Group on Justpeace in Asia

 

1. FEATURE - top
 

HOW CAN THE US BOMB THIS TRAGIC PEOPLE?

Robert Fisk

23 September 2001

We are witnessing this weekend one of the most epic events since the Second World War, certainly since Vietnam. I am not talking about the ruins of the World Trade Centre in New York and the grotesque physical scenes which we watched on 11 September, an atrocity which I described last week as a crime against humanity (of which more later). No, I am referring to the extraordinary, almost unbelievable preparations now under way for the most powerful nation ever to have existed on God's Earth to bomb the most devastated, ravaged, starvation-haunted and tragic country in the world. Afghanistan, raped and eviscerated by the Russian army for 10 years, abandoned by its friends - us, of course - once the Russians had fled, is about to be attacked by the surviving superpower.

I watch these events with incredulity, not least because I was a witness to the Russian invasion and occupation. How they fought for us, those Afghans, how they believed our word. How they trusted President Carter when he promised the West's support. I even met the CIA spook in Peshawar, brandishing the identity papers of a Soviet pilot, shot down with one of our missiles - which had been scooped from the wreckage of his Mig. "Poor guy," the CIA man said, before showing us a movie about GIs zapping the Vietcong in his private cinema. And yes, I remember what the Soviet officers told me after arresting me at Salang. They were performing their international duty in Afghanistan, they told me. They were "punishing the terrorists" who wished to overthrow the (communist) Afghan government and destroy its people. Sound familiar?

I was working for The Times in 1980, and just south of Kabul I picked up a very disturbing story. A group of religious mujahedin fighters had attacked a school because the communist regime had forced girls to be educated alongside boys. So they had bombed the school, murdered the head teacher's wife and cut off her husband's head. It was all true. But when The Times ran the story, the Foreign Office complained to the foreign desk that my report gave support to the Russians. Of course. Because the Afghan fighters were the good guys. Because Osama bin Laden was a good guy. Charles Douglas-Home, then editor of The Times would always insist that Afghan guerrillas were called "freedom fighters" in the headline. There was nothing you couldn't do with words.

And so it is today. President Bush now threatens the obscurantist, ignorant, super-conservative Taliban with the same punishment as he intends to mete out to bin Laden. Bush originally talked about "justice and punishment" and about "bringing to justice" the perpetrators of the atrocities. But he's not sending policemen to the Middle East; he's sending B-52s. And F-16s and AWACS planes and Apache helicopters. We are not going to arrest bin Laden. We are going to destroy him. And that's fine if he's the guilty man. But B-52s don't discriminate between men wearing turbans, or between men and women or women and children.

I wrote last week about the culture of censorship which is now to smother us, and of the personal attacks which any journalist questioning the roots of this crisis endures. Last week, in a national European newspaper, I got a new and revealing example of what this means. I was accused of being anti-American and then informed that anti-Americanism was akin to anti-Semitism. You get the point, of course. I'm not really sure what anti-Americanism is. But criticising the United States is now to be the moral equivalent of Jew-hating. It's OK to write headlines about "Islamic terror" or my favourite French example "God's madmen", but it's definitely out of bounds to ask why the United States is loathed by so many Arab Muslims in the Middle East. We can give the murderers a Muslim identity: we can finger the Middle East for the crime - but we may not suggest any reasons for the crime.

But let's go back to that word justice. Re-watching that pornography of mass-murder in New York, there must be many people who share my view that this was a crime against humanity. More than 6,000 dead; that's a Srebrenica of a slaughter. Even the Serbs spared most of the women and children when they killed their menfolk. The dead of Srebrenica deserve - and are getting - international justice at the Hague. So surely what we need is an International Criminal Court to deal with the sorts of killer who devastated New York on 11 September. Yet "crime against humanity" is not a phrase we are hearing from the Americans. They prefer "terrorist atrocity", which is slightly less powerful. Why, I wonder? Because to speak of a terrorist crime against humanity would be a tautology. Or because the US is against international justice. Or because it specifically opposed the creation of an international court on the grounds that its own citizens may one day be arraigned in front of it.

The problem is that America wants its own version of justice, a concept rooted, it seems, in the Wild West and Hollywood's version of the Second World War. President Bush speaks of smoking them out, of the old posters that once graced Dodge City: "Wanted, Dead or Alive". Tony Blair now tells us that we must stand by America as America stood by us in the Second World War. Yes, it's true that America helped us liberate Western Europe. But in both world wars, the US chose to intervene after only a long and - in the case of the Second World War - very profitable period of neutrality.

Don't the dead of Manhattan deserve better than this? It's less than three years since we launched a 200-Cruise missile attack on Iraq for throwing out the UN arms inspectors. Needless to say, nothing was achieved. More Iraqis were killed, and the UN inspectors never got back, and sanctions continued, and Iraqi children continued to die. No policy, no perspective. Action, not words.

And that's where we are today. Instead of helping Afghanistan, instead of pouring our aid into that country 10 years ago, rebuilding its cities and culture and creating a new political centre that would go beyond tribalism, we left it to rot. Sarajevo would be rebuilt. Not Kabul. Democracy, of a kind, could be set up in Bosnia. Not in Afghanistan. Schools could be reopened in Tuzla and Travnik. Not in Jaladabad. When the Taliban arrived, stringing up every opponent, chopping off the arms of thieves, stoning women for adultery, the United States regarded this dreadful outfit as a force for stability after the years of anarchy.

Bush's threats have effectively forced the evacuation of every Western aid worker. Already, Afghans are dying because of their absence. Drought and starvation go on killing millions - I mean millions - and between 20 and 25 Afghans are blown up every day by the 10 million mines the Russians left behind. Of course, the Russians never went back to clear the mines. I suppose those B-52 bombs will explode a few of them. But that'll be the only humanitarian work we're likely to see in the near future.

Look at the most startling image of all this past week. Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan. So has Iran. The Afghans are to stay in their prison. Unless they make it through Pakistan and wash up on the beaches of France or the waters of Australia or climb through the Channel Tunnel or hijack a plane to Britain to face the wrath of our Home Secretary. In which case, they must be sent back, returned, refused entry. It's a truly terrible irony that the only man we would be interested in receiving from Afghanistan is the man we are told is the evil genius behind the greatest mass-murder in American history: bin Laden. The others can stay at home and die.

(Born and educated in England, Robert Fisk, is currently living in Beirut. He is the Middle East correspondent for the London Independent. Has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Trinity College, Dublin (1985) and has received an honorary degree in Journalism from the University of Lancaster. He was the Irish correspondent of the London "Times" based in Balfast between 1971 and 1975. From 1976 till present he has been reporting from the Middle East. He has covered the Israeli invasions of Lebanon (1978 and 1982), the Iranian Revolution (1979), the Iran-Iraq war (1980 - 1988), The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1980), The Gulf war (1991), the war in Bosnia (1992 - 1996) and the Algerian conflict (1992 - onward).)

 

***   ***   ***

WE HAVE TO LEARN TO LISTEN TO BE FREE

Sanitsuda Ekachai

How many more innocent lives must fall in the name of justice and peace?

As we try to deal with the shock which washed over us while watching the unbelievable terror which took place in the United States on Tuesday morning repeated again and again on the TV screen, what did we see? How did we feel? And who controls what we saw and felt?

Unless we address these questions, there will be no end to the loss of innocent lives which are treated as mere pawns in somebody else's high-stakes wars of power, economic interest and ideology.

What did we see when we watched the airplanes smash their way through the World Trade Center skyscrapers, the innocent people waving for help and jumping from the buildings before the twin towers collapsed?

We saw the world's centre of free-wheeling capitalism - and later the nerve centre of its military might, the Pentagon - reduced to rubble. The unthinkable suddenly became real horror. The invincible were in shock. The intelligence network of the world'srichest country was a total failure. Innocent people paid the price of their rulers' policies and the ideologues' madness. And our sense of safety was destroyed as a new pattern of warfare took shape before our eyes.

Since the global media are synonymous with the American media, we saw the terror solely through the eyes of the American government, which portrays violence as a war between good and evil.

Again and again, as we sit transfixed before our TVs, we repeatedly hear Mr Bush vow to defend ``freedom'' and ``all that's good and just in our world'', promising the punishment of acts of evil. And we accept this as a matter of course.

But it would be a mistake to dismiss the terrorists as mere fools and heretics. They, too, view themselves as defenders of truth, justice and peace. So intensely so that they are willing to die - and kill - to pursue their version of justice. To preserve their understanding of truth. We call it insanity. They call it martyrdom.

Peace is sacrificed in the process, leaving only its shadows on both sides of the enemies' empty and meaningless rhetoric. Because what they have mind is only revenge.

If we really want peace, we must question this good-versus-evil justification of violence _ no matter from what side it comes. So far we've failed to do this because our views are dominated by only one side of the story. But we must try to understand the complexity, insanity and futility of the over-all situation. Otherwise, we are tacitly dragged into taking sides and we are caught in the escalation of violence.

Back home, the Thaksin administration has tried to ease our shock and fear by saying that Thailand will be fine, we're not the target of terrorism. How wrong!

Thailand, as an open country, is vulnerable. How can we be safe when New York and Washington DC are not? And it is a mistake to fear only outside dangers. Home is also rife with simmering discontent.

If anything, the US tragedy should caution us against state policies which fuel ethnic or religious resentment. It should also show the importance of dialogue - which is not possible if the powerful are unwilling to open their minds and lend an ear to the many people who believe their suffering is real and their struggle is justified.

When caught in conflict, we often dehumanise our enemies as ``the evil other'' and use lofty ideals to justify our violence. But no ideal - whether it embraces political, religious or economic systems - is worthwhile if it perpetuates killing.

Until we realise this, there will be no end to the loss of life of the innocent.

(Sanitsuda Ekachai is Assistant Editor, Bangkok Post.)

 

***   ***   ***

The Challenge of Terror: A Traveling Essay

John Paul Lederach

So here I am, a week late arriving home, stuck between Colombia, Guatemala and Harrisonburg when our world changed. The images flash even in my sleep. The heart of America ripped. Though natural, the cry for revenge and the call for the unleashing of the first war of this century, prolonged or not, seems more connected to social and psychological processes of finding a way to release deep emotional anguish, a sense of powerlessness, and our collective loss than it does as a plan of action seeking to redress the injustice, promote change and prevent it from ever happening again.

I am stuck from airport to airport as I write this, the reality of a global system that has suspended even the most basic trust. My Duracell batteries and finger nail clippers were taken from me today and it gave me pause for thought. I had a lot of pauses in the last few days. Life has not been the same. I share these thoughts as an initial reaction recognizing that it is always easy to take pot-shots at our leaders from the sidelines, and to have the insights they are missing when we are not in the middle of very difficult decisions. On the other hand, having worked for nearly 20 years as a mediator and proponent of nonviolent change in situations around the globe where cycles of deep violence seem hell-bent on perpetuating themselves, and having interacted with people and movements who at the core of their identity find ways of justifying their part in the cycle, I feel responsible to try to bring ideas to the search for solutions. With this in mind I should like to pen several observations about what I have learned from my experiences and what they might suggest about the current situation. I believe this starts by naming several key challenges and then asking what is the nature of a creative response that takes these seriously in the pursuit of genuine, durable, and peaceful change.

Some Lessons about the Nature of our Challenge

1. Always seek to understand the root of the anger --

The first and most important question to pose ourselves is relatively simple though not easy to answer: How do people reach this level of anger, hatred and frustration? By my experience explanations that they are brainwashed by a perverted leader who holds some kind of magical power over them is an escapist simplification and will inevitably lead us to very wrong-headed responses. Anger of this sort, what we could call generational, identity-based anger, is constructed over time through a combination of historical events, a deep sense of threat to identify, and direct experiences of sustained exclusion. This is very important to understand, because, as I will say again and again, our response to the immediate events have everything to do with whether we reinforce and provide the soil, seeds, and nutrients for future cycles of revenge and violence. Or whether it changes. We should be careful to pursue one and only one thing as the strategic guidepost of our response: Avoid doing what they expect. What they expect from us is the lashing out of the giant against the weak, the many against the few. This will reinforce their capacity to perpetrate the myth they carefully seek to sustain: That they are under threat, fighting an irrational and mad system that has never taken them seriously and wishes to destroy them and their people. What we need to destroy is their myth not their people.

2. Always seek to understand the nature of the organization --

Over the years of working to promote durable peace in situations of deep, sustained violence I have discovered one consistent purpose about the nature of movements and organizations who use violence: Sustain thyself. This is done through a number of approaches, but generally it is through decentralization of power and structure, secrecy, autonomy of action through units, and refusal to pursue the conflict on the terms of the strength and capacities of the enemy.

One of the most intriguing metaphors I have heard used in the last few days is that this enemy of the United States will be found in their holes, smoked out, and when they run and are visible, destroyed. This may well work for groundhogs, trench and maybe even guerilla warfare, but it is not a useful metaphor for this situation. And neither is the image that we will need to destroy the village to save it, by which the population that gives refuge to our enemies is guilty by association and therefore a legitimate target. In both instances the metaphor that guides our action misleads us because it is not connected to the reality. In more specific terms, this is not a struggle to be conceived of in geographic terms, in terms of physical spaces and places, that if located can be destroyed, thereby ridding us of the problem. Quite frankly our biggest and most visible weapon systems are mostly useless.

We need a new metaphor, and though I generally do not like medical metaphors to describe conflict, the image of a virus comes to mind because of its ability to enter unperceived, flow with a system, and harm it from within. This is the genius of people like Osama Bin Laden. He understood the power of a free and open system, and has used it to his benefit. The enemy is not located in a territory. It has entered our system. And you do not fight this kind of enemy by shooting at it. You respond by strengthening the capacity of the system to prevent the virus and strengthen its immunity. It is an ironic fact that our greatest threat is not in Afghanistan, but in our own backyard. We surely are not going to bomb Travelocity, Hertz Rental Car, or an Airline training school in Florida. We must change metaphors and move beyond the reaction that we can duke it out with the bad guy, or we run the very serious risk of creating the environment that sustains and reproduces the virus we wish to prevent.

3. Always remember that realities are constructed --

Conflict is, among other things, the process of building and sustaining very different perceptions and interpretations of reality. This means that we have at the same time multiple realities defined as such by those in conflict. In the aftermath of such horrific and unmerited violence that we have just experienced this may sound esoteric. But we must remember that this fundamental process is how we end up referring to people as fanatics, madmen, and irrational. In the process of name-calling we lose the critical capacity to understand that from within the ways they construct their views, it is not mad lunacy or fanaticism. All things fall together and make sense. When this is connected to a long string of actual experiences wherein their views of the facts are reinforced (for example, years of superpower struggle that used or excluded them, encroaching Western values of what is considered immoral by their religious interpretation, or the construction of an enemy-image who is overwhelmingly powerful and uses that power in bombing campaigns and always appears to win) then it is not a difficult process to construct a rational world view of heroic struggle against evil. Just as we do it, so do they. Listen to the words we use to justify our actions and responses. And then listen to words they use. The way to break such a process is not through a frame of reference of who will win or who is stronger. In fact the inverse is true. Whoever loses, whether tactical battles or the "war" itself, finds intrinsic in the loss the seeds that give birth to the justification for renewed battle. The way to break such a cycle of justified violence is to step outside of it. This starts with understanding that TV sound bites about madmen and evil are not good sources of policy. The most significant impact that we could make on their ability to sustain their view of us as evil is to change their perception of who we are by choosing to strategically respond in unexpected ways. This will take enormous courage and courageous leadership capable of envisioning a horizon of change.

4. Always understand the capacity for recruitment --

The greatest power that terror has is the ability to regenerate itself. What we most need to understand about the nature of this conflict and the change process toward a more peaceful world is how recruitment into these activities happens. In all my experiences in deep-rooted conflict what stands out most are the ways in which political leaders wishing to end the violence believed they could achieve it by overpowering and getting rid of the perpetrator of the violence. That may have been the lesson of multiple centuries that preceded us. But it is not the lesson learned from the past 30 years. The lesson is simple. When people feel a deep sense of threat, exclusion and generational experiences of direct violence, their greatest effort is placed on survival. Time and again in these movements, there has been an extraordinary capacity for the regeneration of chosen myths and renewed struggle.

One aspect of current U.S. leadership that coherently matches with the lessons of the past 30 years of protracted conflict settings is the statement that this will be a long struggle. What is missed is that the emphasis should be placed on removing the channels, justifications, and sources that attract and sustain recruitment into the activities. What I find extraordinary about the recent events is that none of the perpetrators was much older than 40 and many were half that age.

This is the reality we face: Recruitment happens on a sustained basis. It will not stop with the use of military force, in fact, open warfare will create the soils in which it is fed and grows. Military action to destroy terror, particularly as it affects significant and already vulnerable civilian populations will be like hitting a fully mature dandelion with a golf club. We will participate in making sure the myth of why we are evil is sustained and we will assure yet another generation of recruits.

5. Recognize complexity, but always understand the power of simplicity --

Finally, we must understand the principle of simplicity. I talk a lot with my students about the need to look carefully at complexity, which is equally true (and which in the earlier points I start to explore). However, the key in our current situation that we have failed to fully comprehend is simplicity. From the standpoint of the perpetrators, the effectiveness of their actions was in finding simple ways to use the system to undo it. I believe our greatest task is to find equally creative and simple tools on the other side.

Suggestions

In keeping with the last point, let me try to be simple. I believe three things are possible to do and will have a much greater impact on these challenges than seeking accountability through revenge.

1. Energetically pursue a sustainable peace process to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Do it now. The United States has much it can do to support and make this process work. It can bring the weight of persuasion, the weight of nudging people on all sides to move toward mutual recognition and stopping the recent and devastating pattern of violent escalation, and the weight of including and balancing the process to address historic fears and basic needs of those involved. If we would bring the same energy to building an international coalition for peace in this conflict that we have pursued in building international coalitions for war, particularly in the Middle East, if we lent significant financial, moral, and balanced support to all sides that we gave to the Irish conflict in earlier years, I believe the moment is right and the stage is set to take a new and qualitative step forward.

Sound like an odd diversion to our current situation of terror? I believe the opposite is true. This type of action is precisely the kind of thing needed to create whole new views of who we are and what we stand for as a nation. Rather than fighting terror with force, we enter their system and take away one of their most coveted elements: The soils of generational conflict perceived as injustice used to perpetrate hatred and recruitment. I believe that monumental times like these create conditions for monumental change. This approach would solidify our relationships with a broad array of Middle Easterners and Central Asians, allies and enemies alike, and would be a blow to the rank and file of terror. The biggest blow we can serve terror is to make it irrelevant. The worst thing we could do is to feed it unintentionally by making it and its leaders the center stage of what we do. Let's choose democracy and reconciliation over revenge and destruction. Let's to do exactly what they do not expect, and show them it can work.

2. Invest financially in development, education, and a broad social agenda in the countries surrounding Afghanistan rather than attempting to destroy the Taliban in a search for Bin Laden. The single greatest pressure that could ever be put on Bin Laden is to remove the source of his justifications and alliances. Countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan, and yes, Iran and Syria should be put on the radar of the West and the United States with a question of strategic importance: How can we help you meet the fundamental needs of your people? The strategic approach to changing the nature of how terror of the kind we have witnessed this week reproduces itself lies in the quality of relationships we develop with whole regions, peoples, and world views. If we strengthen the web of those relationships, we weaken and eventually eliminate the soil where terror is born. A vigorous investment, taking advantage of the current opening given the horror of this week shared by even those who we traditionally claimed as state enemies, is immediately available, possible and pregnant with historic possibilities. Let's do the unexpected. Let's create a new set of strategic alliances never before thought possible.

3. Pursue a quiet diplomatic but dynamic and vital support of the Arab League to begin an internal exploration of how to address the root causes of discontent in numerous regions. This should be coupled with energetic ecumenical engagement, not just of key symbolic leaders, but of a practical and direct exploration of how to create a web of ethics for a new millennium that builds from the heart and soul of all traditions but that creates a capacity for each to engage the roots of violence that are found within their own traditions. Our challenge, as I see it, is not that of convincing others that our way of life, our religion, or our structure of governance is better or closer to Truth and human dignity. It is to be honest about the sources of violence in our own house and invite others to do the same. Our global challenge is how to generate and sustain genuine engagement that encourages people from within their traditions to seek that which assures the preciousness and respect for life that every religion sees as an inherent right and gift from the Divine, and how to build organized political and social life that is responsive to fundamental human needs. Such a web cannot be created except through genuine and sustained dialogue and the building of authentic relationships, at religious and political spheres of interaction, and at all levels of society. Why not do the unexpected and show that life-giving ethics are rooted in the core of all peoples by engaging a strategy of genuine dialogue and relationship? Such a web of ethics, political and religious, will have an impact on the roots of terror far greater in the generation of our children's children than any amount of military action can possibly muster. The current situation poses an unprecedented opportunity for this to happen, more so than we have seen at any time before in our global community.

A Call for the Unexpected

Let me conclude with simple ideas. To face the reality of well organized, decentralized, self-perpetuating sources of terror, we need to think differently about the challenges. If indeed this is a new war it will not be won with a traditional military plan. The key does not lie in finding and destroying territories, camps, and certainly not the civilian populations that supposedly house them. Paradoxically that will only feed the phenomenon and assure that it lives into a new generation. The key is to think about how a small virus in a system affects the whole and how to improve the immunity of the system. We should take extreme care not to provide the movements we deplore with gratuitous fuel for self-regeneration. Let us not fulfill their prophecy by providing them with martyrs and justifications. The power of their action is the simplicity with which they pursue the fight with global power. They have understood the power of the powerless. They have understood that melding and meshing with the enemy creates a base from within. They have not faced down the enemy with a bigger stick. They did the more powerful thing: They changed the game. They entered our lives, our homes and turned our own tools into our demise.

We will not win this struggle for justice, peace and human dignity with the traditional weapons of war. We need to change the game again.

Let us give birth to the unexpected.

Let us take up the practical challenges of this reality perhaps best described in the Cure of Troy an epic poem by Seamus Heaney no foreigner to grip of the cycles of terror who wrote:

"So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.

Believe that a farther shore
Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells."

John Paul Lederach
September 16, 2001

_______________________
**[Due to the tragedy in New York and Washington DC earlier this month, and the threat of severe and violent retaliation by the US against any country which it deems a supporter of terrorism, this issue of DAGA Info will devote much of its space to this issue.]

 

2. Statements on September 11, 2001 - top

 

I WILL NOT PUT MORE INNOCENT LIVES AT RISK

Barbara Lee
25 September 2001

Terrorists attack the United States in an unprecedented and brutal manner on 11 September, killing thousands of innocent people, including the passengers and the crews of four aircraft.

Like everyone throughout our country, I am repulsed and angered by these attacks and believe that all appropriate steps must be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice. We must prevent any future attacks. That is the highest obligation of our federal, state and local governments. On this, we are united as a nation. Any nation, group or individual that fails to comprehend this or believes that we will tolerate such illegal and uncivilised attacks is hugely mistaken.

Recently, filled with grief and sorrow for those killed and injured and with anger at those who had done this, I confronted the solemn responsibility of voting to authorise the nation to go to war. Some believe this resolution was only symbolic, designed to show national resolve. But I could not ignore that it provided explicit authority, under the War Powers Resolution and the constitution, to go to war.

It was a blank cheque to the President to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events - anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation's long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit.

In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration. I could not support such a grant of war-making authority to the President; it would put more innocent lives at risk.

The president has the constitutional authority to protect the nation from further attack and he has mobilised the armed forces to do just that. The Congress should have waited for the facts to be presented and then acted with fuller knowledge of the consequences of our action.

I have heard from thousands of my constituents in the wake of this vote. Many - a majority - have counselled restraint and caution, demanding that we ascertain the facts and ensure that violence does not beget violence. They understand the boundless consequences of proceeding hastily to war.

Others believe that I should have voted for the resolution - either for symbolic or geopolitical reasons, or because they truly believe a military option is unavoidable. However, I am not convinced that voting for the resolution preserves and protects US interests.

We must develop our intelligence and bring those who did this to justice. We must mobilise - and maintain - an international coalition against terrorism.

Finally, we have a chance to demonstrate to the world that great powers can choose to fight on the fronts of their choosing, and that we can choose to avoid needless military action when other avenues to redress our rightful grievances and to protect our nation are available to us.

We must respond, but the character of that response will determine for ourselves and for our children the world that they will inherit. I do not dispute the President's intent to rid the world of terrorism, but we have many means to reach that goal, and measures that spawn further acts of terror or that do not address the sources of hatred do not increase our security.

Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, himself eloquently pointed out the many ways to get at the root of this problem... economic, diplomatic, legal and political, as well as military. A rush to launch precipitous military attacks runs too great a risk that more innocent men, women and children will be killed. I could not vote for a resolution that I believe will lead to such an outcome.

(Barbara Lee (Democrat - California) was the only member of the House of Representatives to vote last week against authorising the use of military force)

[Source: http://argument.independent.co.uk/]

=======================

THE VIEW FROM PALESTINE
(excerpt only)

By Andy Clarno

Last Tuesday, I was walking down the street with two friends in Gaza City when I got a phone call from my father. His usually calm voice sounded deeply shaken as he told me the news: two airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon. The TV was reporting that a Palestinian group had claimed responsibility. All of a sudden, the world came to a standstill. In shock and disbelief, we rushed to the nearest television. For hours, we sat in front of CNN and Al-Jazeera. With the rest of the world, we watched in horror as the buildings collapsed and felt an unexplainable combination of fear, disgust, anger, frustration, sadness, and confusion.

Outside, Gaza was eerily quiet. In one of the most densely populated places on earth, you could hear a pin drop. For two to three days, Palestinians were glued to their television sets - except in Jenin and Jericho where they were under attack by Israeli forces. The only thing that anyone talked about was the attack in the United States: the possible perpetrators, the numerous causes, and the likely effects. Most of all, people expressed an overwhelming sadness and a deep sense of pain. They were outraged and angry about the attacks on American civilians. They said that these attacks were horrible and should never have happened.

Immediately after the attacks, the press began to claim that the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) had carried out the attacks. The absurdity of such claims seemed to escape the commentators. But Palestinians knew better: these groups are so small and disorganized that they could not possibly have carried out such a large-scale operation. Besides, all of their efforts are directed towards resisting Israeli military aggression and challenging the ongoing colonization of Palestine and the racist oppression of Palestinians by Israel.

Soon reports claimed that Palestinians were celebrating in the streets and handing out candy to children. A single clip of a few people claiming victory in the streets of Nablus has been repeatedly broadcast on American and European television for the last week. I can assure you that this was a rare and isolated incident. There was absolutely no celebration in the Gaza Strip. I called friends throughout the West Bank to find out from them what was happening in their cities. They said that there had been one or two random shots fired into the air, but that the atmosphere was one of horror and sorrow rather than celebration.

These attacks are not something that Palestinians can celebrate. On the contrary, most Palestinians had a powerful and spontaneous reaction of disgust at the bombings and empathy with the people who suffered from the attacks. They know exactly what it feels like to be a civilian population under attack. For the last 34 years, the Palestinians have been living under a brutal Israeli military occupation that uses terror to control the occupied population. For the last year, the Israeli military has escalated the amount of violence it uses against the Palestinian people: fighter planes, helicopter gunships, tanks, and heavy assault weapons are regularly used against the civilian population of Palestine. These attacks are rarely called terrorism because they are carried out by the Israeli government rather than by a secretive and mysterious organization. But they are intended to terrorize the population and to instill a sense of fear that will suffocate the will to resist Israeli oppression. The Palestinians recognized the attacks on American civilians as a form of terrorism no different than that used against them by the Israeli military. They know very well the fear that Americans are experiencing right now and they feel a great deal of empathy with the American pain. On Friday night in Jerusalem, Palestinians held a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the attack in the United States. Although the vigil received no press coverage, CNN and BBC continue to broadcast the clip of Palestinians celebrating the attacks. But the empathy is real - the Palestinians feel a connection right now with the American people that they want to express.

[Source: NileMedia]


=======================

Jakarta Post

JIHAD IN ISLAM: A LOOK BEHIND THE MYTHS

CAIRO (Reuters): A senior Afghan cleric said on Tuesday the ruling Taliban would launch a jihad against the United States, but officials of the Islamic movement quickly said he was in no position to declare a holy war. The final decision lay with a council of clerics due to convene this week, officials said.

Afghanistan, which hosts Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, the top U.S. suspect in last week's devastating attacks in New York and Washington, could be a target in case of a U.S. military reprisal, possibly sparking a Taliban "jihad" in retaliation.

But what does jihad really mean? What jihad is:

  • The Arabic word jihad is often translated as "holy war", but a more accurate translation is "holy struggle". Islamic scholars say the term "holy war" was actually coined in Europe during the Crusades to mean a war against the Muslims.

  • In a purely linguistic sense, the word "jihad" means struggling or striving. There are two different, unrelated words which mean war.

  • In a religious sense, as described by the Koran and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, jihad means striving for the benefit of the community or the restraint of personal sins. It can refer to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslim, or believer. Scholars say it primarily refers to efforts to improve oneself.

  • Jihad is a religious duty.

  • If jihad is required to protect the faith against others, it can be performed using anything from legal, diplomatic and economic to political means. If there is no peaceful alternative, Islam also allows the use of force, but there are strict rules of engagement. Innocents-such as women, children, or invalids-must never be harmed, and any peaceful overtures from the enemy must be accepted.

  • Military action is therefore only one means of jihad, and is very rare. To highlight this point, the Prophet Mohammed told his followers returning from a military campaign: "This day we have returned from the minor jihad to the major jihad," which he said meant returning from armed battle to the peaceful battle for self-control and betterment.

  • In case military action appears necessary, not everyone can declare jihad. The religious military campaign has to be declared by a proper authority, advised by scholars, who say the religion and people are under threat and violence is imperative to defend them. The concept of "just war" is very important.

  • The concept of jihad has been hijacked by many political and religious groups over the ages in a bid to justify various forms of violence. In most cases, Islamic splinter groups invoked jihad to fight against the established Islamic order. Scholars say this misuse of jihad contradicts Islam.

  • Examples of sanctioned military jihad include the Muslims' defensive battles against the Crusaders in medieval times, and before that some responses by Muslims against Byzantine and Persian attacks during the period of the early Islamic conquests.

What jihad is not:

  • Jihad is not a violent concept.

  • Jihad is not a declaration of war against other religions. It is worth noting that the Koran specifically refers to Jews and Christians as "people of the book" who should be protected and respected. All three faiths worship the same God. Allah is just the Arabic word for God, and is used by Christian Arabs as well as Muslims.

[Source: Jakarta Post, September 19, 2001]


=======================

NCC USA

DENY THEM THEIR VICTORY: RELIGIOUS RESPONSE TO TERRORISM

We, American religious leaders, share the broken hearts of our fellow citizens. The worst terrorist attack in history that assaulted New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, has been felt in every American community. Each life lost was of unique and sacred in the eyes of God, and the connections Americans feel to those lives run very deep. In the face of such a cruel catastrophe, it is a time to look to God and to each other for the strength we need and the response we will make. We must dig deep to the roots of our faith for sustenance, solace, and wisdom.

First, we must find a word of consolation for the untold pain and suffering of our people. Our congregations will offer their practical and pastoral resources to bind up the wounds of the nation. We can become safe places to weep and secure places to begin rebuilding our shattered lives and communities. Our houses of worship should become public arenas for common prayer, community discussion, eventual healing, and forgiveness.

Second, we offer a word of sober restraint as our nation discerns what its response will be. We share the deep anger toward those who so callously and massively destroy innocent lives, no matter what the grievances or injustices invoked. In the name of God, we too, demand that those responsible for these utterly evil acts be found and brought to justice. Those culpable must not escape accountability. But we must not, out of anger and vengeance, indiscriminately retaliate in ways that bring on even more loss of innocent life. We pray that President Bush and members of Congress will seek the wisdom of God as they decide upon the appropriate response.

Third, we face deep and profound questions of what this attack on America will do to us as a nation. The terrorists have offered us a stark view of the world they would create, where the remedy to every human grievance and injustice is a resort to the random and cowardly violence of revenge - even against the most innocent. Having taken thousands of our lives, attacked our national symbols, forced our political leaders to flee their chambers of governance, disrupted our work and families, and struck fear into the hearts of our children, the terrorists must feel victorious.

But we can deny them their victory by refusing to submit to a world created in their image. Terrorism inflicts not only death and destruction but also emotional oppression to further its aims.

We must not allow this terror to drive us away from being the people God has called us to be. We assert the vision of community, tolerance, compassion, justice, and the sacredness of human life, which lies at the heart of all our religious traditions. America must be a safe place for all our citizens in all their diversity. It is especially important that our citizens who share national origins, ethnicity, or religion with whoever attacked us are, themselves, protected among us.

Our American illusion of invulnerability has been shattered. From now on, we will look at the world in a different way, and this attack on our life as a nation will become a test of our national character. Let us make the right choices in this crisis - to pray, act, and unite against the bitter fruits of division, hatred, and violence. Let us rededicate ourselves to global peace, human dignity, and the radication of injustice that breeds rage and vengeance.

As we gather in our houses of worship, let us begin a process of seeking the healing and grace of God.
14 September, 2001

[Source: National Council of Churches: www.ncccusa.org]


=======================

NCC Philippines

LEARN FROM HISTORY - - HEED THE PEOPLE'S CRIES

The nation is divided again on an issue that has international import: the assault on the symbols of American power and privilege. US President George W. Bush has sent out a stark warning that belligerent terrorists shall "face the full wrath of America." Countries have jumped on the bandwagon declaring an international war against terrorism. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has thrown her "full and unqualified support to the United States." Some Cabinet members say that the Philippines has no choice. People the world over fear the imminence of another world war.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) condemns in the strongest terms possible this war footing that the United States is taking. History has clearly shown that the militarist approach does not bring about the condition that we wish to create. It only fans the flames of vengeance even as it deflects the real issues at hand.

We, Churches and Church people, are wont to ask: Who is going to benefit from this aggression foisted by the most powerful nation in the world on a small group or country which does not share the values of the "Police of the World"? For sure, there will be many more lives sacrificed, adding death upon death to the thousands who perished in the World Trade Center attack. Why are dehumanizing effects of grinding poverty brought on by the military and economic domination of the "The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" not referred to as violent and terroristic? This produces victims as well, if not even more.

We are disappointed that, in the comments of some government officials that the Philippines is bound by treaties to support the US in this all-out war, we are projecting a helplessly subservient posture vis--vis the United States. Christians have always believed that nations were meant to be sovereign. In God alone should they put their allegiance. We are dismayed that our President is opening Subic and Clark again for US planes and ships. The Filipino people have already made an unequivocal statement on military bases when they dismantled these. We are fully aware that the Philippine Constitution safeguards the country's national sovereignty. We explicitly declared, even as we continue to declare, that we will never again submit to the yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). Lessons from history remind us that the Philippines came under attack because it aligned itself with the US. Do we have the grace to learn from the past?

The NCCP joins the groundswell of protest against accompanying the United States' act of aggression in the name of retaliation. There are many more survival issues at home that must be faced. To allow the people's voices to go unheeded is a far greater terrorism. Now, as never before is the time to "turn our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks." (Isaiah 2:4)

MS. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES
General Secretary
National Council of Churches of the Philippines


=======================

NCC-Japan

We strongly demand peace without military force!

Dear President George W. Bush:

We believe that people all over the world who desire peace are shocked and saddened by the sudden attack on September 11. They will join in your prayers in shock and grief. We, as the NCC-J (National Christian Council in Japan) members, also deeply mourn those victims and sincerely pray for the wounded to be healed as well as pray for those survivors to be immediately rescued from the rubble.

On this day, three hijacked planes crashed into each of the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the center of U.S. economy and military strategy. Another plane also crashed near Pittsburgh. This " Simultaneous Multi-Terrorist Act " shakes the world and creates anger against terrorism and violence. It was just after the beginning of an ordinary day when this happened for those passengers of the planes, workers in buildings and those who helped rescue activities. There will be thousands of deaths and injuries. Just as a missile attack is inadmissible neither can we tolerate, whatever the reasons may be, such a reckless attempt as slamming into buildings by hijacked planes, which was able to happen through the cracks of a mighty military power. This criminal act should be punished internationally, lawfully, and rationally in a peaceful way.

When the United States declares war against the attack on its " freedom and democracy ", we sincerely hope that the countermeasures will be completely peaceful, not leading to military reprisals. We believe that, by taking peaceful measures, the US will show its ethical superiority, based upon the decisions to commit itself to peace and justice, over terrorism. " Retaliation " breeds hatred and will multiply military expansion, which endangers peace. It will also bring people into fear and terror. Any defense systems with advanced scientific technologies will not be able to stop a sneak and shrewd attack motivated by hatred. We believe that there is no other way for humankind to survive except by seeking to peace and reconciliation without increasing the race for military expansion. It is our understanding that the United States has been making a great effort to play a mediating role for regional conflict with a firm convictions to value the spirit of freedom and democracy. It is in itself unjust and intolerable for non-military, ordinary citizens, regardless of their social and economic situation, to be exposed to an attack either by missiles or by terrorists.

It is not just an issue for other people but it is an issue for us in Japan to have the massive presence of US military bases, under the U. S -Japan Security Treaty, as in Okinawa, with the intention of strengthening them to be basic point of attack against other countries. We demand the removal of these dangerous US bases through which military retaliation could takes place.

We strongly express our hope that the United States will show us the way to true peace by demonstrating what it means to seek justice, freedom and democracy without falling into the trap of military retaliation which leads all of us to perish.

Sincerely,

Rev. OTSU Kenichi
General Secretary,
National Christian Council in Japan

Ms. OGASAWAR Kimiko
Chair, Peace and Nuclear Committee
National Christian Council in Japan

 

3. NEWS in Brief - top
 

JAPAN

Japan's military role undergoes a sea change

As a Japanese destroyer prepares to sail for the Indian Ocean to support the US military buildup in the region, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi meets the US president Tuesday to lay out his government's plan for military cooperation. The plan goes beyond anything Japan has done militarily since the end of World War II. For the first time, the Self Defense Forces will be smack in the middle of a military conflict. (Sep 25)

[Source: Asian Times]

EAST TIMOR

Exile returns to run East Timor

After years in exile, Mari Alkatiri is set to lead Southeast Asia's newest nation, East Timor. The introspective academic has some tough tests ahead of him, including negotiating his country's position regarding oil riches in the Timor Sea. The outcome of those negotiations will determine whether East Timor's future is prosperous or poor,

[Source: Asian Times]

LAOS

ADB plans to halve Laos's poverty figure

Forty percent of Laos's population live below the poverty line. Over the next five years, the Asian Development Bank plans to reduce that figure by half. It will focus on Laos's infrastructure, including rural, human resource, and private sector development, and lend Laos US$45 million-$55 million annually. (Sep 20)

[Source: Asian Times]

RUSSIA

Attacks to spur Russian defense spending

Following the attacks in the United States, Russian advocates for higher defense and security spending have new ammunition. Extra funding may come from money previously set aside for education and court reforms. The US's focus on terrorism is also expected to give the Kremlin more latitude in resolving the conflict in Chechnya, as suspected links between Chechen militants and Osama ben Laden are highlighted. (Sept 21)

[Source: Asian Times

AUSTRALIA

Free trade pact could be a double-edged deal

The United States and Australia are considering a start on talks about a free trade agreement between the two nations. But there are some contentious issues, such as Australia's demands for open primary product markets, and resistance from American farmers to any weakening of their protection. There are also fears that US firms could come to dominate any Australian markets if given free access. (Sept 25)

[Source: Asian Times]

 

4. RESOURCES Received - top
 

DAGA receives a lot of juournals, periodicals, newsletters and many other forms of printed resources from its network of Action Groups in Asia and around the world.  Please click on "Resources" in the left bar for an extended listing.

 

5. Urgent APPEAL - top
 

NOT IN OUR SON'S NAME

AHRC - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM
19 September 2001

Dear Friends

The shocking events of September 11 in USA are so fresh in our minds - surely we will never forget the image of the hijacked planes destroying the World Trade Centre buildings and the Pentagon, nor the screams of those seeing the horror with their own eyes. It seems, however, that there has been little opportunity for the loved ones of those who are still missing to grieve before the world leaders jumped to announce a 'war on terrorism' and on the states where terrorists reside. To many in Asia, this has created a sense of dread at the potential for an enormous number of civilian deaths - so-called 'collateral damage' - as the US and other world powers seek to avenge this devastating, wanton and inexcusable destruction of life and security in America. AHRC believes that at such a time it is vital for the voices of the victims to be heard. Their voices must be even louder than the sound of those who purport to be speaking and acting on their behalf. As such, we are sending to you a statement and letter written by the parents of one of the persons missing amongst the rubble of the World Trade Center. Please read their thoughts and feelings. Feel free to pass their words on to others who have not heard these voices so far. We also urge you to sign an on-line petition calling for military restraint at this time, in line with the thoughts of these parents. The petition is pasted below and can be signed at: http://home.uchicago.edu/~dhpicker/petition   and at: http://www.9-11peace.org/petition.php3

Thank you
Urgent Appeals Desk Asian Human Rights Commission

NOT IN OUR SON'S NAME
Saturday, Sep 15, 2001 8:35pm

[Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez's son Greg is one of the World Trade Center victims. They have asked that people share this copy of letter sent to NY Times as widely as possible.]

Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our friends and neighbors, his loving colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald / ESpeed, and all the grieving families that daily meet at the Pierre Hotel. We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet.

We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son's death. Not in our son's name. Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.

Copy of letter to White House:

Dear President Bush

Our son is one of the victims of Tuesday's attack on the World Trade Center. We read about your response in the last few days and about the resolutions from both Houses, giving you undefined power to respond to the terror attacks. Your response to this attack does not make us feel better about our son's death. It makes us feel worse. It makes us feel that our government is using our son's memory as a justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands.

It is not the first time that a person in your position has been given unlimited power and came to regret it. This is not the time for empty gestures to make us feel better. It is not the time to act like bullies. We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists.

Sincerely, Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez

SUGGESTED ACTION

THE PETITION (around 175,000 signatures so far)

What follows is a petition that will be forwarded to President Bush, and other world leaders, urging them to avoid war as a response to the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon this week. Please read it, sign below, and forward the link to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of the United States of America and of countries around the world, appeal to the President of The United States, George W. Bush; to the NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson; to the President of the European Union, Romano Prodi; and to all leaders internationally to use moderation and restraint in responding to the recent terrorist attacks against the United States.

We implore the powers that be to use, wherever possible, international judicial institutions and international human rights law to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks, rather than the instruments of war, violence or destruction. Furthermore, we assert that the government of a nation must be presumed separate and distinct from any terrorist group that may operate within its borders, and therefore cannot be held unduly accountable for the latter's crimes. It follows that the government of a particular nation should not be condemned for the recent attack without compelling evidence of its cooperation and complicity with those individuals who actually committed the crimes in question.

Innocent civilians living within any nation that may be found responsible, in part or in full, for the crimes recently perpetrated against the United States, must not bear any responsibility for the actions of their government, and must therefore be guaranteed safety and immunity from any military or judicial action taken against the state in which they reside.

Lastly and most emphatically, we demand that there be no recourse to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or any weapons of indiscriminate destruction, and feel that it is our inalienable human right to live in a world free of such arms.

To sign the petition please go to: http://home.uchicago.edu/~dhpicker/petition or http://www.9-11peace.org/petition.php3 There are also a number of other action suggestions provided by 9-11peace available after you sign the petition.

[If you cannot access the internet, you may send your name, email address and city, state and country of residence to AHRC Urgent Appeals at ua@ahrchk.org - in the 'subject', write the words "Bush Petition" and we will sign the petition for you.]

 

6. ANNOUNCEMENT - top
 

ASIA REGIONAL WORKING GROUP ON WORKING TOWARDS JUSTPEACE IN ASIA

Dates: 30 September - 4 October 2001
Venue: Indonesia

The above programme aims to look at Asian values and concepts of conflict transformation and peacemaking in order to discern how a regional program designed to document, help build up and strengthen indigenous forms of conflict transformation and peacemaking can most effectively be developed.

Specifically, the working group will try to work on:

  1. exchanging experiences and examples of indigenous forms of conflict transformation and peacebuilding in different parts of Asia.

  2. brainstorming a program to document and help build up these indigenous forms of conflict transformation and peacemaking.

  3. documenting obstacles to these indigenous forms of conflict transformation and peace building and seek ways to minimise the negative impact of these obstacles.

  4. looking at the possibility of developing a documentation training program for grassroots communities so they can exchange their experiences in conflict transformation and peacemaking and find co-operative ways of working toward a true justpeace.

For more information on this programme, please contact the DAGA office at the address below.

 


END

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