A CALL FOR AN END TO WAR, CALL FOR DEMOCRACY
Today, March 20, activists in Chiang Mai, led by women from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), call for democracy in Iraq and in Thailand. In a rickshaw parade to the US consulate, they shouted “US out of Iraq!” and “Thaksin, Resign!”
|(photo by: joseph purugganan)
Three years ago, democracy was one of the reasons given by George W. Bush for invading Iraq. There was none in Iraq, let the American soldiers bring democracy. The US invasion was supported by governments which acted against the will of the majority of their citizens. The people of these governments such as UK and Australia, and the US too, were in the frontline of the anti-war movement. The mission to bring democracy to Iraq was then doomed to fail, as these missionaries did not even uphold it in their own homeland.
Democracy is again the pretext for the continuing US-led military occupation. Let the military build democracy in Iraq. A democracy built at the expense of 30,260 civilian women, men and children who have been killed since the US-led invasion in 2003. And the death toll continues to rise with an average of 36 deaths per day, as compared with the 20 deaths per day in the first year.
"More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong," said Mr. Bush. "Yet, there is no peace, there's no honor, and there's no security in retreat." But what we witness now is an Iraq in the brink of a civil war- flamed by the anti-US occupation of the country. Instead of peace, honor or security, what the Iraqi people are looking at now is more destruction, deaths and violence in the days ahead.
Democracy does not grow from the rubbles of homes shattered by the bombs. It does not spring from the gaping holes of grounds smashed by continuing aerial bombing.
Democracy is not about creating a group of local politicians and bureaucrats, from different sectors, including women, to lead Iraq. When this group, hand-picked by the US, would act based on the script written by the Americans to pursue American interests, and the elites within Iraq, this is not democracy. This is colonialism.
The people of Thailand know what is and what is not democracy. When a Prime Minister shows his true colors, and pursues his own personal business interest, and not that of the people, that is not democracy. When a Prime Minister boasts of 3,000 deaths as a success of his anti-drug programme; and when he files charges of libel against people who criticize him and speak the truth; when he dismisses as a marital problem the cause of the disappearance of a human rights lawyer; when he explains the death of almost a hundred Muslim protesters under the custody of the military as a consequence of their being weak because of the Ramadan fasting; and when this Prime Minister refuses to step down despite the clamor of hundreds of thousands of his constituents, then that is not democracy. That is tyranny.
Democracy is about the self-determination of a people. It is about the power of the people to forge their own future, and live their present lives, in their own land. It is about living by rules collectively agreed on, and not by a privileged few. With democracy, people are free to speak without fear. And people are free from fear.
Let genuine democracy grow in the silence of the guns. End the US-led occupation in Iraq!
Let genuine democracy emerge from the sea of people calling for political reforms. End the rule of Thaksin in Thailand!
March 20, 2006
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Chiang Mai, Thailand