Various religious bodies, political parties and non-governmental organisations met under the ”Stop The War Campaign” in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning to condemn the impending United States-led attack on Iraq.
Briefing journalists, meeting chairman Molese Tsele, of the SA Council of Churches, said: ”Our purpose is clear. To state simply and forthrightly that all South Africans have the responsibility to stop the war and secure peace and development all over the world.
”We are united in our conviction that war against Iraq is wrong. It is wrong because it is the poor who will be the main victims. It is wrong because it will inflame, rather than resolve global conflicts, particularly those in the Middle East. It is wrong because forces of power and greed motivate it.”
He called on people to unite in their support of the international day of action planned for Saturday.
”We will support the demonstrations planned around the country. We will also join together, as united people, to present our concerns to the United States Embassy in Pretoria next Wednesday.”
Ebrahim Bham, head of the Muslim Alliance Against War, said many people in South Africa, including Muslims, were opposed to the prospect of war in the Gulf.
”We oppose the war mongering stance of the United States, Britain, Israel and Australia. We stand firm in our condemnation of United States imperialism in its blatant attempt to undermine the United Nations.
”We believe that this so-called war on terror is a disguised attempt to intimidate and suppress Muslims who stand up to US aggression and imperialism.”
Bham also called on the Iraqi government to fully co-operate with the United Nations, which has sent an arms inspection team to the Gulf country to determine if it still possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Jewish Voices SA chairman, Ivor Chipkin, said: ”Any war with Iraq threatens the stability of the Middle East and the conclusion of a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict…
”It is therefore essential that any war with Iraq is sanctioned by the UN according to accepted principles of justice and international law.
”We oppose this war as Jews, precisely because we believe its consequences to be dangerous for world Jewry. In a war that risks being patently unjust, if not illegal, and that is easily interpreted as an attack on Muslims and Arabs, Jews cannot afford to be silent in their opposition to this war,” he said.
The Anglican Archbishop of Southern Africa Njongonkulu added his voice to the calls for peace.
”This planned war on Iraq is a redirection of resources which is desperately needed in other areas. We need to stiffen our spines and stop a war before it even begins.”
Other organisations represented at Tuesday’s meeting included the African National Congress, Congress of South African Trade Unions, Human Rights Foundation, Ceasefire Campaign, Treatment Action Campaign, Centre for Conflict Resolution and the South African Catholic Bishops Conference.
Marches nationwide have been planned for Saturday, in support of the international day of action against war. – Sapa