People all around the world look at the situation in Israel/Palestine with fear and anxiety, and have deep sympathy with the people who live there. For a long time we have experienced that politicians and leaders around the world have not been able to facilitate a peaceful and just development for the people in the region. Actions triggered by hunger for power have dominated the situation, combined with desire for domination, intrigues, horse-trading and personal interests. We have over a long period of time witnessed that men, women and children on both sides have suffered.
An increasing number of people are searching for actions that can contribute to a peaceful solution. In order to make visible our desire to contribute, hereby a group of women from Norway invite all women around the world to join in a human rights march in Israel and Palestine in February/March 2003.
We wish to:
1. Emphasize respect for human rights in the region.
2. Support the people who live there, by showing that they are not alone in their struggle for peaceful solutions.
3. Support people on both sides who want to see respect for international law by ending the occupation and creating sustainable peace.
4. Support the forces that want to rebuild and develop the region.
5. Support the forces that want to continue to work for cooperation, friendship and reconciliation when the crisis is over.
What can be done?
We envision the establishment of a national committee in each country. This committee should ensure that the human rights march becomes well known, and get as many women as possible to travel to Israel/Palestine in February/March. At the same time they should facilitate practicalities, such as flights for their group. It is also important that the participants are well informed on matters regarding the political, social and cultural situation in the region.
How should The Human Rights March work in Israel/Palestine?
All our work should be in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, with a focus on non-violence. We will continuously remind each other of Gandhis words of not underestimating the individuals potential for changing the world.
On this basis the idea was presented to womens organizations and individuals in Israel and Palestine during the winter of 2002. We are inviting the women of the world to a march based on solidarity with the people in the region, and support those who work for a just peace in a way that serves the interests of the people. We wish to gather the forces on both sides and internationally for the cause of peace by walking through cities, towns, refugee camps and so forth. We will arrange and participate at small and large meetings, seminars, courses and the like, and be part of the "thousands of conversations". We will make it possible for artists from all over the world to come to the region for concerts, exhibitions and gatherings. This is an outline of what we can contribute with. Other events may also be arranged following conversations with Israelis and Palestinians.
Practical matters in the region.
Prior to the march, considerable diplomatic work must be done so that no authorities will be in doubt of our peaceful message and the non-violent character of the action.
As men are the traditional bearers of arms and women bearers of children, we have decided that for security reasons only women should walk on this march. There should at no time be any doubt about our efforts to contribute to peace, humanity and compassion. At the same time it is important to emphasize that we welcome all possible support of the idea from our men.
For safety reasons and to ensure the best result possible it is important to have the largest number of women possible participate. We must do our best in mobilizing thousands and thousands of participants to influence the society during the weeks of the march. Some women will be able to participate over several weeks, others for 2 weeks or a week, some maybe only for a day. However, all contributions are welcomed.
We are assuming that when some go home, others will join and the march will go on. In order to be recognized as participants, one should wear something white, as a symbol of peace. This could be a blouse, a dress, a scarf, a T-shirt etc. Accommodation will be provided in private homes, at schools and community centers.
What can we achieve?
1. We wish to show that we take a stand against war and the use of weapons as a solution of conflicts.
2. We wish to take part in conversations between Israelis and Palestinians about "the road from here".
3. For each participant the march will be a valuable experience, giving them the opportunity of seeing and hearing the situation in the region for themselves, and to be involved in an international event.
4. Many people will meet and together create a basis for new initiatives based on the needs that become apparent. Based on experience from previous peace marches we believe that following the march, projects and different types of cooperation will grow, both between individuals and groups. We hope that this will develop into a triangular cooperation, with the ground line consisting of Israelis and Palestinians and the third being international support.
5. During the march the participants will need food and other necessities. This means that the local communities will have a market for their goods and services. This is important in a region with massive unemployment.
6. 360 000 olive trees have been cut down. We want to participate in the planting of new trees, which have been provided to us by Greek co-operators.
7. We wish and believe that through the suggested march, we can show that the world is one, and one where we take responsibility for each other, and share suffering and experience, and in this way contribute to a better future for each other.