International Day of Protest

Report from: Chennai, India

By J Sri Raman


A public meeting was held in Chennai, India, on October 13 under the banner of the Movement Against Nuclear Weapons (MANW) in response to the call from the Global Network for participation in a worldwide protest on his date against the NMD program as well in response to the grim situation caused by the USA's war on Afghanistan. Both these subjects were covered by the theme of the meeting, 'Looming threats to world peace'.

An illustrated talk on the NMD as a threat to world pece was given by Dr R. Shankar of the Indian Scientists Against Nuclear Weapons (ISANW). In this context, the meeting also voiced our demand for the immediate release of Indian peace activist Samir Nazareth and his Greenpeace colleagues arrested in the USA for participation in a perfectly peaceful anti-NMD protest and awaiting a possible six-year rigorous imprisonment on several serious charges including 'conspiracy'. Greenpeace activist Ananth Padmanabhan spoke of the 'crime' and the 'punishment'. Signatures were collected on a message of solidarity to Samir from the people of Chennai.

Speaking on the MANW's behalf, I denounced the cynical support extended by the Government of India to the so-called 'war on terrorism' declared by the USA. Paying tribute in particular to the anti-war stand adopted by the peace movements in the USA and Western Europe, I warned against the attacks on civil liberties and democratic rights following the attack on Afghanistan everywhere. Peace veteran N. T. Vanamamalai spoke of the danger of making a war on terrorism sound synonymous with one on Islam.

The meeting adopted two resolutions -- one on the war and the other on Samir. We also decided to try and organize a mass peace rally in Chennai by his month end, if possible.

I am attaching the resolutions and the message to Samir (with the forwarding letter). Please do share these with comrades-in-peace and fraternal organizations.

Warm regards.

J, Sri Raman
Convenor-MANW
 


MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS
RESOLUTION
FOR PEACE, AGAINST WAR

Meeting under the gathering clouds of a wide and long-drawn-out war, the people of Chennai represented here today raise a resolute voice for peace. We call an immediate halt to the horrendous onslaught mounted by the rulers of the United States of America on the long-suffering people of Afghanistan. We also condemn in the strongest possible terms the unconcealed attempts by the George Bush Administration of the USA and its allies to broaden and prolong the bloody conflict.

We reaffirm on this occasion our enduring sadness and shock over the tragedy of September 11 that shook New York, the USA, and indeed the entire world. What the crime called for, however, was justice and not revenge. Terrorism cannot be answered with a Third World War. Terrorism cannot be rooted out without recognising and addressing its root-causes. The root-causes of the terrorism behind the September tragedy include the foreign policy over the years of the USA that put the Taliban in power in the first place and has created many a bin Laden in its course. A US-led offensive against world peace cannot be equated with a global war on terrorism.

We are ashamed and outraged over the cynical support extended by the Government of India, without any democratic mandate for such a step, to the war on the people of Afghanistan and efforts to enlarge the conflict. New Delhi's attempts to find an opportunity for the country in the conflict cannot be more absurd. We reaffirm the repeatedly expressed popular conviction that India-Pakistan amity is an imperative of the region.

We warn against any use of nuclear weapons in the course of this war. We warn, too, against the grave anger posed by the fact that two of the countries in the region most closely affected by the conflict - India and Pakistan - possess nuclear weapons.
We deeply deplore the onslaught on civil liberties and democratic rights that is following the military offensive in the US-led camp. We warn against efforts underway in India to enact unacceptable curbs on such liberties and rights in the name of combating terrorism. The people's campaign against war and or peace will continue despite indications of official unwillingness to countenance it.

October 13, 2001.


MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS
RESOLUTION

We, representing the people of Chennai, demand the immediate and unconditional release of Indian peace activist Samir Nazareth and his Greenpeace colleagues detained facing trial and possibly long imprisonment for the crime of participating in a peaceful protest against the so-called National Missile Defence programme of the USA's George Bush Administration.


We call upon the Government of India to take immediate and effective steps to secure the release of Samir Nazareth who deserves to be honoured as a national hero. 
We reaffirm that no amount of such repression will deter the world peace movement from carrying forward its struggle against the NMD and what it symbolises - the unbridled ambition of superpower to weaponise space and reinforce its world domination.

October 13, 2001.


Dear Samir,

I am a scientist and peace activist working in Chennai. Ever since I heard about the SW17 action and the fact that there was an Indian involved in it, I have been trying to get hold of your contact address. I have finally managed thanks to Greenpeace India.

When the Indian Govt. reaction to NMD makes me ashamed, it is very heartening to come across news of the action of an Indian citizen that makes me proud. I really appreciate your commitment and courage. I don't think I would have done what you did even if I had the opportunity.

You must be going through a difficult period now. We, in Chennai would like to do what we can to help. We are a network of many organizations called Movement Against Nuclear Weapons (MANW). There are about 30 organisations in Chennai who form MANW. I am a member of one of them called Indian Scientists Against Nuclear Weapons (ISANW). Now that we have contacted Greenpeace via Ananth who is in Chennai, we have a better idea of what would be useful. So far the only thing we have done is to send e-mails to the US Ambassador and telling people about your action. Unfortunately, the media did not cover the action at all. Though we have talked to people and sent e-mails around it has not really got as much publicity as we would have liked so far. However I would like to tell you that everyone I talked to (peace movement types) have expressed appreciation.

Today (13th October) we had a hall meeting originally meant as a protest meeting against BMD, but the events of September 11th and what follows made us broaden the scope to include them. This was a meeting mainly for activists. We had invited Ananth to speak about the SW17 action. One of our activists, Vatsala, had written an article in Tamil about the action based on the material we had from the Greenpeace site. We distributed this in the meeting. We also collected signatures on a letter to you which was read out in the meeting. I am appending the text. There are 33 signatories but if we had been more systematic in collecting the signatures, there would have been easily thirty more. If you could send us your parents address, we could mail them the original. I will scan it and send the file to you in a day or two.

Please let us know what kinds of action on our part would be of help to you and your friends. Please convey my appreciation of their action to them.

With warm regards,
Shankar.

October 13, 2001
Chennai
 


Dear Samir,

This is just to tell you that we, the people of Chennai, admire your courage and your social conciousness. We are with you in your struggle to make this world a better place. As Indians, we are proud of you.

To your parents we want to say this: We share both your pride in your son and your concern that justice should be done to him.

With love and best wishes to all the Greenpeace activists and the journalists who risked their lives and did sathyagraha in Vandenberg on the 14th of July, 2001.

Yours sincerely,

33 Signatories.
 



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