Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pérez Esquivel on working toward Global Peace

"It is necessary that peoples take up social, cultural, political and spiritual resistance through mobilization, non-cooperation with violence and injustice, that they join forces with other peoples and denounce those responsible for the domination and the pain that afflicts all humanity." -- Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

The following essay was written by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, sent from Buenos Aires on August 1, 2006. In this compelling piece, Esquivel makes an impassioned plea for peace and cogent suggestions toward stopping the cycle of violence that perpetuate conflict. War profiteers make obscene amounts of money on the blood of innocents. Churches, global institutions, writers, artists, and indeed sane people everywhere, must join together to mobilise for a stop to this insanity!

At this time in particular, with the raging conflict in the Middle East, his words are timely, and we would do well to pay heed.

My thanks to Jordan Bishop for sending his translated version to the Peace-1 group.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

Nobel Peace Prize, 1980

Buenos Aires, August 1, 2006

The human race has been shaken by the increase in wars and armed conflicts, the incessant increase in irrationality, irrationality that believes that violence is a solution. All that this has achieved to date is to increase the number of deaths, of bloodshed among peoples, while governments and those in power try to justify the unjustifiable. For some, war is a business whose cost is on the backs of peoples, those who undergo death, pain and suffering.

Israel has ignored the General Assembly of the United Nations and other international organisms, to the tune of forty-six resolutions; with total and absolute impunability , upheld and protected by the United States which, while exercising their right of veto , to impede resolutions that condemned Israel for their attacks and oppression against the Palestinian people, Lebanon and other Arab nations.

The pride of power has led them to inflict greater violence without measuring the consequences. They are following one way streets and employing means that justify their ends. The price of "collateral damage" has no importance in the face of the killing of children, women, young people and defenceless old people. And they want the world to believe that they are the victims rather than victimizers.

The escalating violence unleashed by the United States and Israel in the Middle East, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan , have been marked by the atrocities committed in the prisons of Abu Ghraib and in the US military base in Guantánamo, Cuba. They have inflicted torture, cruel and degrading treatment, condemned by the United Nations , in violation of humanitarian and international law. Israel has justified and used torture to achieve their ends. International law has been pulverized.

It is necessary that the international community put and end to the barbarisms, to the massacres. We must say, one again, that we do not justify violent action from any quarter. We must condemn every kind of terrorism: that of clandestine groups and state terrorism. We must clearly uphold the right of peoples to exist, to sovereignty, to life and freedom.

Let us add our voices to thousands of other voices: ENOUGH OF WAR!

In Israel, in Palestine and in the world, citizens are mobilizing to demand a stop to the violence, to open a dialogue that may permit a solution to the serious problems that affect the Middle East: Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Thomas Merton said: "Power has nothing to do with peace. The more that military power increases, the more it destroys and the more it violates peace."

Look at what this world has achieved. It has lost balance, lost the capacity to realize that war is a tragedy for everyone. It is urgent to disarm armed reason, to recognize that nothing can be gained by opposing each violent action with a larger one, but that we must develop the capacity to meet the other, to respect the other.

If this does not happen, the victors of any band are defeated and become victims of their own violence and stupidity. And the defeated will look for revenge for their own frustrations. No one will achieve peace and the wounds remain open for generations without healing. More than fifty years of war between Israel and Palestine have failed to bring any good for these peoples; all that has been achieved is to sow destruction, poverty, pain and death.

Those in government surround themselves with guards and sophisticated equipment to protect themselves and they are always safe from the bombs and attacks that justify massacres against the other. Thus they encourage the troops so that they will go on killing.

They employ violence and the justification of words, words empty of real content. They make long speeches that they themselves do not believe in. Meanwhile the number of deaths increases, and human beings become an abstraction. How many died today? How many civilians, how many soldiers, how many children, women, youths and old people will die today? What is it like to wait for the "intelligent bomb" that will destroy them in five minutes, an hour, a second? What is the price of all this madness? How do we compare the value of a life and the price of a bomb? What is the price of a tank or a fighter plane?

Do our leaders, our war lords, know that more than thirty-five thousand children die of hunger every day, according to a report of the FAO? How many hospitals, schools, programs for life could be financed for the price of just one of these engines of death?

For the powerful lords of war, business is business, death produces dividends, the "intelligent bombs" kill more and kill better, the tanks and fighter planes destroy more, destroy better. Who are these merchants of death who get rich on the blood of peoples?

It is urgent that we react. Words are not enough. The pain and death produced by the war continue, in the fact of the irresponsability of governments that unleash violence and then do not know know to contain it or avoid it.

War is born in the minds of men and it is necessary to disarm armed consciousness, it is necessary to find other ways to resolve conflicts.

It is necessary to change the course of events through collective action, developing solidarity among peoples.

It is necessary that intellectuals, artists, educators wake up, clear away the dust and put into practice thought and action, some coherence between what is said and what is done. Only thus will they be believable, only thus can they contribute to inspire the efforts of many others, to stop the madness of war and bring about Peace.

We must mobilize workers, youths, men and women who call for another world that is possible.

How will they learn, the peoples of Israel and Palestine, to live together as brothers and not as enemies? When will they stop killing each otherf? This is what they have done to date and they have achieved absolutely nothing, except to justify the horror in the name of human stupidity.

The Churches must get together, at an ecumenical and world scale, to pray and to act, without sectarian divisions or fundamentalisms. Pray to the God of Life for an immediate cessation of violence.

It is necessary to increase the possibilities of dialogue, of consensus, of agreemnts that respect the rights of each people. We need the political will and the taking of decisions, something that demands courage. We must send into exile the fears and the fatalisms, the cowardice hidden behind canons and rifles, tanks and aircraft, things that do not allow them to see beyond their own small-minded and petty interests.

It is necessary that peoples take up social, cultural, political and spiritual resistance through mobilization, non-cooperation with violence and injustice, that they join forces with other peoples and denounce those responsible for the domination and the pain that afflicts all humanity.

The United Nations, and the international organizations have been neutralized and pushed aside by the political interests of the big powers such as the United States and Great Britain. In the first article of the Declaration of the United Nations Organization it says: "We the peoples of the World." We have to stand up and march towards new horizons of life and not of death. In the face of everything, this is the hope.


Rapid translation by Jordan Bishop, Ottawa

From the Servicio Informative "Alai-amlatina."

Agencia Latinoamericana de Information - ALAI


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