Iraq & the Global Peace Movement
Iraq & the Global Peace Movement
"World's Other Superpower" Plots its Next Moves
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Over a hundred representatives of what the New York Times calls the "world's other superpower" gathered here in Jakarta from May 18-21 to plot the next moves of the global anti-war movement after the United States' invasion of Iraq. Delegates coming from 24 countries and representing some of the biggest anti- war coalitions and groupings all over the world emerged from intense debates and discussions with a statement of unity and a specific plan of action embodied in a document called the "Jakarta Peace Consensus".
The consensus calls for, among other things, an immediate end to the illegal occupation of Iraq and the withholding of recognition to any regime that will be installed by the US and the United Kingdom. The consensus then sets out a list of demands regarding such issues as the use and control of Iraq's resources, debt cancellation, the United Nations' role and other questions surrounding post-war reconstruction and administration.
On the plight of Iraq, the "Jakarta Peace Consensus" articulates a commitment to hold an international war crimes tribunal for prosecuting the US and its allies, the sending of a series of peace missions and mass delegations to Iraq as well as the establishment of Occupation Watch Centers to monitor the US military and corporations in Iraq.
Noting the strong links between globalization to militarism, the consensus endorses the call for a week of action against the World Trade Organization (WTO) during its coming ministerial in Cancún, Mexico this September. The Consensus also plans to launch a "World Says No to Bush" campaign that will culminate during the Republican Party's national convention in September next year. In addition, the participants have committed to revitalize the worldwide campaign for disarmament as well as to launch a global campaign against the proliferation of US bases around the world.
As to the world's other wars, the consensus lists and supports a number of proposals for responding to the conflicts currently raging in Palestine, Aceh, Mindanao, Chechnya, Congo, and Kashmir among others.
A Truly Global Movement
For all the death and destruction it has caused, the United States' invasion of Iraq has given birth to a truly amazing and historic global anti-war movement. The undeniable significance of this movement was at no point more forcefully demonstrated than with the massive internationally coordinated marches that swept the globe last February 14 to 16.
The hurriedly organized conference in Jakarta was open to all and everyone who was interested was encouraged to attend. Those who attended come from some of the biggest national and regional anti-war coalitions and groupings all over the world. This includes representatives from the Asian Peace Alliance, a broad network of anti-war organizations from all over Asia; the UK Stop the War Coalition which organized the historic demonstrations in London; United for Peace and Justice, the biggest anti-war coalition in the United States; the Italian Social Forum, key organizers of last year's million strong anti- war march during the European Social Forum; the Istanbul No to War Coordination, which was responsible for the massive actions in Turkey; and Books not Bombs, an Australian high school student movement as well as a host of other national anti-war coalitions.
Also represented were Iraqi democracy activists, some organizers of the coming World Social Forum in India, delegates from the World March of Women, Indonesian trade unions, the South Africa Anti-Privatization Forum, Greenpeace, Focus on the Global South, and Jubilee South. Also slated to attend, but not granted Indonesian visas, were delegates from Pakistan, Palestine, and an Iraqi exile from Japan. The participants came from the following countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, East Timor, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
After three days of intense debates and discussions, the participants hammered together the "Jakarta Peace Consensus", a declaration of unity and a specific plan of action which they have agreed to propose to the global peace and justice movements. The Consensus will be translated to Arabic, French, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesian, Italian, etc. and will be presented to the next international anti-war meeting in Evian this May 31.
A Meeting for Peace against a Backdrop of War
The conference was held in Indonesia and in a region that was incidentally increasingly becoming engulfed in war. The conference proceedings were regularly interrupted with updates about the intensifying conflicts in Aceh and Mindanao, where both the Indonesian and Philippine governments have recently broken peace talks with secessionist movements and have just launched fresh military offensives against them.
On the first day of the conference, martial law was imposed in Aceh. In Mindanao, the government has threatened to categorize the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a "terrorist" organization and, hence, a legitimate target of US military intervention. US Special Forces are scheduled to be deployed there in the coming weeks. More than 300,000 civilians have been rendered refugees because of a renewed wave of military assaults and bombings.
The conference was held in conjunction with other meetings that have been held by the representatives of the global peace movement after the war. Last May 9, there was a Hemispheric Conference against Militarization held in Chiapas, Mexico that was attended mostly by peace activists from Latin America. Last April 25, mostly European activists gathered in Berlin, Germany. The next big meeting of the global peace movement is scheduled on May 31, during the G8 summit to be held in France.
Questions for the Movement
The conference opened with an assessment of the current global conjuncture. This was followed by an evaluation of the peace movement, in which participants asked how the movement emerged, where it came from, what social forces constitute it, what actions it did right, which decisions were flawed, and how it can further sustain and broaden itself.
The next plenary focused on the question of Iraq, with two Iraqis pleading for the delegates not to abandon Iraq again like they supposedly did for 12 years after the first Gulf War. Afterwards, delegates from East Timor and Afghanistan, joined in by an investigative journalist who has been tracking the "war profiteers," shared their countries' own experiences with "reconstruction" and their lessons for Iraq.
This was followed by a discussion on how the war has, in a number of countries, led to the convergence of the peace movement with the anti-globalization and religious movements. A discussion ensued on how the movement should engage with Islamic movements that are also opposed to imperialism.
In the next panel, the delegates grappled with the issues and challenges now confronting the anti-war movement such as how to prosecute the US and its allies for its war crimes; what to do with the United Nations; how to deal with "reconstruction" and oil corporations; and what to do to prevent "future Iraqs."
These presentations, discussions, debates, and reflections were then followed by long working meetings in which the delegates were divided into smaller groups to work on statement of unity as well as a specific, concrete, and coordinated plan of action for the coming months. The groups then reconvened in another arduous but productive session for putting out the final version of what they agreed to call the "Jakarta Peace Consensus."
The conference culminated with a march to the US embassy and the presidential palace in which five of the conference delegates were arrested by the Indonesian police. Those arrested include Nick Everett and Kylie Moon from Australia, Yong-chan Choi from South Korea, Lydia Cairncross from South Africa, Zeli Ariane, and Haris of Indonesia. They were detained overnight at the Jakarta Central Police Station.
The next day, the local Indonesian organizers accompanied the remaining international delegates to the immigration office to demand the immediate release of the delegates. The arrested foreign delegates were deported back to their countries the next day while the Indonesian was released from detention.
Focus on the Global South (Thailand), FNBPI & INCREASE (Indonesia) and Transnational Institute (The Netherlands) - Co-organisers of Jakarta Peace Conference Full Report: Jakarta Peace Consensus & Plan of Action