Anti-globalization meeting in India focuses on militarism

Monday, January 19, 2004

BOMBAY, India -- Peace activists at the World Social Forum charged Sunday that President Bush's war on terrorism has made the world more dangerous.

The third day of the annual gathering of peace and anti-globalization activists concentrated on linking peace movements across the world, with the focus on recent U.S.-led wars.

Protests against unfair global trade, big business and foreign debt dominated the two previous days of the six-day event, held this year at a sprawling factory complex in Bombay.

The meeting, which attracts activists, political workers and intellectuals from around the world, is meant to be a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, which starts Wednesday.

"George Bush is the new extreme," said Ramsey Clark, who was the attorney general under former President Lyndon Johnson. "If the U.S. dominates the United Nations as it has in the past, there will be no security for anybody."

Clark said countries had to stand up to the United States for the United Nations to survive.

Anti-war discussions

In the dust-filled streets of a Bombay suburb, activists jostled with folk dancers, while war survivors from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam recounted their experiences at a sprawling factory complex, where the meeting was being held.

Arundhati Roy, an Indian novelist who won the 1997 Booker Prize, accused Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair of failing to improve women's rights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If you were to read the reports in corporate media, you would say George Bush and Tony Blair are the greatest feminists, but their version of feminism is a narrow and corrupt version," she said, adding that women in both countries still have few rights and little political say.

An Afghan peace activist, Saher Saba, agreed. "Apart from killing thousands of people, mostly women and children, the military action in Afghanistan has achieved nothing except bringing back the warlords, criminals and fundamentalists."

Stage and street theater performances lampooned the U.S. president, and gift shop owners said lapel pins and pens with indecent depictions of Bush were selling fast.

Activists also called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq and for a tribunal of Iraqis and international experts to try Saddam Hussein, whom they said should not face the death penalty.

The United States wants an Iraqi court to try Saddam, who has been in custody since his Dec. 13 capture.

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