CODEPINK in Melbourne

Members of the group

Detention centres in Australia

Refugee children at the detention centre in Nauru

Australia - archival information


There never can be a military "solution" to the problems facing the Israeli and the Lebanese peoples in the present situation across their common border. The peoples involved or, more precisely, their representatives need to be brought to the recognition that they must seek a political solution - a negotiated "talking" solution - if they are ever to achieve a just and lasting peace and freedom.

Only the peoples' representatives can come to the negotiating table. It is they, not us in the peace movements, who can resolve the issues. Our proper role as persons or organisations wishing to act in solidarity is to assist the parties to come to the negotiating table, not to attempt to do the negotiating on their behalf or for them by proxy.

If we are to assist in bringing the parties to the negotiating table, it does not help to further blur the issues by adding our own painful emotion to the mix by taking sides. This has the effect of magnifying the painful emotions involved thus making it more, not less, difficult to come to the negotiating table.

Taking sides by adopting slogans or statements that carry the suggestion that Israel or Hezbollah is the sole culprit in the present conflict is thus not helpful to securing a non-military solution.

For example, slogans suggesting that Israel is the sole culprit in the current violence carry the suggestion that Israel and Israelis are a uniquely belligerent people and/or that the Jewish culture is a uniquely war-mongering culture. This has the added effect of fueling a particularly virulent strand of anti-Jewish prejudice which abounds in the community at large and which we have seen demonstrated by the actor, Mel Gibson, when he was reported recently to have said that, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

A just solution is possible to the conflicts between the Israeli, the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples but can only come when the peoples' representatives come to the negotiating table with a commitment to achieving a good life for all the peoples involved, not for one people seeking profit, privilege and advantage at the expense of the other. Only in this way can nation states finally emerge that truly respect each other.

Their negotiations will be long and will involve concessions about things long held as important by one people or another, things that are bound up with great emotional attachment based on old battles and injustices. However, we in the Australian Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) recognise that if past injustices are accepted as sufficient reason to oppress and kill others, then there never can be an end to war and oppression.

Here in Australia, we have significant communities of Lebanese Australian and Jewish Australian citizens. If we are to avoid importing the ethnic tensions out of the Middle East into the Australian context, it is doubly important that, for our rallies and other events focusing on the conflict across the Lebanon/ Israel border, we avoid the perception of partisanship in our framing of slogans and statements.

In light of these considerations, WILPF (Australia) believes that we in the peace movement need to adopt slogans for our rallies and marches that are likely to have the effect of assisting the overall situation to move forward, slogans that are constructive and helpful to the situation overall and capable of assisting the process to move towards a negotiated, non-military solution. Slogans that carry blame and pain have the opposite effect.

At the recent Rome Conference convened by US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, put forward a 7-point plan for which he had managed to get the backing of Hezbollah.

This plan involves an immediate ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners between Lebanon and Israel with a pacification of the common border.

The plan also calls for the Lebanese Government to exercise full sovereignty over its southern regions and the UN Security Council to put the contested Shebaa farms area under United Nations jurisdiction. The plan also includes an expanded UN role to reactivate the 1949 armistice agreement with Israel. Although Hezbollah initially rejected his plan, Mr Siniora was finally able to achieve their backing for it.

Despite some withdrawal of support for the 7-point plan since the bombing of Qana, WILPF believes that this plan from the Lebanese Government would still constitute a good beginning for genuine negotiations.

WILPF (Australia) calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire so that negotiations can begin.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Australian Section) Inc.
GPO Box 345, Rundle Mall 5000
Phone: (08) 8232 6334
August 4, 2006


The Politics of Suffering Children
17 May 2004: A "long-awaited Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report into the mandatory detention of asylum-seeker children" at infamous detention centers in the desert of Australia is being ignored: "The nation yawns at a damning report on detained children", writes Robert Manne. The effects of war and many kinds of repression and violence to which parents have been subjected have also changed their children's lives, health and personalities. This report has examples that should fuel the campaign for decent alternatives for those seeking refuge from state abuse. ..."Between 1999 and late 2001, more than 2000 asylum-seeker children were dispatched mainly to the desert detention camps. The average stay was more than a year. Some were detained for three years; one child for more than five. In these camps, the already traumatised children - most of whom had fled from Saddam Hussein or the Taliban - witnessed scenes no child should ever see. They saw adults slashing their wrists, sewing their lips, starving themselves, beating their heads against walls, trying to hang themselves..."

Robert Mann's article:

1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
ARTICLE 14. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
See also the website about the Australian detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island, PNG and abandoned asylum seekers in Indonesia: