Second International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns

Vierhouten, the Netherlands 1988

The International Project

This meeting took place: Saturday afternoon 13.30 - 17.00 h.

There were 14 persons present.

Purpose of the meeting: to come up with a concrete idea of an international project.

After an introductory round we decided on an agenda for the meeting:

  1. Clarify motivation for an international project.
  2. Search for an international project.
  3. Consequences involved.

While starting on 1, we rapidly got lost in hearing stories about good projects. It took some time to go back to the agenda and discipline ourselves to the task agreed.

  1. The motivation for the project was linked with the criteria a project should comply with. The motivating factors mentioned were:
    1. To unite us as a group around a specific project.
    2. This common project can be used to campaign with, in order to get more attention on War Tax Refusal. To show the public money can be used in a positive way.
    3. A concrete idea for the press release.
  2. We went on to list the criteria a project should comply with:
    1. Peace / non-violent resistance / antimilitarism / refusing war preparations.
    2. Third world / justice / areas that suffered from war, imperialism, colonialism.
    3. Small scale / grassroots / personal involvement / ecological.
    4. Conflict resolution / training.
    5. International appeal / education of the public / link with WTR / solidarity with WTR.
  3. After the grouping of the criteria was decided, we went on in small groups to come up with concrete projects which complied with the above-mentioned criteria. In plenary we decided to put seven projects forward.

Possible projects:

1. Nicaragua Social Defence Project

In the summer of 1988 some theoreticians and trainers in social defence like Jean Marie Muller (France), Thjeodor Ebert (FRG), Julio Quan (Guatemala), Pat Patfoort (Belgium) and someone from the USA met in Managua on the invitation of the Nicaraguan government in order to study the feasibility of non-violent social defence for Nicaragua. The project has not yet started, but is under study. It will take some time to talk the project over with lots of groups throughout Nicaragua. If the project is accepted, our WTR movement should accept and support it as an alternative, non-military and popular defence.

2. SERPAJ student

Proposal to fund a student from SERPAJ (Servicio Paz y Justicia) in Latin America to study for a year in Western Europe. SERPAJ is a network of non-violent groups in 13 (?) Latin American countries with a support network in Europe coordinated by WRI, IFOR and Pax Christi.

3. INNU Project

Proposal to support the non-violent struggle of the Innu people in the Quebec Labrador Peninsula in Canada against NATO. NATO has taken their lands for testing military aircrafts. Innu families (and a priest) have set up a peace camp on a runway.

4. GAM Project

The GAM (from Guatemala) is a group of mainly women who started searching for disappeared husbands, sons and relatives in Guatemala. Just like the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires they want justice to be done, which means: To know whether their relatives are still alive, to visit them in prison and get a fair treatment and trial; and to arrest the murderers of the death squadrons and bring them to trial.

The GAM is a human rights action group which itself is subject to harassment, persecution and murder by government officials or the military. GAM is a non-violent group and gets some physical protection from the Peace Brigades International.

5. Pacific Representation to Europe

The proposal is to fund a tour by several representatives from groups in the Pacific resisting imperialistic and militaristic occupation. E.g.: Women in Belau resisting the US attempts to overthrow their antinuclear constitution; to educate people on what their countries' involvement is. This project depends on the interest of groups like “Women working for an Independent and Nuclear Free Pacific” who have already organised two such tours.

6. Palestine project

Support for non-violent resistance. The centre for non-violence in Jerusalem has launched a slogan among the population in Gaza: “An army can defeat another army, but it cannot defeat a people united even if unarmed”. This project of support to the Palestinian non-violent struggle has a four-fold programme:

  1. Feeding: to ensure that those families that have been on strike and hence be without income, may be enabled to buy sufficient food.
  2. Health: to ensure medical assistance for all victims of Israeli repression.
  3. Physical rehabilitation: help with all specialised health needs at home, to all those suffering from torture or heavy injuries.
  4. Education: economic support to private schools which because of the uprisings have lost financial contributions from pupils' families since children cannot go to school.

Costs:

Total costs L.100.000.000 or more.

7. Indians in Amazonia

1992: Europe repays the Indians for 500 years of conquest.

Gandhi Peace Prize

One proposal is sent somewhat apart and this needs a separate more detailed explanation. It is the idea from the Italians for a ‘Gandhi Prize’:

Let us create a Gandhi peace prize to be awarded to a group or person using non-violent methods. The prize could be awarded biannually at the international conference so that at the same time we get greater media attention and can emphasize that the money comes from conscientious objectors to military expenditures from all over the world.

The consequences of the international project are:

  1. How to decide on which project to choose.
  2. Each War Tax Refusal group has to decide if they will go along with the idea.
  3. Each WTR group than will have to prioritise the listed projects. Groups can also suggest something else.
  4. A WTR office somewhere will have to collect these ideas and organize them.
  5. A group of people will have to decide which project becomes the focal point, basing their decision on the groups' priorities.

Proposal to deal with the consequences:

  1. Every WTR group lists the projects in order of priority and sends them to a central point.
  2. A group of five people is selected by this meeting to choose the project when the lists have come back.
  3. A WTR office agrees to handle the coordination and implementation of this international project. The BWD volunteered to take this job.