Defense Minister David Collenette announced in April that Canada will permit a tripling of low-level flights at CFB Goose Bay. Evidently the government's overarching concern is for maintaining a military establishment at the price of the security of its own citizens. Canada's military defense strategies actually threaten its citizens' health, safety, and livelihood.
The impact of low-level test flying upon humans and wildlife is not clearly known, but evidence strongly suggests that the noise levels alone have tremendously harmful consequences. In light of this, the tripling of test flights can hardly be seen as a sound [sic] decision. The military's so-called "avoidance" program, restricting flights over particularly sensitive areas, has not mitigated the effects thus far and the further increases will make it even harder to reduce the impacts. Studies on the human and environmental consequences of low-level flying have only taken place relatively recently, long after the test-flights began.
The fact remains that the health and safety of thousands of human lives are being threatened by the very practices that are supposedly taking place to ensure their security. The federal government's announcement ensures that further devastation will continue. This raises the question, "Just whose security is really being protected?"
By Susan Jagminas
In several letters, Mordechai Vanunu has broken his five-year silence. For nearly nine years Vanunu, who made public Israel's secret nuclear weapons program, has been in solitary confinement in Israel's high security prison at Ashkelon.
One of his letters was sent in January to British actress Suzannah York, who had come to Israel in December to support Vanunu's release. A second was sent the following month to Fredrik Heffermehl, chairman of the National Peace Council of Norway, who has nominated Vanunu for the Nobel Peace Prize. A third was sent in March to Sam Day, who heads the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu [see "Nuclear Secrecy" below].
In his letter to York, Vanunu said, "My silence is very noisy, nothing and no one can silence my spirit, my mind. There is no boundaries or prisons to the human spirit--I am still alive. I am waiting for my release. Even you [were not permitted to] see me. Don't be upset. This is their way to [try to] break me and my supporters. But my comfort, as I wrote in the beginning, is that 'they never will succeed to change what I have done--it is irreversible.'
To be against nuclear secrets is to be in favor of truly democratic states. Now, after the Cold War, there are no enemies for democratic states. The only enemy left is secrecy. Secrets and democracy can't live together. To keep man in solitary confinement is a secret. It is anti-democratic. It is inhuman. To make the world more democratic can only be achieved by less and less secrets. Where there are fewer secrets you find more human rights."
In his letter to Day, Vanunu stressed that his "mission is to say that those who suffered from the Nazi holocaust must never bring a holocaust on other nations.... We have to remember the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the real danger of this age. The danger is not another Hitler or Nazism, but another Chernobyl and the spread of nuclear weapons to more countries.
This 50th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be a year of telling the truth about the danger of the nuclear proliferation, the danger of producing and possessing too much power in a human hand and telling the truth that Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not necessary at all."
Source: Peace Media Service
Sam Day, 68, is in prison for trespassing at the U.S. Strategic Command (StratCom) near Omaha, Nebraska. StratCom controls the targeting and launching of all U.S. long-range nuclear weapons.
Guards stopped Day from distributing leaflets which warned military and civilian personnel that an international court could hold StratCom guilty of crimes against humanity. Day was sentenced March 27 to the maximum prison term of six months.
Day can be supported by contacting Nukewatch, 3979 Hwy. 11, Black Earth, WI 53515, (608)767-3023.
Source: Year One
The largest assembly to date of experts in unarmed peacekeeping and civilian intervention met with policy makers and researchers at the American University in Washington, D.C. in March. Entitled "Mainstreaming Peace Teams," the consultation discussed the fast growing movement for citizen intervention in conflicts around the globe.
Fifty experts and veterans of civilian peace teams from 23 countries considered the policy implications of civilian intervention. Participants included representatives of relief organizations, foundations, military peacekeeping institutions and veterans of civilian peace teams. According to coordinator Michael Beer, "civilian peace team interventions are proliferating.
"Large institutions and governments are starting to take notice. These unarmed peace teams have been operating quietly and effectively in many conflicts." These include the Balkans, Haiti, Central America, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Israel/Palestine, Russia and the Caucasus.
The consultation addressed issues of NGO participation and cooperation with U.N. and governmental agencies in the field of peace support. The U.N. and governments are seeking increased cooperation with peace teams. Mubarak Awad, director of Nonviolence International, reports that "peace teams are the civilian sector's response to conflicts which the U.N. and Pentagon are finding difficult to handle through military means."
The U.N. itself is moving quietly into the field of unarmed intervention with a U.N. volunteers team currently operating in Burundi. The U.N. is also deploying an increased number of unarmed observers and election monitors. Recent Swedish proposals for a Global Peace Service and support by all German political parties of the concept for a Civilian Peace Service, indicate renewed interest in the nonviolent intervention.
According to Barbara Wien of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (COPRED), "nonviolent people power has toppled dozens of oppressive regimes and defended fragile democracies while others have quietly harnessed nonviolent action for the purposes of third-party peacekeeping."
Increased interest reflects an increase in the assertiveness of NGOs to solve their own problem as well as a desire by the U.N. and other agencies to find alternatives to sending in the armed troops.
It was noted that the American term "mainstreaming" isn't easily translated into other languages. "The essence," said one participant in the meeting, "is getting more people and resources into peacekeeping, making it a popular mass movement."
The consultation was sponsored by Nonviolence International, COPRED, and the School of International Service at the American University.
For more information contact Nonviolence International at (202)445-8833.
Source: Peace Media Service
On March 24, Foreign Affairs Minister André Ouellet quietly announced 100% cuts to over 80 community-based organizations delivering global education across Canada.
The government decision was based on two arguments: its first priority is to get as many resources into the South as possible, and, all international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are supposed to do "development" education ("dev-ed") anyway.
These are erroneous arguments. With the North (20% of the world's population) consuming 80% of the world's resources, the cost of reducing Canadian consumption, including military expenditures, may well be the best return on our aid dollar. Second, "dev-ed" to many international NGOs is a letter to donors, but these letters do not reach the general public. Global education centres across the country offer access to information, analysis, and active involvement to students at all levels, the faith community, service clubs, and local activists and researchers. The government argument addresses the wrong issue.
The education of Canadians and overseas aid are both critical to our common security. Rather, the debate on current Official Development Assistance (ODA) must centre around the Liberal "trade/ aid" policy. When the Eastern European budget for private business "partnerships" at the Canadian International Development Agency has gone up by 204% since 1991 and the whole CIDA Inc. program (which consists largely of subsidies to Canadian businesses to open new markets in "developing" countries) received cuts of only 13% since 1991, compared to 28% in NGO Division, the public should ask if we are using the best aid-delivery mechanisms. Given the finite carrying capacity of the planet and the increasing disparity between rich and poor under economic globalization supported by Canadian trade/ aid policies, this is a critical debate.
Even if the international NGOs put more effort into dev-ed, it is difficult to see how it can reach most Canadians. The NGOs with dev-ed programs are primarily in the Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal axis. These CIDA cuts severely curtail debate in Brandon, Peterborough, Windsor, Camrose, Nanaimo, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and the 30 other communities where global education centres currently exist.
The Liberals, matching policy cuts in other sectors, are effectively destroying the plurality of vision that has made Canada strong. International equity work, most effectively done by NGOs, may well be next on the chopping block, now that their front-line proponents in global education have been virtually eliminated.
By Linda Slavin