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11 August 2002, PRESS RELEASE from War Resisters International

"From August 2 until 11, 2002, the 23rd War Resisters' Triennial took place at the Dublin City University. The WRI is an international pacifist network of organisations and one of its goals is to link different peace groups all over the world and to strengthen contacts among these groups. For this purpose the WRI had received registrations from more than 300 people from all over the world to take part in this Triennial conference in Dublin.

We were shocked and distressed when we heard that one third of the invited participants from non-EU countries were confronted with Fortress Europe, the infamous immigration policy of the European Union. More than a hundred people who had registered for the conference were denied an entry visa from the Irish authorities. People coming from Russia, the Ukraine, Georgia, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Togo, Gambia, Kenya, Bangladesh and Pakistan haven't been able to attend the conference.

We see it as an example of the racist and discriminatory EU policy that wants to close the EU for people coming from the Third World. This approach of the Irish State denied these people the right to travel freely and even criminalised them. This policy also disrupted the possibility of exchanges among peace activists which was one of the reasons that this year's conference has been limited primarily to participants from the US and Europe.

Amongst the people denied access were 16 members of a Congolese study group on peace and non-violent solutions for their country.

An officer at the Ministry of Justice gave an astonishing reason for denying visas to our Congolese friends : they couldn't enter Europe because they had no visa history. According to him they should have travelled abroad previously to be given a visa! This is a new Catch 22.

You can't get a visa without having travelled, you can't travel abroad without a visa. At least, not legally !

As an international, antimilitarist and pacifist organisation, we want to make a strong protest against this policy of Fortress Europe against the Third World.

"Freedom of movement is a human right"

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International"

For more information contact Siva Ramamoorthy at 0866065253

War Resisters' International, 5 Caledonian Road * London N1 9DX * BRITAIN
tel.: +44-20-7278 4040 * fax: +44-20-7278 0444 email: *

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