Creating people's geographies
NEW! Transcript appended, with great thanks to Dean.
An inspirational short address by Irish Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire to the EU Parliament’s “50 years of the EU: Nobel Prize winners celebrate at the European Parliament” event earlier this month.
Having just returned from Palestine after participating in peaceful civil protest, the co-recipient of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize speaks on her role in non-violent activism in Palestine with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, Europe’s responsibility to promote peace by recognising the Palestinian government; and supporting Gorbachev’s Charter for a World Without Violence.
She takes the EU to task directly for not recognising the democratically elected choice of Hamas.
Mr. President and my dear friends, it’s a great honor to be speaking to you this afternoon. I want to thank the European Parliament and many of the parliamentarians here for your tremendous solidarity with the people of Northern Ireland in their struggle to solve their problem nonviolently. I think we can say that this is surely the day for celebration and to give thanks, because we are on our way to peace.Whilst it would be very arrogant of us if we would say that we have all answers to deep ethnic political conflicts around the world, I think we can rightly say that we have some of the answers, and that we want to learn from others around the world as we struggle to build really genuine vibrant democracy in our country.
One of the lessons that we can share with yas is that para-militarism and militarism, armed struggles, terrorism do not solve deep ethnic political problems. And that message applies for people in Northern Ireland, people in the Middle East, people in the Asian countries. It applies everywhere around our world today as we more and more are challenged with deep ethnic political problems and the weapons that we have developed are no longer any use to us.
After all, the London, Dublin and Washington governments did not drop a bomb on West Belfast when we were struggling with terrorists, thank God. Why should they drop a bomb in Afghanistan and Iraq when they are struggling with the same problems.
There are double standards going on here and I think we need to be very honest. I have just come back with my colleague Ann Patterson from Palestine. We joined with the nonviolent resistence movement of the Palestinian people and the Israeli activists in order to do a nonviolent protest to ask that international law be upheld and that the apartheid wall…. And let’s face it, what the Israelis are doing in Palestine is building an apartheid system. And the world remains silent. Did the world remained silent when there was apartheid built in South Africa? No it did not.
The European Parliament has a responsibility to do more than just pay lip service and rhetoric. It needs to act. It should immediately lift the economic and political restrictions put on against the Palestinian elected authority. The Palestinians themselves elected – eighty percent, – their democratic right – to vote to elect Hamas. And what did yas do? Yas collectively punished the whole Palestinian people who are sinking deeper and deeper into poverty.
This will not answer the Israeli Palestinian problem. I have been working for many years with the Israeli and the Palestinian activists who want a solution to the problem, and you have an ability to help that as the European Parliament. Recognize the Palestinian Authority. Call that the occupation of Palestine – it’s the fortieth anniversary on the 8th of June. Call that the occupation of Palestine be ended. And demand that the Israeli government move into genuine dialog with the duly elected Palestinians and get this problem solved.
We have great hope, and I place great hope in you as elected politicians. Your Israeli and Palestinian friends need you because they’re caught in a cycle they cannot break, but you can help them. The Arab world can help. The American and British administration could help them. You can help them if you do one thing. If you recognize the truth that only where there is justice can there be genuine peace.
I would like to share a brief bit of hope with you. President Gorbachev started a few years ago putting together a draft of a charter for a world without violence. And he believes that and he brought 15 Nobel laureates on board to sign this charter and it will be launched in Rome. But we’re also trying to launch it everywhere we can.
What does this charter for a world without violence say? It says that violence is a preventable disease. That’s your challenge. To build a non killing, nonviolent Europe. To demand an end to nuclear weapons. To demand an end to war. To stop the militarization of Europe and enter in building a nonviolent Europe and a nonviolent world.
Will 50 years now be ahead of us to do it? I don’t know I’ll make it that long. Well I hope so. That’s your challenge for the future. To stand for values, for ethical values. To stand for the fact that every human life is sacred and we do not need to kill each other.