Nonviolence

A velvet revolution in Georgia?

The changes in Georgia might not be as positive as it seems on first view
After the parliamentary elections in Georgia on 2 November the opposition was very quick to shout "fraud"! What followed then was a well orchestrated wave of protests, which brought the Caucasus state to the brink of a civil war, and lead in the end to the resignation of president Eduard Shevardnardze. However, there is only one serious candidate for the new presidential elections, to be held in January: Saakashvili, the leader of the opposition movement. A revolution in Georgia? Hardly. WRI staff member Andreas Speck takes a closer look. (Graswurzelrevolution)

Impressions from a journey through the South Caucasus

When WRI planned a visit to the South Caucasus, to develop co-operation with local groups on antimilitarism and conscientious objection, it was clear that this wouldn't be an easy task. However, it proved even more difficult than expected.
I arrived in Tbilisi in Georgia on 26 July, on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow. Georgia, which suffered a civil war in the early 1990s, still has two unresolved conflicts - Abkhazia and South Ossetia. While there is no war at present, neither is there peace. Russian peacekeeping forces form the majority of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) which keeps the protagonists apart. However, Georgia accuses the Russian Forces of supporting both Abkhaz independence and South Ossetian separatism.

Militarism in everyday life - a street performance on International CO day

It's 15 May 2003, Tel Aviv, Israel: a military wedding, groom, bride, and the rabbi in uniform, as are the guests. The pair march up to the rabbi, get married, and then march out, followed by their marching guests. Fast forward: the pair march through the streets, the uniformed pregnant wife gives birth to a baby dressed in uniform, while the uniformed husband stands next to her, saluting.

Against which war? And which movement?

On the "Stop the war" demonstration on 28 September

The last Saturday in September saw the biggest peace demonstration in Britain for 20 years, no matter if 150,000 (according to the police) or 400,000 (according to the Stop the War Coalition) people marched through London. So far, so good, but I have to admit that I felt some out of place at this demonstration, and I only want to raise two question here, which need to be addressed by the British peace movement (whoever that is), and the British" left" in general.

human right V antimilitarist action

Andreas Speck and Bart Horeman discuss conscientious objection: is it simply a human right, or does it represent an antimilitarist action? Andreas: When I became a total objector in Germany in the mid-80s, I saw my objection as an act of civil disobedience against militarism, or, more specifically, against the system of military slavery called conscription. My refusal to serve was aimed towards abolishing conscription and I saw it as a small but important contribution to demilitarise peoples minds.

"Reality is realised in our time through the ideal, only through the ideal."

In this experimental article on visions-based on the writings of anarchist Gustav Landauer and the lyrics of 1970s German rock band Ton Steine Scherben - Andreas Speck argues that while visions should guide us, provide us with energy, and stimulate our imaginations, they shouldn't turn us into slaves to our ideals.
"Reality is realised in our time through the ideal, only through the ideal."

# Andreas Speck

Visions - a difficult topic during times of war and of increased militarisation and marginalisation of peace activists, but perhaps then, even more important.

Civilian Peace Service – Why should we play the state’s game?

A critique of the concept for a Civilian Peace Service UK

“Is there a need to develop a UK Civilian Peace Service along the lines of the other European countries”, ask Tim Wallis and Mareike Junge from Peaceworkers UK1. My answer is a simple “No!” and I could leave it here. But because a major part of the mainstream peace movement is in favour of a Civilian Peace Service, I want to argue strongly not to waste time, energy and resources for aims that shouldn’t be ours. We urgently need these energies to (re)build a strong and antimilitarist peace movement.

From Protest to Resistance

While we are writing this, Britain - where we, WRI workers, are living - and the US are dropping bombs on Afghanistan - ?the first weeks of the "war on terrorism". At the same time on Oxford Street - a couple of kilometres from the WRI office - mainstream Britain goes shopping; life goes on as normal as possible, although protective clothing and gas masks are sold out, in fear of anthrax attacks. Who cares about the bombs dropped thousands of kilometres away, in order to save Western civilisation from terrorism?

Empowerment world-wide

In February 2001, a little later than originally planned, 70 people from 20 countries on five continents met for a week at the Gandhi Labour Foundation in Puri on the Gulf of Bengal, in order to exchange experiences of empowerment, to raise questions, and to search for new answers1.

Empowerment: International Dimensions

Although international cooperation among political movements is as old as the movements themselves, it has become more important in times of economic globalization. Since the UN Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, solidarity has entered official discourse in discussion of an international "civil society." Rather than add to that discussion and the growing NGO-ization of popular movements, I want to examine the experience of one movement--War Resisters' International (WRI)--with international cooperation through the lens of empowerment. As an international network of pacifist and nonviolent organizations, WRI focuses on the grassroots level and works to achieve change at the leadership level by indirect means.

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