On December 17-19, 2004, approximately 400 representatives from a broad range of over 120 Indian progressive political parties, social movements, Muslim and other religious organizations, as well as women’s, youth, student, and dalit organizations met in Hyderabad, India for an anti-war assembly. They were joined by delegates from resistance movements in Iraq and Palestine, as well as delegates representing various anti-war and anti-occupation coalitions from around the world. The international delegates included two speakers from Palestine: Jamal Hassouneh, coordinator of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaignâs Popular Committees in the Tulkarem area and head of the council in Zeita; and Jaber Wishash, co-director of the Palestinian Committee for Human Rights in Gaza.
The goal of the Assembly was to consolidate the Indian anti-war and anti-occupation movement and to link it with other global movements. A central focus of the discussion in Hyderabad was the link between the occupations of Iraq and Palestine, and the need for solidarity with those who are resisting these illegal occupations. In the final declaration issued by the Assembly, the participants declared: âThe liberation of the Iraqi and Palestinian people from occupation and war is crucial to building global justice and a more equitable world. Their struggles are ours.â
The Assembly issued a total condemnation of the Israeli occupation. It also declared that in the interim period, while the illegal occupation lasts, Israel must be held accountable to the ruling of the International Court of Justice regarding the dismantling of the Apartheid Wall and the payment of reparations to Palestinians whose lands and lives have been damaged by the Wall. In its final declaration, the Assembly called upon âthe âInternational Communityâ to recognize that Sharonâs plan of so called âunilateral withdrawalâ from Gaza and parts of the West Bank is in fact a plan to annex part of the Palestinian territories and turn the rest into economically and socially unviable Bantustans.â
While elaborating and responding to new developments on the ground in Palestine, the Assembly also showed continuity with the process of global discussion and coordination begun in previous meetings, such as the conference of the international anti-war and anti-globalization movements in Beirut on September 17-19, 2004. Building on and strengthening the conclusions of the Beirut conference, the Assembly concluded with a list of demands and denunciations related to Israeli Apartheid and Occupation:
These demands and denunciations were among a number related to the occupation of Iraq and other political struggles in South Asia and West Asia. Among the most prominent of these was a call by the Assembly for massive worldwide demonstrations on March 19-20, 2005 against the continuing war on and occupation of Iraq by the U.S. The Assembly urged the global anti-war and anti-occupation movements to “enlarge the scope of the struggle…not just to protest but to shut down the U.S. war machine,” which is ultimately responsible for both occupations, in Iraq and in Palestine. Given the clear and crucial links that are being drawn between the occupations of Iraq and Palestine at gatherings of the global anti-war movement such as those in Hyderabad and Beirut, it is to be assumed that the worldwide demonstrations in March 2005 will put the call for an end to the occupation in both Iraq and Palestine on their banners, as well as the larger global context of these struggles against occupation.
The demand of the Assembly for the government of India to implement a policy of boycott and sanctions against Apartheid Israel comes at an important moment in Indian politics. Over the past few years, the National Democratic Alliance government, dominated by right-wing Hindu fundamentalist parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, began to cultivate strong economic, political, and strategic ties with Israel. Israel has emerged as Indiaâs second-biggest supplier of defense weaponry; defense trade between India and Israel is currently $1.5 billion dollars, and is projected to exceed $5 billion in 2004.
The current United Progressive Alliance, a coalition government led by the Congress Party together with a number of left-of-center parties that came to power in June 2004, has shown no plans to change this cozy relationship with Apartheid Israel. This is despite angry protests from left parties and from social movements throughout India, and despite calls from leading members of the Non-Aligned Movement (of which India is a founding member) for sanctions against Israel. In fact, the two governments recently signed a new $230 million defense deal, as well as an agreement to share intelligence on so-called âterrorist groups.â
The anti-war and anti-occupation movement in India has consistently shown its outrage against this âspecial relationshipâ with Israel (as well as against the attempt to cultivate closer ties with the U.S. through this relationship with Israel). It is in the context of this outrage, as well the grassroots popular support shown by people throughout India and South Asia for the struggle of the people of Palestine against Israeli occupation and apartheid, that the declarations of the Assembly in Hyderabad should be understood. In keeping with the Assemblyâs goals, the call for a boycott and sanctions against Israel has the chance to both consolidate the movement against Apartheid Israel within India, and also to strengthen the larger global struggle for divestment, boycott, and sanctions to end the occupation, tear down the Wall, and isolate and dismantle Israeli apartheid.
For more information on the Anti-War Assembly in Hyderabad, and to read the final declaration of the Assembly in its entirety, please see: https://www.focusweb.org/main/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=546