NGO-to-NGO persuasion will help, say groups

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 25 Mar 2003

KUALA LUMPUR: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have described Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for them to urge their foreign counterparts to influence their governments, which are supporting the war against Iraq, as a good way to effect a change.  

Dr SHamsul: A lot of ignorance, especially among the people in the US.

Malaysians for Peace head for the Humanitarian Fund for Iraq Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman said there was a lot of ignorance, especially among the people in the US, on how widespread global dissent was.  

“They are not fully aware of the issues concerning conflicts in Palestine, Kosovo and Iraq. Many believe what their governments are doing is right while there are also many who don’t care,” he said. 

He said NGOs in Malaysia should tell their counterparts in countries supporting the war to provide information on the anti-war stand of the majority of the world’s population. 

“This is the only way that a small country like Malaysia can tell the world that we are strongly opposed to the war,” he added. 

During the tabling of a motion in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday to deplore the military strikes on Iraq, the Prime Minister said local NGOs should communicate with their counterparts in the US and Britain to influence their respective governments to stop the war on Iraq. 

“If the governments which bypass the UN are unseated by their own people, then probably the new ones may re-embrace the UN,” Dr Mahathir said. 

Agreeing with the Prime Minister, Suaram co-ordinator Eric Paulsen said there was also merit in organisations taking action, such as holding peaceful demonstrations within the country. 

“We can certainly talk to NGOs which support the war. However, there are many NGOs which are against the war, so they do not need any prompting,” he added. 

Paulsen said that peaceful demonstrations against the war, such as those which have been held throughout the world, should be allowed and even supported by the governments as it was the clearest expression of the people’s strong opposition to the war.  

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