Image: Stop The War poster
If you've been keeping up with online independent media, you will have noticed the lack of balanced information about the attacks in Afghanistan coming through New Zealand TV, radio and print mass media sources.
To attempt to get some information out to others who might need it, Warren Olds and myself have created a poster summarising some key issues from online news sources. The poster looks roughly like the one attached (colour not identical). The body copy appears at the end of this message..
The poster will be A2 format, probably 2-colour (possibly 4), and predominantly black with white text - all lovingly designed in Swiss political poster style by Warren Olds.
While I plan to personally fund the initial print run of 500 for distribution in the Waikato and Auckland, I know there are others who care about these issues and may want to be involved in the project.
YOU CAN FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THIS PROJECT BY BUYING COPIES of these posters at $1 per poster (minimum of 20). This works out to be roughly cost price for the printing.
Send an e-mail to email@example.com with the number of posters you want to buy. I will send an invoice with the cost of postage added at the same time as the posters.
YOU CAN ALSO PRINT YOUR OWN COPIES. We will be making a complete Acrobat PDF file of the poster available via the web later in the week. Reply to this e-mail if you want to be notified when the file is available. "Open Source" Freehand files will also be available so you can add any events happening in your own area (particularly for overseas users).
Any surplus funds will be donated to Amnesty International (note: they have not endorsed this project).
Even if you can't help financially, please keep reading the sources listed in the poster (as well as your own), and forwarding the information to people who need it. As the war is truly a media event, having wide ranging sources of information is critical. Don't swallow anything without chewing (including this).
Thanks for your patience and attention to this long e-mail. I hope this finds you all safe and well.
(Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Confirmed innocent children dead from US bombing: 50+
Captured terrorists linked to Sept 11 attacks :0
10 REASONS WHY THIS WAR MUST END
1) We don't know what's really happening.
The media aren't giving us the full story. The Rendon Group, a public relations firm in the US, have a $US397,000 contract to help the Pentagon look good while bombing Afghanistan. The four-month deal includes an option to renew through most of 2002. Hope you're settled in for a long, entertaining war on CNN. You won't need to be too concerned about it getting depressing, because an Oct. 30 memo to CNN staff reminded them "not to focus excessively on the casualties and hardships in Afghanistan that will inevitably be a part of this war".
2) Cluster bombs from US forces are killing children.
The organisation Human Rights Watch has called on the United States to halt the use of cluster bombs, noting that they create "unacceptable civilian casualties before and after conflict". If ever a weapon was designed specifically for acts of terrorism, this is it. The exact "footprint," or landing area, of the 200 bomblets is difficult to control and 7% fail to explode. Their chief advantage over other weapons is that they kill more people. According to HRW, in the bombings of the remote village of Thori on October 21st, 23 civilians died. Most of them were young children. Over 2000 people have died in Kuwait due to these bombs since the Gulf War ended - most of them children.
The United States used cluster bombs for a week before admitting to their use. The cluster bomblets are yellow. The small food aid parcels being air-dropped are yellow. Have you seen the picture of the Laotian toddler with it's head and leg blown off after picking up a bomblet? This is happening right now in Afghanistan. With your government's full support.
3) Hospitals and refugee trucks are being bombed
So far, U.S. bombs have directly hit two warehouses of the Red Cross, which were clearly marked with a red cross painted on a white background, visible from the air. The U.S. has acknowledged responsibility for the bombing of the Red Cross warehouses, claiming that it had mistakenly believed that the buildings were military storehouses. Smart work.
Humanitarian relief agencies have been hit in air strikes on at least two other occasions, halting what would have been the first OXFAM food delivery into the famine-stricken Hazarajat district of Afghanistan since September 11. The "precision bombing campaign" is a farce.
4) The US are starving innocent people
There are 7 to 8 million people in Afghanistan on the verge of starvation. That was true before September 11th. They were surviving on international aid. On September 16th, the NY Times reported that the United States demanded from Pakistan the elimination of truck convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civilian population.
Then, as a gesture of "humanitarian support", the US government plans to drop a total of 500,000 packets of airline food (including plastic cutlery and serviettes). That will still only add up to a single meal for half a million people out of the several million in dire need of food. Aid workers have condemned it as a cynical, dangerous public-relations exercise. Remember that the packets are yellow, just like the unexploded bomblets. That's if the recipients don't step on land mines while going to collect the food/bombs.
5) Those responsible for Sept. 11 probably aren't even in Afghanistan
There is no evidence linking Afghanistan, or indeed Osama bin Laden, to the attacks of Sept. 11. Most experts think the organisers were Islamic fundamentalists. Bush and Blair think it was bin Laden. A former CIA director thinks it was Iraq. An increasing number of Arabs believe it was Mossad, he Israeli intelligence service. None of them have any proof. The actual terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, who are friends of the US and so have escaped the bombing for now.
George Bush claims he doesn't need any proof, because Bin Laden is a terrorist. But the Taliban have offered to have Bin Laden tried in a neutral country. This isn't acceptable to the US, so the bombings keep going. The Taliban are no-one's idea of an acceptable government, but the US is making them look more reasonable than they ever have.
6) The Northern Alliance "freedom fighters" aren't exactly good guys.
The US, Russia, and Iran have been aiding a rough coalition of armed groups called the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance's fighters are drawn mainly from ethnic minority groups in Afghanistan who have been persecuted by the Taliban. But their record is also a bloody one. Human Rights Watch implicates the Northern Alliance in "indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling, direct attacks on civilians, summary executions, rape, persecution on the basis of religion or ethnicity, the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, and the use of antipersonnel landmines." By now everyone knows that Osama bin Laden was among the mujihadin recruited by the CIA to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Meet the next generation.
7) The war is illegal
The United Nations wasn't even asked to mandate the air strikes. The "evidence" against the terrorists was shared amongst friends in the "coalition". After conferring, they announced that it didn't matter whether or not the "evidence" would stand up in a court of law. Of the 70 so-called points of evidence, only nine even referred to the attacks on the World Trade Center, and those points were conjectural. As Stan Goff notes, any 16-year old with a liking for courtroom dramas could tear this story apart like a two-dollar shirt.
Nothing can excuse or justify an act of terrorism, whether it is committed by religious fundamentalists, private militia, people's resistance movements - or whether it's dressed up as a war of retribution by a recognised government.
8) Oil is the real reason for the continued bombing
US President George Bush (Jr) and Vice-President Dick Cheney both made their fortunes working in the US oil industry. Turkmenistan holds enough oil and gas, experts say, to meet American energy needs for the next 30 years (or a developing country's energy requirements for a couple of centuries.) Stated US policy goals regarding energy resources in this region include "encouraging the construction of east-west pipelines that do not transit Iran."
For some years now, an American oil giant called Unocal has been negotiating with the Taliban for permission to construct an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and out to the Arabian sea. But they say they have to wait until there is a government in Afghanistan that is stable and friendly to US business interests. In December 1997, a delegation of Taliban mullahs travelled to America and even met US state department officials and Unocal executives in Houston. At that time the Taliban's taste for public executions and its treatment of women were not made out to be the crimes against humanity that they are now.
Few doubt that the US military presence in the Gulf has little to do with its concern for human rights and is almost entirely to do with its strategic interest in oil.
9) The US sponsors terrorism when it suits them
Bush says that the US is "a peaceful nation." Here is a list of the countries that America has been at war with - and bombed - since the second world war: China (1945-46, 1950-53), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala (1954, 1967-69), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), the Belgian Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-73), Vietnam (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-70), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998), Yugoslavia (1999). And now Afghanistan.
For example: the covert US war against Nicaragua left tens of thousands of people dead, and the country ruined, perhaps beyond recovery. The US ignored the World Court's orders to end the violence and make reparations. The United States now stands as the only country on record which has both been condemned by the World Court for "unlawful use of force" (international terrorism) and has vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on them to observe international law.
10) This war won't work
Defence experts at Australian National University have already described the Afghanistan campaign as "having ill-defined goals, and could last for years with no clear exit strategy." (Sound familiar? Hint: starts with "V".) Senior Pentagon experts have said that even if Bin Laden and the Taliban are destroyed, thousands more could take their place, and we will be even less safe than before.
Retaliation is a trap. In a world that was supposed to have learnt that the rule of law comes above revenge, Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him. And the rest of the West is blindly following - with each show of NZ support for this war making us more of a target and endangering New Zealanders at home and overseas.
What happened on September 11 was a crime against humanity. Those responsible need to be brought to justice, via every legal means available. But bombing civilians in one of the poorest countries on earth will not help. Every death in Afghanistan should be added to, not counted against, the death toll from terror.
This war is illegal, immoral, and it won't work. STOP THE WAR!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1) Be informed, and share information among your friends. Don't rely on your local newspaper or the TV to give you the full picture.
Check websites such as:
Find your own media sources giving you information outside the US-dominated syndicates that show up in our media. Share the information you find with everyone you know. Most people who support the war don't know the full details of what's happening.
2) Fax or write to your MP! Tell them that while you support efforts to end terrorism, the war needs to stop.
3) Keep an ear out for further action! Demonstrations and a national day of action on December 1st planned. Watch this space for further events.
US Congress transcripts
University of Pittsburgh
Arundhati Roy, The Guardian guardian.co.uk
Robert Fisk, The Independent independent.co.uk