Disarmament Campaigns

By Disarmament Campaigns | 1988-06-01 12:00:00

An Eastern View

The peace movement's voice in Hungary is barely audible amidst the talk about worsening economic problems and the declining standard of living. Peace is no more a big issue. Consequently, the INF accord did not get the attention it deserved, though the mass media and officialdom greeted it with great enthusiasm. The Hungarian Peace Council (HPC) is unequivocally in favor of the accord and has started a campaign to promote the elimination of chemical weapons as the next step. At the November meeting of the East-West Network for Dialogue seminar in Budapest, Western participants referred several times to the accord. Representatives of different independent groups from Eastern Europe, especially from Hungary, did not raise this issue. The main emphasis in their statements was on human rights and on visions of a future Europe.

The "4-6-0" peace group, an autonomous initiative, published a statement on the accord in January 1988. It states that the INF accord gives new momentum to détente from below and creates favorable conditions for grassroots contacts between East and West. The statement warns of the danger that the treaty could lead to a supplemental arms race in other areas, especially on the seas and in conventional weapons. "4-6-0" thinks it is wishful thinking to credit the INF accord to the pressure of the international peace movement. When this pressure was the strongest (1982 - '84) both superpowers, without hesitation, started to deploy their nuclear weapons in Europe. Ironically, the INF accord was signed during a period when the international peace movement is in decline. The INF accord is greeted and understood as a very important step ahead. Nevertheless, nuclear warheads have never been a real issue in Hungary around which activists could gather and mobilize people. Economic and political liberalization and ensuring conscientious objectors' legal status are the issues which raise interest. Moreover, it contradicts the spirit of the INF accord that the Hungarian Defence Ministry - despite serious cuts in education, social security, and health care - has increased its budget. This is widely criticized and allegedly even the Hungarian Peace Council sent a protest, so far unpublished, to the Prime Minister.

By Ferenc Koszegi of "4-6-0," an independent Hungarian peace initiative.

Opposing Missile Range in India

THE PEOPLE OF BALIAPAL AND BHOGRAI in India's Orissa province learned in July 1985 that 400 square kilometres of their land was earmarked for a missile testing base, named the "National Testing Range" by the Ministry of Defence. Villagers would have to vacate their traditional land.

The people's opposition began in October 1985 with the launching of a signature campaign. The government went ahead with its plans to build the range and in February 1986 issued eviction orders to 110,000 people. Volunteer squads were formed in March of that year which successfully, and nonviolently, have prevented government officials and police from entering the area. Vigils are now held in all 126 villages of Orissa. When unidentified persons are spotted, volunteers blow on conch shells and villagers convene on the spot.

Various civil liberties groups are supporting the villagers, and demonstrations have been held throughout the province. The government has responded with an economic blockade. Supplies of sugar, kerosene and wheat have not been allowed into the area, and local cash crops such as betel leaves, coconuts, and bamboo products have not been allowed out. Local students have also been denied the necessary documents in order to compete for scholarships. The blockade has hurt the local economy seriously.

The estimated cost of the testing range is 40 billion rupees. In 1986 the Chief Minister of Orissa said the proposed base would be used to test missiles with a range of between 1000 to 5000 kilometres; eventually intercontinental ballistic missiles may be tested there. In fact, in May 1986 the scientific adviser to the defence ministry said that the base would launch space vehicles and long range missiles. Another fear is Soviet involvement, based on the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty. The villagers' recent slogans include "Scrap Indo-Soviet Treaty" and "Declare Indian Ocean as Peace Zone."

Orissa province is already home to the Nilgin radar station, the largest in Asia, two air force bases and three naval bases, an aircraft assembly plant at Sunabeda, and a Space Research Organization at Chandipur. It is feared that the entire area could be made into an integrated militarized zone.

Contact: Asia-Pacific People's Environment Network (APPEN), do Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 43 Salween Road, ]0050 Penang, Malaysia. Phone 04375 705 and 04 376 930.

Supporters of the villagers are asked to write letters of protest to: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister's Office, New Delhi 1100]], India. Letters of support can be sent to: Mr Gangadhar Panigrahi, Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sanghatna, Kedar Couri Chhak, Bhubaneswar 751001, India.

Disarmament Campaigns is published from its office at Anna Paulownaplein 3, Post Box 18747, 2502 BS the Hague, Netherlands. Tel. 07045 35 66. Editor: Shelley Anderson. Editorial Staff: Renate Durubaugh, Birgit Gaffrey, Ferenc Koszegi

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1988

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1988, page 30. Some rights reserved.

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