We are living in a critical time of peace and security in the global community. The world has becomes more polarised as globalisation accelerated and the war against terror intensified. With globalisation, the rich become richer, and the poor become more impoverished. With the war against terror, we have seen more killings and we have heard more cries of sufferings. However, we should recognise that “globalisation and war against terror” benefit only a few hegemonic powers in the world while isolating the vast majority of the people. Co-existence of global community through peace is being severely threatened and the security of the people, particularly the grassroots people is being pushed to the corner.
In this critical junction of time, the WSCF Asia-Pacific region feels it is very imperative to reiterate the importance of peace education among students and youths. In this regard, we invite Dr. Hope S. Antone to contribute her reflection on “Peace Education in Asian Plural Context”. She points out that it is important to affirm that the goal of education is life, the sustenance and continuation of life in its fullness. She continues, “With education being a cultural action, peace education involves the evolving of a culture of peace as an alternative to the culture of war and violence prevalent in Asian societies. In this sense, peace education is more than a matter of subject to add to a school curriculum. Rather, it has to do with envisioning and actualising peace as an alternative way of living, thinking and being.” In her concluding remarks, Dr. Antone asks us to uphold a pluralistic attitude which is an attitude that puts oneself or one’s group as one with and among others.
Also, the “Joint Statement of International and Regional NGOs in Hong Kong on Article 23” is included in solidarity with the Hong Kong people. On 1 July, more than half a million people gathered in Hong Kong to protest against the legislation of Article 23. The Hong Kong people believe that Article 23 opens the door to repression in Hong Kong and threaten its freedom. I hope that as a student or youth, you will also play a role in advocating the freedom of Hong Kong in your respective country.
In Woman’s Space, we have four reflections and a poem by SCM women. These reflections are based on the young women’s stories and experience in their own context and how they perceive gender discrimination and with their own determination, overcome these injustices. The poem is a spontaneous response on the war in Iraq.
Finally, in the regional news, you can find reflections by the three Human Rights and Peace interns of WSCF AP, which inspires us to actively involve ourselves more into the human rights and peace work.
I hope this issue will encourage all of you to continue your journey towards peace and transformation in your society.
Shin Seung Min
by Vandana Shiva
Globalisation was projected as the next great leap of human evolution in a linear forward march from tribes to nations to global markets. Our identities and context were to move from the national to the global, just as in the earlier phase of state driven globalisation, it was supposed to have moved from the local to the global.
Deregulated commerce and corporate rule was offered as the alternative to the centralised bureaucratic control under communist regimes and state dominated economies. Markets were offered as an alternative to states for regulating our lives, not just our economies.
As the globalisation project has unfolded, it has exposed its bankruptcy at the philosophical, political, ecological and economic levels. The bankruptcy of the dominant world order is leading to social, ecological, political and economic non-sustainability, with societies, ecosystems, and economies disintegrating and breaking down.
The philosophical and ethical bankruptcy of globalisation was based on reducing every aspect of our lives to commodities and reducing our identities to merely that of consumers on the global market place. Our capacities as producers, our identity as members of communities, our role as custodians of our natural and cultural heritage were all to disappear or be destroyed. Markets and consumerism expanded. Our capacity to give and share was to shrink. But the human spirit refuses to be subjugated by a world view based on the dispensability of our humanity.
The dominant political and economic order has a number of features that are new, which increase injustice and non-sustainability on scales and at rates that the earth and human community have not experienced.
This in turn led to political bankruptcy and anti-democratic formations and constellations. Instead of acting on the public trust doctrine and principles of democratic accountability and subsidiarity, globalisation led to governments usurping power from parliaments, regional and local governments, and local communities. For example the TRIPs agreement was based on central governments hijacking the rights to biodiversity and knowledge from communities and assigning them as exclusive, monopolistic rights to corporations.
The Agreement on Agriculture is based on taking decisions away from farming communities and regional governments. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) takes decisions and ownership over water from the local and public domain to the privatised, global domain. This undemocratic process of privatisation and deregulation led to increased political bankruptcy and corruption and economic bankruptcy.
A decade of corporate globalisation has led to major disillusionment and discontentment. Democracy has been eroded, livelihoods have been destroyed. Small farmers and businesses are going bankrupt everywhere. Even the promise of economic growth has not been delivered. Economic slowdown has been the outcome of liberalising trade. Ironically some corporations that led the process of trade liberalisation and globalisation have themselves collapsed.
Enron which came to India as the “Flagship” project of globalisation with the full force of backing and blackmail by the U.S. Trade Representative has gone bankrupt and is steeped in scandals of corruption. Chiquita, which forced the banana wars on Europe through a U.S./Europe WTO dispute, has also declared bankruptcy. First South East Asia, now Argentina has exposed how vulnerable and volatile current economic arrangements are.
The non-sustainability and bankruptcy of the ruling world order is fully evident. The need for alternatives has never been stronger.
During the last decade of the 20th century, corporate driven globalisation shook up the world and the economic and political structures that we have shaped to govern us.
In December 1999, citizens of the world rebelled against the economic totalitarianism of corporate globalisation. Social and economic justice and ecological sustainability became the rallying call for new movements for citizen freedoms and liberation from corporate control.
September 11, 2001 shut down the spaces that people’s movements had opened up. It also brought back the focus on the intimate connection between violence, inequality and non-sustainability and the indivisibility of peace, justice and sustainability. Doha was rushed through in the shadow of global militarisation in response to the terror attacks.
As we face the double closure of spaces by corporate globalisation and militarised police states, by economic fascism aided by political fascism, our challenge is to reclaim our freedoms and the freedoms of our fellow beings. Reclaiming and recreating the indivisible freedom of all species is the aim of the Living Democracy Movement. The Living Democracy Movement embodies two indivisibilities and continuums. The first is the continuum of freedom for all life on earth, and all humans without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, class and species. The second is the continuum between and indivisibility of justice, peace and sustainability—without sustainability and just share of the earth’s bounties there is no justice, and without justice there can be no peace.
Corporate globalisation ruptures these continuities. It establishes corporate rule through a divide and rule policy, and creates competition and conflict between different species and peoples and between different aims. It transforms diversity and multiplicity into oppositional differences both by breeding fundamentalisms through spreading insecurity and then using these fundamentalisms to shift humanities focus and preoccupation from sustainability, justice and peace to ethnic and religious conflict and violence.
We need a new paradigm to respond to the fragmentation caused by various forms of fundamentalism. We need a new movement which allows us to move from the dominant and pervasive culture of violence, destruction and death to a culture of non-violence, creative peace and life. That is why in India we started the Living Democracy Movement.
Seattle was a watershed for citizens movements. People brought an international trade agreement and WTO the institution that enforces it to a halt by mobilising globally against corporate globalisation. Seattle was the success of a strategy focussing on the global level and on protest. It articulated at the international level what citizens do not want. Corporations and governments responded quickly to Seattle’s success. They killed protest possibilities by moving to venues like Doha where thousands could not gather. And they started to label protest and dissent of any kind as “terrorism”.
The Biotech industry (Economist, January 12-18, p.62) has called on governments to use anti-terror laws against groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and groups critical of the industry. Mr. Zoellick, the US Trade Representative has called the anti-globalisation movement terrorist.
A different strategy is needed post September 11/post Doha. Massive protests at global meetings can no longer be the focus on citizen mobilisation. We need international solidarity and autonomous organising. Our politics needs to reflect the principle of subsidiarity. Our global presence cannot be a shadow of the power of corporations and Bretton Woods institutions. We need stronger movements at local and national levels, movements that combine resistance and constructive action, protests and building of alternatives non-cooperation with unjust rule and cooperation within society. The global, for us, must strengthen the local and national, not undermine it. The two tendencies that we demand of the economic system need to be central to people’s politics—localisation and alternatives. Both are not just economic alternatives they are democratic alternatives. Without them forces for change cannot be mobilised in the new context.
At the heart of building alternatives and localising economic and political systems is the recovery of the commons and the reclaiming of community. The Living Democracy Movement is reclaiming people’s sovereignty and community rights to natural resources.
Rights to natural resources are natural rights. They are not given by states, nor can they be extinguished by states, the WTO, or by corporations, even though under globalisation, attempts are being made to alienate people’s rights to vital resources of land, water and biodiversity.
Globalisation has relocated sovereignty from people to corporations, through centralising and militarising states. Rights of people are being appropriated by states to carve out monopoly rights of corporations over our land, our water, our biodiversity, and our air. States acting on the principle of eminent domain or absolute sovereignty of the state are undermining people’s sovereign rights and their role as trustees of people’s resources on the public trust doctrine. State sovereignty, by itself, is therefore not enough to generate countervailing forces and processes to corporate globalisation.
The reinvention of sovereignty has to be based on the reinvention of the state so that the state is made accountable to the people. Sovereignty cannot reside only in centralised state structures, nor does it disappear when the protective functions of the state with respect to its people start to wither away. The new partnership of national sovereignty needs empowered communities which assign functions to the state for their protection. Communities defending themselves always demand such duties and obligations from state structures. On the other hand, trans-national corporations (TNCs) and international agencies promote the separation of the community interests from state interests and the fragmentation and divisiveness of communities.
We started the Living Democracy Movement to respond to the enclosures of the commons that is at the core of economic globalisation. The Living Democracy Movement is simultaneously an ecology movement, an anti-poverty movement, a recovery of the commons movement, a deepening of democracy movement, a peace movement. It builds on decades of movements defending people’s rights to resources, the movements for local, direct democracy, our freedom movements gifts of Swadeshi (economic sovereignty), Swaraj (self-rule) and Satyagraha (non-cooperation with unjust rule). It seeks to strengthen rights enshrined in our Constitution.
The Living Democracy Movement in India is a movement to rejuvenate resources, reclaim the commons and deepen democracy. It relates to the democracy of life in three dimensions.
Living Democracy refers to the democracy of all life, not just human life. It is about earth democracy not just human democracy.
Living Democracy is about life, at the vital everyday level, and decisions and freedoms related to everyday living—the food we eat the clothes we wear, the water we drink. It is not just about elections and casting votes once in 3 or 4 or 5 years. It is a permanently vibrant democracy. It combines economic democracy with political democracy.
Living Democracy is not dead, it is alive. Under globalisation, democracy even of the shallow representative kind is dying. Governments everywhere are betraying the mandates that brought them to power. They are centralising authority and power, both by subverting democratic structures of constitutions and by promulgating ordinances that stifle civil liberties. The September 11 tragedy has become a convenient excuse for anti-people legislation worldwide. Politicians everywhere are turning to xenophophic and fundamentalist agendas to get votes in a period when economic agenda has been taken away from national levels and is being set by World Bank, IMF, WTO and global corporations.
The Living Democracy Movement is about living rather that dead democracy. Democracy is dead when governments no longer reflect the will of the people but are reduced to anti-democratic unaccountable instruments of corporate rule under the constellation of corporate globalisation as the Enron and Chiquita cases made so evident. Corporate globalisation is centred on corporate profits.
Living Democracy is based on maintaining life on earth and freedom for all species and people.
Corporate globalisation operates to create rules for the global, national and local markets which privilege global corporations and threaten diverse species, the livelihoods of the poor and small, local producers and businesses.
Living Democracy operates according to the ecological laws of nature, and limits commercial activity to prevent harm to other species and to people.
Corporate globalisation is exercised through centralising, destructive power.
Living Democracy is exercised through decentralised power and peaceful coexistence.
Corporate globalisation globalises greed and consumerism. Living Democracy globalises compassion, caring and sharing.
Democracy emptied of economic freedom and ecological freedom becomes a potent breeding ground for fundamentalism and terrorism.
Over the past two decades, I have witnessed conflicts over development and conflicts over natural resources mutate into communal conflicts, culminating in extremism and terrorism. My book Violence of the Green Revolution was an attempt to understand the ecology of terrorism. The lessons I have drawn from the growing but diverse expressions of fundamentalism and terrorism are the following:
Nondemocratic economic systems that centralise control over decision making, resources and displace people from productive employment and livelihoods create a culture of insecurity. Every policy decision is translated into the politics of “we” and “they”. “We” have been unjustly treated, while “they” have gained privileges.
Destruction of resource rights and erosion of democratic control of natural resources, the economy, and means of production undermine cultural identity. With identity no longer coming from the positive experience of being a farmer, a craftsperson, a teacher, or a nurse, culture is reduced to a negative shell where one identity is in competition with the “other” over scarce resources that define economic and political power.
Centralised economic systems also erode the democratic base of politics. In democracy, the economic agenda is the political agenda. When the former is hijacked by the World Bank, the IMF, or the WTO, democracy is decimated. The only cards left in the hands of politicians eager to garner votes are those of race, religion, and ethnicity, which subsequently give rise to fundamentalism. And fundamentalism effectively fills the vacuum left by a decaying democracy. Economic globalisation is fuelling economic insecurity, eroding cultural diversity and identity, and assaulting the political freedoms of citizens. It is providing fertile ground for the cultivation of fundamentalism and terrorism. Instead of integrating people, corporate globalisation is tearing apart communities.
The survival of people and democracy are contingent on a response to the double fascism of globalisation—the economic fascism that destroys people’s rights to resources and the fundamentalist fascism that feeds on people’s displacement, dispossession, economic insecurities, and fears. On September 11, 2001, the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon unleashed a “war against terrorism” promulgated by the US government under George W. Bush. Despite the rhetoric, this war will not contain terrorism because it fails to address the roots of terrorism—economic insecurity, cultural subordination, and ecological dispossession. The new war is in fact creating a chain reaction of violence and spreading the virus of hate. And the magnitude of the damage to the earth caused by “smart” bombs and carpet-bombing remains to be seen.
Living Democracy is true freedom of all life forms to exist on this earth. Living Democracy is true respect for life, through equitable sharing of the earth’s resources with all those who live on the planet. Living Democracy is the strong and continual articulation of such democratic principles in everyday life and activity.
The constellation of Living Democracy is people’s control over natural resources, and a just and sustainable utilisation of land, water, biodiversity, communities having the highest sovereignty and delegating power to the state in its role as trustee. The shift from the principle of eminent domain to the public trust doctrine for functions of the state is key to localisation, to recovery of the commons and the fight against privatisation and corporate takeover of land, water and biodiversity.
This shift is also an ecological imperative. As members of the earth family, Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam, we have a share in the earth’s resources. Rights to natural resources for needs of sustenance are natural rights. They are not given or assigned. They are recognised or ignored. The eminent domain principle inevitably leads to the situation of “all for some”—corporate monopolies over biodiversity through patents, corporate monopolies on water through privatisation and corporate monopolies over food through free trade.
The most basic right we have as a species is survival, the right to life. Survival requires guaranteed access to resources. Commons provide that guarantee. Privatisation and enclosures destroy it. Localisation is necessary for recovery of the commons. And Living Democracy is the movement to relocate our minds, our production systems and consumption patterns from the poverty creating global markets to the sustainability and sharing of the earth community. This shift from global markets to earth citizenship is a shift of focus from globalisation to localisation of power from corporations to citizens. The Living Democracy Movement is a movement to establish that a better world is not just possible, it is necessary.
This article was presented in the World Social Forum, 2002. It was one of main resource readings in the 2002 SET (Student Empowerment of Transformation) programme of the WSCF AP.
Women’s Art is an essential part of women’s expression on their life journeys, hopes and apprehension, joy and sadness, and perspectives on themselves as women living in their own society. There are indeed many stories to share as women experienced the challenges, trials and turbulences as a woman journeying in a world where it is still in one way or another, being influenced by the patriarchy system and ideology.
In this issue of Women’s Space, we are bringing out some of the artistic expressions by women and we hope other women will be encouraged to share their expressions with us in the next few issues of Praxis.
by Wendy Low
(i) I am a Woman Not a Feminist
Call me not names
Attach no label
to who I can be
or should be
Rather, let me just
myself, as I am
loving, smiling, painting
dancing in my world
in which only
(ii) I am a Feminist Not a Woman
But a womyn
The distinction which escapes you
but encapsulates me –
the man-less defined
the poor, suffering, marginalised
who all we suffer
the Man with us
the Man, in us.
(iii) I am a Woman and a Feminist
For I cannot see
how I can distinguish one,
without extinguishing the other
our integrated whole:
that who lives without
that lives within
that who loves and suffers without
that loves and suffers within
Truly, how can I be
as multitudes of myself
are not connected to me
as I am not connected, to me...
by Leni Basmayor, Valeriano
Prayer taken from Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Week 2002
Thank you for creating us in your image,
That we may have the eyes to see
the grandeur of your creation
tarnished as the law of respect is transgressed
That we may have the ears to listen
to the woes of the downtrodden,
the wails of those ripped of their dignity, robbed of their rights
as workers, peasants, slum dwellers, youth, beggars, war torn villagers
and those living in the underworld of our societies.
That we may have the lips to speak
the truth in what we see or hear,
the oppressed and repressed
That we may have the emotions to feel
the struggle amidst helplessness
and hope amidst uncertainty
That we may have the mind for clear vision
of a future not blurred with insatiable greed
of a society unravaged by hunger amidst affluence
That we may have the body and feet to stand
on the side of the sidelined, oppressed and persecuted
That we may have the hands to make
our dream of peace anchored on justice
be a reality
That we may be whole in the service of You and your people
These all ask and name of Christ, our Liberator. Amen.
by Wong Yick Ching
24 August 1991
SCM India, WSCF AP Human Rights and Peace Intern
We live in a world where order and stability ‘rests on’ or is ‘born of’ violence. Peace has become an animated ‘political word’ it is used as the most effective weapon of power and domination. Violence can flourish only under the ‘name’ and ‘shadow’ of peace.
A careful reading of the heart of history reveals how the worst violence, the most bloody and unjustifiable violence continue to be unleashed in the name of peace. Irrespective of how, where, when and in what name they are done; its sole purpose is to rip the earth, cultivate vicious cycle of violence and perpetuate unending poverty, marginalisation and impoverishment of the world’s majority population. Beyond this politics of peace, we witness a large section of humanity whose experience of peace is synonymous to violence, death and destruction. Commitment to the task of unmasking the ‘painted face of peace’ has become imperative.
This brief reflection will attempt on how contemporary capitalism’s ‘ideology of peace’ is advanced as a countervailing equalizer to harmonize the violence caused by its instruments of domination (globalisation); how peace has been co-opted by the worst tyrants to carry out violence under the label and garb of peace; how the ideology of peace is actually embedded in the pure political interest and strategic gains of a few dominant countries and institutions that control contemporary capitalism; how should one confront and deconstruct the ‘ideology of peace’ and how a movement of justpeace (justice and peace going together) in Asia and in the ecumenical movement could be reconstructed to go beyond the malicious discourse of ‘Peace’?
The ‘Inferior Race’ needed to be civilized. The west (now all the dominant countries irrespective of west, east, north and south) made it their mandatory mission to subjugate, colonise, exterminate and exploit the “colonised objects” History witnesses to this crime and the victims continue to thank the colonisers for:
Stealing our land
Raping the women
Killing us ‘In the name of God’
Sharing with us your diseases
Writing OUR history
Taking us from our traditions
Teaching us to be like you
Giving me my name
Poisoning our Mother Earth
And, most importantly, celebrating this day!
Series after series of political programmes continue to be relentlessly forced upon the weaker peoples in order to keep them under perpetual control. Taking insight from Anisur Raman, Jeremy Seabrook states how “‘development’ was originally a western promise to the south, designed to counter the danger of socialism. It was the threat of Bolshevik revolution inspiring social revolutions in the Third World that was countered by a promise of “development” and “development assistance” to help underdeveloped societies to catch up with the “developed’.” Poverty had to be invented as a global reality in order to legitimize the need for development (domination).
Similar is the present day ‘politics of human right and peace’ advocated under the shadow of the United Nations (UN), Group 8 (G 8), NGO’s, etc. The politics about UN peacekeeping forces or any other mechanisms advanced in the name of security, peace and human right are farce in its core. This fact is aptly explained in the political comment of Samir Amin:
Never have the armies of the North brought peace, prosperity, or democracy to the peoples of Asia, Africa, or Latin America. In the future, as in the past five centuries, they can only bring to these peoples further servitude, the exploitation of their labor, the expropriation of their riches, and the denial of their rights.
Genuine movements of resistance and liberation that emerge as a response to injustices are sealed off and contained in the name of terrorism and peace. Luis Lopezllera sums this up, “for the most powerful nation in the world, terrorism becomes the main challenge today, without distinguishing violence as a structural cause and violence as an unpredictable effect. A global war is declared against effects of the same system.” This politics is successfully backed by NGOs ideologically fed and funded by the disciples of contemporary capitalism. NGO’s have become co-opted channels that execute the ‘practical field work’ orderly assigned to them by their masters. ‘Pieces of peace’ are exported and imposed upon at any time, irrespective of whether it is felt necessary or opposed by the people.
Much of the conflict resolution and human right programmes are used as political commodities required for creating an artificial (forced) state of peace. Subversive methods of peace diplomacy, negotiation, resolution, ceasefire, etc are packaged and handled through their armed ‘peace mediators’ It is an anathema for such politics of peace to work toward correcting structural errors based on the truth of history. The fact of confronting the truth scares those who perpetuate ‘false peace’ as it is too costly for them. Victims who suffer historical subjugation affirm that justice must be established first in order to have genuine peace. But the oppressors claim that (false) peace is possible even without confronting the ‘roots of injustice’. This is the reason why century long conflicts in many parts of the world remain sustained and unresolved. Old conflicts achieved through forced negotiation keep recurring as their deep wounds are not healed permanently and new unwanted conflicts keep groping up. NGO work does not bring about permanent change in the lives of people as their works are directed only at addressing the symptoms of violence and not the causes of violence. It is very crucial for us to ask whose peace we are talking. Whose slogan we are shouting? Whose prayers are said every Sunday and whose path of peace we are following? Is the genuine road to peace a distant reality?
Peace, co-opted as a concept of global monopoly has become corrupt of its soul to heal violence. Instead of asking what peace is, we must rather ask whose peace, which peace, peace for whom and at what cost? We have given different names to peace. Our world has many interests and many types of peace. The peace produced by the dominant is imposed against the genuine demands of people’s justice. We are repeatedly told that there is only one peace—the peace of the dominant, ‘dominant peace’. Legitimate voices of peace are drowned and left unheard. Naive expressions about peace abound-’peace is simply peace’, ‘peace of rest’, ‘peace is peace’, ‘absence of war’ or ‘nothing more than peace’, ‘peace as avoiding conflict’, etc. We humans talk about peace but love war and conflict. Human actions promote injustice and perpetuate unwanted conflicts. Talks about peace contradict and betray the holder.
Peace has become a global commodity for the proponents of contemporary capitalism. It is advanced and legitimized to mask the cover of violence, which their instruments of domination perpetuate. Peace is now a saleable commodity in the market; supplied plentifully in every nook and corner by the agents of contemporary capitalism: nation-states, politics, ruling elites, middle class, media, peace NGOs, etc. It is the religion that can be consumed, worn and spoken as the ‘social justice’ slogan of contemporary capitalism’s ‘ideology of peace’.
Consuming this brand of peace becomes a way of attaining salvation and satisfaction amidst the insecurities generated by modern society. This illusion of peace has created “peace euphoria”. If I am allowed to misquote this ‘peace mania’ in the expressions of Karl Marx, peace has become the ‘opium of the masses’. Recent strategies have been heavily banking on the fears and insecurity of people (e.g. war against terrorism after destruction of world trade center and pentagon). The politics of peace has created a ‘false consciousness’ in the people. This peace is ‘produced’, ‘enforced’, ‘managed’ and ‘made to function’ in society to blind and obstruct people from raising true issues of peace. It is not only subverting the masses from indulging in the right quest for peace but robbing and fast-killing people’s sensitivity to engage and ask the right question that can direct a process of lasting peace in the world.
It is important for us to deconstruct this ‘ideology of peace’ promoted by a few powerful to perpetuate miseries on rest of the communities of the world. We need to wash away all the myth and farce that it advances. By doing this, we will not only reconstruct peace in its real essence but also liberate peace from its present violent ideology. We will have to be reborn with positive ideas and thoughts that does not suppress but gives value and space for genuine resistance and struggles of the people. Such peace is not manipulative, but redeeming. It is not destructive but upholds the values of life capable of creating a peaceful world.
Modernity’s promise of peace have not only failed but also led humanity to a dead end ‘crises of value’. We are now confronted with a crisis of ‘meaning’ caused by unprecedented fragmentation of ultimate values that held the matrix of life. Means have become an end and ends have been written off conveniently. This has been caused by the instrumentalization and commodization of the base of life and values that hold society organically.
Christianity that applauded and pleased to sail together in the boat of modernity has now become incapable of providing a moral direction in the present crises. For Christians, the present crisis signifies a deep ‘crisis of faith’. It is about coming to terms with the ‘god of peace and shalom’ and reevaluating the effectiveness of Christian utopia and eschatology that we seek to be part with god. Can we work together with the god of peace to create a world of justice, peace and truth? Is the world evolving into violence? We are tempted to resign and say how scarce peace can be today. Our reality speaks so, that, “peace can be nothing more than a short and precarious interruption of ever present and inescapable war. Violence had the first word in history; it will have the last word—and most of the words in-between too.” It has become necessary for the church to go beyond the ‘god of peace’-beyond a ‘theology of peace’. Should violence become the destiny of humanity? Should this require us a renewed faith to resurrect the ‘god of peace’ who is the beginning and end of human history?
We must transcend the institutionalized ‘god of peace’. Our peace-building ministry must first start with a critique of the religious legitimacy of violence that is manifested through the institutionalized church vested in power. Power and institution has become an important element in the life of the structures of the church. The glorification and veneration of our institutions have resulted in the inability of the church to speak up for ‘genuine peace’.
No wonder, church programs are now full of activities related to peace. Peace is the heart of all church services. The text of Christian worship and liturgy is full of references about peace and peace is a ‘prayer’ uttered from the lips of every Christian. It may not be too far for us to listen to Prophet Jeremiah’s warning, that, “they have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying “peace, peace,” when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:13-14).
These and other numerous changing trends have direct political influence on the movements of younger generation capable of causing potential misdirection, co-optation or positive movement direction. There is at least one recognized perspective, that, ‘the globalization process can succeed only with the uncritical participation of the younger generation’. For example, we need to seriously take stock of the global market of human right and peace, which is luring and converting a large number of Young people as mediators and transporters of their ‘ideology of peace’. While we should not undermine people who are genuinely committed to work within it without sacrificing their basic values; there are many who see it as a redemption and safe haven of activism from the disillusionment and insecurity impacted by the process of globalization.
The ‘power that be’ promoting unequal global balance continue to fund and promote the legitimacy of comfortable NGO cultures of social justice. Younger generation must go beyond this doctrine of comfortable activism that leave our contradiction and orientation unquestioned and ultimately serve to fortify the pillars of injustice. We must also caution ourselves not to be swept away without clear purpose in the present ‘activism mania’ generated by computer linked social movements.
The church is still caught up in the traditional paradigm that regards leadership as the unquestionable prerogative of the elders. Analysis of our situation clearly indicates that the younger generations have become the ‘nucleuses of present glocal (global and local) movements. This is partly because the younger generation is more adept to discern the dynamics of present social disorientation by transcending the ‘given’ traditional ideological lenses of social movements. The church must ‘deeply embrace’ this ‘nucleus’ (youth) in order to revitalize her historical effectiveness in present times.
Recent initiative of the World Council of Churches, which declared 2001-2010 as “decade to overcome violence”, is a hopeful sign and positive direction. Might the church, originally a counter-culture movement, repent to regain her vision in order to become a community that provides an alternative for the present situation? How might faith communities become avenues of reconciliation to direct the church toward a more imaginative and proactive social involvement in the 21st century? Are we required urgently to re-assert the vocation of Christians to peace, justice, liberation and wholeness and god’s reconciling work in Christ as the context of understanding Christian identity and ministry? Can we meaningfully engage in “beating the swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” (Micah 4:3).
Ecumenical action for peace needs to find its launching points within the context of the emerging glocal movements confronting the hegemony of peace. Recent shape of glocal movements against the onslaught of neo-liberalism has not only transcended the traditional paradigms of social movements but also universally recognized one common enemy: contemporary capitalism, or whatever one may like to term it. With the historical project of socialism becoming untenable, not one but several alternative projects or models of the models are encouraged within the loose umbrella of glocal justice movements.
We are now in a momentous and propitious epoch where “the glocal citizen’s movement has made a momentous discovery and revealed a dangerous truth: the corporate coup d’etat, the triumph of the rich over the poor, market over society, rapacity over nature is not inevitable.” Margaret Thatcher’s TINA (there is no alternative) is replaced by TAMA (there are many alternatives) and AWIS (another world is possible). The movement is more “a kind of ‘trans-generational, trans-class, trans-gender and trans-national generation.’” The inherent contradiction of contemporary capitalism has become stark, accumulating comparable cracks of its downfall as a political project.
Asia is still a place wrought in suffering and violence emanating from the deep scars and left over of colonialism. The roots of human misery in Asia are located in the structures of violence that is manifested in new forms such as ‘structural adjustment policy’ and many others. Transforming these inhuman structures must continue to be our main agenda for combat.
A peace-building ministry, which seeks to demystify the politics of peace, must identify and work within basic ‘rallying principles’ on peace. The first principle should be Justpeace (justice and peace going together). Justpeace is the ‘cultural act’ of peoples (victims) transforming concrete situations of human injustice from its ‘roots’ so that justice is established in a new form of inclusive human relationship. The primary task of this bottom-up approach is to confront the root causes, forces and structures of the violence. These processes would create genuine peace, tranquillity and self-determination of people in society.
The second principle must be our act of deliberately re-asserting the dynamics of ‘history’. Our struggle for justice and peace should be seen and defined within specific historical contexts, relationships of power and domination of north-south. This is the only true way that can help build genuine peace based on the establishment of truth in history. Different agendas are advanced in order to divert the oppressed in history from addressing these issues. Individualism, consumerism and hegemony of the US war on terrorism are but some recent examples. It is very true about what Mr. Mbeki, the president of South African Republic said, “until the victims started to write the histories of their own, the histories are the histories of the hunters.”
The third principle is ‘people and culture’. Agendas of the dominant must be decentered in order to re-center the participatory power, wisdom, humanizing values and politics of the marginalized. Self-determination must be upheld as the core principle. Self-determination is the ‘cultural act’ of peoples ‘transforming’ concrete situations of human ‘injustice’ so that ‘justice’ is established ‘equitably’ in a new form of human relationship. We must insulate our work for peace form the ‘ideology of peace’ that work to strengthen the pillars and systems of historical domination and leave larger section of humanity dispossessed. Finally, our approach to peace-building must carry and inculcate transforming values that respect the culture and worldviews of people. This approach challenges us to denounce the exclusive and dominating values that we often claim to be good and liberating
Could the ‘culture of justpeace’ become our daily resistance and vision of a just society for all? A Justpeace movement in Asia will need to: Confront the unjust forces of contemporary capitalism, Subvert the violence of peace, Promote counter-cultures of LIFE and make Alternatives Irresistible. The future of humanity is bound together. I conclude with the ‘Aboriginal Activist Sister’ who reminds us “if you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.”
On May 28, 2002, suspected elements from the 204th Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Jovito Palparan Jr., shot dead SCMP senior friend Edilberto Napoles Jr, popularly known as Choy. Together with him was Ruel Landicho, a peasant organizer, who faked death to survive with one gunshot wound.
At the early stage of his life, Edilberto Napoles Jr., popularly known as Choy by his fellow SCMers and friends, had seen serving the people as his mission in life. He became an altar boy when he was in his secondary schooling and entered the Missionaries of Faith seminary to fulfill his ambition of becoming a priest. Later, because of poverty, he was forced to go out the seminary and look for a job in Manila to support his family.
He once again pursued his studies in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, where he joined the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines. He became a student leader and led his fellow students to struggle for the continuing repression inside their campus. He was also very active in asserting students right to education by opposing the high cost of education and low allocation to education budget.
Choy was not only a student leader but also an advocate of indigenous people’s right. He was in the forefront in the struggle to stop the mining projects of the big multinational companies in Oriental Mindoro that planed to displace thousands of Mangyan tribes from their ancestral lands. He was also among the peasants in fighting for genuine land reforms.
In May 7, 2001, the government deployed the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s 204th Infantry Brigade headed by the militarist Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. This was the government’s response to the people’s cry for genuine land reforms and respect to the indigenous people’s rights. There has been lots of human rights violation since the massive deployment of the 6 battalions of military troops.
Choy was one among those who exposed and opposed the human rights violation of the military. He was very active in the campaign to fight against militarisation in the province of Oriental Mindoro. Because of this he was included in the military’s Order of Battle.
On the evening of May 28, 2002, he was brutally shot by the 2 elements of the 204th brigade death squad. Six bullets were found in different parts of his body including one in his head.
At the age of 26, Choy’s life ended due to the all-out military operations and policy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His bloody body fell onto the ground, his fist clenched, struggling to survive to continue the fight for justice and peace for the people and for his beloved country.
Human rights violations brought by extensive militarisation in the countryside have severely affected people’s lives. Oftentimes, innocent children, poor peasant and workers, and even human rights advocates are brutally victimized by militarisation. Such is the case of Mindoro Oriental where human rights violations are perpetuated by the 204th Infantry Brigade and Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. with the help from the local police. The merciless killings and violations of human rights have become the common occurrence in the province once dubbed as the “Most Peaceful”. Since the deployment of 6 battalion troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 17 were summarily executed, 13 of which are Bayan Muna coordinators, a progressive political party. There were also 242 cases of military abuses affecting 1,008 individuals and 525 families. All of these crimes happened in just one year.
What is happening now in Oriental Mindoro is not isolated from the situation of different regions in the Philippines such as Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Northern Luzon and many others. There have been 964 cases of human rights violations (41,771 victims). Of these cases, physical harassment and assaults in the picket line account for 356 cases with 10, 344 victims, 131 cases of unjustified arrest with 522 victims, 71 cases of killings with 121 victims and 31 incidents of indiscriminate firing affecting 3,679 people. All of these happened within the 2 years of presidency under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Militarisation has devastated the lives of our brothers and sisters in the countryside and has sown fear and poverty among the people.
The perpetrators are powerful and armed. It is always easy for them to take away innocent lives. This is the reason why human rights advocates, school and church-based organizations, institutions and concerned individuals are now joining hands to form a support group and advocacy network that aims to extend support to the victims and families of human rights violations and to support their struggle to end militarisation in the countryside.
We NEED your help! The fight for Choy is a fight for all the victims of human rights violation resulting from militarisation. We are asking you to help us pressure the Philippine government to immediately pull out the 204th Infantry Brigade in the small island of Oriental Mindoro by spending a few minutes writing to the E-mail addresses below or sending postcard.
Please write a brief letter including these points:
Please send your letter to: