The Women's Declaration Against War and Racism

Friday, September 28, 2001

The Women's Declaration Against War and Racism
For Peace and Justice

Canadian Women's March Committee
September 28th, 2001

If your organization wants to sign on to the Declaration, please write us at: [email protected]

We wish to express our profound sorrow and shock at the devastation and tremendous loss suffered by our sisters and brothers in the United States of America. Our thoughts go to the innocent victims who died, and their families and friends who must now endure indescribable grief and sorrow.

Nothing can excuse or justify what happened in the U.S., and we understand the need to bring those who are guilty of these attacks to justice. However, we are fiercely opposed to the vengeful and war mongering response that President Bush is proposing to the world, because it will inescapably cause the death of even more innocent victims.

We want to underscore the fact that there have already been too many innocent victims of terrorism and war: the civilians who died during the bombardment of Baghdad and because of the embargo against Iraq, the massacres in Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda, and those who were killed during the Vietnam war and in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

War is not the answer to the atrocious crime against humanity committed on September 11, 2001. While the desire for revenge undoubtedly leads many to violence, our only hope resides in the difficult search for peace. A military solution would only bring us closer to war.

We expect our governments to lead through compassion, justice and respect for the dignity of all people. Perpetrators should be brought to justice within the rule of law, with respect for their human rights and in conformity with international human rights law. Such acts of terrorism are a crime against humanity and should be brought before an international criminal court.

We urge governments not to make hasty and unfounded assumptions about a connection between acts of terrorism in the U.S., immigrants living in Canada, and the immigration system itself. All immigrants and persons of colour must receive the full protection of the civil rights, equality rights and other human rights guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The basic tenets of a free and democratic society must be respected, especially at a time like this.

We are alarmed by recent acts of violence and outrage against Muslims, people of Arab or Middle-Eastern decent and other people of colour. Individuals as well as religious and community organizations are the target of a racist backlash. We are particularly concerned about the attacks against innocent children in schools, because for many, their religious faith makes them easy and visible targets.

Governments must take urgent measures to denounce, stop, remedy and prevent these expressions of racism, hate and intolerance. Prejudices must be challenged in all their forms, and no individual or group should be scapegoated because of race, colour, ethnicity, religion or culture.

Women are usually the first victims of fundamentalism, war and injustice, and we are also very often the first to develop alternatives to violence. This is why true peace making must include women and their representative organizations in the process of finding solutions to international terrorism and war. It must also seek to remedy the cause of so many conflicts: poverty, injustice, sexual and racial inequality, ethnic and religious discrimination and the violation of the collective rights of peoples.

During the World March of Women 2000, women's groups proposed many recommendations to the Federal government towards eliminating poverty and violence against women that are essential in addressing underlying issues of justice and equality.

We also proposed specific policies that would go a long way in creating a culture of peace on the international scene: we reiterate our demands that the federal government urge the U.N. to end all forms of aggression and military occupation, assure the rights of refugees to return to their homeland, bring pressure to bear on governments to enforce the observance of human rights and strongly encourage other nations to support the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Together we declare in all our different voices, from all our different places:

We oppose war and all military interventions
We want justice, dignity and equality for all
We demand effective protection against hate and racism
We oppose any restriction on our immigration and refugee policies
We support democratic rights and freedoms for all people
We urge governments to include women in the peace-making process
We call for national and international policies based on democratic
principles and a human rights framework, that promote women's equality
We want peace and peaceful solutions