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2 October 2008
PRESIDENT OF THE 63RD GENERAL ASSEMBLY
UNITED NATION GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Remarks to Commemorate Second International Day of Nonviolence
UN Headquarters , New York, 2 October 2008
Gandhi’s and King’s successors in the twenty-first century have carried out further experiments in the power of nonviolent truth to achieve justice and peace in every corner of the world—including, in the last two months, Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement has succeeded in breaking the siege of Gaza by nonviolent direct action. After sailing from Cypress, 44 activists from 17 countries landed their two small wooden boats at Gaza Port on August 23, 2008, where a beleaguered people welcomed them. This nonviolent initiative allowed Palestinians to enter and leave their own country freely for the first time in over 60 years. As Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories noted, it is now a question of whether the courage and commitment of the Free Gaza Movement “can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy”.
From the groundbreaking work of Gandhi and King to the ongoing example of the Free Gaza Movement, we can discern the transforming power of nonviolence at a crossroads in our history. Having developed the means of our own extinction by war, we are called by Truth, at the very center of our being, to turn to a nonviolent way of transformation into a just and peaceful future.
In one of my several declarations during the General Debate of world leaders in the General Assembly that has just ended, I said something like “We either love one another or die”. Today—my dear brothers and sisters—I say what amounts to the same thing: nonviolence or nonexistence.
May SATYAGRAHA occupy the central place it deserves in our lives!