Censoring peace

IssueAugust - September 2023
News by PN

An international peace conference held in Austria on 10 – 11 June issued a call for a Global Week of Action for peace in Ukraine – protests, street vigils and political lobbying – from 30 September to 8 October.

The union-owned venue for the International Summit for Peace in Ukraine was cancelled 48 hours before the gathering was due to begin; Vienna’s press club also cancelled a press conference scheduled for the end of the event.

The Austrian trade union federation ÖGB explained that it was following the wishes of the Ukrainian government. Press reports suggested that the summit had been smeared as pro-Russian for suggesting a negotiated end to the Ukraine War.

The conference, attended by over 300 people representing peace organisations from 32 countries, moved to the Lorely-Saal concert hall; the press event was held in a local cafe.

Leading US peace activist Medea Benjamin has described some of the disagreements between participants at the gathering: ‘Some people believed that we should continue to send weapons while pushing for talks; others called for an immediate end to weapons transfers.

‘Some insisted on calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops, while others believed that should be the result of negotiations, not a pre-condition.

‘Some put more blame on the role of NATO expansion and the interference of the US in Ukraine’s internal affairs, while others said the blame belongs exclusively at the doorstep of the Russian invaders.’

Benjamin also wrote, on Common Dreams: ‘The most moving panel of the conference was the one with representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, who risked their lives to participate in the Summit.’ Yurii Sheliazhenko of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement spoke from Kyiv via Zoom.

The conference was organised by the International Peace Bureau in co-operation with CODEPINK, the Assembly of the World Social Forum, Transform Europe, Europe for Peace, International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), Peace in Ukraine, and the Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security (CPDCS), supported by Austrian groups.