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News ::
oppose iraq war like gandhi (english)
31 Oct 2002
with civil disobedience
Indian novelist Arundhati Roy urged anti-war campaigners on Wednesday to use civil disobedience to oppose military action against Iraq, just as Mahatma Gandhi used it to fight for India's independence from British rule.

Roy, whose 1997 novel "The God of Small Things" won the Booker Prize in Britain and has sold six million copies in 40 languages, has become a prominent activist for several human rights and environmental causes.

Speaking about actively opposing globalisation, Roy told a news conference in Rome "The struggle has hit a dead-end. We need to re-imagine non-violent resistance. It's not simply about demonstrations on the streets and wearing masks."

"The answer lies in civil disobedience," she said, detailing some of the boycotts and non-violent protests Gandhi used to weaken Britain's grip on the Indian subcontinent, which gained independence in 1947.

Asked whether she would advocate civil disobedience against a possible US attack on Iraq, Roy said: "Absolutely, of course. That is where it is most urgently needed."

"Those activists who in the past have gone into Palestine, or gone into Iraq and said 'Bomb us, we're here, we're white people and we're here' those are fantastic people," she told Reuters later.

"Maybe not everybody is prepared to do that. But there must be ways in which you can find out who is making the guns, who is signing the deals, and target them not violently, but make them know that they are doing this at a price, make their jobs difficult."

Roy, 41, was in Italy to speak at a festival featuring films on a campaign of opposition to a hydro-electric dam project in India that has displaced millions of people. Roy was fined and briefly jailed by the Indian authorities for her role in the campaign.

But she spoke most heatedly about the threat of war in Iraq.

"The idea that America or any other country has the right to organise a pre-emptive strike against Iraq on the suspicion that it might be developing nuclear justifies anybody going to war against anybody," she said.

"It justifies India going to war against Pakistan or Pakistan going to war against India based on any suspicion that they have. It's the most outrageous thing you can possibly imagine."

Earlier this year Roy made her first trip to Pakistan, whose dispute with India over Kashmir has brought them to the brink of war in the past year.

She is fiercely critical of both governments, accusing them of fanning the Kashmir dispute to cover up their own failure to fight poverty and social problems.
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