Commission 4 of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), an anti-imperialist alliance of organizations engaged in mass struggles, is concerned with wars of aggression and counter-revolution, nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, called for a global ceasefire in a statement issued on March 23, 2020 (https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sgsm20018.doc.htm). He wrote, “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” He repeated this call on April 3.
On March 25, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for governments to reduce the number of people in detention and release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained for expressing critical or dissenting views.
These appeals were made especially because of the circumstances of COVID-19. We agree with these calls in principle. However, there has been little cooperation. Imperialist and reactionary states who have released some prisoners were merely making a token gesture as political window dressing. The few prisoners who were released have been those convicted of serious crimes. Worse, we have learned of conflict situations where COVID-19 is being deployed as a weapon wherein authorities in power have sent infected persons to certain sites.
The poorest people in the poorest lands are at most risk to both the virus and aggression. We wish to defend and protect the people currently struggling for their survival, basic rights, and basic services including health care, land and sovereignty. They fight in self-defense against deprivation and hostile and reactionary governments. Ultimately, we aspire to realize demilitarization and a halt to aggression and occupation, state terror and human rights violations. With this objective in mind, we cannot advise the people, armed or not, to give up their life and death struggles.
We act according to the principles of just peace, that is, peace through negotiations for a resolution to the issues that cause peoples’ revolutions and resistance. Only if and when social justice—land, political and social reforms—are seriously addressed and settled should the people cease their struggles. We also oppose state repression against people’s just struggles and state policies that result in mass deprivation and suffering.
Consider the views of V. I. Lenin, as interpreted and explained by S. Gnosh in 1960: (https://www.marxists.org/archive/shibdas-ghosh/1959/07/x01.htm, undated) “It would be possible to effectively preserve lasting peace if the significance of the principal characteristic features of the present-day changed international situation is properly understood and the task of conducting peace movement is grounded solidly in intensifying the national liberation movements in colonies and semi-colonies and the struggles for socialism in capitalist countries.”
If the UN is going to call for release of political prisoners and cessation of armed conflict, we challenge the UN to address mainly the states responsible to uphold, promote and protect the rights of the people while secondarily reaching out to resistance movements.
Therefore, we issue the following set of calls. We make these recommendations in the light of the global pandemic and the sound emergency measures to (1) minimize travel and (2) adjust state priorities to address health, food and housing first, ahead of non-productive sectors such as the military. It is an opportune moment to act in the interest of the welfare of all the peoples of the world.
Cancel NATO missions, close NATO bases and send all NATO troops home
Send all foreign troops to their home countries, including US troops
Cancel all military exercises
End all general economic sanctions
Free all political prisoners
Cancel all arms trade and call for arms and military contract-related production to be converted to the production of human necessities related to health care, food and housing
Initiate a UN campaign to get states to reduce military spending and reprioritize their state responsibilities according to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, Indigenous peoples’ rights, and all universal standards set by the UN and other credible international bodies concerned with the rights and welfare of all
Restrain states with penalties for continuing occupations, aggressions, economic sanctions and interference including regime change and elections rigging. ###
ILPS Commission 4
15 May 2020