Category Archives : CONVOCATIONS IN ENGLISH 2014


CONVOCATION 28 SEPTEMBER 2014: OUR POSITION FACING THE CURRENT CONFLICTS

Our Position Facing the Current Conflicts


In recent months, we have been observing with worry the intensification of many conflicts: the conflict between Palestine and Israel, Russia and Ukraine, the civil war in Syria, increase in tensions in Iraq… conflicts which also are engaging the interest of the media because these conflicts affect the West and Spain in particular.

Despite the seriousness of the conflicts listed above, we want to remember they are not the only ones; there are many forgotten conflicts that cause suffering and destruction, but which are unnoticed by public opinion: open conflicts such as in Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Congo, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Mali, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar… in addition to other countries not experiencing open conflict but where there is a high degree of violence.

Women in Black against War of Madrid:

Denounce the violations of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity in all places involved these conflicts. We demand that such violations not go unpunished regardless of who has committed them.

We want the West, NATO and especially Spain to assume their responsibility for action or omission in the current conflicts.

We want that political or economic interests not take priority over the life and dignity of people, above human security and above peace.

We denounce the war economy and the economic interests in the conflicts. It is immoral and unacceptable that the suffering of millions of people be tolerated to permit the increasing enrichment of a few companies. It is not acceptable that the defense budgets of many countries, including our own, be maintained as they are, or increased, when there are many social costs to cover that are being diminished daily.

We want to be able to say “neither these nor those”, that we do not support any band or party. There is a third political path without armed confrontation, and we reject the militaristic speeches that polarize society into friends and enemies.

We are on the side of the civil population, which is the one that suffers the consequences of war. We believe that a real and definitive outcome to the conflict should emerge from a change of values and the involvement of civil society.

We stand in solidarity with the women who live in the countries in conflict. When the entire social and human structure fails, it is they who sustain life, who maintain the links of union and are the agents of reconciliation.

We support the initiatives of civil society that have as their objective fomenting harmonious co-existence and human rights locally, regionally and globally, so that one day these qualities become universal.

Madrid, 28th of September 2014.

Translation: Trisha Novak with the collaboration of Yolanda Rouiller


CONVOCATION 29 JUNE 2014: WOMEN AGAINST THE FIRST WORLD WAR


Women against the First World War (1914-1918)

Women in Black of Madrid remember the Cassandras of the Great War:

Bertha von Suttner worked to avoid another war, any war. Her novel Lay Down Your Arms is an appeal for peace and describes the horrors of armed confrontation. She founded the Austrian Society for Peace in 1891 and worked tirelessly for the international pacifist movement. She denounced rearmament in peacetime, which would ruin the nations, and warned about the preparation of various countries for a great conflict. She confronted the virulent opposition of nationalists, the clergy and anti-Semites. The First World War began a month after her death. She was the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Rosa Luxemburg was arrested in February 1914 for inciting soldiers to rebel and declared: “If they expect us to assassinate the French or any other foreign brother, let’s tell them: ‘No, under no circumstance.’” A couple of weeks after the outbreak of the war, she declared her disappointment that the European workers’ movement had not avoided the catastrophe. She opposed the directives of the International Socialist Movement and thought that once the war came to an end, the “traitors” could be brought to justice. She was executed in January of 1919 by paramilitaries recently demobilized from the war front.

Clara Zetkin was a leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and organized the women’s section of the party. In her struggle against war, she sent out a call to the women socialists to energetically oppose an armed conflict, which would benefit only the clerical and profiteering patriarchal bourgeoisie, and convened an International Conference of Women Socialists that took place in Berne (Switzerland). At the conference, the imperialistic conflict was censured with the slogan “War on war”. On account of that, she was jailed and expelled from the party.

In the context of the First World War, two Women’s Pacifist Congresses took place in Europe in 1915: The Conference of International Socialist Women mentioned before and the International Congress of Women in The Hague under the leadership of the Dutch suffragist and pacifist Aleta Jacobs and Jane Addams (Nobel Peace Prize). Participating in this meeting were 1,136 women, although many of them were refused passports by their respective countries or were stopped at the border. Upon returning to their home countries, they were accused of “anti-patriotism” and many of them were arrested or closely watched by the police. The International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was born at this Congress through important suffragists who defended the idea that peace and equal rights for women were closely related and, in the midst of the First World War, proclaimed that war was not inevitable. These symbolic and historic Congresses adopted resolutions that established the basis for an International Movement of Women for Peace.

The “International Congress of Women for understanding among nations” took place in 1917.

There were massive demonstrations by women and various actions against war in Berlin, as well as in cities of Austria, Russia and other countries. Pacifist women who lived in the warring countries were pursued, imprisoned and subjected to police surveillance. Hélène Brion, a French pacifist teacher, was accused of treason and denied her teaching position because of distributing pacifist pamphlets in 1918. During her trial, she declared: “I am an enemy of war because I am a feminist…Between war and feminism there is total contradiction.”

Women in Black of Madrid make manifest our recognition and support for all the Cassandras who currently are working for social demilitarization, human rights, solidarity and a world without wars.

We also pay homage to our companions of Women in Black who have passed on, Ana San Emeterio from Cantabria and Conchi Chaus from Valencia. Their commitment and solidarity will be with us always.

Translation: Trisha Novak with the collaboration of Yolanda Rouiller


CONVOCATION 25 MAY 2014: NO TO THE WAR IN UKRAINE!

No to the war in Ukraine!

Women in Black are organizing a vigil in black and in silence for 24 May 2014 at 1:00 p.m. in the Plaza of the Republic of Belgrade, with the title “No to the war in Ukraine”.

Women in Black condemn the military actions and violence in Ukraine, whose victims are increasing daily, as a consequence of the imperialistic policy of Russia and the growing fascism in Ukraine.

We ask for more effort from the international community to give priority to the rights and future of the civilian population, guaranteeing their integrity without discriminating because of ethnic origin, nationality or any other affiliation instead of striving to reach, at any price, agreements based on geostrategic interests of the most powerful states.

Therefore, in order to avoid a major escalation of violence and war in Ukraine, we demand of the international community that they give strong and decisive support to all the peace organizations in Ukraine and Russia and to all persons who refuse any type of forced mobilization, and protection of minorities, as well as respect for their rights and freedoms.

We remember that war benefits only the powerful, war profiteers, and the military-industrial complex, who maintain their privileges and power through destruction, the perpetuation of hatred among communities and death. Once again, it is the civilian population that will suffer, especially the most vulnerable: children, women and the elderly, regardless of nationality; including, as well, the group that is the most vulnerable at this time, the Ukrainian citizens of Russian origin, whom the Russian Federation claims to defend, the excuse always given by those in power to justify an invasion and cultural and economic plunder.

Commemorating the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament on 24 May, Women in Black draw attention to and denounce the increase in local, regional and global militarization both of conscience and weaponry. Aside from the military escalation in Russia and Ukraine, we observe an expansion of the NATO fleet in the Black Sea and surrounding countries. It is absolutely inadmissible that more money be dedicated to weapons in the middle of a crisis affecting all of Europe.

The International Network of Women in Black will organize protests for the same day in Spain, Russia, Serbia…

Organized and disseminated by the International Network of Women in Black against war.

Translation: Trisha Novak and Yolanda Rouiller


CONVOCATION 27 APRIL 2014: INMIGRATION IS NOT THE PROBLEM

IMMIGRATION IS NOT THE PROBLEM


“… As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”

Virginia Woolf


Women in Black of Madrid want to denounce the migration policies of the European Union and especially those of the government of Spain.

Africa is bleeding because of wars, famine and over-exploitation of its natural resources at the hands of multi-national corporations of the West. The nearly 12,000,000 refugees in Africa are crowded into refugee camps in various regions or neighboring countries. The majority are women and children, and the females are subject to sexual violence.

Europe, however, expects that the people of Africa will endure with resignation. When they leave their own countries to seek a better life or even to be able to continue living and try to cross our borders, Europe becomes indignant, raises walls and closes its doors to protect its own territories

The recent events in Lampedusa, Ceuta and Melilla are the tip of the iceberg of an inhumane immigration strategy. The European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX) promotes militarization of borders and converts them into a battleground where it doesn’t matter how many victims there might be so long at it is clear that they will not be permitted to enter Europe.

The action of the Civil Guard shooting blanks and rubber bullets at the emigrants on the Tarajal Beach at Ceuta, violated the obligation to lend aid to people in a situation of danger. It was a criminal act in that the shots could have caused the deaths of 14 people. Inasmuch as many of the refugees had a right to asylum, the Government was in violation of the Geneva Convention. In declaring that the government of Spain was acting legally, Mrs. Margaret Ashton, representative of the European Union, is co-responsible for this action.

Exaggerating the number of migrants seeking to enter Spain, the Minister of the Interior is trying to frighten the public so they will approve his policy. In this way, he aspires to justify the use of cruel and brutal measures such as barbed wire fences and immediately handing over to the Moroccan police individuals who may have succeeded in crossing the border, thus eliminating the possibility of seeking asylum, which is illegal.

Women in Black:

Declare our support for the NGOs, collectives and individuals involved in giving support to the migrants.
Ask for an investigation and assumption of responsibility for the events described above.
Demand that the Government and the European Union develop migrant policies that are more humanitarian and in accordance with human dignity.
Express the need to seek actions to resist racism and xenophobia, integrating a gender perspective.
Invite personal reflection on attitudes and prejudices as related to immigration and the right of all people to a life with dignity.

May we remove war from history and from our lives

Translation: Trisha Novak, USA


CONVOCATION 23 FEBRUARY 2014: Against the war in Syria


AGAINST THE WAR IN SYRIA
FOR A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT


Women in Black of Belgrade and Madrid denounce the indifference with which a great part of the West is reacting to the war unleashed in Syria.

When it presented itself, we denounced that the supposed guardians of democracy that rose up as saviors of this country, supporting the insurgents, in reality only intended to defend their own interests in the area.

The vendors of weapons continue enriching themselves with their macabre business with the blessing of their respective governments, despite the fact that they know these armaments are used against the civilian population.

With the backing of Russia and China, and with the inaction of the European Union and the remainder of the international community, Al Asad and the insurgents continue bombarding and destroying Syria, but they have no plans to assist the millions of refugees, nor to protect the civilian population trapped between the two opposing military forces. The people of Syria are suffering the consequences of a conflict that has little to do with them, but which only serves the interests of the belligerent parties and, given the strategic importance of Syria, the interests of the great world powers.

Women in Black ask for:

A peaceful resolution to the conflict through political consensus that will include all civilian voices involved.

That the negotiations for peace in Syria to take place in Geneva be effective and not delayed any longer.

That access to weapons for both factions be prevented and denounced.

That those who govern and are in a position of influence cease to seek their own interests and defend those of the people of Syria.

That the people of Syria be protected not only from military aggression but also from hunger, poverty, forced emigration, sexual violations and abuses, etc.

That there be no impunity, rather that those responsible account in court for their crimes against the people.

Cessation to the destruction of Syrian historical heritage.

That the government of Spain become more involved in providing humanitarian aid to the refugees from Syria.

Let us remove war from history and from our lives


Translation: Trisha Novak, USA


CONVOCATION 26 JANUARY 2014: NONVIOLENCE AND REPRESSION


January 30th, School Day of Nonviolence and Peace in Spain

Nonviolence and repression


The School Day of Nonviolence and Peace has been celebrated in Spain every January 30th since 1964. On this day, we celebrate the death of Gandhi, defender of peaceful struggle against injustice, whose nonviolent practices were followed in India by millions of people. Gandhi was the first to name nonviolence (ahimsa) as a way of life.

The peaceful actions of Gandhi were severely repressed, which did not however, impede finally accomplishing their objective. It is striking and ironic, that peaceful mobilizations today are also strongly repressed even while the international day of nonviolence is being celebrated. It is evident that in reality the governments of the nations do nothing to implement nonviolent measures in their own structures, holding to the privilege of using violence.

In our country new laws are reducing even more the possibility of citizen protest: the reform of the Penal Code, the Law of Citizen Security, the Law of Private Security and new municipal ordinances. These new laws comprise a series of regulations geared to weakening peaceful protests with fines between 1,000 and 600,000 Euros and imprisonment and expulsion. A sit-down in the street or in front of certain buildings, to set up a stall or tent, would be considered crimes. It is not violence that is penalized, rather it is the protest.

What sort of education are were transmitting to our children when on the one hand we present them with a history of nonviolence and, on the other hand, they see that on the streets peaceful actions are severely repressed? This sort of teaching is as unsustainable as it is incoherent.

Today, Women in Black of Madrid want to commemorate also the life and thought of Howard Clark, a companion who left us last November. He was president of the War Resisters’ International (WRI), an organization that has worked since 1921 for a world without war, promoting and educating about pacifism and nonviolence. In one of his last articles, Howard Clark reflected on the repression that governments exercise against the people they are supposed to protect:

“Repression alone is weak. Looking at fear from the point of the view of those who hold power, nobody can rule for long by fear alone.

Repression by the State is a two-edged sword. It is meant to be a sign of strength, intimidating opponents and especially potential opponents. Yet it also indicates weakness, not least the regime’s failure to convince the population to internalise restrictions. The most severe measures of state repression against unarmed protesters – massacres, murders and torture – often prove to be counter-productive. Meanwhile, in the anti-‘austerity’ demonstrations in Greece and in Spain (where I live), it seems that riot police have a licence to carry out violence more freely than since the days of dictatorship.

Should we see this kind of repression as a sign of weakness? I think so, despite the other elements present in the strategy to inculcate a culture of fear and submission.”

Having researched the world-wide processes and strategies of nonviolence, Howard also shows us alternatives that are within our
reach. Our best homage to his life on this special day is that his words and ideas, remain always in our memory:

“One of the keys to nonviolent strategy is establishing groups and through them movements which put people in touch with their own sources of power – the power of communicating, of organising and building support, of opening social spaces, of refusing or disrupting what is wrong and of showing an alternative.”

“We all need hope that the inhuman shall not triumph.”

Translation: Trisha Novak, USA