International Peace Day: We demand Peace!
This is not a request, an idea or an ideal, it is an outright, fist-slamming-on-the-table demand from the people, the citizens of the world. We demand peace.
September 21 is the United Nations World Peace Day, or International Day of Peace, celebrated since 1982, calling for, at the very least, cessation of hostilities in conflict zones and marked by the ringing of a bell at UN headquarters to the sound of coins donated by children from all continents, except Africa.
5 million children starving to death in Yemen: the direct result of selling weapons to Saudi Arabia
The General Assembly of the UNO states that September 21 is a day devoted to forward the ideal of peace within and among peoples and nations. The theme for 2018 is "The Right to Peace - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70", celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, this theme being Goal 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals launched in 2015, namely "Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions".
Peace and harmony within and among societies is based upon goodwill and justice and logically, is based on an unwritten fundamental human precept that if all of us share the same space (Planet Earth) then we have as an undeniable and inalienable birthright the same rights. The right to healthcare, education, food, shelter and peaceful co-existence. This means we do not delegate the right to sell weapons, create conflict and confusion to syphon off resources or to foster the interests of lobbies or nations, using human misery as a shield. Those who do this have no place on Planet Earth 2018.
5 million children starving to death in Yemen: where is the accountability?
So let us forget the documents, the handshakes, the conventions, the dinners and the verborrea and hot air of the occasion and take a look at the world around us. If somebody asked me for a gun, I would not know where to get one. In fact I would not even know where to start. If I did work it out and went to a shanty neighborhood or favela across town to buy one, I would be caught and thrown into prison as soon as I sold it.
Yet the USA and UK are arming and supporting terrorists in Syria, as they did in Libya, to tear society apart and bring misery into communities which formerly lived together in peace for thousands of years. At the time of the disastrous campaign of Marcus Licinius Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BCE, people in the region lived in harmony. But let us not focus only on the US and UK.
If arms trafficking is illegal for some, it is a breadwinner for many and is a sustainable, steady mainstay of our economies. And let us not play the blame game - if one "side" is arming one faction, then the other faction will wish to be armed by another "side". No arms, no violence.
5 million children starving to death in Yemen: who is selling weapons to Saudi Arabia?
Let us instead take a step back and have a good look at Planet Earth, from space, where we find an extraterrestrial vessel with aliens on board. What do we see and hear? Perplexed, shaking their heads, half of the aliens are laughing and the other half are crying. Not one of them is nodding her/his head in syntony with Humankind.
They are watching Prime Ministers addressing their nations, abhorring violence, when their own special operations forces are committing demonic acts in the name of their Flag, when they are selling weapons systems to murder people. People are families, children and (wo)men.
5 million children starving to death in Yemen: Why is Saudi Arabia not held to account?
They see the funds from these horrific acts funding schools and hospitals and they see defence ministers justifying these deplorable actions by stating that they sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs. They see callous acts of violence across the world, not only among nations, but among peoples, races and creeds, just because. Catholics against Protestants, Sunni against Shi'ites, militia against militia; they see terrorist strikes among Jihadi groups and perpetrated by nations, such as Israel's escapades in Syria violating airspace and launching illegal attacks, such as NATO's intervention in Libya. They see hatred and division where harmony once ruled, such as in Ukraine where a Fascist putsch ousted the democratically elected President before massacres of Russian speakers forced Donbass to defend itself.
But they see far more. In Brazil, there are cities in which a death toll of fifty plus in drug feuds takes place every single weekend. In many cities, you dare not step out of your house for fear of being mugged, shot or stabbed and dare not step onto a bus for fear that it will be torched by drugs gangs. They see the same thing happening in cities across the world.
5 million children starving to death in Yemen: yet they continue to sell weapons to those perpetrating the massacre
Forgive the aliens for thinking that we are a lost cause, and that we will never live in peace and harmony because the DNA of the human being is no different from a swarm of locusts. They swarm, they fight, they kill and eat each other, just because. That is what they do.
So the aliens observe with incredulity and sadness an entire species which spends more energies murdering each other than on development, one which does not follow the precepts of an internationalized and global legal system, one which has rules on paper but which are cynically flouted at will and ad nauseam, especially by those who claim to own the high and mighty moral ground.
They see a disgusting species which selfishly trashes the planet, its lands, seas and air, now space, with unacceptable levels of pollution like a drunk urinating on a public street, making it disgusting for people to walk on just because he selfishly drank too much and could not care less about anyone else.
Like what you are reading? Time to change? Time to be less self-centered and to come together? How about starting with universally respected laws, meaning if it is illegal for me to traffick weapons it is illegal for anyone to traffic them? The same goes for drugs. And suppose we, the people, used these tools like the social media and sites such as this one where you have freedom of expression, to network and start making political demands, getting these issues onto the political agenda, holding our representatives accountable for their decisions and ensuring that they understand they are elected to serve our interests, and not the lobbies which pull their strings.
5 million children starving to death in Yemen: yes but our economy depends on it
The state of this planet in 2018 brings me to tears. I am not alone but I hear not the aliens, but those who claim to represent humankind laughing in my face and crying not in sadness but in howls of derision. Such people do not deserve the position to represent us, or any other position. If they cannot deliver, they should leave the post and let someone who respects us take the job. The smile would soon be wiped from their snouts.
So let us start with one basic demand, not an idea, not an ideal and not a request, a simple, fist-slammed-on-the-table demand. We want peace. So let us roll the ball to the court of Washington, its chihuahuas and the lobbies which formulate its policy and let us give them ONE chance to deliver.
The clock is ticking. Or are we indeed a lost cause?
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. He is an official translator, a coach, a consultant and a professor.