We affirm the public statement from IFSW and support the United Nations position on Gaza. We live in the Asia Pacific Region with numerous languages, cultures, religions and races, and experience some of the worst natural and man-made disasters in the world. The one thing that unites us all, is our role as social workers working for the wellbeing of all peoples. Our core values are human rights and social justice and our commitment is to achieve our values through peaceful means.
We believe in the power of person-to-person relationships where trust can be built between peoples and we can work towards making this world a peaceful place. When peace is disrupted, we urge connections between all social workers in the world, to work together and bring peaceful resolutions to the conflict.
We understand that people have different perspectives toward the Gaza Strip and that the situation is very complex and delicate. We are appalled at the attacks on Gaza. The blockade and occupation of Gaza and the West Bank must end as there can never be real and sustainable peace whilst one group of people is denied freedom and their basic rights, and is under the day-to-day military control of another group of people. Peaceful living conditions for these citizens of the world must be the ultimate goal beyond other interests.
In the war situation taking place in Gaza it is the ordinary citizens, especially the vulnerable, who have been attacked and killed that has fuelled the outrage, fear, and terror. We have already seen immense numbers of lives have been lost. This war must cease right away. As social workers that work every day with people in conflict we believe that for sustainable peace to be achieved, peace talks based on the core principles of ‘respect and dignity of all involved’ must be established. We urge that the fighting cease and that no reasons should be allowed to justify the ongoing attack and killing of the general public who do not wish to be drawn into these atrocities.
On August 6, the Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, made the following Peace Statement at the Peace Memorial Ceremony. The essence of this message can be applied to the present war situation in Gaza.
“The “absolute evil” that robbed children of loving families and dreams for the future, plunging their lives into turmoil, is not susceptible to threats and counter-threats, killing and being killed. Military force just gives rise to new cycles of hatred. To eliminate the evil, we must transcend nationality, race, religion, and other differences, value person-to-person relationships, and build a world that allows forward-looking dialogue.”
In the present world, we have to look into the future beyond our history, cultures, races, religion, habits and customs, and we need to seek peaceful co-existence. Both parties in Gaza, who are facing risks to their lives, and looking for political solutions, should be urged to seek an immediate ceasefire.The ceasefire should be a beginning of a process that has a vision for sustained peace based on social and economic equalities for all in the region.
We, social workers, acknowledge our members on both sides of this conflict and feel strong indignation over the recent loss of so many lives of civilians including children, women the elderly and members of the helping professionals in Gaza. These atrocities can never be excused from any standpoint.
We support our members in Palestine and Israel who are focusing their efforts on promoting peace, based on social work principles. These principles include building relationships to promote respect, dignity and hope for all peoples caught up in the conflict. It is our hope that this work along with constructive dialogue will lead to peace and an end to the physical and psychological trauma for our members and citizens in this part of the world.
Revised on August 22, 2014
Mariko Kimura, IFSW Regional President, Asia and Pacific Region
Rose Henderson, IFSW Member-at-Large, Asia and Pacific Region