2000.09.01 16:42 2000.09.01 16:42 | Green Society

Seize the Moment: Peace Now!

Dear friends

We are here for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons. But peace cannot be found in stagnation, it can be found only through change. Peace is the very nature of human beings.

Due to nuclear weapons we face the real threat of extinction of the human race and all life on this planet.  We cannot tolerate existing in such a state.

Now, in the new millenium, is the time to overcome barriers standing in the way of peace. It is our right to live in a peaceful world. Peace should have meaning not only in form but also in substance, because human rights cannot exist without security and peace.

Thus it is our responsibility to create change. All of us should become peacemakers. Whatever we do, wherever we live, we must take the role of making peace. The task of building a peaceful world is an enormous one. It may require time, effort, sweat, and even our blood. Nevertheless, we must do our best to make things better.

To our relief we have witnessed a wind of change in the Korean Peninsula, the last so called 'Cold War' zone. At the North-South summit, leaders met and shook hands with each other. All Koreans and citizens of the world hoping for peace felt a sense of relief. The two heads of state agreed to autonomously resolve the unification issue, to make visits between separated families possible on August 15th (Independence Day).

It is our humble opinion that these agreements could end the military antagonism in Asia and create a positive beginning to a new peace and coexistence era.

We hope that this North/South summit becomes the cornerstone for peace in the Asia region. But we are looking forward to more distinct change. Consequently it is our solemn wish that this peace could begin with the reduction of the military budget in both North and South Korea, the safe return of the US military back to the United States and the renunciation of neo-militarism in Japan.

We must recognize that our own peace is inextricably linked with that of our neighbours.  If we do not destroy the seed of war, it will grow to be our ruin.

War and poverty go hand in hand; arms races and poverty go hand in hand; arms races and dehumanization go hand in hand.  Human rights can be obtained through a cultural peace. In the same respect the relation between the US and other countries should be one of mutual respect. One-sided relations will do no good.  ut unfortunately in many countries the relationship is one-sided, and thus needs improvement.

For example, in South Korea there are 96 US military bases. The American soldiers are privileged with a special status. The US military came here and considered themselves as the 'Guardian of Peace' and the 'Protector of the Peninsula'. But to our disappointment, the US military has made many problems.

As a reaction, in South Korea on June 6th, there was a demonstration for the abolishment of the US military base in Maehyang-ri, the main bombing site for the US military located an hour from Seoul. (Fighter planes from Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines and other places conduct bombing drills in this area.) In this event about 3,000 local citizens, students, civil organizations and labor unions gathered to demonstrate.  Demonstrating continued until July and the US soldiers bombed over the heads of a catholic priest, civil organizations and students gathered in the bombing site for peaceful demonstration. The US soldiers neglected the request to refrain from bombing, even though there were people inside the bombing range.  And furthermore, the Korean government covered up these outrageous acts committed by the US military.

We should consider the potential benefits of world peace.  Now the idea of waging war has become an anachronism.  There must be no more nuclear weapons nor nuclear tests.

That is why we propose the three following plans of action:

First, let us create a 'no-nukes' peace zone in the Asian Pacific Region.

The United States possesses many nuclear weapons, and the Japanese government has a great potential for developing nuclear weapons.  Since this nuclear armament will eventually take our future away, the act of resisting against manufacturing, transferring, producing and deploying nuclear weapons in the Asia Pacific region is the foremost thing to do.

Second, let us strengthen the solidarity of the people.

Abolish US militarism. In order to get rid of countries' militarism, the people must have faith and trust amongst each other and strengthen the solidarity of the people.

We admire the candor and courage of the Japanese people who struggled against the New Guideline (newly reformed US-Japanese security treaty,) when it was announced by the Japanese government.

And we have faith and admiration for the Filipino people who struggled and went against the re-deployment of US military troops, and the Puerto Rican people who were also against US bases.

Third, let us consolidate the concept of human and environmental security and weaken the ideology of military security and traditional national security.

The US military, using the justification of military security is violating our environmental and humanitarian rights. In light of many human abuses and environmental incidents, while the US military may consider themselves a world police state, it seems it would be more appropriate they consider themselves gangsters.

In this context we should fight against the introduction of NMD & TMD. It may contribute the good of US, but it will increase the tension in Asia Pacific region, and it will threaten the security of Asian people.

Let us plant the tree of peace in our minds. As the tree grows, our species will become more human, and our world will become more livable.

As Goethe says 'the right man is the one that seizes the moment'. We should seize the moment.  We have no time to wait, and no time to waste. Let's go forward to the world of peace. It is no longer acceptable to discuss peace as separate from disarmament.  It is no longer acceptable to discuss peace as separate from the abolition of nuclear weapons. All nuclear weapons should be abolished immediately. No reason can justify the existence of nuclear weapons - they are threatening humankind. Peace cannot be achieved through armament. 'Armament for peace' is only an empty phrase, it's only an illusion. If we are to live humanly and peacefully, we must substitute peace for war, and we must substitute disarmament for arms races. We must substitute cooperation for competition. And we must substitute humility for arrogance. All these changes should occur now, not in the future. We refuse to accept the lies and rationalizations of the established order.

Let us live using the prophet Isaiah's recommendation, "let's hammer our swords into ploughs and our spears into pruning knives." (Isaiah 2:4)
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