In the small Dutch city where I live, several hundred people took part in yesterday's annual silent walk to commemorate the victims of World War II. There were far more people than usual taking part, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe. As I watched the silent line of people filing past, laying flowers in front of the war memorial, a litany of names sounded in my head: Bosnia, Rwanda, Burma, East Timor....The "victory" of World War II did not stop the biggest killer of all, that of war itself. The "victory" did not stop fascism, as the mounting murders of immigrants and black Europeans by skinheads proves.
I participated in the walk, not to lend credence to any nationalist mythos, as much of the hype around the 50th anniversary is doing, but rather to acknowledge past suffering. To acknowledge the wounds that for many people still have not healed, and to recommit myself to the struggle to stop war. That will be the real victory. That is the way to honor the dead.
It is easy to feel hopeless when we read in the paper that Zagreb is being bombed, that fascists in the US killed children in Oklahoma City. Last week, after hearing about the attack on Zagreb, the WRI Women's Working Group sent a message to B.aB.e., a women's group in that city, whose work you have read about in past issues of this newsletter. "We are okay," the women emailed back. "Thank you for your message. It's good to have friends. We are scared, but we shall overcome!"
What gives me hope is knowing that women all over the world are struggling to stop war. The war may be undeclared, like the sexual violence we face daily, or it may involve landmines or even economic sanctions. A little of this struggle against war, very little, is reported in the following pages. I hope it fuels your determination, rather than increasing any sense of hopelessness. What gives me hope is knowing that the women in our WRI Women's Working Group, in our networks and next door, are not giving up. It's good to have friends, and we will indeed overcome.
P.S. Please remember that the WRI office's telephone number (and others in different parts of the UK) has changed: the new number is +44 20 7278 4040; the fax number is +44 20 7278 0444. The correct email address is email@example.com