People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 11

March 12, 2006



Women Say No To War

G Mamta




Protesting in front of White House, Washington on March 8, 2006

Sister, you do not sleep, no, you do not sleep.
Pure is your gentle name, pure is your fragile life.
Of bee, shadow, fire, snow, silence, foam,
of steel, line, pollen was built your tough,
your slender structure.
They are your people, sister: those who today speak your name,
we who from everywhere, from the water and the land,
with your name leave unspoken and speak other names.
Because fire does not die


Pablo Neruda



WOMEN's Day or Working Women's Day is a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organisation of women all over the world. It became a day of solidarity with women’s struggles against oppression, poverty and war worldwide. This year the international women’s day was marked by anti-imperialist struggles, anti-war protests all over the world. Women worldwide said No to War on March 8. Rallies and events all over the world were organised denouncing the US war on Iraq on this day. During the 6th World Social Forum held in in January this year in Caracas, Venezuela, a call was given for a mass campaign against military aggression to mark International Women's Day, beginning with the collection of signatures to be presented to the White House. Many countries across the world shared this just demand and joined the call, aware that only with social justice and peace can humankind be able to survive and build the better world we all hope for.




The women in the United States of America observed the International women's day protesting the war against Iraq. They issued a call for peace in a declaration saying,


“We, the women of the United States, Iraq and women worldwide, have had enough of the senseless war in Iraq and the cruel attacks on civilians around the world. We've buried too many of our loved ones. We've seen too many lives crippled forever by physical and mental wounds. We've watched in horror as our precious resources are poured into war while our families' basic needs of food, shelter, education and healthcare go unmet. We've had enough of living in constant fear of violence and seeing the growing cancer of hatred and intolerance seep into our homes and communities.


“This is not the world we want for ourselves or for our children. With fire in our bellies and love in our hearts, we women are rising up – across borders – to unite and demand an end to the bloodshed and the destruction.”


On March 8, a delegation of Iraqi mothers went to Washington DC, where they were joined by grieving US mothers like Cindy Sheehan who lost her son in the Iraq war and is campaigning for the withdrawal of US troops. Together they delivered "Women Say No to War" signatures to the White House, and called for the US troops to leave Iraq. It was learnt that earlier the Iraqi women were denied visas. According to the US embassy, the women’s applications were denied because they supposedly did not have enough family members in Iraq to ensure their return. It's appalling that the US military killed these women's families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq!


The ‘Women Say No to War’ platform stated that the larger picture in organising for March 8 was to create a connected, sustained way for women to stand against war everywhere. They said, “If we can halt the largest military empire in human history, we will know we can stop wars in many places." The US government arrested the peace activists who went to submit the signatures demanding an end to US occupation of Iraq.




Some grandmothers took part in a demonstration held outside of the recruiting office in Duluth, US, to mark International Women's Day. Their focus was against the war in Iraq. "We're hoping that we'll have some influence on shortening the war and getting our kids home safe and sound. A lot of us have grandkids that are in Iraq and Afghanistan and our husbands have been veterans and some of us are even veterans of Second World War army nurses and that's why the war has been foremost in our minds," said a grandmother.




Thousands of women participating in anti-war protests in Britain, demanded the government to withdraw troops from Iraq. “God will judge Tony Blair on the Iraq war”, said the prime minister Tony Blair in an interview. On another occasion, this time last year, Blair faced a studio of women and said that history would deliver its verdict on him. His audience denounced his war, but he was certain that no tribunal, divine or temporal, would ever find his judgment wanting.


Says a woman participating in the March 8 rally, “As the third anniversary of the start of war approaches, Blair sounded less sure. Wishful thinking, maybe, but he looked to me like a man haunted, at last, by what he had unleashed. If Blair is finally realising his catastrophic error, that shift is partly down to the mothers, wives and partners who have never stopped pointing out the folly of this conflict.”




Venezuelan women decried US aggressions on the International women’s day. Inaugurating the rally on the women’s day, Venezuelan president Chavez hit out at USA for the treatment meted out to Cindy Sheehan and other peace activists who went to submit signatures to the White House seeking an end the occupation of Iraq. Coinciding with the International Women's Day, Chavez says there are different ways of celebrating the occasion throughout the world but the USA takes the cake by imprisoning women. “We have seen the photos with a lot of shame of how a group of policemen drags our friend and woman, who has become a world symbol of peace, not the peace of cemeteries but the peace that fights for life...”


Chavez said “So much for democracy in the USA ... she was only going to hand in signatures against the war ... there is a dictatorship in the USA where the very powerful economic groups and hawks are holding a puppet called George Bush."


Accompanied by fireworks, samba drums and whistles, the protesters, gathered onto a street outside the embassy compound in Caracas. Elvira Avila, vice president of the National Women’s Institute of Venezuela (INAMUJER), said "we, the women, as main victims of armed conflicts, as the poorest among the poorest in capitalist systems of exploitation, oppose the interference of Yankee imperialism." She denounced the use of US intelligence apparatus and the national budget to destabilise democratic governments. "As a woman and a mother I am against the war. War shouldn't be for economic gain," said Gloria Reyes, who carried a poster branding US president George W Bush the world’s most dangerous man.


Protesters handed over a National Assembly document against the war to a US Embassy representative. More than 2 million signatures were collected against the war in Venezuela.  Venezuelan women will also be taking part in actions marking a week of solidarity with the US people in opposing the war.




Cubans marked International women's day with a rally at Havana's Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Plaza. A large delegation from the Cuban Women's Federation, family members of victims of terrorist acts against the island, and relatives of the Cuban Five were guests at the event.


As a lead up to the rally, over 300,000 Cuban women signed petitions against war and terrorism as part of the international campaign ‘Women Say No to War’.

The Cuban Women´s Federation (FMC) urged all women in the world to embrace this cause for world peace.


In the rest of the world too, in many countries women marched against US occupation of Iraq. It is unfortunate that the Indian government instead of trying to assert itself and pursue an independent foreign policy is trying to become a junior partner to US in its designs to hegemonise the world. But the UPA government should realise that the people of our country will not take this lying down as was demonstrated in the huge sea of protest against Bush's visit to India.