Monday, October 23, 2006

Christian Hill & The Olympian take a look at the peace movement

Protests such as the ones in May when a military ship was at the Port of Olympia put Olympia's peace activists in the news.
But a common misconception is that the peace community consists of a few "Greeners," environmental types with connections to The Evergreen State College, said longtime local activist Glen Anderson.
Not true, Anderson said.
"This is grandparents, this is state employees, this is small-business people. These are local farmers, our carpenters, the people who work for our local phone company and stuff," he said.
Members of the local peace community have garnered attention in the past year through their port protests; their support of Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis officer who faces prison for refusing to deploy to Iraq; and the vigils and rallies local residents frequently see.
The Olympian profiles three peace leaders today to provide some insight into the community.
Muhammad Ayub
Muhammad Ayub, 36, a family physician, saw the carnage of war close up as a United Nations peacekeeper after the first Gulf War.
He treated victims of bomb blasts, vehicle collisions and poisonings, and saw that there were more victims needing help.
He said the experience left him helpless and disillusioned.
"I'm a physician, but I'm not able to do anything," he said.
That yearlong experience is among the lasting imprints that have motivated his involvement in the peace community. Since he moved to the area at the end of 2005, he immersed himself in several local organizations and causes.
He is a member of the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and Olympians for Peace in the Middle East. As outreach coordinator for the Islamic Center of Olympia, he's helped organize sessions to share a better understanding of his religion.
This month, he attended a court hearing to show support for the protesters charged with trespass during the protest of military shipments at the Port of Olympia. Two days later, he participated in a march down Capitol Way urging the ouster of the Bush administration.
Ayub is a member of the Sierra Club and Green Party and is a pacifist.
"There is no need for violence. ... There are other ways to get your message out there and resolve disputes," he said.
His beliefs were shaped just as much from his upbringing as from his later experience as a U.N. peacekeeper. During his childhood in India, he saw the conflict between Muslims and Hindus, the public rioting and the use of religion for political gain, he said.

The above is from Christian Hill's "Activists are a diverse group" (The Olympian) and was noted by Rob and Kara who had a statement they wanted noted: "It wasn't The Progressive, it wasn't The Nation that took a look at the peace activists, it was The Olympian. And we think think there's something really sad about that." Agreed.

In say the words, now take them back news, Eddie notes Neela Banerjee's "State Dept. Official Apologizes for Criticism of Iraq Policy" (New York Times):

A senior State Department official apologized Sunday night for saying that the United States had acted with "arrogance" and "stupidity" in its campaign in Iraq.
The apology from Alberto Fernandez, director of the office of press and public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in Washington, involved a comment that he had made during an interview conducted in Arabic and broadcast Saturday on Al Jazeera, the Arab television network.
In the 35-minute interview, Mr. Fernandez, who speaks Arabic fluently, said, "History will decide what role the United States played." According to a translation by CNN, he said that while the United States had tried its best, its role might be criticized by future historians "because undoubtedly there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq." Other news sources have translated the remarks in a similar way.
After news of the remarks spread Sunday, American officials said they did not reflect the administration's views.

And they've been taken back by Fernandez. Balad, where violence exploded (again) last week is the topic of Lloyd's highlight, from Ellen Knickmeyer's "In Balad, Age-Old Ties Were 'Destroyed in a Second'" (Washington Post):

What brought this Tigris River city north of Baghdad to this state of siege was a series of events that have displayed in miniature the factors drawing the entire country into a sectarian bloodbath: Retaliatory violence between Sunnis and Shiites has soared to its highest level of the war, increasingly forcing moderates on both sides to look to armed extremists for protection.
The Shiite-led government's security forces, trained by the United States, proved immediately incapable of dealing with the sectarian violence in Balad, or, in many cases, abetted it, residents and police said.
More than 20,000 U.S. troops are based within 15 miles of Balad, but, uncertain how to respond, they hesitated, waiting for Iraqi government forces to step up, according to residents, police and U.S. military officials.
And all that was left holding Balad, and Iraq, together -- the desire for peace and normality still held by the great majority of Iraqis, and the generations of intermarriage and neighborliness between ordinary Shiite and Sunni Muslims -- was ripping apart.

The US military fatality count for Iraq stands at 86 for the month with 2799 since the start of the illegal war. War resister Kyle Snyder has announced he plans to return to the US (from Canada) next month.

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