In need to find something?
Custom Search
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Declaring war on War

Technorati tags: , , , , ,

Image hosting by PhotobucketNo doubt about it, the initiative of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation must be applauded. While Walski couldn't personally attend, he managed to catch most of the proceedings today over the live webcast of the forum. Isn't technology wonderful?

It's no secret that a war effects entire nations involved in the conflict. There are always reasons used to justify why a war is declared. Sometimes the most ludicrous of reasons. The ongoing occupation of Iraq, as a result of a war declared by Dubya and the [sic] Coalition of the Willing. Or, depending on your point of view, the Coalition of the Gullibly Threatened.

And the main aim of the organization is to criminalize war. To hold the attacking party, or country, accountable as criminals. Definintely a justified cause in the case of the Iraqi invasion led by the US, who came, kicked ass, and refused to leave. A "swift" operation that has lasted a good part of 4 years now.

War today is very different from the historical wars we grew up learning about. War today is brutal, and in many cases indiscriminate. Carpet bombings of entire neighborhoods don't discriminate between the civilians from the combatants. And in the case of Iraq, the civilian casualties were tremendous. But the suffering frequently doesn't just stop with the actual war itself.
(more on the war on War, in the full post)

Abu Ghraib 56, by renowned artist Fernando Botero. See bottom of post for image source. Image hosting by PhotobucketOne of the most moving sessions today was the testimony given by Ali Shalah, a survivor of the infamous Abu Ghraib prioson. With the help of an interpreter, he recounted the hellish torture he endured during his stay at the prison, not long after the fall of Baghdad, including being electrocuted during interrogation. Ali Shalah is now helping torture victims in Iraq through the organization "The Man in the Hood".

History, they say, is written by the victors. In the case of Iraq, Dubya would probably want himself to be imortalized in the history books as the courageous US President that liberated Iraq. The millions of Iraqis, still suffering daily from the war and subsequent four year occupation, would probably beg to differ.

To Malaysians, it may be ironic that such a conference is being held here. It's a conference, whose primary driver is the sanctity of human life, held in a country that supports the death penalty. A conference that promotes speaking out against attrocities worldwide, when opinions of it's own citizens continue to be repressed. A conference that is based on dissent against the criminal act of war, in a country where it's own citizens dissent against injustice is being punished.

All Walski can say is that we live in a wonderfully fucked up world, full of irony and contradictions.

But speak out we must. Against the attrocity of war. And against injustices, in general, nevermind where, and nevermind who the victims are.

One interesting facet of the sessions Walski managed to catch today was that while the speakers were predominantly Muslim, their message was crystal clear - we have to put aside our differences in faith, or even within the same faith, sectarian differences, and speak in a united voice against injustices.

This key take-away is not just a message to the world, it should also be a wake-up call to all Malaysians. We may be different, but we are Malaysians, and what matters most is the future of our nation. We know what injustices there are, and institutionalized or not, these injustices must be fought.

Let's face it. God created us different from one another. As one of the speakers, Mr. Muhammed Umar (Chairman, The Ramadhan Foundation, UK) said, the world would be a terribly boring place if we were all created exactly the same. God created us diversely, so that we could know, respect and cherish one another, in a global community called humanity.

And war threatens that very thing called humanity. War, and it's bastard cousin, violence, is something that all humans must strive to avert. There are, and will always be, differences of opinion, and ideologies. But these differences can be dealt with in other, non-destructive ways - and this is also another key message of the conference - violence and wars are never constructive ways to settle differences.

Tomorrow will be the last day of the conference, and is definitely going to be very interesting. It is a day when the War Crimes Commission Preliminary Proceedings will be convened. It will be a day when the aggressors responsible for the mayhem that is Iraq will be put on trial. And if you can't be there yourself, be sure to watch it online (go to the Perdana Global Peace Organisation homepage and click on the webcast link).

Associated with the conference is an exhibition bearing the same title as the conference - "EXPOSE WAR CRIMES: CRIMINALISE WAR" - which will continue until February 11, 2007. This can be viewed at Dewan Tun Razak Hall 4, at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC), where the conference is being held. So, even if you can't make it to the conference itself, the exhibition should also be worth the trouble fighting through KL traffic, to get to PWTC.

Walski will end this post on an interesting side note. One other very important idea that was brought up during the sessions today was the importance of your individual voice being heard. And that the one very effective way of doing it is through blogging. Blogging has become a flat world enabler for individuals to voice their thoughts and opinions, and is an important factor towards the world getting to know one another, individual to individual. Blogging was mentioned as a factor enabling putting a face to the suffering of the citizens of Iraq, due to the invasion and occupation, through blogs such as Baghdad Burning, and A Family in Baghdad.

Thought that Walski should mention this. Why? Because, if the Malaysian powers-that-be are reading this, take heed. Hear our voices, 'cause all is not well with the state of the nation, and you should listen to what we have to say. Just as the Baghdad blogs have opened the eyes of the world to the real suffering in Iraq, to not listen is to do so at your own peril. Ignorance may be bliss, but even the most blissful of slumbers has to end sometime.

Just like this important conference and exhibition has, hopefully, jolted the world up from its obliviousness to the most attrocious and dasterdly of human crimes - war.

o O O o O o O o o

Image hosting by PhotobucketWalski's stolen art note: One of the images used in the post above (and also the one on the left) is from a series of paintings by famous Columbian artist Fernando Botero, depicting the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse.

Botero, if you recall, was the artists whose works were implicated in the Malaysian Airlines' "Flying Buffet" scandal towards the end of 2005, in which the national carrier was said to have spent exhorbitant amounts of funds in less than judicious manners.

The Columbian artist's is characterized by the exaggerated rotundness of his subjects. The Abu Ghraib series was exhibited between October 18 and November 21 2006, at the Malborough New York art gallery.

Some of his other works in the same series can be viewed here.