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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 27

Ramsey Clark’s Statement to the Convention

All India Citizens’ Convention Against Atrocities in Nandigram and Special Economic Zones

Monday 25 June 2007

The following is the statement to the Convention from Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney-General, whose outspoken indictment of the lawless US bombing of Iraq during Gulf War I in 1991, embodied in his report to the than UN Secretary-General, has now become a legend.

I wish I was able to join with all of you on June 19th in New Delhi, India, at your important meeting to address the needs and grievances of the farmers and rural poor whose lives have been made miserable by the greed of the transnational corporations and the local rich.

Free trade areas in Central America, Maquiladoras on the Mexico-US border, Special Economic Zones in West Bengal—these arrange-ments all over the world allow freedom for the transfer of money and finances but end the freedom of the people who have lived on and worked the land for generations.

It is such a harmless phrase—Special Economic Zone—it sounds like an area of rapid development of technology and learning that will allow the creation of wealth from nothing and enrich the life of a region. What a difference between words and reality! It pushes small farmers—who were at least able to feed their families—off the land, introduces industries that pollute the environment while giving only a small minority of the displaced people alienating, low-wage jobs. A tiny minority of transnational corporations, rich people and corrupt officials have an opportunity to make fortunes from speculation in real estate, while most of the displaced people are simply made landless and desperate.

It is a tribute to the courage of the poor people of Nandigram that they have joined together to fight against this imposition of a Special Economic Zone on their region. It is a crime that the government and private corporations have unleashed upon these people the power of the police and of private hoodlums who have beaten and even killed dozens of them.

Some eight years ago a well-known New York Times columnist wrote an article in which he wrote the phrase: “You can’t have McDonald’s [fast-food shops] without McDonnell-Douglas [the bomber-plane manufacturer].” He wanted to illustrate that the so-called free market and things like Special Economic Zones depended on the military might of the Pentagon. What this means in practice is that all the special exploitation and oppression of the billions of urban and rural poor of the world depend in the long run on the military power of the United States and the willingness of Washington to wage aggressive war.

It is important for all people who stand for justice to stand on the side of the poor people of Nandigram in their heroic struggle against the Special Economic Zones. And we salute the organisers of the SUCI who are helping to mobilise the independent action of the rural poor to carry on this progressive struggle

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