Peoples Plan for the 21st century
This process aims at getting people to take matters into their own hands
instead of letting an invisible world-system utilize and destroy them.
The meetings of PP21 in Japan, in Thailand
and most recently in Nepal have gathered representatives of NGOs and grassroot movements
mostly from Asia, but a few people came from Africa, Latin America,
Europe and the USA as well.
Before the main event in Kathmandu several pre-meetings took place in
different places in and around India, looking at different issues: small-scale
fishermen, peasant women, health, child labour, refugees, environmental
The pre-meeting that I attended was held in Pakistan, from March 3-6,
with the title "Towards Tolerance and Peace". The organizer NGO, the
PILER, was concerned with child labour.
They invited lecturers who were doctors and professors, highly educated people
(I dont know how they were related to grassroots movements in Pakistan). It was
a real training experience (at least for me). The question of tolerance and peace
means for them the conflict between India and Pakistan. I was told that
this event should have meant a chance for dialogue between the two
countries, but the authorities of Pakistan had at first refused to give visas to the
Indian participantst. So there was nobody from India.
These are some of the things I learned:
Pakistan is supposed to be an Islamic state, which is often taken to mean violent, fundamental and
discriminating against women. None of these negative facts come from Islam itself,
which is basically a tolerant and even nonviolent religion. But being
taken into politics and power issues, it changes and becomes ideology. (We
Europeans can think of Christianity, which is also nonviolent, yet many
violent and brutal historical actions have been carried out in the name of
They talked of democracy as something that is lacking in Pakistan, and that
in that respect they should take Europe as an example. I think their picture of
Europe is far too idealised - although Caitriona Ruane, a participant from
Ireland told us how the British had always oppressed Ireland in the name
of democracy, with the help of so-called law and order, and that this was
just one example of what democracy meant in Europe.
I met Wesley Mabuza from Kairos South Africa. I gave him our leaflet and
the documentation of the hearing in Brussels 1994 along with some Hungarian
chocolate. Caitriona, Reiko from Japan, Wesley and I made friends and kept
together for the rest of the events.
On 7th we flew together to Kathmandu, early morning. The PILER people, who
were to come as well, told us to be there three hours before departure. We got up
at 3 a.m. There was a lot of waiting around and they turned up only half an hour before
departure. While we waited, we made up several plans as how to pay them
back for this kind joke.
We began our time in Nepal by sleeping. Next day, on 8th March, Women's
Day, the whole group gathered and we listened to solidarity messages from
different representatives. I also spoke on behalf of Kairos Europe and Bocs
Foundation. One of the South Africans gave a very aggressive message,
mentioning also the IMF and World Bank as "the two ugly sisters" as they
put it in his country. If I may ask: why two sisters? They could have been
something like "the two wicked brothers" as well. After all, they both were
set up by men.
The following speech, however,at the end of the morning, was the best of the
conference for me. The speaker, Kamla, is one of the few best-known women
in India. She approached the world's problems from women's point of view.
She spoke out against patriarchism, religious rigidness and
bigotrz. She claimed that feminine values, women's invisible work, the freedom
to express gentle feelings had to be acknowledged and that would release
and enrich both genders. She talked about love as the opposite of
violence and as the leading value of the 21st century - if we want to
survive. Her speech was very inclusive, as she addressed also "our men
friends" again and again. After this we went off enthusiastically to a Women's
Day procession through Kathmandu, and we met some local demonstrations as
well. Although I had heard of Asian women's movements before, this was the
first time that I could see the basic nature of the problems
they need to fight with, and how powerful these are.
Over the next days we heard some more presentations from different countries
and prepared a declaration about the different fields of work these NGOs
and movements had been working on. (This declaration tried to sum up the
goals and spirituality of the whole PP21. It is still under revision, and
will be circulated.) Through this being together the problems I had known
about before became real and close here. Just one example showing how our
European responsibility fails: someone from Fiji told us how
the French nuclear tests affect the Pacific region. He mentioned the
"jelly-babies" born with a strange illness: you cannot feel their bones when
you touch them.
Another important opportunity for sharing came with the cultural evenings. For the
last one a group (Alternative Living Theatre) came from India. They played
a drama, without costumes and words, using only music, movements and mime,
on North Indian relations. In the last scene a sheet was put up with the
sign "G7". Above the sheet brown, hungry, thin hands were moving, reaching,
apparently begging for something, but a white hand, not far from them,
seemed to refuse. Then it took a gun, gave it to the brown hands, which
grabbed it happily and triumphantly, and the white hand wiped itself in a
white rag covered with blood spots. Then, as India realised that what she
got was war and hunger, she rebelled and gained her independence. This
group expressed its hope that India (or the South in general) can get rid of
Northern influence and find its own alternatives and ways.
I am very thankful to Kairos for sending me to these events and I was glad
to see other Kairos people from USA, Sweden and South Africa, sometimes
even Albert Gyan as well. (We lived in the same hotel, but both of us had
so much to do and take in that we hardly met.) It is not only the formal
knowledge that enriched me but also the feeling of Asian culture and
mentality. And I hope through this experience I can contribute better to
Kairos' work and in Hungary too.