The Statement of Kani Xulam
Anti NATO Citizens’ Summit Rally
Friday, April 23, 1999
I want to add my own voice to those who have expressed gratitude for the organizers of this rally to de-nuke NATO and to urge for an end to its relentless bombing campaign over the skies of Serbia. I come to you as a peace activist from my college years in California and a political lobbyist here in Washington, DC, for the right of the Kurds for self determination in the Middle East. I support your noble cause to rid us of the Nuclear menace and I am happy to be part of your efforts to whisper some sense into the ears of those who are gathered at Mellon Auditorium two blocks from here.
I am here to express my opposition to the war, to call the bluff of NATO leaders who are camouflaging their aggression as a humanitarian intervention, and to denounce the hate-mongers and war-mongers, the only beneficiaries of this conflict. This war, whether NATO comes to accept it or not, is being waged for spurious reasons, has become a source of hatred, and will threaten NATO’s prospects as a legitimate organization. Very few wars have done any good. This one has already proven what could go wrong. The road to peace remains un-traveled and bombs do not make it easier to reach the promised goal.
There is a lot of information out there justifying the intervention of NATO forces in this conflict. A number of prominent figures, some this crowd would consider friends, have expressed both their dislike for wars in general and their support of this war in particular. The often repeated claim is that since the Serbs are contracting the rights of the ethnic Albanians, they must be punished.
As peace activists, it behooves us to dig deeper into the reasons for this conflict so that we may confront the warmongers not only with our logic but also with our hopes for a future free-of-war for us all. Let it be known that we do not subscribe to the chauvinistic culture of Mr. Milosevic. We find his brand of nationalism absurd, his policies untenable and his vision of Kosovo with limited rights for Kosovars utterly flawed. This is no time to abridge rights. It is high time to expand them both for the Kosovars and the Serbs alike.
But where we part company with those who are trumpeting the cause of war is that we don’t believe NATO is the organization to undo the wrongs of Mr. Milosevic. Before NATO can legitimately undertake an attack to safeguard the freedom of a minority in a non-member country, it has to ensure that in its own backyard, these freedoms are safeguarded. Turkey, a member of NATO, leaves Serbia in the shade in terms of its crimes against humanity. So the talk about fighting evil rings hallow at best and makes a mockery of the principles for which NATO says it stands for. This double talk must end. NATO should stop bombing Serbia into the stone age. And the voices of reason and accommodation need to be given a second chance.
For now, death and destruction rains on Serbia. Bridges, public buildings and occasionally convoys of ethnic Albanians are hit from the sky. Some of the planes that have done the shooting belong to the Turkish armed forces. The same planes have also engaged in another atrocious war over the skies of Kurdistan. Their brutality against the Kurds compared to the plight of Kosovars reveals the double standard that NATO pursues in its undertakings. In Kosovo, the death of 2.000 Kosovars and the displacement of 200.000 of their kin since 1989 was alarming and NATO considered it a cause for war. In Turkish Kurdistan, the death of 37,000 people, the destruction of over 3, 400 villages and the displacement of more than 3 million Kurds since 1984 has so far moved no one and worse NATO has aided and abetted Turkey with its war against the Kurds.
So it is utterly hypocritical of NATO to claim the moral imperative considering the record of one of its members which should have cautioned its leaders to pause before assuming the role of resolute fighters defending freedom and human rights. If NATO is so overflowing with goodness, why doesn’t stop the atrocities of the Turkish armed forces against the Kurds. If Washington wants to do good in the world, it should stop supplying Turkey with fighter planes and helicopters, the source of much of the anguish in Kurdistan. Of course, both NATO and the US are deaf to these arguments. But they fool no one by claiming that they are in this war for the moral imperative. Moral imperatives dictate that oppression be confronted not just in Kosovo but also in Kurdistan and also in East Timor and also in Tibet.
Today, tomorrow and the day after, you will hear time and again the theme that NATO leaders are moved deeply for the plight of Kosovars. This Orwelian double talk repeated by the ever faithful and sycophant media all over the world makes one nostalgic for the diabolical and yet truthful statement of Heinrich Himmler, the notorious head of Gestapo. His words, “When I hear the word culture, I reach out to my revolver.” resonate eerily in my mind as I reflect on the statements of our leaders. I suppose, I should be thankful that such venom is not uttered on the airwaves these days, but I must tell you something else, every time I hear the words humanitarian intervention, I say to myself that the Nazi head had more respect for truth than some of our present NATO leaders.
So I end my remarks the way I began, I oppose this war. I thank you for your solidarity for this just cause and leave you with a quote from a friend of this crowd, Mahatma Gandhi. “I oppose violence. The good that it does is temporary; the damage that it does is permanent.”