Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Letter of Solidarity from Okinawa

Dear Members of the International Women's Network Against Militarism:

The Citizens' Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa (Okinawa BD) would like to congratulate the 7th International Meeting of the International Women's Network Against Militarism in Guam. We wish your meeting success and hope for future collaboration with your network.

The Okinawa BD is a grassroots organization, established in July 2009 in Okinawa, Japan in anticipation of the 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya in 2010. The Okinawa BD consists of environmental, peace, and human rights NGOs/NPOs and concerned citizens. The main objective of the Okinawa BD is to conserve the biological diversity of Okinawa by emphasizing the importance of the interdependence between the environment, peace, and human rights, which we have learnt from past and present experiences of Okinawa. The experiences of Okinawa resonate with the concerns expressed at the meeting. We have witnessed how the environment of Okinawa has been contaminated and degraded, how human rights have been neglected and abused, and how peace has been disturbed and undermined by the existence of the military bases in Okinawa. In all of this, women and children are put in the most vulnerable positions.

In light of the US Military Realignment Plan, our shared concerns have become more complicated. The relocation plan of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam accompanied by an unprecedented military build-up on Guam has put the people of Guam and Okinawa in extremely difficult positions. While the people of Okinawa welcome relocation of Marines and US military bases from Okinawa we do not want the people of Guam to bear the same burden.

The experiences of Okinawa also reverberate with the hopes raised at the meeting, however. Despite all the adversities, local groups and citizens in Okinawa have been able to withstand and sometimes overcome such adversities. And as your network clearly exemplifies, many of us in Okinawa have been empowered by collaboration with international organizations on the environmental, peace and human rights fronts. Thus, while the US Military Realignment Plan imposes a tremendous challenge for all of us, we together can take this challenge as an opportunity to make our concerns heard and to help create a truly secure natural and social environment.

To this end, dialogue at the grassroots level has to take place and continue with “resistance, resilience, and respects for human rights." We believe, this is exactly what is taking place at the 7th International Meeting of International Women's Network Against Militarism; people who have chosen non-violent paths to secure our life and our world are sharing information, knowledge, and experiences, and are providing understanding, encouragement, and inspiration for each other.

We would like to congratulate you on your meeting and we look forward to hearing about the accomplishments emerging from the meeting.

Sincerely yours,

Hideki Yoshikawa


Citizens' Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa

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