XVI Bienial Conference
Women in Black
15 - 19 November, 2015
WORLD COURT OF WOMEN AGAINST WAR, FOR PEACE
A Summary Report
World Court of Women against War, for Peace
the day arrived
and the women arrived on their dancing feet
from over vast distances
to the beating of the drums
to the lighting of the lamp
offering their poignant stories of violence, of survival, of resistance
transforming their pain into poetry
daring the world to listen
in the hope that a day will come when wars and violence against women
will become unthinkable.
Invoking the spirits of the sky and the earth, Mamta Sagar, a poet
lit the lamp,
offering a prayer
Ours is a new world, there
is no God there,
no giver there,
no taker either;
language has no speech,
speech has no arrogance.
This ... should at least be dreamt of.
Opening the Court was Corinne Kumar the vision behind
and the International Coordinator of the Courts of Women inviting us
to re-imagine justice " We must speak too of another notion of justice;
of a jurisprudence, which bringing individual and collective justice
and reparation will also be transformatory for all. A jurisprudence
that is able to contextualize and historicize the crimes,
moving away from a justice with punishment, a justice of revenge, a retributive justice, to
a justice seeking redress, even reparation; a justice with truth and
reconciliation, a restorative justice, a justice with healing,
healing individuals and communities. Can the tears and narratives of
the women, these sites of pain, and these
sites of devastation and destitution lead us to re-thinking and re-imagining another way to justice?
What ideas and sensibilities do we need to explore and to expand the
imagination of justice? Refusing to separate the affective from the
rational (juridical) creates a space in which emotive demands are allowed
to be voiced and collective trauma is understood. This can be a step
towards re-imagining this jurisprudence from within civil society in
which we are able to creatively connect and deepen our collective insights
and understanding of the context in which the text of our everyday realities
is being written".
" Our imaginaries must be different: The new imaginary cannot have
its moorings in the dominant discourse but must seek to locate itself
in a discourse of dissent that comes from a
deep critique of the different forms of domination and violence in our
times : any new imaginary cannot be tied to the dominant discourse and
systems of violence and exclusion:
Perhaps, it is in the expressions of resistance seeking legitimacy not by the
dominant standards, not from a dominant paradigm of jurisprudence, not
by the rule of law, that begin to draw the contours of a new political
imaginary: the Truth Commissions, the Public Hearings, the Peoples'
Tribunals, the Courts of Women are expressions of a new imaginary refusing
that human rights be defined and confined by the dominant hegemonic
Following the opening was the first session on Wars as Genocide which looked at how the
technologisation and nuclearisation of wars have become destructive
on a genocidal scale. Shiv Vishvanathan who spoke as the expert witness
said " violence as genocide has gone beyond wars and the nation state.
Citing the example of Partition and the Bengal famine which claimed
1.6 million people and displaced twenty three million people, and the
famine which eliminated an estimated three million for which there was
no Nuremberg where the British stood trial, he went further to say that
development has become a continuation of war by other means. India today
is home to forty million refugees from dam displacement more than the
wars that we have fought.
Genocide he said is understood in terms of statistics but social science
concepts and the number of people they can eliminate can be genocidal
too. That even academics inflict genocide and there is no innocence
to academic or policy knowledge and there is no value neutrality
either - the bloodlessness of concepts that can be more genocidal.
Then the women spoke one after the other testifying to the genocidal
violence that they had been either victims of or witness to.
Eman Khammas from Iraq speaking on the 2003 War on Terror said it
was built on three lies: 1. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction
2. Iraq helped terrorism flourish, 3. Iraq was ruled by a dictator,
and there was no democratic structure of governing. She shared how thousands
of Iraqis lost their jobs, houses and everything related to their former
ways of life; Syria and Iraq, she said - they are being emptied of their
people and professionals, losing their valuable human resources and
being occupied by militias and foreign troops and nationals. And in
the last decade, four million Iraqi IDPs emerged and eight million in
urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Weaving together powerful images with statistics,
Beni Chugh spoke of the brutal war unleashed in Congo for Tantalum,
a most sought after valuable resource of our times and women becoming
the collateral damage in this war of economicide; wars waged to
wrest control over a country's natural resources.
She said: In DRC forty thousand women are raped each
year. Four fifth of the population has been displaced at least once
in what began as attempts at ethnic genocide in the aftermath of the
Rwandan genocide. Congo's immense wealth of natural resources has
always been its curse.
Their first and only democratically elected head
was assassinated for economic reasons. In what is acknowledged as the
bloodiest war since the second world war, the war was fought for tantalum.
Tantalum is essential to manufacture mobile telephones and laptops and
therefore we all have Congolese blood on our hands. It was a lucrative
war fought on natural resources, but the expense was fifty five million
Congolese and we are all guilty of abetting it.
Tasneem Akhtar from Kashmir, India and Anandi Sasitharan from Sri
Lanka spoke of the trauma of internal wars sponsored and inflicted by
Kashmir once an island of secularism is now consumed
by military hatred.
Kashmir a paradise of peace is a shattered valley witnessing disappearances,
rape, torture, death, execution, old people whose sons have died, grief
stricken young widows and children, thousands living in refugee camps
in their own homelands and countless children living in orphanages.
Indicting the Indian state for the thousands of uneducated
who are forced to join terrorists and the cause of Jihad, she said the
youth are inflicted with psychological disorders, depression, anxiety,
Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts,
drug abuse and alcoholism.
And Anandi spoke of the many undisclosed torture/detention centres
that are in Sri Lanka where girls were kept and raped by the men manning
these detention centres. The war in Sri Lanka was a well planned orchestrated
genocide which the people of the country have been unable to come to
terms with as the war continues in many different ways. The Sri Lankan
tamils are being treated as minorities today and bombs banned by International
law are used against them. A large number of people are being displaced
and their properties are being snatched. Because of the geo-political
importance of Sri Lanka, the perpetrators are saved by the international
Strengthening these testimonies were the visual testimonies of Mother
Mejra from Bosnia who spoke of the mass graves and of losing both
her children to the war of ethnic cleansing by the Serbs but who was
determined not to depair " My son Edwin was born in 1965, and my daughter
in 1969. On 14 June, 1992 she and my son along with 200 young men were
arrested by the militia and sent to Omarska concentration Camp.
When the war broke out and the last bus was leaving for Prijedor I
pleaded with them not to get involved in this cruel war. But they refused.Edna
wanted to become a model instead she became a pile of bones with a bullet
hole through her head.
I searched for my children all over Bosnia. On 20 June, I found Edwin
from among the 140 skeletons exhumed from the Kemljani mass grave. I
recognised Edwin by his teeth. And it was very clear from the
remains of Edna's clothes that she was killed by a bullet in her head.
I found my children after eight years of searhing, during which the
whole of me was dedicated to searching for the missing - disappeared
persons.Even after I found my children and buried them in dignity I
continue my mission with greater conviction I want to see
that no mother gives herself to despair
And Stan Goff, a US war veteran of Vietnam writing a poignant letter
to the GIs in Iraq, his son being one of them entreating him to hold
on to his humanity.Speaking of the genocidal wars that the US has waged
all over the world from Vietnam to Iraq by donning the mantle of the
savior, not hesitating to lie to and fill the heads of their fellow
Americans with shit that they were fighting a noble cause even as they
were killing innocent civilians he writes "we had to dehumanize our
victims before we did the things we did. So they became dinks or gooks,
just like Iraqis are now being transformed into ragheads or hajjis.
People had to be reduced to niggers here before they could be lynched.
No difference. We convinced ourselves we had to kill them to survive,
even when that wasn't true, but something inside us told us that so
long as they were human beings, with the same intrinsic value we had
as human beings, we were not allowed to burn their homes and barns,
kill their animals, and sometimes even kill them. So we used these words,
these new names, to reduce them, to strip them of their essential humanity,
and then we could do things like adjust artillery fire onto the cries
of a baby. Until that baby was silenced, though, and here's the important
thing to understand, that baby never surrendered her humanity. I did.
We did. That's the thing you might not get until it's too late. When
you take away the humanity of another, you kill your own humanity. You
attack your own soul because it is standing in the way".
Session two on Wars without Borders looked at wars
in times of peace; to the invisible war of poverty, of development,
the wars against the homeless that are unleashing new forms of violence
against the poor, the vulnerable, the women.
Shobha Raghuram offering her testimony as an expert witness spoke
of how suffering has no borders but the human spirit is so resilient
that we build a chain of movement and common empathies towards the chimera
called Hope. Critiquing the market oriented reforms which is leading
to a cyclical readjustment of injustice, she said the poor are subsidising
the debts of development.
She further added that we live in a world of unacceptable morality;
in a system of conspicuous consumption, in a gross consumption of culture
of violence which is abetted by manipulation of minds and data, institutions
and citizens, corporate owned media and self-serving governments.
The history of the twentieth century, she said, saw
some of the largest wars of resources and take overs where the exploitation
of natural resources and privatisation of the commons and public goods
has lead to the marginalisation of millions. Citing Kudankulam as an
example, she said the nexus of capitalism, stateism and nuclearism
does not augur well for the country.
Her fervent plea are the dystopias of the present not enough to prevent
the destruction of the future? Set the context for the visual testimony
of Marcelina, Uganda who spoke of extreme deprivation and poverty
"There was no food at all wherever you looked for it. There was nothing.
I went to look for snails in the river
I kept on asking myself can we eat these snails? Will we die if we
eat them. I picked them. I cleaned and washed them.I lit the fire and
cooked them.I decided to taste them first myself thinking that if I
die atleast my children will live.For two hours nothing happened. Then
I gave them to my youngest child after nothing happened to him as well
I served those snails to my other children. I decided to stay
by the river since I did not know where else to go.
Here atleast we could get snails for us to survive.
The river was filthy. Walking in it for snails I contracted guinea
worms. I was infested with them from my feet right upto my private part"
Cheri Honkala, from the Kensington Welfare Rights Union for the Homeless
spoke of the leading role the Union has played in the organizing of
the poor and the homeless people's movement in the US "In our country
we have more prisons than anywhere in the world and these prisons are
filled with the poor. People imprisoned for economic crimes, for trying
Daily we move families into abandoned government owned properties,
teach families how to reclaim food, hold sit-ins in hospitals demanding
I have been arrested over seventy times now trying to secure food
and housing for homeless and children.
As long as we love our children, we will use our voice and we will
not be silenced. Those of us who have slept outside in the rain, who
have tasted our tears in the dirt, and who have buried our sisters,
brother and children, together, we will rise and we will not be stopped".
Her rallying cry " those of you who think that there is no hunger
in America - think again. Those of you who think that we don't cry
rivers of tears when we sleep on the pavement with our children -
think again. Those of you who don't believe that the poor are going
to organise and turn our country upside down - think again" reverberated
in the audience.
Indicting the nuclear power states of anhilation and destruction
of human kind through their lopsided policies of development, Uday Kumar
from the anti-nuclear movement against the nuclear power plant in Koodankulam
spoke of Nuclearism as scientific fascism. Questioning the nuclear model
of development and the moral basis that these power plants that were
being set up in a country like ours which is steeped in poverty and
misery, he said "nuclearism lies, it cheats, it distorts and dominates.
Nuclearism is a political ideology that cannot stomach any transparency,
accountability or popular participation. It snaps dissent, denounces
opponents and creates a climate of fear and retribution"
The third session Wars against Civilisations had women testifying
to the new ways in which the militarized nation state system excludes
and exterminates the other thereby legitimising dehumanizing social
hierarchies. Women who have been victims of institutionalized systems
of violence like colonization, apartheid and the caste system testified
to this war against the other.
Setting the context was the visual testimony of Vicky Corpuz, Philippines
as the expert witness. Speaking of the United States who thought it
their manifest destiny
to colonise the Philippines and bring civilization to the little brown
brothers in the Pacific she asks " what gave these brutal colonizers
the right to define the colonized as backward and themselves as civilized?
What gave them the right ot destroy vibrant civilizations in Asia,
the Pacific, Africa, the Arab world and Latin America? How can the world
regard them as civilized when they are the ones who inflicted the worst
forms of barbarism on the majority of peace loving people in the world?.
Colonialism, neo-colonialism and now globalization are underpinned by
racism and racial discrimination. The fundamental assumption of colonizers
is that their ways are inherently superior to those they colonise. To
assert their superiority they denigrate, demonise, and destroy the diversity
of cosmologies, religions, cultures, and economic political systems
of the colonized."
Reinforcing Vicky's witness testimony were the visual testimonies
of Yvette Abrahams from Africa and Mililani Trask from Hawaii –both
speaking of the ways in which their ancestors, their people and lands
were enslaved and colonized by the whites.
Yvette Abrahams speaks of slavery as a system of institutionalized
rape, of how they have experienced slavery not only as a system of racism
but also as a system of sexist oppression where rape is normalized
"It was a rite of passage for the son of the slave master
to rape the slave girl. That is how the whites ruled by raping the slave
woman. Rape, institutionalised rape itself is both an economic and ideological
practice of white man's supremacy. The systematic rape of slave women
produce lighter and lighter skinned children whom the slave master had
great economic value as prostitutes.
Now rape is an act of physical violence, it is also an act of
complete violation of the mind when people make you a thing. They destroy
that which is human in you, they destroy the spirit of the creator in
We have been silenced from without and silenced from within
and it has taken us over a century to begin to speak."
Speaking of how racism and religious intolerance became the new law
of Hawaii to colonise its people, Mililani says "The coming of the
white colonisers heralded a new era for Hawaii. At home we have a song:
the missionaries came with bible in a hand and with the other they stole
our land. The sacred laws of the whites were not only alien laws but
also aspiritual. The foreign laws related to the land, they brought
to us a new concept - private property and with these laws our
people had no longer the free use of the land and the sea provided
to us by the creator. The white law pronounced that our collective rights
had somehow been forfeit and the land and its great bounty could now
be brought and sold as commercial products.
Western law commercialised the bounty of gods creation, laws that
legitimised the theft of our lands and resources, laws that criminalised
our indigenousness because whites feared that our native people would
plot against them in a language that they could not speak or understand".
Continuing this violent history into present times was Nato said Sue Finch and Liz Khan from the No To Nato, Women in Black movement, UK who while tracing
the beginnings of Nato to the cold war era spoke of why there
is a movement against it today in different parts of the world
"We say No To Nato because it's members account
for seventy five percent of world's military expenditure, each member
state committing to spend atleast two percent of their budget on so
And it's troops have killed thousands probably
hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan and Libya, deployed Rapid
Development Forces which can reach anywhere in the world and they kill
everyday in Afghanistan. While new colonial aggressions are prepared,
massive weapons of civilian as well as new types of weapons are deployed, Nato takes distance from responsibility, a distance from consequences
and a distance above all from humanity of those who are killed. After
the killings in Afghanistan, bombing in Libya, training troops in Iraq Nato military actions appear only to replace the old forms
of brutality with new ones".
And Liz Khan spoke of how Nato affects women; of how it is responsible
for wars and has caused millions of deaths, millions of refugees and
colossal destruction. She says "the bases affect the lives of women
not only through sexual violence and exploitation but also through
the dangers of radiation and toxic pollution. Military budgets drain
funding away from education health housing and development. And the
corresponding cuts in services affect women and children even more than
man. The organization has developed from so called defensive to offensive
organisation dragging the world to one war after the next".
Session four looked at the Wars against Women that is rooted in all
cultures and societies that have in different ways marginalized and
silenced the women. Women who spoke in this session not only testified
to the violence of reconstructing traditions and brutalised patriarchies
but also shared how they had in their own ways challenged and defied
Cristina, a young girl who had yearned for love and had hoped to find
it in her marriage was very soon, infact on the day of her marriage
itself was deeply disillusioned. Her testimony through sketching the
vivid details of her marriage portrayed the changing face of dowry in
our times; of how being an earning woman does not change the power
dynamics in a relationship nor guarantee a marriage free from violence
but infact becomes a noose around women as they continue to be demoralized
and devalued, their self confidence undermined. Hers was a testimony
of how violence is deeply ingrained and embedded in our
cultures, of marriages being no less brutal than war detention and torture
She says "I saved for my wedding but after four months I got around
two lakhs but I needed to continue for another 10 mths but that money
was also not in my hand because he took all the money. He didn't even
show me, just took signature in my cheque book and took two lakhs rupees.
Whatever I earned, next day, today is the first of every month, the
night he will be so sweet, on 31st night he would
be sweet and I would think oh! my husband has changed. But no, he wanted
money. He will take the entire money and those period I was earning
around thirteen thousand. The entire thirteen thousand I used to give
him and the next moment, he will take the money and start shouting,
abusing and yelling at me.
He used to ask me go get money from my boss like ten thousand, lakhs,forcing
me to ask money from my colleagues ten thousand,twenty thousand
because he wanted to start a business.
He used to always say you are a prostitute, you are a bitch and always
he used to beat me.
I left home in the month of August 13, 2014. That night on 12 August,
2014 he made me sit whole night in the nude without a single cloth on
me and I was asking him, begging him to please give me a blanket.
When I came out I realised who I was. I got self confidence. I
am almost out of the house one and a half years years and you all can
see me how happy I am. I don't think every woman should get
married in the world and that only marriage is the best thing.
I can't tell that without marriage a girl can lead her life until
she dies and she has got all the power. Girls are the strongest in the
Cristina entreated the girls in the Court "please have self
confidence and trust yourself before talking any decision especially
Nisha Gulur who identifies herself as a transsexual person spoke of
the violence she faced from her family, her parents when she wanted
to share the truth of her sexual identity and of how the institutions
of caste, religion rejects and subjects them to humiliation and society
deprives them of all opportunities. She said "wherever we seek opportunities
we are drowned by a wave of pity. Nobody allows us to live in dignity.
When we say we are women, we are not just ordinary
women but symbolise love, and humaneness. Because I expressed this natural
desire of mine to be a woman my human rights have been violated. Who
is responsible for these violations? Who is responsible for this violence?
Only when every family gives us the opportunity to express our identity,
only when our parents accept us, only when our neighbours accept us,
when our friends accept us, only when we get opportunities to work only
then can I say that we can live in dignity.''
And then we had Maya Krishna Rao offering a breathtaking
solo performance 'Walk' testifying to
rape as a war against women. Through her performance, she traced the
genesis of this particular violence to the way we bring up our daughters
and sons urging us to recognise the need in our daughters to be free;
to walk without fear.
Her performance which she has performed all over
the country was inspired by the courageous life of Nirbhaya nee Jyothi
who was brutally gang raped in 2012. And this particular performance
she said was inspired by the testifiers at the World Court which
is attempting to make the wars and violence against women a global political
Session five was the Gathering of Spirit of significant movements
for peace and justice that were re-finding new transformative visions
for our violent times. The testimonies spanned the global and the local;
dance, storytelling and poetry suffusing the session.
The session was marked by voices of individual courage and resistance
transformimg their struggles against patriarchy and militarized nation
states into celebrations of hope.
Beginning with a dance ensemble Spirit of Women by the Mount Carmel college
students, it sought to gather together the spirit of women who had individually
and collectively resisted violence.
Following this was Mary Kelly from Ireland who led this session with
her powerful visual testimony. She was facing a retrial at that time
of giving her testimony for disarming a US Navy warplane refueling in
Shannon International Airport, in Co Clare, on the west coast of Ireland.
That plane was parked illegally in a civilian airport in a neutral country
on its way to Iraq bringing armaments to the most blatant war of aggression
and savagery in decades. She says " I took that action fully aware
of the consequences, in order to force the Irish Government's illegal
complicity with the genocide of the Iraqi people into the public consciousness"
My experience has taught me that one of the biggest weapons of Imperialism
facing us in Ireland is its ability to anaesthetise the public's conscience
and there is no doubt that the last ten years of Ireland's economic
boom - popularly known as the Celtic Tiger - has done just that. The
Celtic Tiger was the price of the conscience of Ireland
Our job as activists is to re-ignite the public conscience that has
been dulled. Our job is to safeguard and preserve what is best in humanity,
what was aspired to in all the old texts, and in the modern attempts
like the UN charter. Our job is to safeguard International Law.
In our quest for justice, we must keep alive our hope and courage,
speak out, support each other and never give up!"
Faika Haroun who is part of the Women in Black, South Africa continues
and offers her story of collective resistance. Speaking of her personal
experience and from the deeply feminist philosophy and praxis of transforming
the personal into the political she shared as to why she ended her marriage.
She says "I knew the cycle of violence never stops and at that point
I decided to end the marriage. I ended the marriage for the simple reason
that I wasn't going to teach my daughter that it is ok to be in relationship
like this nor was I going to teach my son that it is ok to do this for
a woman because violence is cyclic and I had to end the violence but
during the phase of ending the violence and joining women in black,
I met other people as well from women's organisation who were
working with women. And the one thing that they all work with
is not the victim. They say this has happened to you; you cannot change
what has happened to you but what are you going to do now.
The women's movement created hope for me in a time of hopelessness
and we can change the paradigm from hopeless to hope. At the same time
we teach the women that you can change the world because the hand that
rocks the cradle rules the world and you as mothers you are raising
sons so you have to raise your sons in a way that they do not commit
atrocities they respect women and they become good human beings.
So you have the power and we work with giving that power back".
From India was Lyn Clarke and the story of her grandmother's
recipes; stories of building a community of brave women who have rejected
the violence, the beating and battering in their lives and found enough
courage to say " no more."
Heela of Afghanistan spoke of the thousands of women
subjected to sexual violence in Afghanistan and the religious sanction
to kill women who were victims of such violence; of raped women being
stoned to death as sex out of marriage was against the sharia law.
Sharing her personal story she spoke of how she was kidnapped by eight
armed men because she was slower than her friends when running away
and was repeatedly raped for two days. And when she came back home,
her fate was worse than death because she had brought shame and dishonor
upon her family. There will be social ostracism and societal pressure
to kill her. Her plea in the Court was: Teach your daughters that they
can't let society crush them and they can't let society use Islam
as a tool to dehumanize them.
Heela's plea was a plea for an alternative space of justice for
women who are condemned by traditional laws and find no recourse in
the existing modern system of jurisprudence.
Offering her a ray of hope was Maria from the Basque country who spoke
of the International Court of Women on the Right to Life, Free from
Violence that they had held in Bilbao, Spain. She said the testimonies
reflected the struggle of women and at the same time it was an experience
of alternative justice, a beautiful exercise to change the system of
patriarchal justice and a space for women solidarity.
Rendering her resistance in poetry was Shahin Marjan from Iran who
spoke of censorship being a hidden war in Iran; of how she was exiled
for nine years because she spoke out. In her poem, she said the shadow
symbolized both her roots and her past.
And then there was Shelly Barry from South Africa gifting us the inheritance
from her people
I come from people
who know love
who gather around fire and drum
under the curve of African sky
My people know music
these are people whose voices
have been flung as gifts
to stars and sun
I come from people
who know how to cradle each other;
who grow flowers,
gather to share food from three legged pots
people who have sung, danced, toyi-toyied
but let this be heard
I come from people
who can proudly claim
in scattered documents, photographs
to a history
of knowing what it feels like
to come through generations
of understanding love
And finally there was the collective voice of
"What we've heard today are powerful and harrowing testimonies
of personal and genocidal horrors of the undeclared as well as declared
wars against women and diversity.
While pointing at non-state terrorists and declaring an unending war
on terrorism, governments keep arming themselves with propaganda and
weapons - from guns to missiles to drones to phosphorous, gas and
chemical weapons... on land, in the air, the waters and even space...
with thousands of nuclear weapons at the apex of the pyramid of patriarchal
violence, threatening nuclear holocaust and mass starvation through
famine and nuclear winter that would result from nuclear weapons being
detonated in conflict.
From women's perspective, all these weapons, and those who wield them,
From women's perspective, all rape is a crime, and whether in the
home, in conflict or mass rape 'camps', these crimes are against humanity
and are tools of genocide.
From women's perspective, when we see hundreds of thousands of refugees
desperately fleeing out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other
conflict-torn countries we understand this too as genocide.
And all of us have to take responsibility for stopping these genocides
and crimes against humanity.
The Jury would have been in despair listening to so many heart-breaking
testimonies, but running through everything we've heard is the brave,
brilliant, indomitable spirit of women: women resisting the oppressors,
violence, wars, environmental destruction and attacks on our lives,
sexual identities and rights.
We've heard from women who have survived and who have connected with
others to build movements against the violence and conflicts inflicted
on them. We've heard women who have paid a high price as they
have refused to be silenced, refused to be erased. Their courage
and resistance contributes to our empowerment as women, and this power
of women's resistance and transformation gives us great hope.
The World Courts of Women have helped to restore the voices of women
who were silenced, or who have had their voices stolen by violence,
poverty, oppression and denial of their human rights.
What has given us hope here today are the stories of sisterhood,
solidarity, the growing power of global networks of people working nonviolently
for fundamental justice and change, with women taking more and more
leadership and responsibility.
Just as individual, global and structural violence, conflict and genocide
were woven through the testimonies we heard, so are responsibility and
This Jury demands that we go to the roots. And that we all hold accountable
those who own, control, run, enable, govern, manage, implement and benefit
from all forms of violence.
The best way to bring justice to those who have testified today about
so much loss is for us together to build a powerful global women's movement
to transform this world into one that is more just, peaceful, sustainable
We must be brave. And unafraid - for it is right and natural to
be afraid and angry as we experience all these forms of erasure, marginalisation
and violence. But we must be brave, because the future depends
on what we do now.
As one testimony said: "If not us then who? If not now then when?"
Another world is coming... we can hear her breathing."
For, as Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian poet speaking
up for her people says
we teach life
And, we offer her poem as a tribute to women all over the world who
I wrote this poem when the bombs were dropping on Gaza and I was the
media spokesperson for the coalition and I was doing much of the organising
and we had stayed up till six in the morning perfecting every sound
bite practising my ps all night and the next morning one of the journalists
Don't you think all will be fine if you stopped
teaching your children to hate ?
I did not insult the person I was very polite
but I wrote this poem
as a response to the questions that we Palestinians
today my body was a tv-ied massacre
that had to fit into sound bytes and word limits
filled enough with statistics to counter the measured response
then I perfected English
when I learned my UN resolutions
but he still asked me
Miss Ziyadah don't you think everything will be resolved
if you would stop teaching so much hatred to your children
I look inside of me for strength to be patient
but patience is not at the tip of my tongue
as bombs drop over Gaza
patience has just escaped me
we teach life
Rafeef remembered to smile
we teach life
we Palestinians teach life
after they have occupied the last sky
after they have built their settlements
their apartheid walls
after the last skies
we teach life
but today my body was a tv-ied massacre
made to fit into sound bytes and word limits
and just give us a story
a human story
you see this is not political
we just want to tell people about you and your people
so just give us a human story
don't mention the word apartheid and occupation
this is not political
you have to help me as a journalist to help you to tell your story
which is not a political story
today my body was a tvied massacre
how about a story you give us of a woman in Gaza who needs medication
how about you
do you have enough bones broken limbs that cover the sun
hand me over your dead
and give me the list of their names
in one thousand two hundred words limit
today my body was a tv-ied massacre
made to fit into sound bytes and word limits
and move those who are desensitised
to terrorist blood
but they told sorry
they told sorry for over cattle in Gaza
so I give them UN resolutions and statistics
we condemn we deplore we reject and
these are not two equal sides
occupier and occupied
a hundred dead two hundred dead
and a thousand dead
and between that war crime and massacre
I vent out words and smile
smile not terrorist
and I recount I recount
a hundred dead two hundred dead
a thousand dead
is there anyone out there
will anyone listen
I wish I could wait over their bodies
I wish I could just run barefoot in every refugee camp
and hold every child
cover their ears so that they would'nt have to hear
the sound of bombing for the rest of their lives
the way I do
today my body was a tv-ied massacre
let me just tell you there is nothing
your UN resolutions have ever done about this
and no sound byte
no sound byte I come up with
no matter how good my English gets
no sound byte no sound byte no sound byte no sound byte
will bring them back to life
no sound byte will fix this
we teach life
we Palestinians teach life
wake up every morning
to teach the rest of the world
And in our little way,
the Courts of Women