I have just returned from Vienna where I attended a very important event entitled ‘International summit for Peace in Ukraine’, which was organised by the International Peace Bureau and a range of other Peace groups such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Sean MacBride was a former President of the International Peace Bureau and I myself was a Board member for a three-year period.
The Conference featured contributions from many distinguished guests, some online and some in person. Among the contributors were Noam Chomsky and Jeffrey Sachs, who was a Special Adviser to two UN Secretaries General, Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon, as well as speakers from both Ukraine and Russia. The Conference concluded with the issuing of a Declaration for Peace in Ukraine calling for a ceasefire, and negotiations to end the horror of that brutally destructive war.
But what was extremely disturbing about this event was the fact that, just forty-eight hours before the peace conference was to begin, the venue host abruptly cancelled and shortly before this, the Press Club Concordia also refused to make its premises in Vienna available for a press conference about the summit. Peace, it seems, cannot be discussed, especially peace in Ukraine.
This is a chilling example of how freedom of speech can be closed down and how a compliant media goes along with, in fact enables, such censorship. It has unfortunate echoes of dark times which we had hoped were left in the past.
Based on our own recent history, we in Ireland should know that peace will only come about through dialogue and that talking works where war fails.
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