Port-au-Prince. Madrid. Karbala. Peshawar. Geneva. Gaza. Kabul. Tbilisi. Grozny. Kashmir. Caracas...
When Peace Magazine started publishing, about twenty years ago, we did not often mention such newsworthy sites. Today, we must. That's an indicator of the process of globalization - in this case, both economic and, especially, political globalization. It's not a bad thing. We should be aware of the events going on in other countries, and of how we are involved in those events. But the old system of sovereignty does not enable us, as citizens, to address our responsibilities for such events very well. We still have to go through diplomatic channels, and diplomacy is a strangely guarded way of speaking, even in emergencies.
We need more responsive democratic institutions that will enable us to support victimized people in crisis situations abroad - people who do not enjoy even token democratic rights. Today, for example, we learned that during the past two days, Thailand has deported 500-600 refugees and migrants back to Burma, where the dictatorship will torture, imprison, or even kill them. Soon there will be more. In such an emergency, what means do Canadians have to help? Not enough. And before such urgencies arise, we should be helping potential victims to reclaim their rights and freedoms by nonviolent resistance.
As in so many recent issues, Peace Magazine is addressing these problems. How can we help resolve the conflicts and end the human rights violations in Tibet? In Somalia? In Afghanistan? Clearly, citizens in those places must handle their own problems, but we can help in at least two ways.
First, introduce new laws enabling Canada to prohibit companies from doing business in countries where their presence supports oppressive regimes. Second, Canada should not be so timid about supporting political defiance on the part of opposition groups from, and in, such countries. Sorry to keep harping on these topics, but they must come up again and again in these pages until they're solved.
But there are hopeful news items too. Iraq now has a temporary constitution and a chance of turning it into a workable permanent one. A two-track process is going on in Geneva to end the Israel/Palestine quagmire. Francis Bok is no longer a slave in Sudan. Mordecai Vanunu is about to be released from prison in Israel. And the Dalai Lama is coming to Canada. Let's welcome His Holiness!
Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2004, page 4. Some rights reserved.
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