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                  FOCUS ON:

                                 28th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

A / P REGIONAL COMMITTEE MEETING

                                 LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

                                 NUCLEARIZATION

 

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In this issue

 

After a long struggle with pressure on time and resources we are finally able to produce a combined issue after the first one early this year. We place on record our sincere apologies to all readers of PRAXIS.

We feature in this issue three main events of the Federation in 1981, and some of the documents therefrom. We still have a few more to be published which we hope to include in the forthcoming issues. We are extremely happy to place an issue of PRAXIS in your hands, though delayed, with original Federation papers.

The appeals for Solidarity are still live issues that warrant the immediate action of all readers. Most of us are aware of the dangers of American presence in our Region. We have witnessed Vietnam in the last decade and know of the continuing menace in the Philippines and Korea. The Pacific is not free either. As our brothers and sisters in Latin America are now undergoing a threat of possible U.S. intervention, it is time that we courageously extend our support and solidarity across the boundaries of our Region.

NUCLEARIZATION” has found a special place in this issue. The Regional Committee meeting in Tokyo expressed the concern on this and for the next biennium our attempt will be to collect information systematically for creating an awareness on this issue. The anti – nuclear demonstration in Europe are making history. While we appreciate their efforts in Europe, we have to be guarded against the possibility of the nuclear powers shifting their theaters of operation to the southern hemisphere of the globe.

A word on the Federation Events. We have deliberately kept the reporting on this section to the minimum to enable larger publications on the specific events. The WSCF Journal published by the IRO will highlight the General Assembly, while the Asia / Pacific Office will do a special edition of Reports for the Tokyo meeting.

 

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Perspective

 

STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES IN THE THREE WORLDS: A SURVEY OF NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

LIM MAH-HUI

 

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be invited to step in for someone and to be able to address the assembly, particularly because twelve years ago in Finland, I was one of the participants at the assembly, and it has been over a decade since I have been able to share in the fellowship again. I feel I still must be young and foolish in order to undertake the task of addressing you at the eleventh hour, not knowing really very much what is expected and what I can really offer. Hence, I hope you will be able to bear with me some of the thoughts that I may bring to this topic, which is as broad as it is important.

My aim here is not to offer an intellectual theoretical exposition about the question of politics, society, and the new social movements. I address the question rather from the point of praxis. I think of communities of people who are committed to whatever kind of struggle and social change happening in our societies. How do we capture or discern these different social trends that are emerging and how do we, as a community with all its pluralistic nature, at different points in historical development unite together as the theme says and rise up to build a new society which is concomitant with the aims of our Christian faith? It is from this standpoint that I would like to throw out some thoughts for our own reflections and discussion.

 

TODAY'S CRISIS

I think the organizers are certainly correct when they articulated their concerns around the kinds of social movements and therefore by impli­cation the kinds of crises that we are faced with in this world. We are faced with an economic cri­sis which I sure many of us feel when we are doing shopping every day, and we are faced with a poli­tical crisis as we look around, especially in many advanced capitalist societies where  we  seem to see more movements than people. We are faced with ideological crises, and sometimes religious crisis. And these crisis I think affect us individually, our individual lives, our relationships between men and women, our relationships between the in­dividual and the environment, relationships be­tween nations, and relationships within socialist nations and within capitalist nations. It is characteristic that in times of crisis all kinds of ideologies and social movements tend to arise, each of them competing for the allegiance and following of the people. The emergence of a multitude of new movements in advanced capitalist countries have tended to steal the limelight and overshadow in some ways the more traditional social and po­litical movements that we are familiar with.  In particular, we refer to the traditional trade union and labor movements, the political parties and the national liberation movements. This problemat­ic is something, which is more poignant in the advanced capitalist countries than in the third-world countries, or what I would like to term as periph­eral capitalist countries. As such, I think the selection of the topic reflects more the concern of the constituency from the advanced capitalist countries.

How do we then try to understand these move­ments? In terms of what are the factors that cause them to rise? What are some of these social move­ments and how do we relate to them? I think it is helpful to begin our analysis by a simple catego­rization of the different types of political eco­nomic systems that we face in our world today and the movements that occur in these different social systems as well as the political and social impli­cations they have for us.

 

Lim Mah-Hui, a former chairperson of the WSCF is a sociologist at the Temple University in Philadelphia. This paper was presented at the General Assembly at San Francisco. Published by arrangement with WSCF Journal.

 

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THREE TYPES OF SOCIETIES

There are three major types of societies that we can categorize in our world today. The first is what I would call the advanced capitalist societies, sometimes known as the first world. The second is the peripheral capitalist   countries, sometimes known as the third world. The third is composed of the transitional socialist societies, sometimes known as the second world or the block that encompasses most of the Eastern European countries as well as other socialist countries in some of the so-called third world areas. Each of these types of nation has different economic structures, even though there tends to be a certain number of similarities that we can discern among them. Now I think it is in the first type of country, i.e. advanced capitalist countries, where these new social movements are making a major appearance, that is where we see movements like the consumer movement, women's movement, eco­logy movement, anti-nuclear movement, gay movement religious movements and even ethnic and minority movements making their appearances. It was once thought by many sociologists as well as political scientists that religious and ethnic movements are something that are found only in the less de­veloped and old traditional societies. But we find ethnic resurgence as strong in Western Europe and even in the United States as they are in third world countries of Africa and Asia. In the perip­heral capitalist countries, these types of new movements are less obvious even though some of them do exist. Among the new movements as opposed to traditional movements that are more obvious and make a great impact in peripheral capitalist countries, are the religious movements, specific­ally the Islamic movement of which I will deal on a little later, the rise of ethnic movements in many of these countries, human rights movements, and of course the more traditional political movements such as national liberation movements and trade union or labor movements. Now in the third type of societies, i.e. the transitional socialist societies, where many thought that with the coming of the revolution that ushered in some kind of social ownership of property they would see the end of class struggle. But again that ex­pectation has not been achieved. We see in fact just as serious a crisis facing these kinds of societies, particularly today as we witness the kind of challenges that the Polish working class is bringing to bear on the national leadership of the communist party. And a decade earlier we saw the Cultural Revolution in China, which in many ways articulated the same kind of concerns that we see articulated in Eastern Europe today.

While it is not possible to identify one overarching factor, which causes the multiplicity of these social movements, it is helpful to keep in mind the crisis of the world capitalist system that we are facing. This is affecting all countr­ies, advanced capitalist countries, peripheral capitalist countries as well as transitional socialist societies. To be able to understand these movements we need to understand the contra­dictions in society, which engender these social movements. This in turn requires an analysis or understanding of the specific social, economic and political structures that are inherent in these societies, and how these structures are changing and producing the contradictions, which give rise to these different social movements.

 

STRUCTURAL VS SUPERSTRUCTURAL CHANGE

It can be said that in general, in the peri­pheral capitalist countries the movements seek changes in the realm of both what is traditionally known as economic infrastructure as well as in the superstructures. They seek a total transformation of society, in terms of economic production, so­cial relationships, as well as in politics, cul­ture, ideology and religious fields. And hence liberation movements that we find in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia tend to enve­lop a total program, which overshadows the more particularistic and issue-oriented type of social movements that are found in the advanced capi­talist countries. The advanced capitalist countries have the agility to maintain essential features in its out­ward form, for example its ability to produce a welfare state society or welfare state capitalism, which was able to meet the crisis that capitalism faced in the twenties and in the thirties.  It is this ability of advanced capitalist societies to maintain its essential features that have made social movements, which seek a total transformation of society encounter an impasse. Hopefully a tem­porary one. In such a society, it is more difficult to mobilize the general public for total transfor­mation of society than for changes, in specific issues. Therefore, social movements, which are issue oriented and focus on specific rights as we have mentioned earlier tend to be mushrooming. As one of the working papers published in the WSCF Jour­nal (Vol. III, No. 1-2 1981) has pointed out, these movements are more concerned with issues outside of the workplace or with issues that struggle with the question of the capture of state power. And these movements tend to embody different and con­tradictory tendencies, some of which are progres­sive, others which are reactionary or traditional. And these movements too tend to cross traditional class boundaries, i.e. they tend to attract mem­bers from different social classes, with of ten the middle class or the petty bourgeois elements being the major protagonists of such movements.

These movements seek to bring about changes in the superstructure, without changes in the economic structure or the base. In other words, I would generally say that they wish a cultural revolution without economic or political revolu­tion.

 

MOVEMENTS IN SOCIALIST SOCIETIES

What about the movements in the third cate­gory, the transitional socialist socie­ties? In these societies what has transpired with the revolution are changes in the economic base without as yet concomitant changes in the social and political relations. To put it in another way, the economic revolution has not yet been accompa­nied by the necessary social, political and cul­tural revolution. It is one thing to change the legal concept of private property or the legal concept of ownership, and another thing altogether to be able to institute a genuine democratic con­trol of the means of production in society as well as the labor processes in society. For the con­cept of capital, I think, embodies two dimensions: the legal dimension and the social dimension, and it is not sufficient to just change legal owner­ship without bringing about changes in the social relations of production. What we are witnessing in Poland for example today is a challenge by elements of the working class to extend political and economic democracy beyond party leadership. It is a reflection of this process of transforma­tion that I am talking about. I am no expert on the question of the Polish situation, but these are general observations that I am making.

The Cultural Revolution in China in the late 60's and in the early 70's was also an attempt to extend its revolution beyond its economic con­fines, to envelop the economic and cultural revo­lutions. Both events, in Poland and China are

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not without complications and setbacks to say the least. But they do represent important exper­iences in the process of transition from capital­ism to socialism. And these transformations which are taking place before our eyes are of great im­portance. I think we have to pay attention to them. It is especially necessary to try to understand these phenomena and the crisis that are encountered in these transitions lest we fall prey to a complete cynicism and disillusionment that has faced much of the left, especially in the Western countries.

I have appended the word 'transitional' to the socialist societies on purpose, because I wish to underscore the point that they are in the process of transformation from one type of society i.e. capitalist society, to another type, the socialist type. If we take a historical perspect­ive, such transformations do not come about in 10 years or even 50 years. They come about in terms of centuries. Just as we saw the transition from feudalism, to capitalism in Western Europe spanning a period of 500 years, we can and  should  expect the transitions of which we are  witnessing the beginnings to go on for hundreds of years and as I said, that it suffers in the process many set­backs and difficulties, much of which comes from international hostility from the capitalist system and some of it from social forces within the country. In this regard, I am reminded of an anecdote where a Western radical visiting China was singing praises of the Chinese wonders and accomplishments at one of the Chinese banquets to the embarrassment of the Chinese host who had to reply and remind the guest that China is a society, which is making history and it is not a paradise.

Let me return to discussion of some of the specific social movements in terms of their origins and implications and how we ought to understand them. I will basically just touch on some of the religious movements and the human rights movements, leaving out the other movements which are beyond my own skills for discussion.

 

ISLAMIC REVIVAL

Let us begin by considering religious move­ments, particularly the Islamic revival, which is sweeping across the Middle East or West Asia, and parts of Africa. In particular, I would like to question the attitudes that the West and Christ­ians have adopted towards these movements. There is an awareness throughout the Western world that Islam is resurgent, but this development is view­ed as bizarre, anarchic, even ominous, and repre­sents a relapse into the darkness of the Middle Ages. Not since the time of the Crusades has the West been at once so aware and unaware of Islam and its political dimensions as today. Western perceptions of this development are distorted, first by fears inspired by recent events, notably in Iran, and second, by the legacy of negative European and Christian attitudes towards Islam. How should we interpret the Islamic movements in countries like Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia, the last one being the country from which I come? Are they merely expressions of religious fundamental­ism and fanaticism or do they represent something more real? Perhaps it is the genuine discontent expressed by the masses in a different form, in this case a religious form.

Take the case of Iran. Can the popular over­throw of the Shah two and a half years ago, be attributed to mere fanaticism? That is what con­ventional wisdom or ignorance in Western media and even the academicians attribute it to. True there were many who participated against the so-called development and modernization programs and po­licies of the Shah, but I think this protest move­ment was less directed against modernity as such and was more a protest against the erosion of po­litical, economic and social positions in society. Almost every class and strata in Iran except the royal family, the hierarchy of officials and the haute bourgeoisie, were disaffected and alienated by his reign of terror and self-aggrandizement. For example, the dominant economic position of the traditional merchant class took a deep plunge with the onslaught of multinational corporations and the competition they face from them. The economic and political status of the mullahs or the relig­ious officials in the countryside was severely curtailed with the Shah's agrarian reform. Intellectuals and students who often exercised politi­cal influence as commentators and ideologues in society likewise saw their influence reduced to nothing under the ironclad rule of the regime. Likewise, the peasantry and urban labor saw their already desperate economic position becoming worse. In short, the development and modernization efforts of the Shah alienated almost every con­ceivable class and strata in society. Secular political expression was severely curtailed, but religious expression was still relatively to­lerated, as the regime itself sought legitimacy from religious institutions. In a society where religious symbols exercise a powerful hotel over the majority of the population, it was logical for such discontent to be expressed in religious terms, and for mobilization to take religious lines. Hence, it is not surprising that Islam be­came the focus or rallying point for the overthrow of the ancient regime.

Similar features can be discerned with the resurgence of Islamic movements in Indonesia and Malaysia, two predominantly Muslim populated coun­tries in Asia. The greatest threat to these ruling regimes who also claim legitimacy by Islamic prin­ciples come from Islamic groups themselves. The protagonists and adherents of these religious movements, are again basically the intellectuals, the students, merchants and petty bourgeoisie and religious officials who on the one hand find themselves excluded from political and social power in society and on the other hand thrust into an alien way of life, which requires a transforma­tion or more accurately a deformation of their own cultural and personal identity. Again in these societies, the repressive character of the regime does not allow for protest along secular lines and hence they get expressed fundamentally in religious terms.

These religious movements that I have ment­ioned would challenge both Christians as well as Marxists to rethink and reformulate their conven­tional ideas about religion in general and Islam in particular. The orthodox view of Islam as no­thing but an archaic and atavistic movement is as inaccurate as the view that religion is simply the opium of the people. Depending on historical con­ditions, religion can be the chemical, which allows the masses to sleep or the chemical that catalyzes them to undertake social transformation. The above discussion is not to deny that religious life has no reality other than its underlying social poli­tical circumstances. But it is to recognize that an understanding of popular religion and the heavenly requires an analysis of popular rights and the mundane and earthly. What finds expression and gets affirmed through religion is often the human experiences and reality of the believers themselves.

 

AUTHORITARIANISM AND REPRESSION

Let me turn to one more phenomenon, a move­ment of great concern to many of us, the resurgence

 

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of authoritarianism and repression in both perip­heral capitalist countries and in advanced capit­alist societies, and the response in terms of the human rights movements. I think it is important for us to understand the question of human rights from a structural perspective rather than from a personal perspective. In particular, I don't think actions of particular presidents or national lea­ders have much bearing on the cause of human rights. In the last few decades we have increas­ingly witnessed the painful experience, some of them personal to many of us here, of repression wrought on the people and movements in peripheral capitalist societies. The SCMs in South Korea, in parts of Latin America, in the Philippines, in South Africa and many other countries have borne the brunt of this repression. The curtailment of human rights is creeping into advanced capitalist societies as well.

These widespread currents of human rights abuse, is related to the crisis of world capitalism as manifested in inflation, growing labor unrests, unemployment, and the crisis of profitability. It has forced capital to internationalize its produc­tion structures, i.e. it has begun to relocate in bits and pieces certain processes of its manufac­turing process to the peripheral capitalist coun­tries. It is a crisis, which has forced capital to go out and set up production structures in the third world societies. On the other hand, there are crises that also impinge on the ruling class of the peripheral capitalist societies, the failure of these peripheral capitalist societies to raise the standard of living of their people, to increase agricultural productivity to provide  employment to the burgeoning surplus labor that is thrown from the countryside, to reduce inequality of income distribution - all this presents a crisis and a threat to these oligarchic regimes.

The answer to these problems is sought in what is now termed as export oriented industrial­ization, which we find for example in South Korea, in Indonesia, and even in Sri Lanka and Mexico. These countries try to attract foreign investments, to produce goods cheaply for export, since the internal market of these countries has been inun­dated and saturated. In order to attract foreign investment, which is relocating abroad, the countries have to institute strict controls on wages and labor.

The regime finds it cannot afford to tolerate political freedom. Instead, it has to ensure so-called industrial peace, political stability and public order: euphemisms for dictatorship and repression. The erosion of democratic rights is making its way as I stated earlier into advanced capitalist societies. And this is clearly stated in the report of the trilateral commission, which recommended among other things a curtailment of civil liberties in Europe, the United States and Japan, or what the authors call a "moderation in excess democracy".


STUDENT MOVEMENTS

Let me end here by just making some observa­tions about student movements and movements, which are issue-oriented rather than class-oriented, their nature, their strengths and their weakness­es. I take it that the main theme of the con­ference "Come, let us rise up and build together" assumes a commitment to the building of God's Kingdom on earth. The more problematic question is how to do that, what strategy do we use and how are we to relate to one another in the process of this construction?

The WSCF has as its main constituency, students. Then what is the role of student move­ments in this process of social transformation? Students as a social group and not a class, posses some particular characteristics, which I think give it its strengths as well as weaknesses. First, they are a transitory community drawn from all social classes, thrown for a short period of their lives into a situation where they share their life experiences and expectations. As such, they are yet unattached to any class and have no specific class interest. They are filled with idealism that can easily be mobilized to support a variety of social causes. It is therefore not surprising to find that they are often the avantgarde of protest movements. We have witnessed this in Western Europe in the 60's, and in continuing ways in South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand.  This un­attached nature is both their strength as well as their weakness. They are a slate on which one can inscribe any kind of inscription, but their un­attached and transitory nature also brings the weakness that we observed. They do not have the capacity and staying power to effect any social change of their own. Economically and politically, in terms of real power they are marginal.

Furthermore, many graduate into middle class positions in society and loose their idealism as rapidly as they picked it up. This political and social reality of student movements must be grasp­ed and thoroughly taken into account. It calls into question the limited yet valuable role that stud­ents can play in the building of society. Parti­cularly, I think that it is not possible for students by themselves to bring about any major social transformation. They need to be necessarily linked up to the other more permanent movements in this task. I do not believe I can give an adequate answer to some of the questions I have raised and neither do I believe they can be ans­wered adequately from a theoretical point of view. I think we must involve in our political practice the metaphor, which we have adopted in this confe­rence: in order to build together we need to join our hands.

 

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HUMAN RIGHTS – the concept and reality

SAMUEL HO

 

I am happy to be invited by the WSCF Asia-Pacific to this Colombo session of ASFOR. I consider this occasion as WSCF revisited, to which I had a first-hand experience some 11 years ago and I am here to share with you some of my limited understanding of human rights and the struggles of our Asian people. I seek also to learn from you, your perceptions and understanding, your experience and struggles in your own national situations. I admit that I am no expert nor theoretician but only an ordinary worker to advan­ce the cause of human rights of our oppressed people in Asia.

It is important for us here to grasp a clear understanding of the concept and the historical origins of human rights so that we can better understand the Asian realities, the struggles of our people, ourselves, our purpose and ongoing tasks in our commitment to justice and social transformation.

I will lay the framework of the concepts and leave to you the specifics of experience of how human rights is respected, practiced and violated in each of the Asian countries from where you come. This is for you to share as a contribution to the understanding of others here. You will have a better experience of your situation and a much deeper understanding of your national his­tory and realities. I must impress upon you to interpret the cause of your own people and to put that cause on the international agenda of discuss­ion to bring attention and justice to your own people. The struggle of your own people is mighty and heroic because of the very limited resources they can mobilize against the great machinery of oppression and repression.

May I also warn ourselves that it is very comfortable and perhaps indulgent for us here to talk about our concern, participation and witness unless we see that struggles as our very own. As is often, we have been called to the struggle as a matter of conscience and to play that little role within our means. Many of us are indeed so very privileged and by that privilege are so alienated from the struggles of our own people. Unless we see ourselves as a part of our own people just as oppressed as they are and integrate with them, we will never truly get involved and find our commitment sustained.

 

THE CONCEPT OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CONTRAST TO THE POPULAR UNDERSTANDING

Many of us, though Asians, come from a Judeo-Christian tradition, through Western-oriented education, religious belief and observance, and also hold highly self-centered individualistic value system. We tend to view human rights as evidenced at the point of deprivations and viola­tions of fundamental civil liberties. The bodily harms, disappearances and deaths without account­ability disturbs and hurts our conscience, insults our sense of intelligence and justice.

In our abhorrence of cruelty beyond reason from whom we entrust the enforcement of justice, we invariably involve ourselves in the cause of the individual to free him from suffering and threat to his life. We urge respect of constitut­ional rights, the rule of law and the accordance of justice. We work towards the cause of human rights aiming at nation-building, conflict reso­lution and state-people reconciliation. We appeal to the regime to grant amnesty to those condemned or incarcerated especially with whom we identify and whom we believe to be innocent of alleged po­litical crimes. Such work, is very much appreciated and need to be continued.

 

Samuel Ho is Executive Secretary for Asia Forum on Human Rights. This paper was prepared for the Asia Secretaries Formation (ASFOR) program held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in March 1981.

 

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In Asia today, such views and actions are considered to be narrow and isolated to explain Asian realities and the material conditions ex­perienced by the majority of our Asian people that lead to conflicts between the ruling regime and the people and to the continued violations of human rights. Such views of human rights at the point of violations and suffering cannot be accepted especially by those people who are arti­culate in the injustices seen and the plight of the oppressed masses and deeply committed to so­cial transformation.

It is not just politics alone but the socio-economic conditions of Asian realities and the experience of the oppressed people that provide for the emergence of leaders and change motivators who find political articulation, forms and actions that lead to situations of conflicts. The majority of our people who suffer deprivation, dispossesion or disinheritance, subordination and marginalization, and the articulate among them who suffer political repression or incarceration for their commitment are not naive nor innocent. They have a cause. Precisely because of that cause and their deep-rooted commitment to the aspirations and so­cial transformation for a just, dignified and democratic society, they have staked their lives and suffered the price.  To this effect, we are called not to simply join them as leaders or fol­lowers but to share their aspirations and strug­gles.

When the West speaks of human rights, as is seen in Carter's human rights campaign, it is basically aimed at asserting the continued US domination of the world having to its exclusion geographical areas of political, economic and cultural influence. The campaign was never intend­ed by Carter or the US to stop the violations and restore respect for human rights by the most vio­lent of repressive regimes in Asia whom the US propped and considered them as the staunchest allies. The campaign was directed against the USSR – continuation of the ideological cold war be­tween capitalism and communism. It was also aimed at recovering from the downward decline of US economy and its standing in international politics following its shameful defeat and retreat from Indochina. It is the struggle of the Asian people and other Third World people against US imperial­ist oppression and domination that brought atten­tion to violations of human rights in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand and Indo­nesia, and the US involvement.

The struggles of our people in Asia today are not limited to upholding individual rights as enshrined in our national constitutions and inter­national covenants, but toward establishing a socio-economic order that accords justice and equality. We need therefore to situate the struggles of our Asian people within the context of politics of the region and the historical forces, both internal and external, that have shaped and continued to shape the region. Human rights in Asia, possesses not only several dimens­ions but also certain characteristics. This can be fully appreciated when viewed from the histor­ical origins and development in a particular set­ting and circumstance.

In the Third World, the concept of human rights necessarily acquire a broader meaning. Human rights is an out-growth of the peoples' collective struggle for independence and self-determination to be free from colonial domination, oppression and exploitation. It is from this experience that we speak of the collective rights of the people. All the more so today, the Asian peoples struggle for their collective rights in the face of realities: poverty and hunger, gross mal-distribution of pro­ductive assets and income, backwardness and under-development, unequal terms of trade or  exchange, and the rise of the military  technocratic state that has neo-fascist tendencies.

 

THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The understanding of human rights must take into consideration the struggles of the people in a particular historical period. The content and its expression differs from time to time and so­ciety to society.

While slavery may have ended in the U.S. in the mid-19th century, the people in Africa today, continue to struggle for an end to this dehumanization. While feudalism may have declined in Europe in the 15th century, the people in Latin America, Africa and Asia today are still struggl­ing for an end to semi-feudalism that explains their backwardness, oppression and poverty. While formal colonialism may have crumbled following the end of World War II, the people in Africa and in the Pacific are still continuing and stepping up their struggle for political independence and self-determination – an end to the colonial relations to which they have long been subjugated.

Today, arising from slavery, from feudalism and from colonialism, the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America now suffer under the yoke of semi-feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism and neo-colonialism. As such, all oppressed people in the Third World today unite in solidarity in their struggle for not only political self-determination and demo­cracy, but also socio-economic advancement and equality between all peoples and between all nat­ions.

What do all these struggles actually mean? How do we understand these struggles? Let us trace the historical origins of human rights.

Historically, the slogan of human rights was first raised in the feudal societies of Europe by the rise of the bourgeosie. They had then achieved certain economic but not political power. Deriving their demands from the "natural rights of man", they rejected the feudal autocratic rule of the monarchies.

Human rights then became a powerful tool in bringing down feudalism. As a political program, claiming the rights for all people, it was only universal in form. Although certain fundamental changes were achieved in the structure of society, where the bourgeosie wedged themselves in between the monarchy and the people, the majority of the common people remained as they were. They continu­ed to be oppressed and exploited. They toiled and labored absolutely unconscious of their rights.

Human rights then meaning fundamental civil liberties or individual rights got written into the constitution of various European nations. Only the bourgeosie enjoyed the rights and privileges in the succeeding capitalist society based on indivi­dual efforts and initiatives in free competition to amass private property and maximum profits.

The emergence of capitalism together with the industrial revolution in Europe propelled the bourgeosie to cross the high seas into carving vast territories around the world in search of gold first, then raw materials and markets. Added on to this was also the Christian missionary zeal to "civilize" and to "save" the whole of Mankind, making the world in their own image. In the fierce competition that ensued, the creed that finally emerged was individualism – the rights of the

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individual. Though the rights thus won may be in­dividualistic, they are a step forward and an achievement in the progress of Mankind.

Human rights is then taken to mean freedom of choice, freedom of enterprise, freedom of trade, freedom of contract – or basically, the right to privilege, to property, to private ownership, to amass wealth, the right to buy and sell, and the right to hire and fire. In this new market system, there developed new laws and new mechanisms that determine the political and socio-economic relat­ions between people. The laws and mechanisms, through which the market is regulated are actively promoted by those who benefited from it most. In the fierce competition, new structures and insti­tutions – social, political, economic; culture, religion, education, law, military – are also developed and erected to protect those vested in­terests. In the search for advantage, profit and property, status and privilege, people could now be distinguished between minority and  majority, masters and slaves, employers and employees, buyers and sellers, exploiter and exploited, colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed. From this, also arises, discriminations and intolerances sex­ism, racism, religious fanaticism, and chauvinism.

Exploitative relations do not merely consist of physical objects existing independently of their ownership but in the actual social relations and also production-distribution relations between people and between nations. Property and therefore production confers on its owners’ freedom from labor and the disposal over the labor of others. This is the essence of social domination, oppres­sion and violations of human rights.

In the ensuing colonial rivalries that re­sulted in the First and Second World Wars, many people were outraged by the atrocities committed by the Europeans against themselves and by the colonial powers against the people colonized. Human rights again became a powerful weapon in international political struggles and a criterion in international law and covenants. They were thus written into the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of the United Nations in 1948.

Thus when speaking of human rights, people who grew up or are educated in the western tradi­tion often stress on the rights of the individuals or fundamental civil liberties as enshrined in the Magna Carta (British, 1215), the Bill of Rights (U.S., 1776-89), the Rights of Man (French, 1789), and even in the Universal Declaration, (United Nations, 1948). Even the modern constitu­tions of Asian countries, which are virtually carbon copies of the constitutions of their former colonial masters, have these rights included in them.

The concept and perspective, struggles and actions on human rights are a reflection of the material conditions existing in the particular society. In the advanced industrialized society, the majority of the people live with reasonable securities of life – life itself, employment, food, shelter, health, etc.  But in the poor and backward countries of Asia and the Third World, the majority of the people are very deprived and threatened by these basic necessities.

 

INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS VS COLLECTIVE RIGHTS

In Asian and Third World countries, the con­cept of human rights arises from a different his­torical context. Human rights acquire a broader and deeper meaning from the concerted and contin­uing struggles of  oppressed people to free themselves from domination and exploitation as a consequence of feudalism, semi-feudalism, coloni­alism and neo-colonialism.

When speaking of human rights, the oppressed people mean therefore their collective rights – their rights as a people, their rights as a nation. It does not mean to say that individual rights are no longer important, nor an issue. But when the large majority of people in Asia are politically subordinated and victimized, and deprived of the basic necessities of life by the few who amass power, wealth and privileges to themselves, it becomes clear that the interests of the majority are diametrically opposed to the few, and their rights violated by the few. Furthermore, foreign power interests (financial capital, investments, arms merchants, military grants and development aids) that seek the collaboration of indigenous power elites act equally to violate the interests of the majority. As such, foreign investments in Asian countries, economic and military assistance to the present governments, only serve to enhance and consolidate the power of repressive regimes. The national power elites in their self-aggrandi­zement act on behalf of foreign interests to opp­ress and exploit the majority of the people.

Even the repressive regimes in Asia, has a reaction to the widespread international critic­isms of violations of human rights according to western standards. They argue that human rights cannot be seen in the light of western definitions. They also recognize the problems of the majority of the people (poverty and hunger as a consequence of underdevelopment which pose a serious threat to internal peace and stability) are particularly acute and thereby argue that civil liberties and political rights have to be sacrificed for rapid economic development and immediate political sta­bility.  Martial law has been declared from one country to another. In this way, they justify their fascist dictatorial rule and economic domination through repression and violations against the majority of the people.

Those persons-dissidents and radicals, who are critical of the corruptive powers of the ruling elite and the distorted socio-economic or­der, who demand accountability and justice, and who lead the majority of the people in asserting their rights are thus considered as "subversives", if not "communists", and are dealt with in accor­dance to the law instantaneously erected by the reactionary regimes. From the perspective of the majority of the people, their basic interests have been subordinated and their rights deprived and violated.

 

THE STRUGGLES OF THE ASIAN PEOPLE

The struggle for human rights among people in the Asian and other Third World countries today is for liberation and social transformation. The oppressed people stress and assert their rights to be free from the many injustices. The people in Asia want not only a family, a home, food, productive work, education, skills,  but also a purposeful and dignified society where there is self-determination, participatory democracy, distributive justice and socio-economic advancement – away from the widening disparities and distor­tions of unequal distribution, away from the backwardness they now live in. They struggle to liberate themselves from national oppression: for equality between people in the nation and for equality between nations in the world.

The people in Asia assert their collective rights as a people and their collective rights as a nation. They want to be dignified and be res­pected in internal and external relations. The demand is for national independence and national democracy – an end to semi-feudalism, bureaucratism, neo-colonialism, free from socio-political and economic domination, free from military occu­pation, free from intimidation and manipulation, free from threats of aggression. They struggle for a national economy that is self-reliant and pro­gressive – free from mal-distribution, exploitation and perpetual indebtedness. The struggle is for equal accessibility to productive assets and re­sources.

Individual rights cannot be considered as ends in themselves in grappling with Asian reali­ties and the problems of the Asian people. They can only be a means toward justice and social transformation of Asian societies. Human rights concern and efforts though start with the focus on the individuals cannot be expanded nor raised to the majority collective. There can be no neutral­ity in human rights. Human rights are political in nature because of its provision for the collec­tive interests of the people in Asia who are poor and oppressed.

 

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Biblical-Theological Reflection

 

CHRISTIAN GOSPEL IN A MINORITY CONTEXT

IN- HA LEE

 

Gospel Text:  Luke 4: 16-22:

 

Then Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up,

and on the Sabbath he went as usual to the synagogue.

He stood up to read the Scrip­tures

and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.

He unrolled the scroll and found the place where It is written,

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has chosen me to bring

good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to

the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind;

to set free the oppressed

and announce that the time has come

when the Lord will save his people."

Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him, as he said to them, "This passage of

Scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read." They were all well impressed with him and marveled at the eloquent words that he spoke. They said, "Isn't he the son of Joseph?"

 

My presentation is not a systematic one but represents fragmented reflections on my in­volvements in various issues that have arisen in my life situation.

I would like to begin talking about myself. Christianity came to me through a Japanese teacher who was a Christian. Thus, I was nurtur­ed, in the Japanese church. This experience con­tributed two elements to the development of my thoughts – one, positive and the other negative. The positive element is that Christianity has a universal truth, which embraces every human be­ing, including both Japanese and Koreans. At the same time, I learned that Christianity adapt­ed to the trends of the time. This was the time of the Second World War, and the Japanese Church was playing a role that fitted the imperial sys­tem. Japanese Christians compromised the Christ­ian Gospel with the situation. This was why my understanding of the Gospel was distorted.

Right after the war, the call came to me to serve my own people who were liberated from Japanese colonial domination. I made a decision to go into theological training. At the same time, I decided to join the Korean Christian Church in Japan. When the history of the suffer­ing of the Korean Christians was introduced, I was very shocked by the fact that 50 pastors were killed because of their resistance to Shin­to shrine worship, which was part of the imper­ial system. I learned anew that Christian faith is something that demands us to commit our lives to it. This understanding of faith enriched my life.

 

Rev. In-Ha Lee is pastor of Kawasaki Korean Church in Tokyo and Commissioner of VCC's Program to Combat Racism. These experiences and reflections were shared during the WSCF Asia/Pacific Regional Meeting in Tokyo.

 

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However, this new understanding remained mere knowledge. My theological training in Japanese school, which was western – oriented, alienated me from our people who were suffering.

Three experiences had great impact on me and enabled me to break through. The first of them is an event, which occurred about twelve years ago. My church was celebrating the 60th anniversary of its mission among the Koreans in Japan. We seriously studied the history of our church. We discovered that the church was unable to function as a force to change the situation or to stand at the forefront of the people's struggle for freedom from bondage in Japan. Then, we were led to rethink what the church should be. Such a theological exercise opened my eyes.

The second impact came form my involvement in the ecumenical movement. I was invited to serve the WCC's Program to Combat Racism as a commissioner. The church has always issued statements that racism is wrong and against God's will but it has never done anything about it. Through this program, the church expresses its solidarity in a more concrete way with the oppressed. This experience was very enlighten­ing to me.

The third impact came from my involvement in the struggle of a Korean youth, called Mr. Park for correcting the injustice done by a large electric company called Hitachi. He was fired by Hitachi because of   his Korean background. This was a clear case of discrimi­nation against an ethnic group. This case was taken to the District court. The struggle went on for four years and the court ruled in favor of Mr. Park. This victory has led not only to his re-employment but brought new hope for the Korean people.

The impact of these three experiences chal­lenged me to ask: what does my theology mean to­day? My conclusion is that we must listen to the word of God in the actual historical context. We sometimes think that we have to establish our faith first and then go into the situation to work as Christians. If this is the case, faith remains abstract. We have to encounter Jesus in our own life situation and listen to the word in that particular context. Otherwise, faith be­comes abstract and meaningless. The late Prof. Mori Arimasa says "Faith is not merely experien­ce; it comes from beyond the experience." Never­theless, faith without experience, is not true faith. Bonhoeffer talks of the "Ultimate" and the "penultimate". I don't mean that the his­torical situation has ultimate meaning but the ultimate language has to be listened to in the historical situation. That is to say we have to listen to God who is working in history, to en­counter Jesus Christ through whom God is working in history. If that is true, what will be my people's situation? What does it mean for the Koreans in Japan to regain their humanity and to be liberated from the dehumanizing situation?

In this context, when we listen to the Scriptures – both Old & New Testaments, there we encounter the vivid and fresh word of God. For instance, in the Book of Exodus, God heard the cries of the oppressed people. God revealed Himself in the effort to free his people from the Egyptians. In the Book of Isaiah [ch:40] we read the text telling us of  the  liberation of the people who were under the Babylonian regime. I shall read the first verse. " 'Comfort my people' says our God. 'Comfort them' ". We sometimes hear this at the time of Christmas without looking at it as an address to the people in bondage – the forgotten people. Amos says, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream”. The prophet discerns justice as God’s will”.


Rev. In-Ha Lee leading the Biblical-Theological session.

 

In the Gospels, Jesus stands in front of the people and introduces God's Kingdom in the language of the Nazarene Declaration (Lk.4) Paul, in his letter to the Romans, talks about the "righteousness" of God. He doesn't deal with pure moral concept. It is the concept of the right relationships between God and people, which always requires the right relationship be­tween people and people. Paul talks about the reconciliation of the people. He does not mean that two people become friendly. He talks, in his letter to Corinthians (2Cor 8:9) of a different kind of exchange ['Reconciliation' means "exchange" in Greek] that is taking place in a reconciling event – that the rich become poor and the poor become rich. In the Song of Mary or the Magnificat (Luke 1:51 - 53) this aspect is revealed.

When we accept this message in our contexts, we have to seriously discuss the structural evil rooted between the oppressors and the oppressed. We cannot participate in the combating of this structural evil with mere individual sympathy. The structural evil is interwoven into the social, political and economic systems. The power of the Gospel has to completely reshape these relationships. We are asked to take up the task of being 'change-agents' in this situation.

I am aware of the criticism of such an un­derstanding of the Bible. Critics say, it is very selective. And this criticism is directed towards the theology of liberation and context­ual theology. But we have to bear in mind that the redemptive history found in the Scriptures itself is very selective. We see in the Gospels in the Kingdom, which Jesus speaks of, that the least child, the weakest woman, sinners and tax collectors, the alienated and neglected, those despised by the majority of the society were considered first. And then Jesus dined with these people and he was considered as one of these people because of his behavior. Prof. Arai Shashaku talks about the "importance of the behavior of Jesus." In recent New Testament studies, the question of historicity of Jesus is raised. Of course, we can doubt some aspects of the life of Jesus - whether it was historically true or not. But we cannot doubt one thing: that Jesus dined with the poor, the despised and the oppressed of his own society. In his behavior, he points out that the last comes first, the first comes last. This is the real truth of God's Kingdom.

 

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The question arises, "Is God only for the oppressed?" Prof James Cone, the black theologian while in Japan for a visit was asked this by one of the Korean church elders, who was also obsessed by the question, "Is this God, the God of the Japanese too?" Prof. Cone said that, God is for everybody. Jesus was with the poor, but at the same time, he loved the rich too. He loved the young ruler and asked him to repent his past, to return his wealth to the poor. Again, the quest­ion arises, whether it is the rulers who are the only ones to repent their past. What about the poor? Not only the rich, but the poor and the oppressed have to repent their past too. They forget to trust in God and live in despair, they give up behaving as if there is no hope, they cannot see that God is on their side in the struggle for freedom. Hence, they must recover their own hope and faith in God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ talks to the people in their own differ­ent contexts. It never generalizes. For the Kor­ean in Japan, repentance is necessary. We are guilty of being subservient and submissive. We have to determine to take the path towards human dignity, and to adopt a stance of offering our­selves to be made more and more in the image of God. We must repent our past and the message of the Scriptures is very relevant to the situation of my own people.

Let me conclude my talk with the eschatological perspective of history. We are always tra­pped in a small world when we talk of the minor­ity or the marginalized. In 1974, the Korean Christian Church in Japan organized a consultat­ion on "Mission Strategy among the oppressed." A very penetrating observation was made by a representative of the Burakumin community when he said that "minority issue is not the kind of issue which pinpoints a problem in a corner of the society. Where minority questions are dealt with in a given society, they raise the question of the system of the world itself. When the peo­ple are marginalized into the corner of a so­ciety, something is wrong with the whole system."

Rev. David Rodriguez chairing a session. To his right are Ann Ng and Frans Allolerung and Stephen Payton on his left.

 

Therefore, we are dealing with the future of humanity, and in this sense with eschatology - a city in which all things are made new as described in Revelations 21. We have to envisage a new vision. That suggestion, we find in the Book of Revelation. We are involved in this eschatological event and this is why we can courageously deal with these issues. At the same time, such a vision means that our concerns are a challenge, not merely to particular nations, but to the whole world. The proclamation of the Gospel uttered by Jesus was the promise of the coming of God's Kingdom. In its value judgment, human life is understood upside down - the least, weakest and oppressed are considered first. The re­storation of the minorities from oppression is promised. All nations and peoples are allowed to bring their honors and glories into the new city. There are no big powers as we understand. The identity of each race and minority is fully recognized and respected. This vision was given to us through the redemptive ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. People of the world are called in­to this new community. Our struggles in the suf­fering of the people is not in vain but rather in hope.

Concern for human rights must be directed towards understanding, appreciating and supporting the just struggles of the people for liberation to free themselves from all oppressive and stifl­ing forces internally and externally. Campaigns on human rights should be directed towards cor­recting the many wrongs and injustices committed in the past, correcting the unequal relations  of the present, restoring justice and dignity to the people and to the nation; and not merely dealing with particular and isolated cases (arrests, de­tentions, trials, tortures, deaths and prison conditions of the individuals) in isolation of the context of historical development, existing social structures and international relations, nor simply the abandonment if not the continued interference and manipulation of the Asian people (as in China in 1949 and Indochina in 1975).

Let me therefore reiterate. Political and individual rights are important and essential in this historical period of the Asian people’s struggle. They are by no means an end in themselves. It is in the collective rights of the people can we achieve a purposeful and accountable society where there is human dignity, justice and equality, self – determination and self – reliance, and socio – economic advancement.

 

13

 

Global Issue » Nuclearization

 

PACIFIC ISLANDERS OPPOSE JAPAN'S NUCLEAR IMPERIALISM

 

Japan, the first victim of an atomic bombing 35 years ago, was expected to share and support the Pacific islanders' desire for a nuclear-free Pacific. It was a great shock, therefore, for the Pacific people to learn of the Japanese government's plan to dump nuclear waste into the pacific waters.

 

This article by YAMAKA JUNKO first appeared in AMPO, the quarterly review of the Pacific-Asia Resource Centre, Tokyo.

 

HISTORICAL AVERSION TO NUCLEAR POWER

March 1st, called "Bikini Day" in Japan was designated as "the Nuclear-Free Pacific Day" by the Pacific Island people. Twenty-seven years ago, on this day in 1954, the first hydrogen bomb testing, called "Bravo Shot" was carried out by the U.S. on the Bikini Atolls in the Marshall Islands. And 243 people living on the Rongelap and Utirik Atolls located nearby were irradiated by "the ashes of death." The explosive energy radiated from the Bravo Shot was said to be equivalent to 17 million tons of TNT, and  a small coral island was blown up to the sky changing it into a huge cloud containing fissionable materials. It was reported that an area of about 18,000 square kilometers was contaminated by the radiation. The radio­active ashes fell also on a Japanese tuna fishing vessel.  No.5 Fukuryu-maru, which was fishing at a locate 160 km leeward of the bombing, and Mr. Kuboyama Aikichi, one of the fishermen on the boat died half a year later as a result of radiation.

But it was not only time that the Paci­fic Island people were victims of nuclear power. In Micronesia under the U.S. Trusteeship, 66 atomic bomb testings were carried out by the U.S., between 1946 and 1958 with­out any consultation with the islanders.

The islands, which were used as nuclear testing grounds are scattered throughout the Pacific, the residents of which were often summarily evicted.

The history of the Pacific region in the last several centuries was that of coloniza­tion and imperialist rule over the Islanders by western powers one after another, such as Spain, France, Germany, Britain, the United States, and Japan. During the Second World War, the small beautiful islands became a battlefield ensnaring many innocent people. Many were killed in the war, which had nothing to do with them. Furthermore, even after the war ended, the big powers never set the small islanders free, for the region was useful as a source of natural resources, a strategic military point or a nuclear testing ground all conducted as if no human being was living there.

 SITES STUDIED FOR OCEAN DUMPING OF NUCLEAR WASTES – spot B is regarded as the “best” prospective location for dumping

 

 

Therefore, nuclear-free independence became the earnest desire of the Pacific Island people and they expressed this desire and determination firmly in the Nuclear-Free People's Charter adopted at the Nuclear-Free Pacific Conference '80 held in Hawaii in May of that year. And the people of Palau whose population is only 15,000, established the world's first nuclear-free con­stitution last year despite various threats and interference by the United States, which is trying to build a huge military training base as well as a port for its Trident nuclear submarines in Pa­lau. The Palauan constitution prohibits any use, storage, or possession of nuclear materials and any harmful substances.

The aversion to all uses of nuclear power, whether weapons or "peaceful" is common to people throughout the Pacific. It supplies the drive

 

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against the Japanese plan to dump its waste from nuclear plants in that region.

 

JAPAN'S WASTE DUMPING PLAN

Japan, the first victim of an atomic bomb­ing 35 years ago, was expected to share and support the Pacific islanders' desire for a nuclear-free Pacific. It was a great shock, therefore, for the Pacific people to learn of the Japanese government's plan to dump its nuclear waste into the Pacific water. The plan was made again without any consultation with the people of the region, who learned of it only through a newspaper report.

Japan is now equipped with 21 operational nuclear power plants, the third largest num­ber in the world. It also has plans to build 25 more within this decade. The government, as indicated in the Liberal Democratic  Party's 1981 policy, is promoting nuclear plants, de­signating the securing of energy as the most important national task. However, they face a serious problem of where to dispose an enormous amount of low-level nuclear wastes produc­ed from these plants. The plants themselves have some storage facilities for the waste contained in 200L drums, but at present there are 300,000 drums and the number is ex­pected to reach 600,000 by 1985 and 2 million by 1995. The problem of disposal was not con­sidered well when the plans for all these plants were drawn up, creating a "mansion without toilets". With limited land storage space in the country, the government has been preparing for ocean dumping. The Science and Technology Agency began conducting marine re­search in 1972 for a Pacific dumping site. It decided to experimentarily dump about  10,000 drums with a total radioactivity of 500 curies in 1981 at one of four spots about 900 kilome­ters south of Japan, 30 degrees North and 147 degrees East, at a depth of over 6,000 meters. Full scale dumping of between 1 million and 2 million drums would be carried out there shortly after.

When it conducted a safety evaluation study, it drew the conclusion that this would have no adverse effect on human beings.

This "confirmation" of the safety of the plan is ludicrous, however, since it is admit­ted that the sea bottom is more unknown than the surface of the moon. It can be assumed from the example of the nuclear waste dumped into the Pacific a short distance off the coast of San Francisco by the U.S. government between 1946 and 1965, that the drums will break open and the waste enter the food chain in a matter of a few decades. These radioactive materials, however, have a half-life (the time it takes radioactive elements to break down half its amount into non-radioactive ones) of anywhere from 30 to 24,000 years, depending on what it is. These wastes will be present and dangerous for eons, yet the Agency claimed that the leaks from the broken drums would be so diluted by the vast sea that human damage would be minimal.

The large amount of radiation at this one site will irradiate the small plankton on which small fish feed which in turn will be eaten by larger fish, which will be eaten fin­ally by humans. In the food chain, dilution does not occur, but rather a concentration of toxic substances.

Since the diet of all Pacific people de­pends heavily on seafood, there will be a high buildup of irradiated foods in humans, as the case of Minamata shows with mercury. The cur­rents in this area generally drift, south as well as the highly migratory tuna and skipjack, and Micronesians fear that they will be affect­ed by this dumping. The report's failure to take into account the cumulative affects of ra­diation from various sources, often not appear­ing for years after the damage has been  done, i.e. the food chain, the atomic testing in Mic­ronesia, and the presence of nuclear facilities and submarines there, is crucial.

In terms of legal preparations for the dumping the Japanese government readjusted re­lated domestic laws and ratified the London Treaty of 1972 in January 1980. This treaty concerns the control of ocean   dumping and ratification was a necessary step for the ex­ecution of the plan. The Diet approved it in the spring of 1980, taking effect on November 14. The only step left was informing the Nuclear Energy. Agency of OECD of the details of the plan one year prior to the actual ex­ecution, so that it can be carried out under the supervision of that council.

 

REACTION IN THE PACIFIC

The Japanese government, however, did not even inform the people who would be directly affected by the dumping, let alone ask for their consent. This applied even to Japan's islands like Ogasawara, which is right in the area. At the end of 1979, when Japan first unofficially decided on this ocean dumping plan, it sent a letter to the Australian government, one of its partners in the Pacific Basin Community Scheme, to get its approval. The Pacific people learned of it February 9, 1980, when it was revealed in the regional Pacific Daily News. The Pacific island people reacted very quickly against it. The Guam Congress made a resolution against it on February 14, and on February 16, the Lower House of the Northern Marianas' Congress de­clared they would "make the Northern – Marianas a nuclear-free zone." Others followed one after another including Palau, Yap, and Hawaii.

The people in the Marianas formed the Marianas Alliance against Nuclear Dumping in March based in Guam. The Alliance immediately began the struggle to spread opposition throughout the Pacific. A signature campaign was begun demanding the cancellation of the plan and a number of demonstrations have been carried out. At the third Nuclear-Free Pacific Conference held in Hawaii in May 1980, the dumping was a major issue and a resolution to oppose it was unanimously adopted.

At the World Conference Against the Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima in August, participants from the Pacific region expressed their anger, saying "How can Japan, which experienced   Hiroshima and Nagasaki, pollute our sea with nuclear waste?!" "Are you going to dump your garbage in other People's yards?!"

With this "unexpected" protest by the Pacific people the Japanese government finally began to take measures in August by sending "scientific" missions to explain the plan and make these people "understand" the Japanese situation. It is typical behavior for an imperialist government to not even notice the people until there is some protest, as was the case with Sanrizuka farmers who were forced to

 

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give up their land, their source of livelihood, for the new Tokyo International Airport. The first mission led by the Atomic Energy Safety Bureau Vice – Director, Goto Hiroshi, went to Guam on August 13, where a Pacific people’s summit conference was being held. They were first met by angry protesters at the airport. The Japanese mission tried to convince the leaders there how “safe” the dumping would be, saying that the dumping would be carried out according to the regulations of the London Treaty, (whose membership consists only those countries that would conduct nuclear waste dumping. None of the Pacific Island nations can become members), and that it would be necessary to place the nuclear waste away from a human environment since it emits radiation. The mission naturally could not convince them of the safety of dumping with such a contradictory and selfish explanation, but rather increased the anger of the people.

The summit conference ended with a resolution demanding that the Japanese govern­ment immediately cancel the dumping plan, pointing out that such a plan would, contaminate the sea, threaten marine resources, and destroy the ecology of the sea. The Japanese government sent three other missions to the region during October and November but they were also complete failures. It was said that Vanuatu, which had won independence from French colonial rule, refused the entry of Japanese mission stating that it would just be a waste of time.

 

REACHING BACK TO JAPAN

The bitter cry of the Pacific Island people "Are the Japanese going to change from nuclear victims to nuclear assailants?" shock­ed many Japanese who had been enjoying peace and high economic growth.

During October, two Chamorros from the Mariana Islands in Micronesia toured Japan from north to south for three weeks in protest against Japan's dumping plan. The 70-year old mayor of Tinian in the Northern   Marianas, Felipe Mendiola, said in fluent Japanese, which he had been forced to learn during the Japanese occupation, "Please ask the Japanese government not to dump its nuclear waste into our waters. We don't mind Japan becoming richer using a lot of electricity, but we don't want the Japanese government's plan would only benefit Japan and dump dangerous matter on us." David Rosario, a young leader of the Marianas Alliance against Nuclear Waste Dumping, stated that, "We cannot pass nuclear radiation on to our children and grandchildren. We are living with the sea as our friend and the root of our livelihood." Through their appeals, the Japanese people became aware that their nation as an economic superpower, has again become an aggressor towards the people of the Paci­fic. Until then, the majority of the people accepted the propaganda that nuclear energy is necessary for Japan to keep up its economy and that, "as long as the government says it is safe, it should be all right." Although there have been local peoples struggling against nuclear plants, located in isolated areas along the coast, the majority of people who are living away form the plants, did not feel the immediate threat nor think about it seriously, partly because these plants are invisible in daily urban life. But the voices of the Pacific people struck the hearts of many Japanese. Although the movement against nuclear dumping is still small, it has opened a new phase in Japan. 45,000 signatures of or­dinary citizens, workers, farmers and others throughout Japan have been collected. More than 1,000 individual fishers, who also depend on the sea for their livelihood, signed petit­ions against the dumping directed at the minis­tries concerned as well as at the National Fe­deration of Fisher's Cooperative Associations, which has not yet made a firm stand against it.

The Japanese government, which originally planned to start its "experimental" cumping in the fall of 1981, has been forced to postpone its execution beyond the 1981 fiscal year. It could not notify the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency last fall of the concrete details. This was because the "scientific delegation" sent four times to the Pacific Islands by the Japan­ese government was utterly unsuccessful. It was the result of the struggles of the Japanese people and, above all, of the Pacific people.

 

POSTPONED/NOT CANCELLED

However, the government has not abandoned the plan. Early this year the ruling LDP declared in its 1981 policy statement that securing energy was the most important nation­al task, meaning that nuclear energy promotion, with an eye to building 25 more plants by 1990 is a priority. For that purpose, it openly stated that it intends to crush the opposition movement. As long as there are nuclear plants and more to be built, the government has no choice but to dump their waste somewhere, and most conveniently into the sea. The government has expressed various views about the execut­ion of the plan. One is a hard line voice: "We will never give up the plan even if the count­ries concerned do not consent to it". The other is a more prudent one: "We will not enforce the plan in disregard of the opposition". Though the attitude of the government to its power relationship with the opposition move­ment, its real intention is: "We will never withdraw the plan."

The Japanese government, therefore, is now thinking of a new means to accomplish this. The Science and Technology Agency is planning to invite delegates from the Pacific Islands to Japan, and explain "safety" to them by showing them nuclear power plants here. However, even this plan does not seem enough to the govern­ment. Doko Toshio, honorary president of the Federation of Economic Organizations, said, “The problem of the nuclear waste dumping cannot be settled unless Japan gives security and some 'benefits' to the Pacific people". In short, they intend to buy the consent of the Pacific people. Their policy is "Use money when negotiations are unsuccessful". For example, Japan's International Exchange Fund decided to present Japanese textbooks to the high schools of Kusaie Island as a "New Year's gift." From now on, plans of “economic cooperation” or “econo­mic aid” will be formed one after another in exchange for the lives of the Pacific Islanders.

However, the Pacific Islanders have not been duped. They continue to call for the com­plete cancellation of the plan. Ignacio Anastacio, a 29 year old Congressperson of the newly born Republic of Belau (Palau) expressed this during a rally held on February 28 in Tokyo, in commemoration of the March 1 Nuclear-Free Paci­fic Day. He proudly said that, "We created a constitution which bans possession, storage or

 

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use of all nuclear materials in our lands and waters, which should be a model for the world. The time is past when the big powers can have their way with the little people. If Japan wants to use nuclear power, it must assume its own responsibility for the waste". The call for responsibility by these people is being picked up by the Japanese people.

On March 8, the residents of Kubokawa, a small town in Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island with a population of only 18,000 succeeded in recalling the nuclear promoting mayor. This happened despite the efforts of the Liberal Democratic Party, which sent party leaders from Tokyo to the small town with the electric power corporations' manipulative pro­paganda. The residents, the majority of whom are farmers and fishers, chose not to allow a nuclear power plant in their town, saying, "We don't need it, since we can live  on  farming and fishing. We don't want it, since it will destroy the nature we depend on".

 

ONLY PART OF THE PICTURE

Japan's nuclear imperialism is manifest­ed, not only in the waste dumping plan but also by allying itself with the U.S. in planning the construction of a large-scale spent nuclear fuel center where extremely high-level radio­active waste will be stored. Palmyra is one of the suggested possible sites. Also, Cheju Island of south Korea has recently been con­sidered as a possible site for Japan's nuclear reprocessing plant, which is being strongly opposed by local peoples in Japan because of its cruel danger. At the other end of the nuclear fuel cycle, the drive for nuclear energy also exploits and endangers indigenous peoples. Uranium ore in Australia, for example, is on the sacred lands of the Aborigines who do not want them disturbed. However, Japan has heavily invested in mining companies there and is pressuring the Australian government to expropriate the lands to allow the mining. This would leave piles of radioactive "yellow-cake" dust poisoning the Aborigines' air and streams. Japan's nuclear power and nuclear civilization is "flourishing" at the expense of these people.

Moreover, the Japanese nuclear industry is scheming to export small-sized reactors to Southeast Asian countries. These projects are to be promoted in the name of "Pan - Pacific Nuclear Cooperation", which is the keystone to the "Pan-Pacific Community Concept" that the Japanese rulers are now pushing as a national strategy. If we allow the government to proceed with the nuclear dumping, it will pave the way not only for other nuclear projects, but also for the "Pan - Pacific Community Concept", which will further exploit the natural resources and people of the Pacific. This will in turn, finally lead all humanity into destruction.

The nuclear dumping issue clearly delin­eates the greedy imperialist who only pursues his own profits in disregard of people and nature, and the people as represented by Paci­fic Islanders, who seek a life of harmony with nature, the real root of humankind's existence, and challenge any power of destruction. Who will win will be shown by the history ahead of us.

 

 

WSCF ASIA / PACIFIC ON NUCLEARIZATION

Whereas, nuclearization is an integral consequence of imperialism, which requires the militarization of our region.

Whereas, nuclearization refers not only to the deployment of nuclear weapons and their guidance systems, but also to the use of nuclear energy for so called peaceful purposes. The mining of uranium in Australia contributes to the oppression of Aborigines from whose land this is extracted. The deployment of nuclear reactors in the Philippines, S. Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India constantly exposes local populations to the risk of radiation and helps dictatorships justify increasing police powers. The proposed dumping of wastes in our oceans eventually threatens the whole ecological balance of our region, fishing industries. Nuclear testings in the Pacific have similar implications and treats the small populations of that area as unimportant.

(a) Therefore, we, the representatives of the SCMs throughout the Asia / Pacific region, gathered in Tokyo during the week, which marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 36 years ago proclaim our deter­mination to oppose the nuclearization of our region and to diligently participate in the establishment of a Nuclear-Free Pacific as a first step to a nuclear free world.

(b) We call on the General Assembly of the WSCF to take up this whole issue with great urgency.

(c) We urge the Japanese government to provide social welfare for Korean victims of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

(d) We urge the national member movements especially those from countries, which are involved in uranium mining, nuclear power production, the hosting of nuclear weapons or weapons guidance system, to actively participate in anti-nuclear action groups in their countries.

(e) We request the W.S.C.F. regional office to participate in the efforts of anti-nuclear groups in the region, parti­cularly Jishu-Koza (Tokyo), the pacific Asia Resources Centre (Hawaii).

(f) That the W.S.C.F. protests to the all nuclear powers against nuclear activity in all regions.

(g) We support the efforts of the Pacific Conference of Churches in distributing in formation and worship materials about the building-up of a Nuclear Free pacific.

 

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Faith and Justice» minorities

 

AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES: STRUGGLE FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE

REBECCA BISHOP

 

Australian Aborigines will tell you that they have lived in Australia since the beginning, the Dreamtime. Western archeologists have dated this at 50,000 years or more. They lived, and live, in harmony with nature and with each other, in a system, which evolved over those 50,000 years. Each of the approximately 500 'tribes' had distinctive aspects, especially in the cultural arena, but there are many common themes. One important similarity is that Aborigines regard themselves as part of the "land", (the English word is not very satisfactory in describing the totality of what Aborigines mean). Many physical features, which most Westerners regard as lifeless, are the dwelling places of the Ancestral Spirits, who made the earth, the animals and the Aboriginal People. These features are more sacred than the rest of the land. A second important aspect of Aboriginal civilizations is the pattern of human relationships. Aboriginal kinship patterns are among the most complex in the world, and they are based on trust and sharing. Indeed, the Aboriginal "tribe", (or clan, group), does not correspond to tribes as known in North America and elsewhere. There are no chiefs, or centralized decision-making structures, but councils of elders, who possess the law of the people and pass it on. Everyday life is based on sharing the physical necessities, and there is plenty of time for other important activities such as communing with the Ancestral Spirits and sharing the ways of the group with the children.

The occupation and colonization of Australia by Westerners, (originally Britons), bear some similarities to what happened in the rest of the world, but there were important differences. One is that Aboriginal labor was not needed in the early period of colonization, because initially convict labor, and later labor saving devices, were available for the rural industries. This meant that wholesale massacre was possible, using ingenious methods such as putting arsenic in the waterholes or the flour given to Aborigines. Secondly, the prior occupation of Australia by the Aboriginal people was not recognized by the British government. This fiction was able to be sustained because Aboriginal tribes did not present a similar organization to negotiate with to peoples encountered in other colonies, and because Aborigines did not use the land for farming, or other recognized, "sensible" purposes. Aborigines were pushed further and further out, and enclosed on reserves and missions, on the fiction that the land was not being used and would be "developed" by the Europeans. There were some constraints on the mistreatment of Aborigines where the British law preceded the settlers, but where the reverse occurred, the forces of the Crown had little choice but to accept the frontier law, which had been established. This meant rape, massacre, and countless untold wrongs.

What was the role of the church in the early colonization of Australia? The church can be regarded as a body, which complemented and yet compensated for the actions of the rest of society. It operated within the framework of the colonial expansionist and superiority attitude, and yet did provide some direct relief for Aborigines. Missionaries were given land, which was not suitable for pastoral or other purposes. In general, their task was to educate Aborigines for entry into white society; this applied especially to so-called "part Aborigines" – the Aborigines themselves recognize no such distinctions. Attitudes of the missionaries varied; a few respected the existing culture most regarded Aborigines in the same light as the rest of society, an inferior race destined to die out. Nevertheless, in some situations where massacres occurred, missionaries protected the rest of the tribe from a similar fate.

 

Rebecca Bishop, a student in Sydney is a member of Executive Committee of the Australian SCM.  She wrote this paper for the ASCH, and it was later adopted as one of their official documents.

 

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A damning criticism of the church made by many Aborigines, who are the ones who have experienc­ed its endeavors, is that it deliberately attempted to destroy the culture, families and initiative of the Aboriginal people. The church took the lead in separating children from their parents, in the interests of educating them in "civilized" ways, although some state governments later followed suit. It also split up clans among various missions so that communication and maintenance of the culture became impossible. Because the traditional culture was destroyed, and no responsibility given in the new way of life, some Aborigines had their initiative sapped from them.

Aborigines have been retaliating against their unjust treatment since the first European inva­sion.  Some moved to avoid confiscation of their children, (which occurred well into this cen­tury under the approval of the church); others repayed crime for crime, vocalized their complaints, or quietly kept the stories of their maltreatment to themselves.

Such retaliation has not been noticed, especially by whites but also by some Aborigines. One on the most damaging things to occur has been the loss of pride in themselves by some Aborigines. Whether this is only external I don't know, but it gives the appearance of being a deep-seated attitude. I have had some sorrowing experiences of Aborigines asking me the simplest things, for which I know they had the answers, merely because I have a white skin. This dormant cultural base, where it exists, means that there is no apparent reason to bother with things. It has developed because of a continual bombardment by whites with statements and insinuations that Aborigines are inferior, coupled with a lack of opportunities in the new society. There are also numerous instances of groups being forcibly moved, sometimes several times, from the land, which sustained them, at the whims of white authorities.

There has been in the last decade a much more widespread movement among Aborigines to take charge of their own affairs. This had its seeds much earlier, but it was first brought to the pu­blic's attention with the establishment of the Aboriginal Embassy on the lawn in front of Parlia­ment House, Canberra, in 1973. In urban and country town areas, the movement is reflected in the legal, medical, children's and housing services, which have been set up, run by Aborigines for the care of Aborigines. There are newspapers and magazines giving the Aboriginal point of view, mainly read by Aborigines and their white supporters. The return to traditional lands by smaller groups, in the less colonized areas, is a reflection of the same movement. There have been trips to inter­national forums and other countries to state their case. And there are more, though still not many, Aborigines being academically or technically trained, hopefully to assume administrative and policy-making positions in the public service or to work in their communities. Aborigines are relagated to the lowest rungs of the public service, however, and the fact that they are the most competent and qualified people to design programs for themselves is ignored.

The destruction of traditional Aboriginal society has been accompanied by the development of new cultural and societal forms, such as the Aboriginal services. These are regarded by most Aborigines as being truly Aboriginal, but are often not recognized as such by the white community. This impinges on Aborigines in (non-traditional) urban and fringe-dwelling situation when they find they cannot get funding for the programs they desire to implement. This is either because of overt racism or ignorance, where the group in question is considered as not Aboriginal, or because the low profile of Aboriginal issues in the public consciousness ensures that they have little electoral clout and low priority in funding decisions. Sporadic funding for programs is another problem. Waiting for the yearly decision on funds reinforces the dependency self-image, unless countered by stories to the contrary, as in the case of the Aboriginals services. Some groups have dealt with this by refusing to accept (Federal Government) Department of Aboriginal Affairs funding, or by requesting unemployment benefits to be paid as block "Community Development Grants". Others have demanded that a fixed percentage of G.N.P. (and therefore of Federal, State and even Local Govern­ment budgets), be set aside annually for Aborigines. This funding would then be seen as a right and could be counted on in the future.

These two problems are symptoms of the attitudes, which many white Australians hold about Aborigines. They are regarded by many as inferior and incapable of managing their own affairs. This has become less overt in recent times, but it is still present where management (and government depart­ments) specify the guidelines within which Aborigines must operate.  And it is still openly present in the state of Queensland, where Aborigines living on reserves have their lives rigidly controlled by white managers, under the Aborigines Act and the Torres Strait Islander Act. Aborigines also consider that the bureaucracies in other states are nearly as discriminatory and paternalistic as in Queensland, although this is not enshrined in legislation.

The present situation is still appalling and shocking, in many areas. Infant mortality rates are similar to those found in many third world countries and are three times the Australian average; leprosy, malnutrition and trachoma, (a preventable disease leading to blindness) flourish. These can be removed only with the provision of adequate housing, water, public utilities and appropriate education. Yet many white Australians are apathetic and uninformed about these conditions, and what would be done about them. The essential element is that Aborigines design services to suit their needs. As mentioned above, they are beginning to deal with these problems, but they need support from the wider community to obtain sufficient funds.

The church's current responses and attitudes vary considerably. Some have taken public stands in support of Aborigines, when governments have been attempting to use force against them, often to permit mining on their reserve or leased land. The Noonkanbah case is the most recent example, and it will be further discussed below. Others are becoming more aware of the need to support Abori­gines, and to find out first hand about their situation. Still others are much as they have always been, unaware and uncaring, or actively racist. Mission stations also vary; there has been publicity recently about one, which is still extremely paternalistic, which the people have left until the administrator in question is removed. One needs to ask why church authorities are necessary on missions at all; Aboriginal people are perfectly capable of running them themselves in accordance

 

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with their own societal values, and hiring any expertise deemed necessary. A recent W.C.C. delegation, which visited Australia at the request of the Australian Council of Churches, elicited some favorable and some unfavorable response from churches and church leaders. More important will be to see how churches continue to change their attitudes, with the W.C.C. report as a stimulus.

The challenge facing both those in the church and the larger community is basically, to enable and allow Aboriginal people to continue to determine their own future. The first issue facing us is to pressure the Federal Government to give legal, inalienable title to reserves and missions to the communities reside on them. In only two states of Australia does any semblance of land rights exist, and there are moves to further weaken the legislation so that mining can occur against the community's wishes. Compensation for destruction and dispossession to "urban" Aborigines, to give them a base from which to build their new society, is also necessary. The N.S.W. Select Committee on Aborigines has stated that the achievement of land rights is expected to bring improvements in the areas of health, education, and employment. Aborigines assert that land rights is fundamental, but must not be used as a final payment to Aborigines when their situation is so appalling. Existing programs of the various governments are often carried out in a spirit of "doing things for them", which has in the past caused so much damage. The attitudes of the white community need continual re­education, to allow us to be sensitive and sympathetic to the needs of Aborigines, and to change our oppressive actions.

There have been several episodes in the last few years, which illustrate the oppressive impact of Australian society on Aborigines, to this very day. One is the continued encroachment by (mainly multinational) mining companies on Aboriginal reserves or pastoral leases. The most recent, which received international publicity, was at Noonkanbah. This community had been operating a cattle station successfully for several years, and established other services such as an Aboriginal-run school, before the Western Australian Government issued permits for oil exploration. The subsequent adverse publicity, which had not been anticipated in the government's attempt to use this as a precedent for further development, did not stop Amax, the company involved, from drilling on the land in close proximity to sacred sites, with the promise of disruption of the community's way of life should drilling proceed.

A second development occurring at this time is the proposed repeal of the Aborigines Act 1971-1979 and the Torres Strait Islander Act 1971-1979 by the Queensland government. Although these acts contain much that is discriminatory and unsatisfactory, it appears that when the Acts are repealed, the reserves of Queensland will be degazetted, and will be resumed as land owned by the government. There are several mining and tourist developments proposed for existing reserves, should this happen, and nothing to stop these from continuing to occur in the future.

Thirdly, the Federal Government is following a policy of decentralizing government functions, and handing back authority in Aboriginal Affairs to the state governments. This is seen as unaccep­table by the Aboriginal people, and it goes against the mandate given to the Federal Government in a constitutional amendment in 1967, which was passed by an overwhelming majority.

These examples show that despite some small-scale movements at some levels of society toward recognizing the rights of Aborigines, to which land rights is central, the Federal Government and the structures of society are continuing to impede progress. Again it must be emphasized that these re­ceive implicit approval from the majority of white Australians, who do not make their disapproval felt, if it exists at all.

One might say that the A.S.C.M. has played a stimulative, if minor, role in assisting the Aboriginal struggle to date. Many of the most sympathetic and informed people in the church, and some in the government, were once members of ASCM. The impact of these people on the situation, while generally helpful, is miniscule when compared with the enormity of public ignorance. Presently it is involved in pushing for reforms, along with groups like Action for World Development. It can continue to work in those areas of immediate need, such as the N.S.W. land rights legislation and the Queensland situation. However, I would urge ASCMers to listen to Aborigines, to learn about them and from them, and to consult with them, so that future changes will be those that Aborigines desire. Education in the white community is the largest area in which we can make an impact, and it is one of the most important to stop the continued destruction, which is occurring, and to release resources for Aborigines' use.

 

In the beginning there was the "dreamtime", says the Aboriginal book of Genesis, in which spirits rose miraculously from the earth and sea to bring life, language and laws to the land. So the Aborigines came to occupy Australia, to share the land among tribes and clans and create a complex culture, structured around sacred totems and paintings.

Then only two centuries ago came the first white man.

Since then we have been slowly losing our culture, our tribal territory and our life, until finally we have become outcasts in our own land.

- an Australian Aborigine

 

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Solidarity>> Appeals

 

LATIN AMERICA

THE U.S. PRESENCE

 

This background information on the crisis in Caribbean and central America was sent to us by the National Interim Committee of the NESC and the WSCF North America Region with an urgent appeal to “raise our voices against the very real threat of U.S. military action in any form in Central America and the Caribbean. Our voices, joining with scholars, trade unionists, other church members and other students can play a role in restraining those who are  actively contemplating and moving towards a military rather, than a political settlement in El Salvador" WSCF Asia/Pacific Region has re­sponded with a letter to President Reagan expressing protest on the proposed action, and solidarity  with our friends in Latin America.

All indications are that the Reagan administration is steering a radically new course in Central America and the Caribbean, representing a fundamental break with the Carter administration policy in the region. According to revelations in the New York Times of November 5th, Secretary of State Haig is now pressing the Pentagon to develop military options for the region. This charge comes despite his previous promise to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would consult with it before making any changes in U.S. policy in the region.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this is a policy fraught with danger and heightens the possibility of military entanglements. Moreover, it is being pursued in total absence of a public debate of its implications. The circumstances are uncomfortably reminiscent of how we stumbled into the Vietnam quagmire. In light of this, it is urgent to open that debate.

Since taking office, the Reagan administration has implemented several broad changes in U.S. policy toward Latin America, among them:

 

1. Reversing the trend toward normalization of relations with Cuba (and more recently Nicaragua) accepting it as a legitimate actor in the world political arena. On the contrary, the Regan policy has been to outlaw and isolate Havana (and Managua) with the ultimate objective of overthrowing the current government.

2. Normalizing relations with more repressive Latin American regimes such as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Guatemala, which the Carter administration had pressured for change in the area of human rights.

3. Containing and stifling any movement toward social change in the region by labeling it "communist", "subversive" and "foreign-dominated" and relying increasingly on military, as opposed to political, solutions to social problems.

 

More recently, with its inability to resolve the growing crisis in El Salvador through military assistance and repression, the Reagan administration has taken a dangerous new turn. Over the last couple of weeks it has become evident that the Salvadorean military is not only unable to contain and defeat the rebels but that it is on the verge of a major military defeat as the rebel movement gains more popular support. The Pentagon has reportedly concluded that the war can only be won by devastating the country and killing large sectors of its population.

 

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A second factor heightening the immediate crisis is the growing awareness in Washington that in order to reverse the Nicaraguan revolution the Sandinista movement must be dealt a decisive blow. The deteriorating situation in El Salvador and the consolidation of government power by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua has forced the administration to develop a series of extremely dangerous military options for the region, which include everything from the introduction of Latin  American armies to Nicaragua and El Salvador to the sending of U.S. troops if this fails, with a concommitant blockade of and military action against Cuba. The indicators pointing to this extreme state of affairs include the following:

* Reported placement of military bases in Florida and the Caribbean on "standby" or "alert" basis.

* Enlargement of the annual U.S. naval maneuvers in the Caribbean beyond their normal size, heightening Cuban and Nicaraguan fears that they will be used as a cover for military opera­tions.

* Comments by Vice President George Bush during bilateral talks with several Latin American government officials that Washington in considering decisive action in the Caribbean and Central America.

* The exclusion of representatives of Nicaragua, Grenada and Guyana from a recent periodic meeting in Washington of the military and intelligence chiefs of Latin America, thereby heightening fear of a discussion of a coordinated military action.

* Reports of heavy pressure from Washington on Guatemala and Honduras to intervene militarily in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

* The curtailment of channels of dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba through the recall of Wayne Smith, head of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana, and the absence of Miles Frechette, head of the State Department's Cuba Desk, reportedly "on vacation" for two weeks.

* A dramatic increase in the level of anti-government activity in Nicaragua, paralleling the type of activity in Cuba preceding the Bay of Pigs invasion.

* The decision by Cuba, fearing military aggression, to mobilize the country for war the first such mobilization since the 1962 missile crisis.

* The reported massing of 6,000 - 8,000 mercenaries and ex-Somoza troops on the Honduran bord­er with Nicaragua, heightening Nicaraguan fears of an invasion.

* The call by the alarmed Congressional Black Caucus for the administration to clarigy the facts as well as its intentions vis-a-vis its Caribbean / Central American policy.

 

If the Reagan administration continues to pursue this bellicose policy instead of seeking a political or negotiated settlement along lines, for instance, proposed by Mexico and France, three things seem imminent:

1. The loss of thousands of Latin American lives as the military situation escalates and becomes regionalized.

2. The increased possibility of involvement of U.S. troops in a regional conflict, with accom­panying loss of many American lives.

3. In the event of an attempted blockade or attack on Cuba, the threat of a nuclear confronta­tion with the Soviet Union, which is pledged to defend the island from aggression, and the concommitant threat of thermonuclear war.

 

Thus, it is crucial that the American Congress and public be fully informed of the Regan administration's intentions and, given the gravity and immediacy of the situation, there be a full public debate of this new foreign policy thrust. Our immediate challenge is to force the administr­ation to drop all plans for aggression that will provoke a wider war in Central America and the Caribbean.

 

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PACIFIC

JAPANESE / FRENCH NUCLEAR IMPERIALISM

 

IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLES OF THE PACIFIC, WE RAISE OUR STRONGEST PROTEST AGAINST THESE INHUMAN ACTIONS BY THE TWO GOVERNMENTS.

WE STRONGLY URGE THAT THE GOVERNMENTS OF BOTH JA­PAN AND FRANCE IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND UNCONDITIONALLY ABANDON THEIR NUCLEAR TESTING AND NUCLEAR WASTE DUMPING.

 

September 1, 1981

 

I appeal on behalf of the Peoples of the Pacific to all the citizens of the world to help us in our campaign against the nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, in particular, the French testing at Mururoa Atoll in Polynesia, and the Japanese government's plan to dump its unwanted nuclear wastes in the Pacific Ocean.

For too long the Peoples of the Pacific have been denied the right to live in peace and harmony in our homeland environments because of the nuclear testing and similar activities. For instance, before the war, our lands were confiscated by foreign powers for use as military bases, and during the war, our islands were converted into a battlefield by foreign military powers. After the war, some of the islands have been used by the United States, Great Britain, and France as nuclear testing grounds. As a direct result of the war and nuclear tests, many people have been killed and many more are dying of cancer, leukemia, and other related incurable diseases.

The peoples of the Pacific have united in our campaign against nuclear testing and nuclear waste dumping in the ocean, and many Pacific Island Nations have taken positive and concrete steps in this campaign. The Republic of Belau has recently adopted a constitution that completely bans the use of nuclear power, nuclear testing, nuclear weapons, and other highly toxic chemicals within the land or water territory of Belau.

Nuclear waste dumping by Japan or any other country, and nuclear testing by France or any others in the Pacific Ocean are criminal acts of genocide committed upon the Peoples of the Pacific. Any destruction of the Islands or Ocean is an attack upon the Peoples, as we depend on our islands and surrounding waters for our daily survival.

Therefore, on behalf of the Peoples of the Pacific, I strongly appeal to all the citizens of the world to join in our campaign. We are counting on your support, for it is only with your support that we can stop these nuclear activities so that our children can live in peace.

I propose a worldwide petition campaign against the French nuclear testing and government's nuclear waste dumping plan in the Pacific.

J. Roman Bedor, Republic of Belau

"on behalf of the Peoples of the Pacific"

 

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PHILIPPINES

A WIFE'S AGONY AND HOPE

where is romy?

 

Dear Friends in the WSCF,

 

I am writing to request your support in pressing the Philippine government for the release of my husband, Romeo G. Crismo, who was picked up by plainclothesmen on August 12, 1980.

Following are the events prior to his disappearance:

In 1979, Romy was often visited by Captain Rodolgo Alvarado of the Military Intelligence Group while he was working at the Commission on Audit and teaching at St. Ferdinand College in Ilagan, Isabela. Captain Alvarado always taped his interviews with him.

Romy and I were married in March 1980. He was hospitalized on the day of our wedding for malignant malaria and black water fever. We stayed at the hospital for two months then moved to Tuguegarao in June 1980. Since then, we noticed a man who seems to be watching us whenever we leave the house or when we return home from work.

Students of Cagayan Teachers College where he was teaching at the time of his disappearance reported that they saw a group of plainclothesmen passing by and alternately peeping into his classroom while he was conducting classes on August 12, 1980. The men followed him from 2:00-5:00 pm. He went to St. Louis College for his evening class where students saw him in the campus and rushing to his classroom. That was the last time they saw him. Students and faculty members in the schools where he was teaching believe he was taken by the military.

His disappearance was reported to the Philippine Constabulary (PC), the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI), the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), the Integrated National Police (INP), Ministry of National Defense, National Church-Military Liaison, President Marcos, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

The Chief of Investigations of the PC Provincial Command in Cagayan assured me many times in the presence of witnesses that my husband is alive and I don't have to worry. He advised me to just wait for him to come back and not to go around asking people to locate him, or to help me.

An investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Service in March this year. I was never informed of the result of the investigation but I was told no one was willing to testify because it is risky. The CIS legal officer advised me to change residence for security reasons.

In March 1981, the Ministry of National Defense issued a statement saying Romy was never arrest­ed nor detained by the military in Cagayan but they will continue the search for him. On the same month, however, Romy was seen in a safe-house in Tuguegarao, Cagayan which belongs to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). The informant said he was later moved to Manila but he is not sure of the place. I made inquiries at the Ministry of National Defense but I was only met with uncertain statements.

I firmly believe that Romy is in the custody of the military, with all the indications and re­ports from reliable people in the military establishment. I have been following up the case and de­manding that Romy's whereabouts be ascertained if they could not release him yet, without success.

The struggle is not mine or for Romy's family alone. I believe it is also for Christian and all who love truth and justice. That is why I come to you for support. Let us work for the immediate release of Romy by writing the military and President Marcos.

Thank you very much. More power as you continue to work for justice and human rights!

 

Very Sincerely

PHEBE GAMATA CRISMO

 

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Reports

 

GOD’S CALL TO A NEW BEGINNING

 

"God's Call To A New Beginning" was the theme of an ecumenical conference held recently (Oct. 2-7, 1981) in Montreal. Sponsored by the Canada-China Program of the Canadian Council of Churches, the meeting provided an opportunity for more than 150 participants from 25 countries to listen to and dialogue with a delegation of Catholic and Protestant Church leaders from the People's Republic of China. As the theme suggested, the conference was intended to usher in a new beginning in Relat­ions between Churches in the West and the Church in China -- relations that would be based on mutual respect and solidarity rather than the domination that had characterized it in the past in some ways, it also initiated a new beginning in theological dialogue and critical sharing between Chinese Christians and Christians in other Third World countries.

While the delegations from the United States and Canada were the largest in number, there was substantial representation from Third World countries and at least 25% of the participants were wo­men. Present were former missionaries to China, such as Ted Johnson, Jim Endicott and David Patton, as well as representatives of Missions Boards, theologians, executives of regional Church Conferen­ces, lay people, academicians and social activists. The WSCF was represented by Ahn Jae Wong (Asia / Pacific) and Ketekou (Africa).

Conference organizers Ray Whitehead and Theresa Chu, steered participants through a tightly packed 6-day program that included a lecture on current political developments in China, 2 panel sessions on "Third World" theologies, a one-day session on the "Contextualization of theology" in Canada and several presentations by the Chinese delegates on "the Church in China". The panels and plenary sessions were followed by small workshop discussions. Despite the substantial program, par­ticipants were able to organize additional informal sessions several of which concerned woman. Jiang Pei-fen, the only woman delegate from China gracefully consented to a question-answer session on the status, role and activities of woman in the Church in China.

One of the highlights of the Conference was a simple but moving ecumenical worship service conducted in three languages (English, Chinese and French). It was a historic moment - for the Chinese delegates who acknowledged that it was the first time Chinese Catholics and Chinese Protestants had participated in an ecumenical service together. In fact, the Conference celebrated a number of "firsts": it was the first time for the Chinese Catholic delegates to attend an international conference outside of China in more than 20 years. It was the first ecumenical and international conference of its kind. It was the first time for many participants from various parts of the world to meet with Chinese Church representatives. The list could go on indefinitely but what was import­ant was the hope among many participants that this was simply the prelude to further improvements in the ties between the Chinese Church and Churches elsewhere.

 

QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK ABOUT CHINA TODAY

The inaugural lecture entitled "Questions People Ask About China Today" was delivered by Paul Lin, Head of East Asian Studies at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Lin provided an interpretation of current political-economic developments in China and a projection of its future problems. Loosely organized but provocative at points, the lecture raised more questions than it attempted to answer.

 

The delegates from China were: K.H.Ting, President of the China Christian council; Fu Teishan, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Beijing; Tu Shihua, Bishop of Hanyang; Wang Zi-cheng, vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of yaoyanq, chen Ze-ming, Vice-Principal of Nanking Union Theological College, Han Wenzao, Asst. General Secretary of the CCC- Jiang pei-Fen, president of the Jiangsu Christian Council; Shen Yi-fan, member of the Standing Committee of the CCC- and Zhao Fusan, Deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of World Religion, Beijing. Ms. Teresa Carino, teaches Political Science at De La Salle University, Philippines. This report was specially written for Praxis.

 

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A session on the churches in China: Bishop Ting leads the discussion.

 

We were reminded by Dr. Lin that whatever our interests or aspirations for China may be, it was important to recognize and acknowledge that China first and foremost, "belongs" to the Chinese themselves. And what has remained fundamentally unchanged for the Chinese people today is their constant striving for independence and for the attainment of a more humane and equitable society. What Has changed is the conception of strategy and tactics in achieving this fundamental goal.

In the building of socialism in China, Dr. Lin pointed out that there must be a balance between the dual processes of economic growth and institutional and value changes. The Chinese have under­gone the traumas of both errors -- that of either stressing too much economic growth or that of relying too much on changing values and institutions. Mao's error, what Lin describes as "forward socialization", lay in his attempt to move human values ahead of economic change. With the post-Mao leadership, Lin warned that the other error, that is, that of "forward specialization" might be committed. He concluded that it was too early to say that the current economic strategy would lead China towards capitalism. However, he believed that given the deep historical roots and power of the Chinese bureaucracy, the danger that might confront China in the future is the emergence of a new bureaucratic class and a form of "bureaucrat-socialism".

 

THEOLOGY IN CONTEXT

The secular orientation of the inaugural lecture shifted to a theological plane the following day when two panels with Third World representatives presented their views on "Theology in Context". Brief theological reflections were given by delegates from a wide range of "contexts": the Philip­pines, Haiti, China, the Carribean, India, Latin America, Korea, Women, etc. Among others, Oh Jae Shik talked about the "Minjung Theology" of Korean Christians, Serjio Torres summarized the Libera­tion Theology that had emerged in Latin America while Cynthia McClean gave a personal and refreshing statement on the theological meaning of being a woman in a North American context. One of the Chinese delegates reflected on the theological meaning and implications of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in China.

It was evident from the panel presentations and from the workshop discussions that followed, that one significant aspect of the contextualization of theology is the importance or primacy of a people's historical experience as the basis for theological reflection and interpretation. Theologi­cal reflection has to begin with an understanding of the historical, cultural and national contexts in which we are located. It has to begin with an understanding of the collective history of one's people.

One common historical experience that was articulated by almost all Third World representatives was the people's experience of oppression and exploitation - whether it was expressed in imperialism, colonialism, class oppression, racism or male chauvinism. In all of these historical accounts, how­ever, there was also a recognition and affirmation that God is the "God of the people" — of the poor and the oppressed. As stated by a Chinese delegate, "In a class society. God does not stand neutral — he is on the side of the oppressed."

Taking the historicity or the Incarnation of God seriously also meant taking the specific his­torical, cultural and national contexts, in all of their myriad variations, seriously. The prolife­ration of different theologies that such contextualization implies left some participants uneasy and it was revealing that some White, First World delegates raised the question of "What then is the norm? How will we know if a theology is authentic or not?"

The answer to such a question, as it emerged from discussions throughout the conference, was that if God is the God of history and of the people, then the test of authenticity for the Church and for a Christian does not depend simply on the adherence to a given set of dogmas or doctrines but rather rests on commitment to and involvement with the people - with their sufferings and with their hopes and aspirations. Authenticity then involves a continuing search for what is true and authentic -- it is a process rather than a given norm. One implication of this, which was succintly expressed by Roger Hutchinson in his lecture, is that "Western Christianity is no longer accept­ed as normative for determining how Christianity ought to be related to particular contexts. Western

 

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male theologians can no longer keep alive the fiction that our theology is universal and objective while the theologies of Asians, Africans, Latin America, American Blacks and  women  are  'partisan and subjective'."

 

Not only is Western Christianity presently being challenged by the rise in Third World theolo­gies, it is also being challenged on home grounds by the ongoing secularization process in  Western societies and all its social and political implications. Both Andre Myre, in his discussion of "Catholic Resources for participation in issues of social justice", and Roger Hutchinson in his lecture on the "Contextualization of Theology - A Canadian Perspective" acknowledged the inadequacy of existing Church structures, and Western theology, with its 2,000 years of cultural accretions, in meeting contemporary challenges.

If the need for contextualization of theology stemmed from a growing awareness of how our theology is colored by our cultural, political, economic and social contexts, this has been further reinforced by the increasing recognition of how meaningless or even dangerous it can be to impose or transpose a theology that has been shaped by a specific context into another. This was especially driven home by the accounts, given by the Chinese delegates of Christianity as a foreign religion in China. The Christianity that was transmitted to China was not only clothed in Western culture and hence difficult to root in Chinese soil, but was also associated with foreign domination and aggre­ssion. Particularly in the last century, Christian missionaries made inroads into China, often, if not always as the result of unequal treaties imposed on China by the West.  The Chinese delegates pointed out that while the missionary movement is different from colonialism, nevertheless, it emerged together with colonialism and served colonial interests, whether consciously or unconscious­ly. Thus, history of Christianity in China is not something the Chinese Christians are proud of. As an institution, the Church sided with the powerful, the exploiters and the colonizers of the Chinese people. As a "foreign" religion, it alienated Chinese Christians from the Chinese people. Its association with the colonial powers and with the reactionary government of the Kuomintang further alienated Chinese Christians from the struggles of the Chinese people and from their aspi­rations. Hence, the theme of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement that was launched by Christians soon after Liberation in 1949 was and remains "Reconciliation with the People".

For those Christians who participated in the Three-Self Movement, it was "an act of repentance." Their realization of how the Church and Christianity had been used as a tool of reaction, as an opiate of the people, as an instrument of oppression and colonization of the Chinese people was a painful awakening. The "death and resurrection" of the Chinese Church was not easy nor painless. Sometimes, a tear or a break in the voice would reveal the deep, perhaps traumatic, emotional ex­perience of that transformation for Chinese Christians as the Chinese delegates  recounted the personal and collective metamorphosis that Chinese Christians had undergone and as they recounted their struggles to discover meaning in a Christianity that had become encrusted with Western culture and distorted by colonialism.

What the Chinese delegation seemed to be saying was that with the Liberation and the accompanying dissociation of Christianity from imperialism and foreign domination, Christianity, perhaps for the first time, stood a chance of becoming authentically Chinese and meaningful for the Chinese people. To be rooted in China, the Christian Church has to be for the people, administered by the people and expressive of the struggles and aspirations of the people.

 

In concrete terms, this means that:

a) the Church has to be administered entirely by the Chinese people themselves;

b) the Church has to be self-supporting, self-reliant and self-propagating; and

c) the Church has to concern itself with the fate and welfare of the people.

Politically, it means affirming the Churches' support for the building of socialism in China.

 

Chinese Christians today celebrate the self-hood and independence of the Chinese Church that has been achieved over the last 30 years and are asking that Churches abroad share in that celebration and affirmation.

To be an independent, self-administered and indigenized Church has not been without attendant difficulties. For the Chinese Catholics, reconciliation with the people often meant having to dis­obey Papal injunctions that disallowed participation in national, patriotic activities. The Vatican has not ceased even in recent years to assert its authority over the Chinese Church and dictate on religious and political matters without regard for the self-hood and independence of the Chinese Catholic Church. The continuing attempts of Churches outside China, both Catholic and Protestant, to interfere in the activities of the Chinese Church was uppermost in the minds of the Chinese delegates as they addressed themselves to conference participants. They made it clear that while they welcomed the solidarity and friendship of Churches elsewhere, they were opposed to the sending of material aid, missionaries or even Bibles into China without prior consultation and the approval of Chinese Churches.

The sovereignty of the Chinese Church should be respected. In this context, one outcome of the Conference was a letter to the Pope, endorsed by the majority of participants calling on the Vati­can to re-examine its relations with the Catholic Church in China. Apart from problems in internat­ional relations, the Chinese delegates explained that internally, the Chinese Church had numerous problems to overcome. The restrictions on Church and religious activities during the Cultural Revolution meant that at present there is an urgent task of "Christian spiritual nurture and spiritual care," to use the words of K.H. Ting. For example, in some parts of China, there is still a mingling of Christian tenets with feudal superstitions. There is a compartmentalization between religious and social commitments and because of the practice of holding worship in homes (a practice that grew during the Cultural Revolution) there have been dangers of deviations. Given all of these problems, K.H. Ting indicated that Church leaders currently have to give more time and attention to

 

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domestic needs, a preoccupation which will limit their ability to participate meetings and conferences.

TO CONCLUDE:

For a non-theologian, the richness in theological experiences and expressions that poured forth during the Conference was difficult to digest all at once and much of it was probably lost on me. Nevertheless, the sincere and oftentimes very personal sharing that took place during the Conference enriched and touched me and many other participants, who were visibly moved. Someone remarked that he had never attended a conference where the noise level was so high! This only attested to the intensity of the discussions, debates and sharing that took place.

Certainly countless questions remain unanswered and I had to repack, and bring home together with my luggage, questions I had brought with me to Montreal - theological questions, political questions, questions about China. Given the unusually large numbers of people, it probably was difficult to deal with all of these questions. However, strong feelings of mutual respect and solidarity have been evoked and many of us left the Conference amazed at our own ignorance of China. As Cynthia McClean said: “The Conference has made me realized how mush the world has been cut off from China and how much poorer we are because of that”. It was her hope and her commitment (and that of many participants) that the conference will be the new beginning in the attainment of a “one hundred percent world”.

 

 

PLAYING WITH APARTHEID – the springbok tour of nz

STEPHEN PAYTON

 

A light plane circled low again and again over the sports field chased by several   police helicopters. On each sweep the pilot dropped flour bombs and other objects, once scoring a direct hit on a player. Each time it rose away from the field the plane was met with cheers from 6000 protesters kept at bay by 2000 police in the streets outside the park.

The third rugby test between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South African Springboks ended the most controversial sporting tour in New Zealand history. It was played behind an immense security screen - several lines of barricades and barbed wire, over 2000 police - and under continuous aerial bombardment.

As the game proceeded, the peaceful demonstration outside turned into a hostile confrontation between police and protesters and finally, a full-scale riot that left over one hundred people injured, two hundred arrested and a whole country gasping in disbelief.

New Zealanders have always been ready to believe the image we attempt to project international­ly of a peaceful, multicultural society that is not distorted by class conflict or racial tension. New Zealand and its history have been kind to this people and they, in turn, are kind to each other.

This false complacency has been shattered at last, not by race riots or a general strike, but by a rugby tour. While many will still cling to their preconceptions and false analyzes, the majority have been forced to begin to learn some hard lessons about the realities of this “Pacific Paradise” we used to call Godzone (God's Own).

The tour had been announced by the Rogby Union a year earlier and anti-apartheid organizations were immediately on the attack. By the beginning of 1981, it was apparent that these traditional opponents of sporting contacts with South Africa were representing a much wider section of public opinion than ever before. An opinion poll conducted just prior to the tour revealed more people in opposition than in support. In retrospect the country remained divided on whether the tour should have occurred. A further poll indicated that support had remained consistent at just over 40% while events had increased the level of opposition to over 50%.

 

Stephen Payton is a student of Political Science and an active member of the New Zealand SCM. This is an account of his experiences and was specially written for praxis.

 

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One way or another New Zealanders had formed strong opinions by the end of those eight  weeks Not only were so many willing to acknowledge their opposition but in unprecedented numbers they were willing to demonstrate this. On May 1, 1981, over 75,000 people participated in public rallies around the country. In early July, more than twice that number inarched against the tour. It was a last minute bid to persuade the Prime Minister to stop it proceeding.

Conservative opinion was also organized. The society for the Protection of Individual Rights preached about freedom for sports players and that old adage about keeping politics out of sport. Such rhetoric failed to lead to any public debate. Opinion was already polarized and political lead­ership was lacking.

Although it had signed the Commonwealth Gleneagles Agreement on contacts with South Africa and despite obvious concern at home and abroad, the Government refused to make more than token gestures to discourage the tour. It ignored the significant changes that have occurred in domestic conditions and in the international context since the questions of sporting contacts with South Africa had last assumed such importance in the early 1970s. With an election several months away, the Government's policy was an electioneering gamble. The decision was left to the Rugby Union, which refused to con­sider any criteria other than the narrowly perceived short-term interests of rugby.

So the tour proceeded. It began in the provincial town of Gisborne on the east coast of the North Island. It was a quiet beginning away from the centres of protest and left the issue of dis­ruption and conflict hanging untested. Anti-tour organizations talked confusingly of 'using non-violent civil disobedience tactics' but of only 'going to the edge of the law'. Police spokesmen emphasized their neutral stance and preparedness. But no one could be sure what events would lead to. There was a heavy atmosphere of uncertainty in a situation that was new for everyone.

Three days later at Hamilton, a larger centre and only one hundred miles from the country's largest city, Auckland, the tour was tested for the first time. Hamilton was a turning point. Before the game had even started, a spontaneous surge of protesters broke through police lines, park fences and spectators to occupy the middle of the field with a tight bunch of three hundred people. Police surrounded them but without, at that stage, the will and resources to shift so many people and with news of a light plane converging on the park, the game was called off.

A victory to anti-tour protesters, it was not won so easily. The angry crowd, deprived of their game, attacked demonstrators in the streets for hours afterwards. The media also felt public anger and from Hamilton onwards they were accused of biased reporting from all sides.

The possibility of a cancelled or shortened tour was raised briefly but as the Springbok team swung south on its full itinerary the tour settled into a determined routine accompanied by escalat­ing tension. The police, continuing to claim neutrality, became guardians of the tour and turned against protesters. Their numbers increased and barbed wire, long batons, riot helmets and shields appeared. The armed forces provided back-up support as police resources were stretched to the limit.

Protesters adopted a variety of tactics on a broad front. The rugby games were not the only focus of opposition. In each major center, rallies were held on every ‘day of shame’ when New Zealanders played rugby ‘with apartheid’. Rugby Union offices were entered. Roads were blocked. Companies that assisted the tour were picketed. The Springboks themselves were pursued vigorously and denied any peace. Every game was played under siege.

After the Hamilton match, the games were not interrupted again. The police were able to contain the opposition to that extent and in the major centres where conflict was frequent frustrations grew on both sides. The number of arrests climbed towards 1000 and beyond it. Violence was becoming a common element at every demonstration.

Church and community leaders had received publicity for their early efforts to reach a compromise with rugby officials and protesters. But as the tour proceeded many moderates became alienated from the course of active protest. With confrontation escalating radicals increased their influence in the protest organizations, but wide public support continued. Only entrenched conservatives retained the stereotype of the protester as a 'young Commie stirrer'. Rallies drew together people of all ages from every corner of society. This coalition cut across old associations splitting families, work places and communities. In small centres, the division has been strongest and for some people protesting meant the loss of a job or continuing harassment.

The final weeks of the tour saw the Springboks return to the north. The continuing program of demonstrations had been more moderate in the northern city of Auckland than further south in Well­ington and Christchurch where confrontation had characterized protests far more. A large demonstration from the second to last weekend of the tour involved very little violence but the final test, which coincided with the anniversary of the death of black South African Steve Biko, was the last opportunity for both police and protesters to vent their frustration.

It was too late for protesters to stop the tour. Emotions were confused. The unprecedented security operation required for the game was in a sense a victory for the protest movement. Yet the tour's schedule had not been breached since Hamilton. Anger was being focused more and more strong­ly on the police who were becoming less and less restrained in their handling of protesters. Arrests had given way to 'Move or you will be hurt!'

On that last day the groups of protesters with helmets and protective padding were joined by a large Biko Memorial March, which escorted a memorial coffin and laid wreaths at the barricades. A group of Actors Against Apartheid accompanied them, leading the chanting. Among them were some clowns who went dressed for peace and even tried distributing flowers to the police.

 

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The sights of a bloodied, beaten clown in the hospital waiting room was bizarre. The rest of that day's events were just brutal. Neither police nor protesters had needed much provocation. The blood and bewilderment were a fitting end to the most misconceived sporting tour in New Zealand history.

The aftermath was no less confusing. As the full story of the tour's climax emerged complete with numerous allegations of police violence the Prime Minister launched a 'Thank the Police' cam­paign. Thousands of New Zealanders responded with donations. Thousands more responded to the Demon­strator's Defense and Aid Fund. The legal mopping-up will take several years and involves the legal system in a series of new issues. Police used photographs and video film of demonstrations as evi­dence but failed to gain access to news film for use in court. The system of internal discipline in the police force is being attacked for not allowing the public sufficient access for the laying and supporting of complaints.

Beyond these questions of civil liberties, the protest organizations face the question of 'What Now?' The tour brought together students, workers, radicals, middle class professionals, young and old, every type of ordinary New Zealander, in and unprecedented coalition. The church was unusually prominent at all levels of the protest movement. Though this coalition is unlikely to survive after the tour and court proceedings are finished one of the positive legacies of the whole experience is the network of associations that has been formed. Thus while Christians have been divided over  the tour like everyone else, some within the church and outside it, have realized the contribution that Christians can make on the left wing of the political spectrum.

This contribution could be important as the protest movement turns to issues of domestic racism. This step is a logical and imperative one as New Zealand wakes up to a deteriorating racial situation, but in the process protest movements must endeavor to retreat from the precedent of violence that has been established. In the rapid escalation of events during the tour non-violent and symbolic tactics were superseded by methods of confrontation and their place in future protest is a major issue.

Finally, the question for the whole country is 'Why did it happen?' We know how it happened. We can trace the progression of political mistakes and reconstruct the confusion, but the events of the tour point to deeper realities in New Zealand society that must be faced. Those who allowed the tour to happen and did not attempt to stop it did not understand the changes that are occurring.

Several decades of rapid urbanization have brought the two major ethnic groups, Maoris and Pakehas, (the indigenous Polynesians and the European majority) together in the cities. As Maoris have articulated their demands for equality, the possibility of conflict has grown. In the 1970s, the prosperity that papered over the cracks has gone. New Zealand has also become far more aware of the demands of race and minority issues worldwide.

The government failed to take account of these changes and violence resulted. Unless social and economic policies change to reflect new realities and New Zealanders begin to take individual responsibility for change this country faces a violent future.

 

 

A NOTE ON MY VISIT TO CHINA

CYNTHIA LAM

 

This is the first time in the past thirty-two years that Hong Kong churches paid an official visit to the Three-Self Patriotic Church in China. This rush trip took ten days to visit the church­es in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdon, as well as the theological seminary in Nanjing. This trip marked the beginning of a renewal of relationship between the churches in Hong Kong and in China.

Since most of the Hong Kong delegates have been in and out of China a number of times, the significant contrast between the social reality of Hong Kong and China is no longer a cultural shock. The main concern, rather, was on the renewal of human relationships. As old colleagues and new friends from both sides embraced each other, what was said was not so important. What was unsaid in the friendly gestures really created reassurance and hope.

What has been said was a step forward in the consciousness of Hong Kong Church leaders. The Hong Kong team repeatedly exchanged toasts with church as well as mid-level Communist leaders, to a "United Front" through which churches in Hong Kong could work together with Christian and Communist authorities for the common good of the Chinese people.

Besides ceremonial remarks, there was no communiqué, no joint statement. Nor was there any secret agreement. Yet this visit laid the ground for possibilities of further exchange between the two areas.

Details of the itinerary are available in the official report of the NCC of Hong Kong. Here I shall only briefly share the general impression that the group received, plus two matters of perso­nal concern.

First the general impression. The Church in China insisted upon the principles of the Three-Self Movement (Self-determination, self-maintenance, self-propagation), which was started thirty-one years ago, but was later disrupted by the Cultural Revolution. The Church also succeeded in wiping out denominations, and in simplifying rituals. All Hong Kong delegates were impressed by these achievements. And the warm reception left lasting impressions.

Next, the two matters of concern.

First, as I was the only student in the entire group, I anticipated making acquaintances with Chinese students. But through out the whole trip, seldom did I find any youth or student representa­tive in any but one official gathering. I raised the question of the whereabouts of youths and stu­dents. The answer was, "There are quite many of them around." But most church leaders are aged. In their sixties, they still play an active and decisive part in the development of the Church. These elders no doubt shared the experience of the Chinese Revolution, and consequently they have suffic­ient reason to affirm with authenticity what they say and what they do. However, youth leaders be­tween the age of twenty to forty-five, who should be the contemporary voice in China, are missing. They should have stronger participation and bear responsibilities in rebuilding the church of China. But they are not there as emerging leaders.

Second, the climate of the Chinese Church is basically evangelical. The church congregations are attentive and pious during Sunday services - that impressed most of our delegates. Besides wor­ship, church activities include bible study and prayer meetings. This created the impression that the Church is preoccupied with salvation of the individual's soul, rather than participation in the struggle for a more just and humane society. To care for the spiritual growth of the people is no doubt important. And from another point of view, such emphasis is the natural outcome of the parti­cular historical situation. Yet, if the Church on the one hand claims to be patriotic, and on the other hand practice "spiritual exercise" only, there would appear to be conflicts between the word and the dead. How could a Church that chose to participate in building a Socialist China be contented with devotions only?

No one has any doubt about the determination of the Chinese Church leaders in reaching out to build the nation. The challenges that I discerned are two fold: the first is the transition from spiritual nurture to concrete patriotic actions; and the second is the sharing of this commitment with laymen on the grass-root level. It is at times alarming to observe that most lay people are - predominantly occupied with devotional services.

I left China with a prayer of thanksgiving, for having such a good opportunity to learn, and to get to know brothers and sisters in China who have a unique experience to share. I believe that it takes a long road to effectively care for China and her Church. May I call upon all brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for the growth of the Church of China, as well as the early recovery of her prophetic voice, for the good of all Chinese people.

 

Cynthia Lam, a student of the Hong Kong Chinese University is Publications Secretary of the HK-SCM.

 

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Federation Events

 

28th GENERAL ASSEMBLY SAN FRANCISCO

 

The 28th session of the General Assembly of the WSCF met in San Francisco, USA from 11 to 22, August 1981 with delegations from more than 80 member movements. The theme chosen for the Assembly was from the Book of prophet Nehemiah "Come, let us Rise up and Build Together." The 12-day assembly was divided into educational sessions, program working groups and business sessions. The Assembly defined the areas of concern for the next quadrennium. Emphasis was laid on movement building and leadership development, theology and ecumenism, political involvement, education, communication and women's participation. It also approved a "Women's Program Fund" to carry out proposals "for educat­ion, communication and networking – among women".

The concluding message titled "Message of Hope" was addressed primarily to those in the move­ment in repressive regimes offering the continued support and solidarity, and to friends in the ecumenical community re-affirming the ecumenical vision of the renewal of the church and society."

The Assembly elected Juan Antonio Franco, member of the United Church in Peurto Rico, doctoral candidate in sociology, as Chairperson for the next quadrennium. Lidy Nacpil, student at the Univer­sity of the Philippines and general secretary of the PSCM has been elected Vice-Chairperson. Tarik Mitri, outgoing staff member of the WSCF for Mid­dle East Region is the newly elected Treasurer Emidio Campi has been re-elected General Secretary to serve another term. In the Executive Committee are Marshal Fernando (Sri Lanka) and Cho Young Ock (Korea) representing the Asia / Pacific Region. The next issue of the WSCF journal will cover the de­tailed aspects of the Assembly.

TRANSITION…..

The old and new leadership – picture on the left: from left to right Emidio Campi, General Secretary, Betsy Anderson (Canada) Vice – Chairperson; Juan Antonio Franco (Puerto Rico), Chairperson; and Tarik Mitri (Lebanon), Treasurer.

 

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MESSAGE OF HOPE

 

We come from different lands and cultures, confronted with diverse realities of oppression, struggling with our people, sharing their sufferings and hope.

We gathered at the 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation at San Francisco, conscious that the critical differences of our involvement bear upon the life of the assembly.

We confess that as we gather, frustrations grip our will, weaknesses and human failures try to dampen our fellowship and commitment.

But as we gather and are sustained by the Work of Life, the call is to transcend our differ­ences. We are confronted today by the words of the prophet -- Come let us rise up and build toge­ther --. We know that this was said to a people whose memory of being the people had been destroyed, who had lost their national identity and whose religious centre lay ruined.

The prophet said - "let us build that we may no longer suffer disgrace".

We witness a "build-up" in the world today - dictators, military juntas, authoritarian presid­ents are building up their political power through deception and repression; building up military and nuclear capabilities to crush and destroy the bearers of liberation.

Like the days of old, the people have suffered disgrace for long years of domination and oppr­ession.

We must then rise up today as a people who want to change our own path and claim the future with justice, peace and love. Workers, peasants, students, professionals, the new social movements are also rising up and building to emancipate themselves from disgrace and suffering.

It is in this context of people rising up and building that we locate our witness and presence as members of the federation.

It is with great joy that we share the message of hope that in the last quadrennium our member­ship has increased. Nine movements have been admitted to the federation, the program priorities have been determined, and we have confidently elected a new leadership. We have set ourselves on a course to renew our structures so that they may be more appropriate to meet the demands of the fed­eration in the coming years.

As we move forward in this quadrennium, we are strengthened by the promise given by the Libera­tor of past, present and future, as expressed by the prophet Nehemiah - "so they strengthened their hands for the good work".

We believe in the promise that our God calls us and will strengthen us. To our SCMers in re­pressive regimes who are struggling with your lives and future, we humbly offer our solidarity and are continually impressed and inspired by your living witness. To our friends in the ecumenical co­mmunity, we share with you the ecumenical vision of the renewal of the church and of a renewed so­ciety. We invite you in this journey of faith and struggle to rise up and build together.

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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G.A. RESOLUTIONS ON ASIA PACIFIC

 

New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands

1. The 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation declares its support for the stand taken by the Evangelical Church in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands on the question of Independence. The Assembly resolves to write a letter to the Evangelical Church supporting it in its stand.

The Philippines

2. The 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation resolves to write to Presi­dent Marcos of the Philippines, and other appropriate authorities, presenting the evidence available of the abduction of Romeo Crismo and demanding his immediate release.

South Korea

3. The 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation resolves to write to the government of South Korea demanding the release of two KSCF staff members detained there.

4. The 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation resolves to recommend that the WSCF and all national SCMs:

i) establish fund raising campaigns to support the families of political detainees in South Korea, and

ii) send books about social analysis and religion to such detainees.

5. The 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation resolves to recommend that the WSCF, at inter-regional, regional, and national levels, invite KSCF members out of South Korea to disseminate information about the Korean situation, which cannot be sent by letter.

Hong Kong

6. The 28th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation resolves that the WSCF Journal should report about the rights of the low-income citizens of Hong Kong to participate in the formal and informal negotiations that determine the political destiny of Hong Kong.

 

EXCO MEETS IN BERKELEY

 


 

The Asian presence at Berkeley: L to R M.E. Prabhakar, immediate past Treasurer; Cho Young Ock, Marshal Fernando (Exco Members) and Jaewoong Ahn.

 

The new Executive Committee met in Berkeley at the Pacific School of Religion from August 24-25, 1981. The business sessions was were chaired by the newly-elected Chairperson, Juan Antonio Franco. After a brief evaluation session on the General Assembly, Working Groups were constituted to effectively articulate the thrusts and priorities in the Federation for the next quadrennium. The Working Groups, which is mainly constituted from among the ExCo members will collect detailed information on the four areas of concern, viz:

Human Rights

Theology

Women's Issues

Education

Latin America Office has been given the res­ponsibility to coordinate the collection of in­formation on Human Rights issues; and Europe and Africa will take the responsibility for Theology and Education respectively. Lidy Nacpil has been named to coordinate the group on Women's issues. These Working Groups are expected to submit their reports to the next ExCo meeting.

A Finance Committee and Personnel Committee were also constituted. Marshal Fernando (Sri Lanka) and Kentaro Shiozuki (Japan) will serve on the Finance Committee. Cho Yung Ock (Korea) and Lidy Nacpil (Philippines) are members of the Personnel Committee. The next meeting of the EXCO will be held from March 12-20, 1982 and the Finance Commi­ttee from March 10-12, 1982 at La Habana, Cuba.

 

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ASIA / PACIFIC REGIONAL MEETING TOKYO

 

The Regional Committee of the Asia / Pacific Region met in Tokyo from August 3-7, 1981 at the Korean YMCA's Asia Youth Centre. Fifteen of the eighteen national member movements were represent­ed. The meeting opened with a warm reception and felicitations from the YMCAs of Japan.

Dr. Feliciano Carino, speaking on “Asian People's Theology” challenged the WSCF to “recap­ture the ecumenical vision in the Asian struggles”, while outlining the analytical tools that could be used in the search for an authentic theology of the people. Rev. In Ha-Lee (whose paper is in­cluded in this issue elsewhere) led two sessions ion the theme attempting to relate the gospel in the minority context, a live issue in the Asian people's struggle. Prof. Sumiya Mikio spoke on the "Economic situation in Asia" and Kang, Moou Kyu on the "Process of Regionalization in the Federation" The Business sessions that followed prioritized the areas of concern for the Region. All concerns and priorities are now consolidated under four program clusters:

 

1. Movement Building and Leadership Develop­ment:

- The ASFOR program will now be enlarged to be called the Human Resources Deve­lopment Program to include a wide net­work of people in the leadership train­ing process. Inter - Movement Exchange, Women's concerns and leadership, and visitations are also an integral  part of this cluster.

2. Faith and Justice in Asia/Pacific:

- Education, Human Rights, China, Milita­rism, Nuclearization, Minorities, and Student-Grassroot Forum are the concerns that constitute this program.

3. Publications:

4. Ecumenical Relations and Wider Fellowships:

 

The Committee positively responded to an in­vitation from the CCA to hold a joint consultation on the question of ministry to the university world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo meeting in session: l to r: Tiur Loebis, Robinson Asghar, Peter McBurney and Fely Carino.


National Movement Representatives from the Asia/Pacific Region.

 

The Regional Committee elected a standing Committee to carry out the interim business. Rev. Dave Rodriguez continues to be the Chairperson, while Linda Sunilat, a student from Indonesia is elected as the Vice-Chairperson. Ms. Ishii (Japan) and Stephen Payton (NZ), are elected to the stand­ing Committee. Cho Young Ock (Korea) and Marshal Fernando (Sri Lanka) members of the Executive Committee from Asia are ex-officio members in this Committee.

The Regional Committee expressed its solida­rity and concern on various matters brought to its attention, some of the resolutions were also discussed at the General Assembly. A full-length report on the meeting will be published shortly.

The Committee adopted a resolution of thanks to Mr. Kentaro Shiozuki and the National  YMCAs of Japan for hosting the meeting at Tokyo.

The next meeting of the Regional Committee will be hosted by the SCM of India at Bangalore in 1983.

 

34

 

ASIAN SECRETARIES FORMATION

 

The theme chosen for this year was "Development, Traditional Values and Christian Responsibil­ity in the Asia/Pacific context". The group of 23 persons sponsored by national movements and fraternal organizations assembled in the Centre for Society and Religion, Negombo - a fishing vill­age 25 miles from Colombo city in Sri Lanka, on the 28th of February 1981 for a month long program. Thirteen of the 18 member national movements in the Region were represented. The Asia Forum on Human Rights, the UMCAs Asia and the Mission Intern Program of the BOGM were also represented.

The Program was "formally" inaugurated on the morning of March 1 by Mr. Ainsley Samarajivia, former Chairperson of the Sri Lanka SCM. The inaugural talk was not a speech, which laid down expectations from a group of young people, but a meaningful personal reflection of a person who has been with the SCM for over three decades. He chose the Gospel text of Luke 4:18 to explain his per­sonal involvement in the struggles for justice and how the SCM in the past helped people like him to grasp the situation in their country. Soon after, the group adopted a Resolution moved by the Korean participant, Choe Hyndok, expressing solidarity with the March First Movement in Korea and proceeded to draft a declaration in memory of this Movement.

 

NATIONAL MOVEMENTS:

The representatives from the national movements presented their reports for the next four days. Each participant was allotted a slot of time where he / she was expected to present a brief overview of their national situation and activities of their movements. All participants later conceded that preparations for presenting this brief but cohesive report was in itself an education process. Heat­ed arguments and discussions that followed the presentation concentrated mainly on the priorities and strategies engaged in their respective movements.

 

LECTURES AND DISCUSSIONS:

Following the national reports were the theoretical input from one of our resource speakers Samuel Ho, Executive Secretary, Asia Forum on Human Rights. His lectures, spread over three days were on "the Concept of Modernization and Traditional Values", "The Politics of Modernization and Development", and "The Bureaucratic State and the Rights of the People." His papers posed a challe­nge to the common understanding of certain concepts of the participants and identified in very deal terms the role semi-feudalism, bureaucratic capitalism and neo-colonialism plays in the obstruction of genuine development with people as subjects of their own history. An afternoon session was devo­ted to enable participants to identify violations of human rights in their countries.

 

 

 

Sri Lanka, fast moving into the grips of neo-colonial process, is officially following a po­licy of developing on the Singapore pattern. This is euphemistically referred to as the 'Singapore

 

35

 

Model' in academic circles. The opening of the Free Trade Zone and the tourism 'industry' are just two examples of how a government has willfully by official acts of parliament, sold the country to the hands of foreign investors. Centuries of tradition and culture is forced to give way to the earning of a few dollars. A country which is agro-based is quenching to be 'industrialized' at the expense of its vast majority of people. Workers and peasants have no longer the rights they enjoyed and power is being centralized in the person of the President of the Republic. This is the reality of Sri Lanka as exposed to us by various speakers from Sri Lanka. Mr. Bernard de Soysa, Secretary General of the Lanka Sama Samaj Party talked on the Worders situations; Prof. Celun  Kadiragamar, Professor of History at the University of Jaffna, talked on 'The Christian Community'; Ms. Sunila Abhayasekara, a research scholar, on the "Womens' Situation", Dr. Mano singham of the Univeristy of Colombo on the 'Student Situation' and Mr. Newton Gunasinghe, a Social Scientist, on the 'Peasant Situation.'

This elaborate session on Sri Lanka was afforded to point out the harsh realities in our Region where the rulers, by deliberate economic planning marginalize the people to mere objects of develop­ment.

The Theological Sessions were led by Rt. Rev. Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose, Bishop of the Chaldean Church of the East, Kerala. Reflecting on the theme, "Development, Traditional Values and Christian Responsibility," the Bishop stressed that unless, we as Christians, shed our minority consciousness in pluralistic societies like Asia, we will not be able to work for a genuine transformation of the society where all peoples matter. Quoting Numbers 13:33, he urged the group to get out of the "grasshopper neurosis" and forge ahead to take the risk, because it is only the taking of risks that ultimately forms the major part of the peoples' struggles. His lectures spread over three sessions were interspersed with group discussion.

Mr. Michael Tharakan, Research Associate at the Centre for Development Studies , in India led three sessions on "Theoretical Premises of development," "Development as Human Development" and “Critical Analysis of Development models in Asia”.

Ms. Teresa Chong, Faculty member of the De La Salle University, Philippines spoke on the Asian Political Scene.

 

BIBLE STUDIES AND WORSHIP

One Bible Study Session was led by Sevaka Yohan Devananda on the theme "Birth-pangs of the New Age" based on Mathew 24:8. Eight worship sessions were conducted by the participants themselves. Emphasis was laid on experimental forms of worship and some of the participants led the Biblical reflections at these sessions. Folk songs and other art forms were widely used in the worship sess­ions.

 

WORKSHOPS:

Apart from group discussions that followed every presentation, the participants were divided into three workshop sessions for three days towards the end. The Workshops were an attempt to synthesize and crystalize certain key issues raised in the lectures and group discussions earlier, and to suggest follow-up actions. The workshops were on:

 

1. Structures of Domination and Peoples Struggles.

2. Church, Faith and social Justice.

3. Peoples' Struggle for Justice - A Student Christian Response.

The Groups, after having spent long hours in deliberation have been able to bring out specific recommendations for the WSCF.

 

The Working Group dealing with "Structures of Domination and Peoples Struggles" declared that, "we need to see the difference between a struggle for civil and democratic rights and the struggle for human rights. The struggle for human rights is one which involves the questioning of the struc­tures of domination and calls for a radical reorganization of society." It also clarifies that as Christians, our task is to seek an alliance with all the forces that are working towards change, and also recognizes the limitations that a student body like the SCM has, in being in the leadership of a liberation movement. Hence, it urges all student groups to be an integral part of the struggles for liberation recognizing the fact that it is the masses - the workers, the peasants, the urban poor and the cultural minorities - that has to lead the liberation struggles.

Looking at the question of "Church, Faith and Social Justice," the working group expressed concern over the attitude of the churches in Asia towards liberation struggles and stated that "the church should shed its minority complex and join hands with all oppressed peoples - that the church must be a living and dynamic body of people sensitive to the aspirations of the masses". Addressing itself to the question of Faith and Social Justice, the Working Group stated that "Faith is our response to God's action in this world....... our response is manifested as continua­tion of Jesus' mission: creation of the conditions both material and spiritual to attain the "whole­ness" of persons to become their best. We must situate our self-understanding within the context of the people struggle for a just and humane society.

A concrete recommendation that was made from the working group on "Peoples Struggle for Justice - A Student Christian Response" was to engage in theological reflections and to develop a theology that is relevant to the lives of the people. The group also reiterated the role of the SCMs to be a prophetic voice within the church challenging the church to be prophetic itself in its action.

 

36

 

Movement Reports>>


HONG KONG SCM

 

 

core group of HK-SCM

 

The local scene in Hong Kong has not changed much since the last AGM in July, except that more and more local people have expressed their anxiety about 1997 and the destiny of Hong Kong. The big business shows no hesitation in allowing a major portion of their capital to flow out of the colony. This is illustrated by plans to de-nationalize the Kowloon and Canton Railway, and various land de­velopers selling their profit-making estates. The SCM-HK sees this unique historical situation as one in which the people of God is called to rise up and build the future together with the people, not only for the people.

In this context, the Taskforce I of SCM-HK has worked very hard in collecting and processing data on 1997 and the destiny of Hong Kong. The group is beginning to spin out its own theological perspective in its weekly meetings, in published tracts, and in community forums that will stimu­late grass-root people by shaking off their political apathy and "refugee mentality" through conscientizing dialogues and reflections. The taskforce has just produced a 25-minute slide to enable SCMers to spark off political as well as theological discussions in many forums that are to come.

In comparison with Taskforce I, Taskforce II (Global Human Rights Concern) is not so productive in terms of its output. Besides regular meetings to study the history of the Chinese Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and theology in support for human rights campaign, the taskforce has not taken its first step in penetrating the local community. To be fair, members of the taskforce have edited and published tracts for Romeo Crismo (Philippines) and Wang Hsi-Chieh (China), and have written letters to governments in Asia where human rights are being violated. It keeps SCM sensitive to human rights issues by building connection with the Hong Kong Group of the Amnesty International (AIHK) of which SCM-HK has become a group member.

The crucial problem to which Taskforce II addresses itself is: whether the SCM in Hong Kong should be outspoken in criticizing the Chinese Government for suppressing the Democratic Movement in China at this point in time. There is absolutely no question about SCM's commitment to human rights, although the authority in Peking likes to discredit human rights concern as a western bourgeoisie product. There is again no question about SCM's commitment in supporting the Democratic Move­ment in China. We see it as an authentic, patriotic voice uttered by the powerless people in search­ing for the historical destiny of China, although the authorities concerned like to dismiss it as the grievance of a tiny minority. The SCM-HK is firm in asserting human rights, but any move made by the SCM could be seen by the Chinese Government as a sign of Christian subversive action. In consequence, the Church in China would not be happy to welcome any action that would jeopardize the newly established Church-State relationship. Likewise, church leaders in Hong Kong who are eager to win the confidence of the Church of China would not feel happy to see local Christian groups making any statement that would irritate the Chinese Government. Such is the dilemma that SCM Taskforce II faces. That is also the reason why the taskforce has been very cautious in taking public actions, despite its hard work.

 

Recently, Taskforce II has come to the conclusion that, as a particular taskforce, it has three functions to fulfill:

a)  to promote Asian solidarity on Human rights by supporting the campaign in the region;

b)  to promote China Concern after taking up the human rights issue as primary concern;

c)  to witness Christian faith, hope, love and courage to the student world.

 

37

 

If the third function implies priority of students over local churches, then Taskforce II is now in a much clearer scene in which praxis could happen. SCM-HK looks forward to the development of Taskforce II with confidence.

Taskforce III meets not so often as the other two taskforces. But it is productive. It has written and published 6 liturgies for use in particular occasions. The one on Shin Hai Revolution and the one on 1997 and the destiny of Hong Kong have won appreciation from members as well as fraternal organizations. The taskforce is going to edit and publish pamphlets on Christian Feminism, and Peoples' theology of Hong Kong in the near future. It is also raising funds to write and publ­ish a handbook of contextualized doctrine, rituals, prayers, and songs.

The three taskforce each addresses itself to a particular area of concern. There are times when members of different taskforces sit together for a common concern. This happens when the Operation Team convenes meetings to respond to special challenges. For instance, the Operation Team has writ­ten a long essay to express SCM's concern about the Nuclear Energy Plant to be built across the border on the Chinese side. So far, this has been the only voice showing Christian concern of nuclear development in a community, which is virtually ignorant of the cost and danger of nuclear energy. The essay was published in a leading local newspaper in October. And in November, an evening newspaper interviewed SCM-HK when the electricity company concerned announced its plan to raise the fares. SCM-HK has every reason to believe that the fare rise is connected with the nuclear plant. Therefore, the Operation Team was invited to participate in a united front to oppose the fare rise.

Another mini-project done by the Operation Team is to respond in public to Professor Hsu Fu-Kuan's criticism of Brother Andrew International's Project Pearl. This Project Pearl is a US$6 mil­lion venture to smuggle one million copies of the Bible into Mainland China. The form of action was quasi-military. Such action no doubt offended the Peking authority, the Church of China, and even local churches in Hong Kong. Professor Hsu, a well-respected champion of neo-Confucianism, criticiz­ed the Project in a leading local newspaper, and in so doing, criticized Christianity and Communism as well. SCM-HK is the only Christian body to respond to Professor Hsu publicly, in the same news­paper. In a long essay, the Operation Team reviewed the history of the Church in China since the colonial days, and affirmed the Three Self Movement in China today. Therefore, SCM-HK agrees with Professor Hsu that Project Pearl is a colonialist move done against the will of the Chinese people. SCM-HK also acknowledged that Bibles are needed and the Chinese Government should permit registered groups to print their own materials.

Membership is now over 60, which is double of the figure recorded in July. It is still a small number, but the significant fact is that our recruitment campaign has not started yet. Once it gets started in mid-December, many more people will be expected to join us. Movement building inside the campus will start in January, when Professor Richard Preston from Manchester will speak in a SCM-sponsored lecture on Christian Socialism. And in March, the SCM-sponsored Forum on Asian Theologies will pave the way to building contact groups in each university campus.

SCM-HK is also privileged to have one member in the official delegation of Hong Kong Church Leaders visiting the Patriotic Church in China. This is a historical event since 1949.

Taskforce III: Church Renewal

Notes:       Taskforce I: 1997 and the Destiny of Hong Kong.

     Taskforce II:Global Human Rights Concern

 

BURMA SCM

 

 

Staff of SCM of Burma.

 

Burma S.C.M. has come through roughly 3 periods.

1) The Pre-War Period (or) Colonial Period.

2) The immediate post-war period (or) The Independence Period.

3) The Revolutionary Period.

 

The pre-war period was a period of relative calm. It was an easy time for everyone, a period of little political education with S.C.M. being dependent on the local missionaries and that of India and Ceylon.

The immediate post war period was a period of National Independence, of optimism and nationalism, of growing up into nationhood, of moving forward, and experiencing the Pyidawtha schemes and constant education planning.

 

38

 

The third period is the present Revolutionary period beginning roughly in 1962.  This is the period of more changes. It is expected to be a period of structural change of all phases of society, of nationalism, Burmanization and socialism and one way or other, the future will be different from the past.

In all these periods of History, Burma S.C.M. had the same basic purpose, the same vision to be guided by and the same goals to be reached. The structure and composition of the S.C.M. of course have changed but our objectives remain the same.

 

PRESENT SITUATION OF BURMA S.C.M.

In the year 1962, General Ne Win overthrew the government and came to power. The following year on 7th July, students struck against the Education system. This incident ended in a sorrowful scene. Tension arose gradually among the students and government. The Education System changed from one to another and the students became the instrument for the experiments.

In 1964, the government abolished all the Unions and Organizations of students in the Universi­ties and Colleges. Although they have played an important role against Imperialism, Fascism and Ca­pitalism in the past, their history came to an end in 1964.

Nowadays, except for Lanzin Youth and Cultural and Literature Committees, which are led and directed by the government, there are no Unions or Organizations of students in the Universities and Colleges. The students are limited within the framework of the ruling party's way of socialism.

As Burma S.C.M. is one of the Unions in the Universities and Colleges, the order of the govern­ment in 1964 has also affected it. In this case, the leaders of the S.C.M. negotiated with the auth­orities concerned. The result was to continue the program limited to religious affairs only and not to become involved in any socio-political issues.

Although the S.C.M. has functioned autonomously in the past, the situation today is different. We became a branch of the Burma Baptist Convention (B.B.C.) in 1968.We were very silent during this period not only to W.S.C.F. but also to the Asia-Pacific region. This did not mean that we were not active in our programs. This was the period when we re-established ourselves within our people. During this period:

1) With the grant of B.B.C., we purchased six plots of land in different areas where universi­ties and colleges are situated and built centres for the recreation of students and staff.

2) With the grant of B.B.C., Leadership training was provided for the staff of each of the centres.

3) The expenses for the programs for students and the salaries for the staff were subsidized by B.B.C. from 1968 to 1976.

 

The B.B.C. had never interfered in the ecumenical programs of the S.C.M. and has always re­cognized its inter-denominational members. With the agreement of B.B.C. in 1976, S.C.M. became a department of the Burma Council of Churches. During this period, the following national programs were organized besides the local programs:

1) Annual Summer Camp

In 1979, the annual summer camp was converted into a voluntary work camp at a Buddhist area where a road and bridge were constructed to serve 10 surrounding rural villages. Seventy-four students and 8 staff members participated. There are plans for similar programs every year.

2) Monsoon Bible Conference

This is a forum for ecumenical studies. The theme varies from year to year and is chosen according to the need of our national situation.

3) Frontier mission recruitment course

This is a new program of S.C.M. New graduates will be recruited, mobilized and challenged into solidarity and integration with the rural people. The theme is 'Participation' in Rural Development'. The action-reflection method is used in their studies and exposure.

4) Leadership and planning seminar

Participants are selected from the most responsible students. The purpose of the program is to train them to coordinate through studying and sharing.

5) S.C.M. senior friends program

This program is to create a better relationship between the students and senior friends.

 

39

 

PHILIPPINES SCM

 

The Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, in its twenty first year as a National Move­ment, continues to affirm its commitment to the Gospel of Truth and Liberation, and its practice in the context of Philippine realities. This affirmation is reflected in our current biennial theme: STUDENT SOLIDARITY WITH THE STRUGGLE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.

The Movement identified its major tasks based on its past experiences and current status and in the context of its continuing commitment to the struggle of the Filipino people, during the last General Assembly in May 1980, as the following:

1)  to enlist the participation of youth and students in general and the Christian youth in particular, in the struggles of the different oppressed sectors of Philippine society;

2)  to unify and promote the continuing study in theory and in practice, of the economic, poli­tical and cultural life of the Filipino people, to further the understanding of current socio-political conditions;

3)  to engage in Biblical Studies and Theological Reflections to deepen our understanding of faith and effectively articulate the liberating message of the Gospel;

4)  to unify and promote the SCM orientation among its leaders and members, and to equip them with skills and knowledge needed in effectively communicating this orientation to others, to go all out in expanding our ranks, building more chapters in student centers and strengthening existing ones;

5)   to enhance the Movements financial self-generating capacity specially at the chapter level. These tasks are being accomplished through the following program:

 

EDUCATION:

Student Forum; Integration and Exposure Program; Leadership Training Institute; SCM Study Circles;

 

PUBLICATIONS AND RESEARCH:

Breakthrough; Statements on Relevant and Crucial Issues; Publications of Study Materials; Student Committee for Third World Concerns; Library; Publications & Research Communications; Philippines Research Committee;

 

ORGANIZATION:

Communications; Representations; Worship; National Consultations; Cultural Group; Orientation Seminars; National Expansion; Ecumenical Relations; Handbook & Brochures;

 

FINANCE:

Membership Fees; Donations and Pledges; Other Fund Raising Activities.

 

 

MEMBERSHIP AND MOVEMENT BUILDING

In the 1978 General Assembly, Movement Building was identified as the main priority in the succeeding biennium. At present, although it remains as one of our major tasks, we have come a long way from our situation then.

We now have chapters in seven out of the ten regions we have divided the Philippines into, and organizing efforts in the rest. Based on reports given at the GA 1980 and the 1981 National Consul­tation, our chapters number twenty.

Despite these facts, however. Movement and chapter building and recruitment among the ranks of the Christian youth remains as one of our critical problems, due to the following conditions:

 

1) state harassment and repression

As most of you are probably aware of, the Philippine SCM has suffered countless arrests, detention and other forms of harassment since the declaration of Martial Law. Many SCMers have died.

This biennium alone, we have experienced the following:

a) 3 arrests in Manila (2 of them detained for more than 2 months, all of them 17-year-old

 

40

 

members of our University of Philippines Chapter).

b) 3 arrests in Cebu, 2 of them detained for a year (1 of these 2 was our Area Secretary for Eastern Visayas at the time of the arrest.)

c) 1 arrest in Davao.

d) 1 arrest in Central Luzon,

e) disappearance of a former education secretary; he has been missing since August 1980,

f) 9 arrests in Iligan City,

g) 5 arrests in Legaspi City, 3 of whom were detained for a week and 2 out of the 3 severely tortured, the other 1 was our Area Secretary for the Bicol Area.

This has led to temporary dislocation of movement work and restricted activities at the chapter level, especially at the areas outside of Metro Manila where institutional support is not as strong and where militarization is more intense.

Many schools refuse to recognize our chapters for various reasons related to our orientation and the repressive nature of the regime. Despite this, these chapters continue their work.

 

2) reluctance of some church institutions and hierarchy to support or acknowledge SCM  to the effect that we find it difficult to approach youth in the churches and pastors whose help we need in chapter building.

3) proliferation and strengthening of charismatic groups in campuses, and the tolerance of some churches, and in some cases, even encouragement and support of these groups.

4) lack of skills and knowledge of some of our organizers in articulating our commitment and conviction in the language understood and accepted by church youth.

All of these reasons are related to each other.

 

LEADERSHIP

Lack of leaders is not a problem as coping with the fast turnover of leaders and some organizational weaknesses this creates. Social political conditions of the country, the level of the Phi­lippine struggle as well as the training and exposure SCM facilitates creates a situation where SCMers are compelled to respond to needs in other fields of work and participation or are quickly prepared for higher forms of struggle. However, these same conditions also facilitate the developing of dedicated and committed leaders to fill in for those who leave. Difficulties arise when SCM has to continually equip new leaders with specific skills and knowledge demanded by movement work and leadership, and also in ensuring continuity not in programs but in administrative concerns.

 

SENIOR FRIENDS

The SCMP's Senior Friends have recently started organizing themselves into a fellowship. This fellowship also includes and will recruit from amongst professionals who have not been members of SCM but wish to have a venue of their participation in the struggle for social change. The Senior Friends Fellowship does not come under the SCM Program but rather we maintain a fraternal link and a working relationship.

 

SOME STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Perhaps, the greatest strength of the Philippine SCM may be attributed to the commitment and dedication of its members to the movement's avowed goals, as well as a very high level of unity among them.

Another strength lies in our method of work - that of collective action and leadership. We function through a system of working groups and committees rather than through individuals with specific functions and roles. This ensures a certain stability in our structure, greater effectivity of programs as they are subjected to thorough discussion and assessment by many, easier implement­ation of these programs, and development of potentials and capabilities among all members of the movement. This system is used from the national level down to the chapters.

A weak area in the movement's life and work is that of ecumenical relations, in particular with church institutions in the Philippines. When SCM first took a radical stance, it decided to move away from the institution. Later, the movement realized the importance of these relations in move­ment work, as well as the significant role SCM can play in church renewal. However, we find that these institutions are reluctant to accept us because of our orientation.

Another weak area is that of the bid for financial self-sufficiency especially at the chapter level. We have yet to make significant progress in this area.

 

IN CONCLUSION

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Asia / Pacific movements and the regional staff for the support and encouragement you have given us in the past, and for sharing with us our sufferings and more importantly, our hopes and aspirations in seeing our people free, our society just and humane.

 

41

 

BISHOP TING

 

Bishop K.H. Ting, current head of China's more than a million Protestants was in Hong Kong early this year to participate in a Consultation. In an interview, he emphasiz­ed the principle of the "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" and said that the saying "One more Christian, one less Chinese" is no longer true.

Bishop Ting is President of the China Christian Council and Chairman of the Chinese National Christian Three - Self Patriotic Movement Committee. He served the WSCF as a staff person for Asia in 1948-49, and returned to China after the revolution to participate in the building of a socialist China. The Bishop who is also principal of the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary said: "The future of Christianity in China is promising as the Government upholds the policy of religious freedom."

 

42

 

News in Brief>>


 

INTER-REGIONAL

 

FRONTIER INTERNSHIP IN MISSION;

The International Coordinating Committee of the FIM met in Geneva from Oct 28 through Nov 1, 1981 at the Centre John Knox. This is the first meeting after the structure of the program, was revised in 1980. The ICC adopted a set of consti­tutional guidelines for effective functioning of the program. It received, reviewed and approved project and candidate applications for 1982. Choi Wan, Mary from Hong Kong and Young Ju Park: from Korea are selected for placements in Rome and the U.S. respectively. Rev. Yuzon Lourdino, Secretary for Mission and Evangelism, CCA, and Koshy Mathew represented the Asia / Pacific at the meeting.

FIM-ICC MEETING. From l to r: Kathy Todd, retiring staff person; Sam Kobia, Emidio Campi, Co-Chairpersons and Koshy Mathew.

           
UNIVERSAL DAY OF PRAYER:

The Universal Day of Prayer for Students will be observed on the Third Sunday in February, 1982. The order of Service for this has been prepared by the Asia / Pacific region, on the theme “Solidarity, Human Rights, Minorities”. National Movements are requested to send the offerings for UDPS to the Ecumenical Solidarity Fund.

 

FAREWELL:

Kathy Todd, staff person for the FIM for the past seven years is returning to the U.S. She has left behind a legacy of an ever-widening horizon for new experiments. We wish her all the best in her new ventures and place on record our deep appreciation for her service to the world of young people.

 

WELCOME:

Charles Ketekou from the Ivory Coast has been appointed Co-Secretary for the Africa Region. He will assume responsibilities from Jan. 1, 1982. Charles comes to the Federation with rich background of involvement in the Federation. Our Best Wishes to him for a fruitful term.

The National Ecumenical Students Conference (NESC) which brought together, 300 participants from all over the United States met in the campus of the University of California, Berkeley from Aug­ust 21-25, 1981. It is the first ecumenical effort, since the late 60's, to bring together such a lar­ge group of young men and women to discuss and debate various social, economic and political issues that face America. Half the total delegation represented various ethnic minorities, and the representation of men and women were also equal in numbers.

Meeting under the theme "Come, Let us Rise Up and Build Together," the Conference heard a numb­er of speakers on various aspects of American re­alities. Special efforts were taken by all to highlight and effectively address the questions of racism, sexism and classicism. A series of workshops on international issues provided, opportunities for the delegates to specifically, identify the role of U.S. in international relations.

The Conference, after a lengthy debate con­stituted a National Interim Committee with a long list of tasks. Specifically, the Committee was mandated "to support the efforts of student Chris­tian movements which are committed to ecumenical participation and witness to the local, national and global mission in the proclamation of the Gospel." It will also take actions to form a nat­ional student Christian movement, and make efforts to relate to the WSCF and its North America Re­gional Committee.

The Committee comprises of 17 voting members drawn from the groups and caucuses present at the NESC and six advisers. Rev. John Moyer of Califor­nia is named Staff of this Committee.

 

REGIONAL

 

FIJI SCM:

Stephen Payton, Standing Committee member from NZ upon the mandate from the Committee visited Fiji to explore the possibilities of revitalizing the contacts and the work there. His visit has opened new contacts and possibilities. The Pacific Conference of Churches and friends in the University of South Pacific have extended their support and cooperation in the rebuilding of the movement in Fiji.

 

KSCF:

     The Korea Student Christian Federation celebrated their twelfth anniversary in November and sponsored a public lecture on “Christians and the question of National Unification”.

 

43

 

CCA-WSCF JOINT STAFF MEETING:

In preparation for the proposed consultation on "the Ecumenical Task of Asian Student Movements", the staff of CCA and WSCF met in Singapore on Oc­tober 19. Jane Leong and Ann Ng from Singapore SCM also participated at this preparatory meeting.

 

MOVEMENT VISITATIONS:

Following the CCA Assembly in May at Banga-lore, Ann paid official visits to the SCMs in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma. Koshy visited the SCM of Philipines in June. Both had opportunities to visit the SCMs of Singapore and Malaysia after the meeting at Singapore with the CCA staff in October. After the General Assembly, Ahn and Koshy visited many church related organisations in the USA.

 

JAEWOONG AHN:

Ahn represented the WSCF Asia / Pacific Region at the Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia held in Bangalore in May,1981. He also parti­cipated in a WCC-CCIA sponsored consultation on "Militarism and Nuclearisation in Asia / Pacific" in October in Manila; and a consultation on China in Montreal sponsored by the Canada China Program of the Canadian Council of Churches.

LIDY NACPIL:

Ms.Lidy Nacpil, of the Philippines SCM has been elected Vice-Chairperson of the WSCF at the General Assembly in San Francisco. Lidy, a student of Science in the University of the Philippines is also General-Secretary of the BSCM.

 

 

THE ECUMENICAL TASK OF ASIAN STUDENT MOVEMENTS

WSCF-CCA JOINT CONSULTATION AT TAO FONG SHAN ECUMENICAL CENTER, HONGKONG

MARCH 1-5, 1982

The World Student Christian Federation is a major founding force of the ecumenical movement and for several genera­tions has provided ecumenical leadership and theological insight not least within the Asian ecumenical movement.

The CCA member churches were reminded of this relationship during a discussion on campus ministry at the CCA Assem­bly in Bangalore in May, 1981. The Assembly subsequently passed the following motion:

In 1966, at a joint consultation between EACC and WSCF, the EACC officially endorsed the WSCF as the official expression of the EACC in the University world. This assembly affirms the importance of campus based university ministry and feels it is now time to consult again on this agreement. Therefore, it encourages CCA and WSCF to hold a joint consultation early in 1982 to review the whole question of ministry in the university world.

 

In early August, the WSCF Asia-Pacific Regional Committee meeting in Tokyo endorsed the CCA resolution and made nominations and budgetary provision for a joint consultation.

In September, the CCA youth Program Committee met and resolved:

 

The Youth Program Committee strongly encourages the General Committee to ensure that the propos­ed joint consultation with WSCF in 1982 not only deals with ministry in the university world but examines the role of students in the emerging concerns of Asian societies.

 

Immediately after the CCA General Committee endorsed and moved to implement the above resolutions.

Thus on October 19, 1981, WSCF Regional staff, CCA staff and CCA youth Program Committee and SCM members from Singapore met to discuss and plan the consultation.

There was wide-ranging discussion on the history of HSCF and of the churches in Asia during the past 15-20 years. It became clear that much has changed since the 1966 concern for "a Christian presence in the university world". The altered role of universities, the effect of greater state control, questions of the role of students and the university in wider social issues, the need for Christian theologies and spiritualities adequate to present challenges, the res­ponse to conservative Christian student groups were all examined in some detail, in considering WSCF and CCA specifically, the history of the relationship between WSCF and the churches was raised.

To what extent has this relationship been a partnership? How do we talk of success or failure? With WSCF now con­centrating on rebuilding its national bases what should be the level of WSCF / CCA cooperation from now on? How can the churches be more involved in such ecumenical endeavors?

This meeting realized that a consultation, which deals with the universities, student movements and ecumenical ministry will necessarily have implications for the future direction of the Asian ecumenical movement as a whole. WSCF's influence in the ecumenical movement may prove to be as decisive as in the past.

 

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A RELEVANT MINORITY: historical glimpses of the WSCF; pblished by the WSCF-IRO, 27 Chemin-des-Crets Grand Saconnex; Switzerland.

Though not a detailed historical sketch of the WSCF, “A Relevant Minority” updates the reader on the thinking and life of the Federation since the late 40’s. It is a valuable collection of documents and a paper on “a perspective on the WSCF” by the General Secretary where he seeks to outline the tasks of the Federation as ‘a relevant Christian minority….. which takes on itself the task of witnessing the full gospel by word and deed…. participating in His liberation of all persons and all things in hope for the final manifestation of the new heaven and earth’

 

… AND YET HAPPY – THE BEATITUDES REVISITED; edited by Emidio Campi. Published by World Student Christian Federation, Switzerland.

This compilation of studies on the Beatitudes was part of the preparatory material of the 28th General Assembly of the WSCF. The book is divided into two parts – the first part selects concise information about the Old and New Testament background to the Beatitudes; while the second part attempts to contextualize the theologians will be of great value to any serious scholar of the New Testament.

 

 

MINJUNG THEOLOGY – PEOPLE AS THE SUBJECTS OF HISTORY; edited Kim Young Bock. Published by the Christian Conference of Asia.

Korea’s foremost set out the substance of the faith as it is confessed in Korea to bring out the Korean character. It is a major breakthrough and a modest attempt at answering the question: “what is doing theology in Asia?” Preman Niles in his introduction sketches the theological scene in Asia to help the reader see the “Korean Theology….. in the context of a wider theological ferment”.

 

 

LIVING THEOLOGY IN ASIA; edited by John. C. England. Published by SCM Press, London.

This volume collects togather short writings by Christian writers from Asia. The collection of twenty – four theological reflections from eight Asian countries is unique for it arises out of a context of sufferings and struggles. Designed to be a “working manual”, it enables local groups to engage in serious theological reflections.