When War Resisters’ International issued its call for conscientious objection to war and preparations for war in September 2001, the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were only three weeks old, and the Western states, led by the USA, was mobilising for the ‘war on terrorism’. The first stage for this war was Afghanistan. Now, more than one year later, we are at the edge of a war on Iraq, justified as the second stage of the ‘war on terrorism’. Maybe, when you read this letter, this war has already begun.
While the peace movement all over the world was too slow to mobilise strong nonviolent resistance to the war on Afghanistan, this new war on Iraq already meets with strong public opposition, and an increasing number of people all over the world agree with our call for conscientious objection:
In the United States of America, more than 50,000 people signed the Pledge to Resist , and in January not only 500,000 people took to the streets in Washington, but also a wide range of civil disobedience actions were organised.
In Britain nonviolent direct actions took place at several military bases connected to a war on Iraq: Fairford, Lakenheath, and Northwood are only a few examples. The British Pledge of Resistance was signed by more than 3,500 persons.
In Germany, the Resist! campaign mobilises for nonviolent direct action against the war, and collected more than 4,000 signatures under their pledge.
These are only a few examples. Many other nonviolent actions are organised spontaneously, or without being part of a specific campaign that focuses on civil disobedience or direct action.
As part of WRI’s commitment to support resistance to war – renewed in our ‘Say No!’ statement – WRI provides information on these activities, and tries to link the different groups involved in nonviolent action. In addition, WRI makes information on conscientious objection – and where to get advice and support – available on its website, especially to members of those forces which will be part of the war on Iraq, notably US and UK forces. We also distributed a special report on conscientious objection and desertion in Iraq – an important issue, as it shows that the Iraqi people do not necessarily support the regime of Saddam Hussein, and that especially those who oppose the regime will suffer the most.
At this crucial time, we all need to work together to prevent this war. If you live in one of the countries mentioned above, you can get involved in one of these campaigns if you don’t do so already. In other countries, you can get information on activities against the war from your local WRI affiliate (we enclose an affiliation list in this mailing) or from other peace organisations.
On 15 February, mass demonstrations against the war on Iraq will be held in many European countries and in North America, called for by the European Social Forum. Please take our ‘Say No!’ statement and other WRI material to these demonstrations, maybe in a translation in your local language, and help us spread the message. Check our website for available language versions, and if you do a new translation, please send it to us by email to [email protected] We will make new languages available as soon as we receive them.
War Resisters’ International also needs your support. Please make a donation to enable us to continue our work against war. Together we might be able to stop the war!
WRI Office Coordinator