Friday, 1 November 2002

Oppose Iraq war like Gandhi

Indian novelist Arundhati Roy urged anti-war campaigners on Wednesday to use civil disobedience to oppose military action against Iraq, just as Mahatma Gandhi used it to fight for India's independence from British rule.

Roy, whose 1997 novel "The God of Small Things" won the Booker Prize in Britain and has sold six million copies in 40 languages, has become a prominent activist for several human rights and environmental causes.

Speaking about actively opposing globalisation, Roy told a news conference in Rome "The struggle has hit a dead-end. We need to re-imagine non-violent resistance. It's not simply about demonstrations on the streets and wearing masks."

"The answer lies in civil disobedience," she said, detailing some of the boycotts and non-violent protests Gandhi used to weaken Britain's grip on the Indian subcontinent, which gained independence in 1947.

Asked whether she would advocate civil disobedience against a possible US attack on Iraq, Roy said: "Absolutely, of course. That is where it is most urgently needed."

"Those activists who in the past have gone into Palestine, or gone into Iraq and said 'Bomb us, we're here, we're white people and we're here' – those are fantastic people," she told Reuters later.

"Maybe not everybody is prepared to do that. But there must be ways in which you can find out who is making the guns, who is signing the deals, and target them – not violently, but make them know that they are doing this at a price, make their jobs difficult."

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