Rome, Oct. 23 (Reuters): Arundhati Roy urged anti-war campaigners today 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. 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 said.
“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.”
Roy, 41, was in Italy to speak at a festival featuring films on a campaign of opposition to the Narmada dam project. But she spoke most heatedly about the threat of war in Iraq. “The idea that America or any other country has the right to organise a pre-emptive strike against Iraq on the suspicion that it might be developing nuclear weapons...it justifies anybody going to war against anybody,” she said.