FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cole Harrison, Boston, 617-466-9274, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elsa Rassbach, Bonn, 011-40-170-738-1450, email@example.com, skype: elsarassbach
Protest Bonn II Afghanistan Conference
They Talk of Peace But Wage War
On December 5th more than 1000 delegates from 90 countries, including 65 foreign ministers, are expected in Bonn, Germany for the “Bonn II” or Petersberg II Conference to plan the future of Afghanistan after troop withdrawal in 2014. Yet parallel to Bonn II, the US is negotiating a US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement that will allow US troops, special forces units, and air power to remain in Afghanistan until 2024 and joint military bases beyond 2024 — even though all of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries are opposed to a long-term US military presence in the region. NATO members such as Germany have announced that they will also keep troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
United for Peace and Justice’s Afghanistan Working Group salutes the many German citizens — peace activists, trade unionists, parliamentary representatives, members of religious organizations, students, retirees, and many more — who will gather in Bonn this weekend to protest Bonn II under the banner: “They talk of peace but wage war.” They rightly criticize Bonn II as a “farce” and a public relations ploy designed to placate international outrage at the continuing war and occupation in Afghanistan.
Bonn II will take place exactly ten years after the first Bonn Conference was held on December 5, 2001, convened by the United Nations after the fall of the Taliban regime. The first Bonn Conference named Hamid Karzai as President of Afghanistan, empowered the warlords in the Afghan Parliament, and led to the UN mandate for ISAF- NATO troops in Afghanistan. It did not lead to peace.
Bonn II will fail to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region, because peace cannot be attained as long as foreign troops remain there. Indeed, Pakistan recently withdrew its participation from the Bonn conference following the recent NATO cross-border attack into Pakistan that killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers. While talking of peace, the US and NATO continue drone attacks and targeted assassinations. They continue the killings of civilians, including many children. Under the plan for a partial withdrawal of US and NATO troops, many will in fact stay in Afghanistan, reclassified as “trainers” of Afghan soldiers, police, and mercenaries. This attempted “Afghanization” of the war under US and NATO command is doomed to failure, just as the US “Vietnamization” in the 1970s failed: the Afghan people and the people of the region seek self-determination.
We, the 99% on both sides of the Atlantic, also suffer from this seemingly endless war and occupation. 63% of the US people and more than 70% in Germany oppose the war in Afghanistan. In a time of economic hardship, the military costs of NATO’s Afghanistan intervention have already passed $1 trillion, with the US spending $525 billion, the EU $400 billion, and other ISAF partners $100 billion. Meanwhile, 14 million are unemployed in the US, yet the government has no adequate jobs plan; instead, teachers are laid off, schools and libraries are closed, our infrastructure is crumbling, and nothing is done about looming environmental disaster,
The U.S. Senate bowed to popular sentiment and called for accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on November 30, passing the Merkely amendment to the 2012 Defense Authorization bill which requires the President to present a new withdrawal plan to Congress within 90 days.
Here in the U.S., UFPJ will join with the Network for a NATO-Free World: Global Peace and Justice in sponsoring a counter-summit conference in Chicago, May 18-19, 2012, when both NATO and the G8 will be meeting in Chicago. The counter-summit will call for complete withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan among other demands: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/?p=112
The Bonn demonstrations are called by more than 170 German organizations and numerous individuals: http://www.afghanistanprotest.de/aufruf/liste-der-unterzeichnungen.html. They will be joined by Malalai Joya of Afghanistan, author Tariq Ali and MP Jeremy Corbyn of the UK, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire of Ireland, and Alyn Ware of New Zealand. Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, a founding member of UFPJ, will also address the Bonn rally.
We stand in solidarity with those protesting in Bonn this weekend and join with them to demand an immediate ceasefire, an end to the war in Afghanistan, withdrawal of all US-NATO troops and military facilities, and devotion of significant resources to help rebuild Afghanistan for the benefit of the Afghan people.
- UFPJ Afghanistan Working Group, December 2, 2011