Monday, December 15, 2008

War on Terror is War on People

"War on terrorism is invariably results in war on people" warned GAKUVED President Durgadas Gaonkar. He was speaking at a meeting called by Citizens' Initiatives for Communal Harmony (CICH) in Panjim on December 06, 2008. He further narrated the saga of terrorization of tribal communities and peoples out of their village lands and livelihoods because of mining and questioned why this terror is not recognized. He also narrated recent experience of police violence on Colamb villagers when they are stood up in defence their livelihood in the form of agriculture.

At a meeting on 'Goa for Peace' organized by (CICH) at T. B. Cunha Hall on 6th December, participants were unanimous in stating that we need to look at conditions of justice in our own spaces in order to move towards peace, rather than launch a war against terrorism. The common person is deprived of strategic access to dialogue across the border, participants observed.

Participants also noted that the Government has not honoured the recommendations that its one-man inquiry report had made following the Sanvordem-Curchorem riots and questioned the seriousness of the Government in identifying the culprits involved in vandalisation of religious places in the last one year. Participants also decried the knee-jerk reactions like anti-terror laws or superficial initiatives of tightening security, which do not address the core issues that foster insecurity among people.

Guest speaker, noted film-maker Mr. Saeed Mirza emphasized that people all over want peace and that people to people dialogue is the way to achieve peace. Mr. Mirza further remarked that simplistic solutions like war and carpet bombing are being publicized by a media that is not concerned about the people as it is controlled by corporates and politicians.

Ms. Judith Almeida, a civic and consumer activist, raised fundamental questions of what constitutes security. Ms. Almeida wondered whether the deprivation of basic needs, and the lack of justice from existing mechanisms, was not terrorism. Ms. Almeida remarked that citizens are cornered on every aspect of justice by the State, virtually imposing a terrorism of sorts on the communities.

Mr. Anthony D'Silva of Ambelim remarked that the development model that is being forced upon the villages in Goa such as Ambelim is creating large scale frustration, unemployment and unrest that could lead to rebellion of the people.

Ms. Dipti Arolkar of CICH read a joint India-Pakistan people's statement urging upon the governments of India and Pakistan to take various steps including to immediately stop all hostile propaganda against each other; take joint action to curb religious extremism of all shades in both countries; continue intensified normalization of relations and peaceful resolution of all conflicts between the two countries, facilitate trade and cooperation between the two countries and in all of South Asia, to make a declaration by India and Pakistan of No First Use of atomic weapons; while welcoming the fact that the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot borders have been opened for trade and that the opening of the road between Kargil and Skardu is in the pipeline.

The resonating statement in the meeting was that there cannot be peace without social justice and that war on terror would only beget further terror.

This report is based on Press handout issued on behalf of CICH by Albertina Almeida and Ramesh Gauns

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