APC condemns unreservedly all forms of terrorism, and all acts of violence that place either political, financial or religious objectives over human life.
Terrorism will most likely take root in a situation where extreme disadvantage exists. People whose lives are safe and secure, with sufficient food, housing, education and health care available and with a say in their own government, are less likely to become, or support terrorists.
Therefore, APC sees as an important part of our role the work for decent and just living conditions for all people, with education to eliminate racial, gender or religious discrimination.
US "War on Terrorism"
Title 18, section 2331 of the US legal code defines international terrorism as "acts dangerous to human life.... that appear intended to coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." Thus by its own definition the US government is guilty of terrorism against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Opposition to U.S. War Increases (back to top)
Speech given by APC at 4 November Adelaide Peace Rally:
Peace and environment groups have welcomed reports that support for the war against Afghanistan is waning. Opposition to war has been increased by recent accounts of the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan by US forces. The No-War coalition believes that military action is not the appropriate way to deal with international terrorism, and that the current military action will merely worsen the situation. We believe that the Australian commitment of troops is ill-advised, dangerous, and pointless.
Australians are urging the government and opposition to reconsider their commitment to support for hostilities in Afghanistan. We don't believe that there ever was the kind of unanimous support for war that has been claimed by the Howard government. Surveys done by Gallup as far back as Sept. 14, show only 54% support for war in the US itself, and only 18% in the UK. A growing number of Labour politicians in the UK are expressing deep concern about the war. There are strong majorities for the use of international institutions such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to solve the problem worldwide. It is becoming clearer and clearer that bombing red cross warehouses, residential areas, and villages is not going to solve the problem of terrorism and will in all likelihood make it much worse, making it still more likely that there will be further attacks on the US and possibly its allies. The danger is that by proceeding in this manner we are going to reap the whirlwind.
We urge Mr. Howard and Mr. Beazley to reconsider their ill-advised and dangerous participation in this ill-advised and dangerous venture. A letter to Howard and Beazley yesterday, signed by 9 politicians and 48 organisations nation-wide, rejected a military response and called for a solution to be worked out through the UN and the ICC. It urged Australia not to give the US an open-ended guarantee of support.
Australian peace groups have reacted to the reports of a so-called 'Jihad' against Australia by the Taliban by saying that, if a Jihad has indeed really been called against Australia, it demonstrates that the Australian troop commitment is as foolish and as ill-considered and dangerous as a Jihad would be. Reports of a Jihad may well be scare-mongering designed to push us further into the acceptance of war.
It is precisely the possibility of a spreading conflict that lies behind our belief that a military solution to the problem of terrorism is inappropriate, dangerous, and counterproductive. The declaration of Jihad, if indeed there has been one, merely proves what we have been saying from the beginning. Military action against Afghanistan risks world peace, with possibilities of wider conflict. Australia and the US are foolish in the extreme to allow themselves to be drawn into a war from which there may be no end in sight.
Bombing and invading one of the poorest countries on earth, a country which since the late 70s has known nothing but war, will do nothing to eliminate terrorism. It is more likely to ensure that the appalling events of September 11 happen again. There is a real danger that the world could descend into a spiral of increasing violence.
We call on all Australians to send a strong message on Nov. 10th to the government and to all political parties that war is not an acceptable or even a possible solution to the terrorism problem.
Global Peace through Economic and Social Justice (back to top)
Speech given at NOWAR Adelaide Forum on 27 October 2001 by the Australian Peace Committee :
When you go to war, people die!
We don't want Australians killing innocent Afghans.
On 11 September the world was horrified when over 6000 people died in the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the USA. On the same day, 36,615 children in the world's poorest countries died from starvation.
Here's the statistics… Victims: 36,615 (according to Food & Agricultural Organisation)
Location: WORLD'S POOREST COUNTRIES
Those probably responsible for crime: GLOBAL FREE- MARKETEERS
Such poverty and inequities are a breeding ground for terrorists. Where people have secure, safe lives they will not support terrorism. The US global companies are not peace loving organisations, they are the world's largest salesmen of military armaments and have their hands in most of the wars waging around the globe. Although millions have died around the world because of these wars, thousands have now died in America because of the militaristic policies of the US government.
Because there can be no peace without social justice, we must oppose this latest war on political and moral grounds. International poverty and racial/neo-colonial oppression are at the root of the conflict in the Middle East and many parts of the world. The same international elite that exploit the 3rd world and poor people at home are the same ones who benefit from war. They make and sell the military armaments, they benefit from Defense Dept government contracts, and they have the cosiest relationship with Wall Street.
For more than ten years they have continued to wreak havoc in Iraq -- an estimated 50,000 children die every year because of sanctions that have been imposed -- Now they are getting ready to do it all over again in Afghanistan to get rid of Osama bin Laden. They are bombing the cities of Afghanistan and in the process they will help create a thousand other bin Ladens. Many have said of the Afghans, and perhaps by extension of many other deprived peoples, "Feed them and you'll win them over." This attitude dehumanises people. Nobody will accept bombs with one hand and food with the other.
We must support the call made by UN-affiliated and private aid agencies for an immediate bombing halt to allow a resumption of the serious food distribution efforts needed to avoid a catastrophe. Efforts should be made to achieve a democratic, broad-based government with a commitment to allowing international aid and basic human rights. It must, however, be under UN auspices. It should also be one that does not sell off Afghanistan's natural resources and desirable location for pipelines to multinational corporations. We must call for the actions against terrorists to be taken through the auspices of the United Nations, and work for the permanent establishment of the International Criminal Court, at the same time as we work to stop the present vigilante actions being taken by the US, the UK and Australia. While all that goes forward, the United States should do what is most obviously within its power to lower the risk of further terrorist attacks: Begin to change U.S. foreign policy in a way that could win over the people of the Islamic world by acknowledging that many of their grievances -- such as the sanctions on Iraq, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, Israel's occupation of and aggression against Palestine -- are legitimate and must be addressed.
What can we do here?
The key ingredients in building a successful anti-war movement are confidence in ordinary people's potential, solidarity with each other and a long-term view: we have not been able to prevent the first bombs falling, but over time we can reverse the dynamic and stop the war.
Historical experience -- the international movement against the war in Vietnam and the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s -- shows that movements can stop or divert even large-scale processes of militarisation, but only when large numbers of ordinary people are actively involved.
* Making space for a diversity of voices. A good platform will include as wide a range of anti-war voices as possible. This enables us to speak to different people, and is part of learning from each other.
* Making sure that we organise activities which everyone can take part in. Non-violence is a key to the effort to stop war. Most actions don't have an immediate chance of stopping the war; but by giving people a chance to become active, to gain confidence and to develop their own understanding, they can help build a united campaign that does have a chance.
* Taking care that NOWAR isn't run by a handful of experienced people to the exclusion of everyone else. People may have particular skills, and should share them and pass them on. Stopping this war is likely to be a long campaign, so we will need to develop everyone's ability to take part at every level.
* It's important for people to work within their own everyday contexts, and to change the existing social relationships that ultimately give rise to war. We need to reach out to ordinary people, so they can gain political understanding.
* Strive to achieve consensus in decision-making, since it leads to a more inclusive result. Experience shows that people losing a vote sometimes "vote with their feet" by leaving.
Some ways of carrying this out:
* Start talking about the issues to other people at work, in the shops, at home, on the bus, in school, online - anywhere we can. It's becoming clear that far more people are uneasy about the war than the media leads us to think. Encourage people to participate in any ways they feel comfortable, perhaps starting by signing a petition or writing to a politician.
* Educate ourselves and others. We must learn the implications of the issues involved, such as foreign policy, international relations and international law.
* Make links to other issues, most importantly foreign policy, development, civil liberties, world economics, racism, sexism, intolerance, or any form of discrimination.
* Work to create networks between different groups and initiatives. Different actions are needed in varying circumstances. People can become involved through such events as meetings, demos, street theatre, teach-ins, and other gatherings.
* Lobbying governments and media with personal visits, petitions, vigils, press releases, photo opportunities.
* Support the world movement to establish communities, schools, offices, and our homes as "Hate Free Zones".
* Support the "Not in Our Name" campaign.
We can learn from some past experiences.
* In the 1980s we took part in a big campaign against the US bases in Australia, with a final huge week-long demonstration at Pine Gap in 1987 when the yearly lease was due to expire. The demonstrators felt really empowered by their experience, but the result was that the Hawke Government was so frightened that Hawke rushed off to the US and set in place a 10-year lease which would need a 3-year notice for eviction. A negative result to a wonderful event.
* In the early 1990s we began working against the use of anti-personnel landmines. We have held no big demonstrations about this. There has been constant lobbying and education exercises world-wide, with the result that now 140 nations have signed the Ottawa Treaty, pledging that they will not manufacture, sell or use landmines, and have also undertaken to destroy their stockpiles. The US have promised to sign on in 2006!
* The actions taken Australia-wide against Arms Fairs, resulted in Australia no longer hosting such events. While some of the events resulted in police violence against demonstrators, the authorities decided that holding the Fairs was not cost-effective.
* While there is still a great deal to be done, long years of campaigning, lobbying, demonstrating, and educating people on the Land Rights issue has seen a vast change in the living conditions and rights of Indigenous Australians Without equality for all, we can not have a Just Peace.
* In schools, teachers have long been educating in ways of achieving peaceful "conflict resolution" -- and now the children see a military response to the present situation, regardless of the effects on innocent civilians. How are they to equate this with what they have learned?
Obviously our Governments still have to learn the lessons of "conflict resolution" to obtain a Just Peace !!
Letter to Australian Leaders and US Embassy (back to top)
The following Letter, urging that we step back from purely military solutions, signed by 48 organisations and nine parliamentarians, was sent to the leaders listed below on Saturday 3rd November 2001.
PRIME MINISTER JOHN HOWARD, 9251-5454, 6273-4100
Dear Prime Minister Howard and Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley,
The undersigned groups condemn unreservedly all forms of
terrorism, and all acts of violence that place either political, financial or
religious objectives over human life.
Military action will inevitably involve massive civilian casualties - casualties amongst those who have had least to do with the events of Sept. 11th. Such casualties will only advance the cause of terrorism.
What is required instead on the part of the US and its allies of which Australia is one, is mature, and possibly painful, but absolutely necessary, reflection on the deeper reasons for which the US has attracted such deep hostility.
What is required is a change in US foreign policy away from global dominance as an overriding goal. Instead, the maintenance of a just international legal structure, and even more importantly, addressing the underlying inequities experienced by less affluent and less powerful groups and nations would remove many of the motives for terrorism.
Trying to eliminate terrorism without taking these steps will
Australia should be urging the US:
Such a course is in conformity with Article VI of the ANZUS treaty, according to which: "This treaty does not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of the parties under the charter of the United Nations or the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security".
We would urge the government to consider, and to urge upon the US, the method used to deal with the Lockerbie bombing as a possible way in which to respond to these events. The adoption of the Lockerbie model of a completely neutral court would facilitate movement toward a world order based on the rule of law, and ensure that those who died did not do so in vain.
In the light of the recent attacks, Australia and the US should ratify their support for the UN International Criminal Court, and this should be the means by which terrorist actions are dealt with on an ongoing basis.
We reiterate that should open ended and indiscriminate military
force be the response to these events, the only winners will be the terrorists
Rev. Ray Richmond, Wayside Chapel of the Cross, Uniting Care, NSW,
Leigh Hubbard, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) (Personal capacity)
Roland Jabbour, Australian-Arabic Council, Melb, Vic,
Lilyana Theodossiou, Action for World Development (AWD), Sydney,
Anti-Terrorism Network (back to top)
The shock of what happened in New York and Washington recently has indeed been an event which has, and will, affect nearly all of us. This was undoubtedly a terrorist act of great evil.
But, the media should not expound the myth that all Australians support the U.S. responding with any acts of terrorism it chooses (despite John Howard offering such support within hours of the event).
By the time this is printed, the horrors the U.S. plans to unleash on Afghanistan (or elsewhere) may have already started. Vast numbers are daily fleeing Afghanistan in fear. The U.S. treatment of Iraq for the last ten years would make flight the most sensible option.
Before the 1991 Iraq war, a U.S. General promised to "bomb them into the stone age", despite the same Presidential rhetoric used then as now, "We have nothing against the Iraqi people (now Afghan people) themselves." But within weeks every one of Iraq's water and sewerage treatment plants had been damaged by allied bombing. A few months later a Harvard medical team reported over 55,000 children under 5 had died from diseases such as typhoid, cholera, and gastroenteritis.
During the same war the U.S. rained terror from the skies with inhuman weapons of mass destruction never before used on human populations. These included Fuel Air Explosives. F.A.E.s explode releasing a massive fireball engulfing everything within several hundred square metres. Some of these bombs were so huge (15,000lbs), they had to be pushed out of specially fitted Hercules planes to unleash their horror.
The second most used weapon of the war was the Cluster Bomb. Each one of these large bombs contains 145 bomblets, and each one of these bomblets releases 600 razor sharp metal fragments over an area the size of a football field.
Also dropped for the first time were hundreds of tons of radioactive waste in the form of Depleted Uranium shells. This radioactive waste will remain deadly for 100,000's of years. Incidences of leukemia and birth deformities have skyrocketed in Iraq.
The U.S. and Britain have continued to bomb Iraq almost continually for ten years. But even more deadly has been the economic blockade which has made it impossible to maintain essential services and meet basic medical needs. The World Health Organisation report of Feb. 2OOl states of this once prosperous nation, "Chronic malnutrition is widespread, especially among the growing children." Several hundred thousand children have died in the last ten years from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases. Even Kuwait has called for an end to the sanctions. The U.S. steadfastly refuses.
U.S. Congressman David Bonier has declared the sanctions, "infanticide masquerading as policy." Title 18, section 2331 of the U.S. legal code defines international terrorism as "acts dangerous to human life... that appear intended to coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." Thus by its own definition the U.S. government is guilty of terrorism against the people of Iraq.
A campaign against terrorism is a great idea, but to put the U.S. in charge of it is like putting the Taliban in charge of the advancement of women's rights.
Some of us who consider the life of a person from the Middle East just as important as an Australian or an American, would suggest a more realistic attempt to stop terrorism. We are proposing the following statement for people to sign, and the gathered sheets will be circulated as widely as possible to media and politicians, to make them aware of the number of people who are concerned at the present situation.
This network only exists to promote and publicise consistent thinking regarding terrorism. We encourage you to join other groups to work for peace, justice and a world free from terrorism.
Click link for statement form, print out and return to the Anti-Terrorism Network.
Anti-terrorism Network, P.O. Box 5187, West End, 4101
Phone Jim or Anne (07) 3425 3003 for more details.
E-mail : email@example.com
September 11, 2001 (back to top)
For statements on the horrific events of 11 September 2001, click here.
The Ron Gray Human Rights Foundation