Kaua’i protestors celebrate women, denounce Iraq war

About 50 residents gathered in front of the historic County Building to condemn President Bush for pushing for a war against Iraq and to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Self-claimed anti-war demonstrators said war should be outlawed and urged Bush to seek a peaceful solution to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.

Others at the rally said that women “are the givers of life” and should have a greater say in promoting world peace.

The afternoon rally was pulled together by Kaua’i resident Blu Dux. A similar rally, also coordinated by Dux, is scheduled to be held in front of the county building at noon on March 15.

Yesterday’s event allowed women from Kaua’i and their supporters to join with women from around the world to protest war and destruction and to promote peace and healing, according to Linda Pascatore, a participant in the event.

International Women’s Day, celebrated yesterday, is commemorated by the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday, Pascatore said.

When women worldwide come together to celebrate the event, they can “look back to a tradition” representing 90 years of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development, Pascatore said.

Dux said the path President Bush had led America down is dangerous to the nation.

“We want this war averted,” Dux said. “We don’t believe the stand Bush has taken has any validity. He is creating danger around the world.”

Gail Mueller, a Lihu’e resident and a one-time Viet Nam War protester , said the possibility of the United States going to war against Iraq is mind-boggling to her.

“It is incredible that people around the world are saying that we have to fight another war,” Mueller said. “There is not enough evidence to justify killing people. There is a need to find another way.”

She said the United States has a great opportunity to show the world that an international crisis can be resolved through peace.

“The U.S. is the biggest power in the world, and we are going to break the law (if America goes to war without authorization by the United Nations),'” Mueller said.

Buffy St. Marie, applauded by people at the gathering as a “one of the (anti-Viet Nam War) heroes of the 60s,” said peace should be aggressively pursued in the U.S-Iraq standoff.

“If we don’t fill the vacuum with peace, it will be filled up with something (else),” St. Marie said. She said war is an industry and that there are “a lot of people who want to make war,” including companies that make weapons, ammunition and other products related to warfare.

Sofia Rainbow, a former journalist from Russia and now a musician living Kaua’i, said a U.S and Iraqi war could escalate into “World War III.”

“We are in the age of destruction, with the North Korea issue, the Palestinians,” Rainbow said.

If America goes to war, women and children in Iraq will be “blown off this earth,” Dux said.

Dux said a common bond exists between American women and children and Iraqi women and their children, as they are citizens of the world. “There isn’t much distinction.”

The rally was attended by Viet Nam veterans who opposed any war with Iraq. Among them was Eddie Ferreira, who said he joined the Army after he graduated from Kauai High School in 1968.

Ferreira said he went to fight the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong because “I was fighting for the U.S.A.” and because he felt he was being ordered “by my president (Richard Nixon) to go over there and kill.”

An Army infantryman at the time, Ferreira, said he was part of a “mop-up unit” that went into villages and other areas in Vietnam “after bombing runs.”

“I could not believe what I saw. I saw women and children dead, everywhere,” Ferreira said. “I am not proud of what we did. I can’t sleep at night.”

Ferreira, who is 53 years old, said he is ready to re-enlist, if he could, to “fight Saddam, but I am not going there to kill women and children.”

To reduce the likelihood of war, women should play a bigger role in the politics of the world, Dux said.

“We believe that women should have a stronger voice in the peacemaking,” Dux said. “This (the rally) is a way we can empower ourselves.”

Rainbow said that women are “givers of life and women contribute to beauty. “Women would never vote for war.”

Pascatore circulated a petition related to International Women’s Day that she said would be sent to “governments of the world.”

The petition noted that women are horrified by worldwide violence and that they want annually, for the next five years, at least five percent of national military expenditures to be redirected to health, education and employment programs.

The petition also said women demand that war, like slavery, colonialism and apartheid, “no longer be an acceptable form of behavior” and that countries seek peaceful means to resolve conflicts.

Staff Writer Lester Chang an be reached at mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 225).

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