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Guild of Service and WIPSA Call for Peace

V. Mohini Giri

Candle-Light vigil for Restraint & Peace
India Gate, New Delhi, 19th September, 2001

Statement of Indian NGOs.

We, as Indian citizens and as people of good conscience, committed to peace and justice, record our shock and sorrow at the death and destruction caused by the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, and express out sincere sympathy to the ordinary citizens who have suffered loss and bereavement.

The use of such violence cannot be justified; no matter what the cause that inspires it. But neither can the use of retaliatory violence and armed force be justified. We condemn the outpouring of hate and the calls for war and armed reprisal, and the deployment of forces, that have followed the attack.

While we, like millions of others, want the spiral of violence to stop, and stand against terrorism of all kinds, we are equally concerned about the mounting movement towards a new war. We are shocked to see and hear the language of war and hatred being used by the United States and religious groups even before anyone know conclusively who was behind the attacks on the United States.

Judgments are being passed without due consideration for underlying causes of hostility and alienation. It is these causes that nations must address.

We condemn the preparations for war and campaigns against nations and religious groups.

We believe war and the use or armed force are not the answer to terrorism, as they have never resolved any conflict. This incident should not be used as an excuse for increased militarisation and more business for the weapons industry.

We firmly believe in and uphold the principle of using dialogue and non-violent means to address all dispute and difference, no matter how much more difficult this may be than to opt for violence and force in a world where might is perceived as right.

This latest tragedy, for all its magnitude, does not stand-alone. Violent death and injury have afflicted others, in other parts of the world, through conflict, oppression and use of force, and continue to threaten the lives and aspirations of many different societies.

The dignity and rights of all peoples must be recognised and upheld. Peace, justice, and the wise redressal of affront and hostility, must be for all not just for some. This is the challenge before all humanity.

Our lives, our rights and our futures are being threatened by the increasing acceptance of violence as a means of addressing disputes. We can no longer agree to pledge our energies to the destructive enterprise of war; we call for a new worldview that envisions the well being of all. We raise our voices against the breakdown of collective processes of dialogue and consensus building in many of our countries.

If we are to live as one world, it must be a world that respects diversity and does not insists on a single path or a single ideology.

This can be achieved and secured only if we can rise to genuine humanity and statesmanship at an hour such as this. We must search for solutions to these seemingly intractable issues in a manner that upholds the rights of all, and ensures that the right of all people to live in peace and dignity is not violated. We believe that violence will only breed further violence and lead to large-scale devastation the world over.

We call on the United Nations organisation to take responsibility to lead and guide international and national response of all member states. Recognising the UN as the only appropriate body for international decision-making by governments, and the sole world forum where all states can confer on the basis of equal rights, we call on the UN Secretary General, the Security Council and the General Assembly, to ensure restraint and consultation by all nations, including those directly affected by the 11 September attack, in determining international resolution of the problems underlying the incidence of terrorism and violent armed attack, whether perpetrated by individuals, groups or states, anywhere in the world.

We call on civil society and peoples organisations everywhere to stand up for sanity and sober international consultation, with the objective of peace building instead of reprisal.

We call on governments, including our own, to exercise caution and to counsel against the kind of unrestrained official reaction we are seeing now. Hate attacks and the killing of innocent people in the US and Britain have already begun. We ask all our governments to work for genuine international coexistence and peace, and not to become party to measures by any government or alliance seeking to promote its own military interests or pursue its own policy agendas in any region in the name of fighting terrorism.

We appeal at this time for the worlds leaders to choose wisdom, maturity and vision over revenge and retaliation. We know that both warfare and hatred could reach a scale of unforeseeable proportions. There are many questions to answer, and many solutions to find. It behooves us all to think through the ramifications of the 11 September events, and to work harder at conflict resolution and peace in our time and in all of countries and regions of the world. This is not the moment for angry self-righteousness, but for doing right.

We make this appeal in solidarity with peoples organisations and womens groups from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

We stand together against the menace of retaliatory violence.


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