Friday, September 15, 2006

Taking Strong Note Of Gujarat Reality

Satyagraha Centenary Conference participants take strong note
of Gujarat reality, pledge re-dedication to Satyagraha

A three day Conference entitled “Satyagraha : a ProPeace Agenda” organized by the Gandhi Development Trust headed by Ms. Ela Gandhi the grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi, took place in Durban, South Africa from September 11th – 13th on the occasion of the Centenary of “Satyagraha” brought together human rights defenders, academicians, intellectuals and other members of civil society from various parts of the world who expressed their grave concern at the growing use of violence as the ultimate form of power.

In a joint declaration at the end of the conference, several of the participants underlined : “The urgency to intervene in the defense of the principles of non-violent means to resolve conflicts at the national, regional and the international level has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the world today.”

The declaration also took “strong note of the fact that in the land of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, Gujarat in India, where a State-sponsored pogrom was organized in 2002 against Muslims, the hate mobilization continues unabated against the Muslims and other minorities.”

It finally stated “In the present world context, the principles of Mahatma Gandhi especially Satyagraha, are becoming much more relevant than ever before. There is an urgent need to energize the progressive, democratic, secular and pro-peoples’ movements across the world to challenge political, economic and social injustices and oppression.

The prevailing conditions are absolutely unacceptable to us.

We therefore pledge to re-dedicate ourselves, to build an international struggle for peace, justice, equality and human dignity.”

The many signatories of this declaration included :

Anil Nauriya (Supreme Court of India), A T Ariyaratne (Founder-President, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, Sri Lanka), Bettina Corke (Film-maker, Decade Media, Italy), Fr. Cedric Prakash (Activist, PRASHANT, India), Rev Cynthia Shelkofsky (Catholic University, Washington, US), Deena Padayachee (Writer, South Africa), Prof. Dennis Brutus (Centre for Civil Society, UKZN, South Africa), Dikshita Padalkar (Economist, South Africa), Ebrahim Ebrahim, South Africa (imprisoned with Nelson Mandela for twenty years in Robben’s Island), Florence Murugu (Mucodes, Kenya), Gunavant Govindjee (Ceasefire Campaign, South Africa), Hassim Seedat (Satyagraha Committee Member), Iqbal Jhazbhoy (Analyst, University of South Africa), Niloa Castro (Foccolare, Italy), Shabnam Hashmi (Activist, ANHAD, India), Sonam Tenzing (Representative of H H the Dalai Lama for Africa), Sunny Singh (Freedom Fighter, South Africa), Sylvia Alvarez (Educationist, USA), Sylvia Kaye (Lecturer, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa), Dr. Thein Win (National Council of the Union of Burma, SA).

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