Friday, 20 November 2015

Violence by any other name is violence

Shakespeare in his play Romeo and Juliet wrote the famous lines: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Similarly, to me, violence by any other name is violence. Therefore I am against any act of violence called by any other name- war, war on terror, terror on war, collateral damage, so on and so forth. I also strongly condemn all violence that kills people no matter what their nationality, race, religion or colour. I wish to also express deep anguish at the recent loss of lives across the world including in the recent attacks on unarmed people in a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan and the innocent people who lost their lives in Paris.

Having said this I would also like to add my voice to the chorus of hard questions being asked. My first question is, while France has been quick in identifying those involved in the recent attack in Paris and their nationalities, can it also identify and reveal where the arms that were used in the attack came from? Who sold them? Who were they sold to? At what price? How did they end up in the attacks on civilians? What is the arms trail? Can the arms route/trail also be identified just as the drugs route/trail? Why is selling of drugs considered an act of crime and selling of arms not?

 The reason for raising these questions particularly in the context of Paris attacks is because the French Government is one of the largest arms sellers in the whole world today. France, even though relatively small in size and population  is thriving on arms trade.  A report in Newsweek dated 13 August 2015 says that France has been the most prolific arms seller in Europe in the year 2015. [1] A report in Defense News dated 3 June 2015 reveals, “...The figures put France "solidly" in fourth place in terms of global arms exports...behind the United States, Russia and China.”[2] What is disturbing is the fact that France’s main market for the sale of its arms is the Middle East.

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It is no rocket science why these deadly weapons are being sold, bought and ultimately used. It is also no rocket science that more the conflict more is the sale and demand for arms. And it is no rocket science which economies are booming with the sale of arms and which countries are paying the price.[3]

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Naturally voices of dissent against countries involved in export of arms are getting louder. Recently, Amnesty international has urged the USA and other States selling weapons to stop exporting to Saudi Arabia.[4] The popular labour leader of UK, Jeremy Corbyn has asked hard hitting questions after the Paris attack as follows:  “Who is arming Isis, who is providing safe havens for Isis? To get there you have to ask questions about the arms everyone’s sold in the region...I think there are some very big questions and we have to be careful."[5]

Although it may be said that it is not the time to raise these questions, I feel it is not the time to mince words, as it is global peace which is at stake. I wish therefore to remind all those profiteering from sale of arms of an old saying: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” I also wish to remind that the origin of the first two World Wars was Europe. Increasingly it seems we are heading towards a third world war. If we do not wish yet another World war, we will have to collectively call upon the heads of States of those countries (one of them is France) profiteering/thriving from sale of arms to stop selling arms/ammunition. In order to stop this mindless violence, we will have to declare the trade in arms illegal just as we call the trade in drugs illegal.  But most of all, I urge the democratic citizens of the top arm selling countries to urge their elected (“civilized”) Governments to stop boosting their respective economies through sale of deadly weapons.

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