[DEBATE] : CDDB 29 : THERE IS A FURY BUILDING UP ACROSS INDIA
jai.sen at cacim.net
Mon May 1 14:52:25 BST 2006
>From Kathmandu, Monday, May 1, 2006
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CACIM DELHI DEMOS BULLETIN / CDDB 29 : THERE IS A FURY BUILDING UP ACROSS
Ministry report nails claims on Narmada rehabilitation.
"There Is A Fury Building Up Across India".
Is there need for comment ?
Jai Sen, for CACIM
IN THIS ISSUE OF CDDB :
 Ministry report nails claims on rehabilitation (April 29)
 "There Is A Fury Building Up Across India" (April 29)
 At Least 350,000 March for Peace, Justice, & Democracy (April
Note : The CDDB is a digest of material on the struggles that have been
going on for twenty and more years, and have recently intensified, in
Bhopal, the Narmada valley, and Delhi, for a place to live in security and
dignity and everything that goes with that. The series started during late
March and April 2006, when all three movements were holding protests in
Delhi, and with the Bhopal and Narmada movements on dharna¹ (sit-down
strike) simultaneously at a place called Jantar Mantar¹ in the city. See
CDDB 1 and 2 for more details on Jantar Mantar and the demos. All back
issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards,
are available @ :
On 29.4.06 2:04am, "Priya Ranjan" <priya at aidindia.org> wrote:
Support petition to PM for rehabilitation
Visit http://narmada.aidindia.org for more information
Ministry report nails claims on rehabilitation
36,921 families would be affected
Centre sought to put the burden of proving the numbers on the NBA
Gujarat has spent only Rs. 10,918 crore till December 2005 on rehabilitation
NEW DELHI: A Sardar Sarovar Project Status Report by the Union Water
Resources Ministry submitted to the Prime Minister's Office on March 22,
2006 after Narmada Bachao Andolan activists went on an indefinite dharna
here nails the claims of the States concerned on the rehabilitation of dam
The report reveals that 36,921 families would be affected in 226 villages by
the raised height of the Narmada dam in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
Maharashtra. Even at the existing height of 110.62 metres, 27,934 families
were affected in 186 villages in the three States. The Hindu has obtained
the report exclusively.
The strange thing is that even when the Centre was armed with this crucial,
authentic information, it sought to put the burden of proving the numbers of
displaced families on the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The NBA had protested
raising the height of the Narmada dam as they said that about 35,000
displaced families between the heights of 110.62 mts. and 121.92 mts.
remained to be rehabilitated.
The official-level Narmada Control Authority permitted the Gujarat
Government to raise the dam's height from 110.62 mts. and 121.92 mts. on
March 8, based on the rehabilitation reports submitted by the States
The Status Report reveals that of the 27,934 families affected at 110.62
mts., 3,578 were in Gujarat, 2,663 in Maharashtra and 21,693 in Madhya
Pradesh. At the next height of 121.92 metres, 4,726 families in Gujarat,
3,453 in Maharashtra and 28,742 in Madhya Pradesh were affected.
It clearly shows that 13,233 families remained to be resettled in Madhya
Pradesh at 110.62 mts and 11,638 families at the proposed 121.92 mts.
However, in its application filed in the Supreme Court on April 17, the
Centre claimed that all the affected families till 121.92 mts. had been
resettled in the three States.
The Narmada tribunal award and the Supreme Court orders have held that
families facing submergence should be rehabilitated at least six months
ahead of raising the dam height i.e. by December 31, 2005.
The report says of the Rs. 20,546 crore spent on the project by December
2005, the Centre had provided Rs. 4,302.75 crore to Gujarat under the
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme including Rs. 226.50 crore as
Other project beneficiary States including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and
Rajasthan together contributed Rs. 5,240 crore. In effect, therefore,
Gujarat has spent only Rs. 10,918 crore till December, 2005.
The NBA has demanded suspension dam construction till the rehabilitation of
the displaced families was completed as per the law and not by cash
Your voice counts!!
Support Narmada Dam survivors! <http://one.aidindia.org/narmada>
Support the police firing survivors at Gangavaram!
Show your solidarity with women of Manipur in fighting rapes!
Support Bhopal's Demand for Justice and Dignity by Sending a FREE FAX to the
"There Is A Fury Building Up Across India"
By Arundhati Roy & Shoma Chaudhuri
29 April, 2006
The Hindu <http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/nic/arundhati.htm>
Accessed from :
In this interview, Arundhati Roy updates her essay on the Narmada issue, The
Greater Common Good <http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1611/16110040.htm> ,
published in 1999 in Frontline. It was conducted by Shoma Chaudhuri over a
period of several days in person and on email.
The media has been playing the Supreme Court verdict as a victory for all
sides. How do you read it? What does this verdict really mean?
It may well be a victory for the Gujarat Government but it¹s by no means a
victory for the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The Prime Minister has washed his
hands off an unequivocal report by members of his own Cabinet. The Minister
for Water Resources, Saifuddin Soz, had the rare courage to put down on
paper what he actually found the fact that rehabilitation in Madhya
Pradesh has been disastrous. It¹s true that on a one-day visit, Ministers
cannot possibly come away with an exhaustive survey, but you don¹t need to
spend more than a day in the Narmada valley to see that there is a massive
problem on the ground. There is a huge disjuncture between the paperwork and
the reality on the ground. What will be submitted to the court what has
always been submitted to the court is more paperwork.
Two years ago, when I went to Harsud which was being submerged by the
Narmada Sagar Dam, I also went to so-called New Harsud, which the government
claimed was a fully functioning new city. There was absolutely nothing there
no houses, no water, no toilets, no sewage. Just a few neon street lights
and a huge expanse of land. But officials produced photographs taken at
night with star filters making it look like Paris!
At the last hearing on the 17th of April, the logical thing for the Supreme
Court to do would have been to say ³Stop construction of the dam. We know
there¹s a problem, let¹s assess the problem before we go ahead.² Instead it
did the opposite and the problem has been magnified. Every metre the dam
goes up, an additional 1500 families come under the threat of submergence.
This interim order is inconsistent with its own October 2000 and March 2005
Narmada judgments as well as the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award, which
state in no uncertain terms that displaced people must be resettled six
months before submergence.
Water for Gujarat is obviously an urgent issue. How do we reconcile these
The urgency is a bit of a red herring. Gujarat has managed to irrigate only
10 per cent of the land it could have irrigated and provide only a fraction
of the drinking water that it could have provided at the current dam height.
This is because the canals and delivery systems are not in place. In other
words, it has not been able to use the water at even the current dam height.
This is an old story with the Narmada Dams. The Bargi dam completed in 1990,
at huge cost to the public exchequer and to tens of thousands of displaced
people, today irrigates less land than it submerged because canals haven¹t
been built. In the case of the Sardar Sarovar, in fact raising the dam
height immediately is just hubris. It has no practical urgency. The fair
thing to do would be to stop the construction of the dam and ask the Gujarat
government to construct the canals to use the water it already has. That
will buy time to do a decent job of rehabilitation.
If we could go back to the beginning of your involvement, why were you drawn
to the Narmada issue? Why has this become such a powerful symbol?
Because I believe that it contains a microcosm of the universe. I think it
contains a profound argument about everything power, powerlessness,
deceit, greed, politics, ethics, rights and entitlements. For example, is it
right to divert rivers and grow water-intensive crops like sugar cane and
wheat in a desert ecology? Look at the disaster the Indira Gandhi canal is
wreaking in Rajasthan. To me, understanding the Narmada issue is the key to
understanding how the world works. The beauty of the argument is that it
isn¹t human-centric. It¹s also about things that most political ideologies
leave out. Vital issues rivers, estuaries, earth, mountains, deserts,
crops, forests, fish. And about human things that most environmental
ideologies leave out. It touches a raw nerve, so you have people who know
very little about it, people who admit that they know very little and don¹t
care to find out, coming out with passionate opinions.
The battle in the Narmada Valley has raised radical questions about the
top-heavy model of development India has opted for. But it also raises very
specific questions about specific dams. And to my mind, though much of the
noise now is centered on the issue of displacement and resettlement, the
really vital questions that have not been answered are the ones that
question the benefits of dams. Huge irrigation schemes that end up causing
water logging, salinisation and eventual desertification have historically
been among the major reasons for the collapse of societies, beginning with
the Mesopotamian civilisation. I recommend Jared Diamond¹s wonderful book
Collapse to all those who wish to take a slightly longer, and less panicked,
view of development¹. India already has thousands of acres of waterlogged
land. We¹ve already destroyed most of our rivers. We have unsustainable
cropping patterns and a huge crisis in our agricultural economy. Even vast
parts of the command area of our favourite dam the Bhakra is water-logged
and in deep trouble. So the real issue is not how ordinary farmers in
Gujarat will benefit from the Sardar Sarovar, but how they will eventually
suffer because of it.
That's controversial. Could you elaborate?
I have written at length about it in my essay The Greater Common Good but
let me just raise a few simple points here. The Sardar Sarovar was built on
the promise that it was going to take water to the drought-prone areas of
Kutch and Saurashtra. That¹s the emotive, frenzied, political point that is
made all the time. Because of the huge propaganda machine around it, year
after year this dam has soaked up almost 95 per cent of Gujarat¹s irrigation
budget at the expense of other, more effective, more local schemes. Gujarat
has among the largest number of high dams of any state in India and
continues to such an acute water problem! If you look at the Gujarat
Government¹s own plans for the Sardar Sarovar, you¹ll see that Kutch and
Saurashtra lie at the end of the canal. Even if everything goes brilliantly,
supernaturally, if the big cities, big industry, golf courses, sugar mills
and water parks do not siphon water off before hand, if the river has as
much water as the project engineers says it has (which it doesn't), and if
it can achieve an irrigation efficiency of 60 per cent (when no dam in India
has achieved more than 40 per cent), even then, the project is designed to
irrigate only 2 per cent of the cultivable area of Kutch and 9 per cent of
Saurashtra. The loot of canal water has already begun.
Recently, the real stakeholders were indiscreet enough to put their
photographs in the huge, full-page advertisements that appeared in all the
national dailies supporting the dam religious leaders, politicians, and
big industrialists. Where were the farmers? The people of Kutch and
Saurashtra? A group of people in Kutch have filed a petition in the Supreme
Court complaining that the Gujarat Government has reduced even that small
allocation of water to Kutch and Saurashtra, in contravention of the Narmada
Water Disputes Tribunal Award. The tragedy is that if they would only use
more local, effective, rainwater harvesting schemes, for less than 10 per
cent of the cost of the Sardar Sarovar, every single village in Kutch and
Saurashtra could have drinking water. The Sardar Sarovar has never made
sense, ecologically or economically.
But in politics there¹s nothing as effective as a potential dam which
promises paradise it will soothe your sorrows, it will bring you breakfast
in bed. The Sardar Sarovar has been the subject of frenzied political
campaigning for every political party in Gujarat. And it¹s all propaganda.
Look at the recent spectacle we witnessed. Narendra Modi claiming to speak
on behalf of poor farmers and the corporate cartel, sitting on a symbolic
hunger-strike, a Gandhian satyagraha and simultaneously issuing threats of
violence. Incredibly, he went unchallenged by a single person in the UPA
government. That¹s how deep the mainstream political consensus is.
I see your point about forcing a riverine ecology on a desert, and the
political lobbies at work. But what about electricity?
Recently, a group of international engineers has challenged the claims made
by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam about power generation. So has Himanshu
Thakker, an engineer who has studied the Sardar Sarovar in some detail. I
would like to make three points.
Having an installed capacity of 1450 megawatts means that the power
generating machinery that has been installed is capable of producing 1450
megawatts of power. What is actually produced depends on actual water flows
which we know is much lower than the Sardar Sarovar Project was designed
Second, in a multi-purpose dam like the Sardar Sarovar, for the most part
you can either use the water for irrigation or for power generation. In
fact, as more and more water is used for irrigation, calculations show that
the electricity from the riverbed powerhouse will be virtually zero. So to
claim its benefits on both fronts simultaneously is dishonest.
Third, in power distribution, India has amongst the highest transmission and
distribution losses in the world. Across the country, avoidable losses add
up to more power than is generated by dozens of big dams. So before we go
building more big dams and destroying communities, forests, rivers and
ecosystems, maybe we could do something about how much electricity and water
we waste and misuse. It would make a serious, radical difference. Minimising
waste would be revolutionary.
The NBA has been protesting for several years. Why do you think the protest
reached such white heat this time?
Obviously because of the profile and commitment of Medha Patkar and the
reputation of the NBA and the fact that the indefinite fast took place in
Delhi. But I think it¹s also because displacement is becoming an urgent
issue for millions both in cities and in villages. The situation is out of
control. Every single development project whether it¹s an IT Park in
Bangalore or a steel plant in Kalinganagar or the Pollavaram dam the first
move is to take land from the poor. People are being displaced at gunpoint.
Cities like Delhi and Bombay are become cities of bulldozers and police. The
spectre of the shooting of adivasis in Kalinganagar in January some of
whose bodies were returned by the police mutilated, with their arms and
breasts chopped off all this hung over the protest at Jantar Mantar. There
is a fury building up across the country.
The whole argument against big dams has been submerged by the rising waters
of the reservoir and narrowed down to the issue of rehabilitation. But even
this vital, though narrow issue of rehabilitation which should be pretty
straightforward, contains a universe of its own of deceit, lies and utter
callousness. To pay lip service to rehabilitation is easy even Narendra
Modi does that. The real issue, as the Soz report points out, is that there
is a world of difference between what¹s on paper and what¹s on the ground.
Could you draw a thumbnail sketch of what you mean by that? Talk about the
issue of displacement and rehabilitation.
One of the major tricks that is played on the poor and on the public
understanding of what¹s going on in these `development¹ projects is that
large numbers of the displaced do not even count as officially Project
Affected¹. Very few of the tribals whose land was acquired for the steel
factory in Kalinganagar counted as Project Affected¹. Most were called
encroachers¹, uprooted and told to buzz off. Those who did qualify were
given Rs 35,000 for land that was sold for Rs 3.5 lakh and whose market
value was even higher. So you take from the poor, subsidise the rich, and
then call it the Free Market.
In the case of the Sardar Sarovar, the tens of thousands who will be
displaced by canal construction in Gujarat are not counted as Project
Affected. Those displaced by the sprawling Kevadia colony at the dam site
and the compensatory afforestation¹ project don¹t count. Thousands of
fisherfolk who lose their livelihood downstream of the dam don¹t count. Only
those who are displaced by the reservoir count and even there there¹s a
problem. In Madhya Pradesh the poorest of the poor, the landless, mostly
Dalits and Adivasis who depend on the river for their livelihood those who
depend on seasonal cultivation on the riverbed, fisher-folk, sand-miner
are not counted as Project Affected. The whole discourse of land for land
leaves these people out.
There¹s another problem: when communities are uprooted and given illegal
cash compensation, the cash is given only to the men. Many have no idea how
to deal with cash, and drink it away or go on spending sprees. Automatically
the women are disempowered. Just because it is being made to appear as
though it¹s all inevitable, as though there¹s no solution, should we forget
that there ever was a problem? Should we leave the poorest and most
vulnerable out of the cost benefit¹ analysis and allow the myth of big
dams to go on and on unchallenged?
As for those who are lucky enough to be counted as Project Affected, we know
now they are being displaced without rehabilitation in utter violation of
the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and the Supreme Court¹s own
verdicts, all of which specify that displaced families must be given land
for land. The Madhya Pradesh government is trying to force people to accept
what it calls SRP Special Rehabilitation Package which is cash
compensation. That¹s illegal. The technique is to show hundreds of families
the same plot of uncultivable land, and when they refuse to take it, force
cash compensation on them.
The Sardar Sarovar rehabilitation policy was cynically used to create
middle-class consensus and make the NBA sound unreasonable. And now that the
dam is more or less built, we have public figures like B.G. Verghese who
campaigned for the dam and tom-tommed the promise of rehabilitation now
openly saying land for land is not possible but that construction should
still continue. A columnist went so far as to say that rejecting cash
compensation amounted to high treason! We are currently being promised that
the Saradar Sarovar R&R policy will be used by the River-Linking scheme
more disastrous than hundreds of Sardar Sarovars in which lakhs, perhaps
millions of people will be displaced. It¹s an excellent plan to have a
noble-sounding policy on paper. It confuses the opposition.
The NBA and you are often seen to be intrinsically anti-development. As
people who are opposed to the forces sweeping across the globe. How do you
react to that?
With acute boredom. Of course we¹re opposed to the forces sweeping across
the world! Of course we¹re opposed to this kind of development! We spend our
waking hours pointing out that it¹s not development, it¹s destruction. Its
not democratic, it¹s not equitable, it¹s not sustainable. We¹re
anti-destruction. That¹s what we keep repeating in everything we say and do.
Whether we¹re effective in our opposition, whether we¹re doomed, whether
we¹ll win or lose is a different matter.
Given the relentlessness of the onslaught of globalisation, would you say
your views paint you into a small corner?
I'd say our views paint us out of the small corner the small, rich,
glittering, influential corner. The corner with the voice¹. The corner that
owns the guns and bombs and money and the media. I¹d say our views cast us
onto a vast, choppy, dark dangerous ocean where most of the world¹s people
float precariously. And from having drifted there a while, I¹d say the mood
is turning ugly. Go to Kalinganagar, Raygada, Chhattisgarh you¹ll see
there¹s something akin to civil war brewing there. The adivasis of
Kalinganagar have blocked the main highway to Paradip Port since January.
There are districts in Chattisgarh which the Maoists control and the
administration can¹t reach. I¹m not saying that there will be a beautiful
political revolution when the poor take over the State, I¹m saying we could,
as a society be convulsed with all kinds of violence. Criminal, lumpen,
political, mercenary the kind that has broken across so much of Africa. So
it really is in the enlightened self-interest of those jitter-bugging in the
glittering corner to sit up and pay heed.
Another strong criticism of you and the NBA is that you oppose a particular
worldview, but present no alternative vision. Is there an alternative
vision? Is it important to have one?
There is an alternative vision. But it isn¹t some grand Stalinist scheme
that can be articulated in three sentences no more than the model¹ of
this existing world can be described in three sentences. You asked this
question about an alternative very sweetly. It is usually asked in a
sneering, combative way. Let me explain the way I look at it. The world we
live in right now is an enormous accretion of an almost infinite number of
decisions that have been made: economic decisions, ecological decisions,
social, political, pedagogical, ideological. For each of those decisions
that was made, there was an alternative. For every high dam that is being
built there is an alternative. Maybe no dam, maybe a less high dam. For
every corporate contract that is signed there is an alternative. There is an
alternative to the Indo-US nuclear deal, there is an alternative to the
Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agricultural Research, there is an
alternative to GM foods. There is an alternative to the Armed Forces Special
Powers Act. There is an alternative to the draconian Land Acquisition Act.
The fundamental issue is that `a country is not a corporation,¹ as Paul
Krugman says. It cannot be run like one. All policy cannot be guided by
commercial interests and motivated by profit. Citizens are not employees to
be hired and fired, governments are not employers. Newspapers and TV
Channels are not supposed to be boardroom bulletins. Corporations like
Monsanto and Walmart are not supposed to shape India¹s policies. But signing
over resources like forests and rivers and minerals to giant corporations in
the name of efficiency¹ and GDP growth, only increases the efficiency of
terrible exploitation of the majority and the indecent accumulation of
wealth by a minority leading to the yawning divide between the rich and
the poor and the kind of social conflict we¹re seeing.
The keystone of the alternative world would be that nothing can justify the
violation of the fundamental rights of citizens. That comes first. The
growth rate comes second. Otherwise democracy has no meaning. You cannot
resort to algebra: You cannot say I¹m taking away the livelihood of 200,000
to enhance the livelihood of 2 million. Imagine what would happen if the
government were to take the wealth of 200,000 of India¹s richest people and
redistribute it amongst 2 million of India¹s poorest? We would hear a lot
about socialist appropriation and the death of democracy. Why should taking
from the rich be called appropriation and taking from the poor be called
development? This kind of development, as I¹ve been saying again and again
is really pushing India to the edge of civil war spearheaded by the
Maoists who now control huge swathes of land in India which they have
There is a huge consolidation of these Maoist groups. Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh says that they¹ve become India¹s biggest internal security
threat. What¹s your view on this?
Iam sure the Maoists view the PM¹s statement as a compliment. In a recent
article in the Indian Express. Ajit Doval a former Director of the
Intelligence Bureau argued that doctrinally Maoists must be treated as
terrorists. Poverty is being conflated with terrorism. The Indian Government
has learned nothing. It has tried the military solution in Kashmir, in
Manipur, in Nagaland. It has got nowhere. Now it¹s ready to turn its army on
its own people, like a maddened tiger eating its own limbs. Though here in
the big cities we call ourselves a democracy, in the countryside, all kinds
of illiberal ordinances have been passed, thousands have been imprisoned,
civil liberties are a distant dream. Villages are being evacuated and turned
into police camps. The Chattisgarh government is fueling the situation by
arming poor villagers to fight the Maoists. I don¹t know why they can¹t seem
to understand that there can be no military solution to poverty. Or maybe
I¹m being stupid maybe they¹re trying to eliminate the poor, not poverty.
On top of everything else that has happened over the years, now
multinational companies have turned their greedy eyes on the wealth of
natural resources in these states. Mountains, rivers and forests are being
plundered it¹s like the gold rush. And presiding over it are our own
economic hit-men in the country¹s top jobs. These men are staunch disciples
of the Washington Consensus. They have no imagination outside of it. They¹re
at the helm of a no-holds-barred looting spree.
Who would have thought ten years ago that Kathmandu would be under siege?
Who knows, ten years down the line, it might be Delhi that¹s under siege.
Things are certainly moving in that direction. Something has to give. We
cannot go on living this lie. And now that we¹ve seen how contemptuously the
government has treated a non-violent movement like the NBA, which of us can
in good faith tell people how to fight their battles? Because whatever their
strategies, they¹re up against the same behemoth.
Kanu Sanyal, one of the founders of the Naxalbari uprising, has distanced
himself from much of the movement today saying that it has become
extortionist, without ideology, predatory on the very poor it seeks to
I'm sure Mahatma Gandhi would say the same of the Congress Party today.
Every armed struggle will have its share of thugs and extortionists, along
for the ride only for personal gain. That cadre exists in the North East,
among the militants in Kashmir, and I¹m sure among the Maoists too. It also
exists in the armed forces every occupying army has its share of looters
and rapists. But the Maoists phenomenon has arisen because people have had
the doors of the liberal, democratic institutions slammed in their faces. To
dismiss them all as extortionists and free-loaders is not just deeply
apolitical, it¹s extremely unjust.
After all, the so-called non-violent world that claims to disagree with the
current government policies and has broken out in a rash of NGOs peddling
everything from peace to birth control also has its share of freeloaders and
racketeers. The highly paid development jet set¹ who earns its living off
poverty and conflict and misery. Many of them are as counterproductive to
the cause of justice as the free-loaders and extortionists on the edge of
The real problem, as we¹ve seen, is that whether a struggle is violent or
not, the government¹s reaction is instinctively repressive. The military
solution has not worked in Kashmir or Manipur or Nagaland. It will not work
in mainland India. It may not be that the masses will rise in disciplined
revolutionary fervour. It may be that we will become a society convulsed
with violence, political, criminal, and mercenary. But the fact remains that
the problem is social injustice, the solution is social justice. Not
bullets, not bulldozers, not prisons.
On 30.4.06 4:32 pm, "Ted Glick" <indpol at igc.org> wrote:
AT LEAST 350,000 MARCH FOR PEACE, JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY
The streets of New York City echoed today with the chants, songs and shouts
of at least 350,000 people from across the United States. Mobilized around
the calls to end the war in Iraq, say no to any attack on Iran, and to
support the rights and dignity of all people, including immigrants and
women, the marchers brought a renewed urgency to the clear demand for
change. The march featured the largest antiwar labor contingent in U.S.
Initiated by an historic alliance linking a diverse coalition of national
organizations -- United for Peace and Justice, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the
National Organization for Women, Friends of the Earth, Climate Crisis
Coalition, U.S. Labor Against the War, Veterans For Peace, National Youth
and Student Peace Coalition, People's Hurricane Relief Fund -- the March for
Peace, Justice and Democracy embodied the understanding that all those
working for such goals must come together to right the reckless, dangerous,
and wrong-headed direction the U.S. government has been following.
The march kicked off at noon on a sunny Saturday in Manhattan. The lead
contingent included Oscar winning actors Susan Sarandon and Mercedes Ruehl;
Oscar-winning film director Jonathan Demme; writer/actor Malachy McCourt;
NYC Transport Workers Union leader Roger Toussaint; Air America host Randi
Rhodes; Michael Berg, whose son was the first U.S. civilian hostage killed
in Iraq; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Reverend Al Sharpton; Gold Star mother
Cindy Sheehan; Faiza Al-Araji, a peace and women's rights advocate from
Iraq; John Wilhem, president of UNITE/HERE; National Organization for Women
President Kim Gandy; and Anne Wright, the first State Department diplomat to
resign protesting the Iraq War.
At the march's conclusion in Foley Square, a vibrant sea of flags, banners
and signs welcomed marchers to the "Peace and Justice Festival." Issue tents
featured speakers, literature, t-shirt sales, food and music highlighting
the key issues of the wide-ranging March coalition: the war in Iraq and
threats of war and U.S. nuclear attacks on Iran, a Palestine tent featuring
Q&A on Israel/Palestine and folkloric dance in an Arab-style "café,"
counter-recruitment campaigners, a Labor tent featuring the NYC Labor
Chorus, and others. A special Children's Peace Tent featured puppet-making
and peace crane art projects, "Putt for Peace" and other games,
face-painting, musicians and jugglers. Films, music, performances by the
Raging Grannies and many other activities were featured as well.
According to Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of the 1,500-organization
strong United for Peace and Justice Coalition, "An unprecedented range of
organizations, committed to varied constituencies and a wide range of
priorities, came together to march today. We all recognize that until we end
this lethal war in Iraq -- a war that is destroying so many lives in Iraq
and here, and costing so many billions of dollars so desperately needed for
rebuilding lives, cities and countries -- that we cannot succeed at
reclaiming our democracy."
United for Peace and Justice : RainbowPUSH Coalition : National Organization
for Women : Friends of the Earth : U.S. Labor Against the War : Climate
Crisis Coalition : Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund : National Youth and
Student Peace Coalition : Veterans For Peace
CACIM India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph 91-11-4155 1521, 2433 2451
Eml cacim at cacim.net
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