The weather here in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark is always shifting. It’s rainy and windy now. In another minute the sun would be out giving a little respite to the cold of this late winter or early spring weather. Come rain or sunshine they are outside the parliament house in Copenhagen, protesting against the involvement of Danish troops in the illegal wars abroad. They call themselves “The Peace Watch’’. They are outside the Danish parliament building “ Christiansborg” for the last 5614 days.
Yes, you read it right. They are protesting to bring the Danish troops home for the past Five Thousand Six Hundred and Fourteen days.
The vigil started on 19 October 2001, immediately after USA invaded Afghanistan following the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. It continues for the last 5614 days.
In the chilly weather outside the Parliament house I met Inge Paaske, a 72 year old grandmother, keeping the vigil and talking to the visitors of the parliament house who care to listen about world peace. Paaske, now retired, was a public relations officer in a Library. She now handles the public relations of “The Peace Watch’’. When I met her she was alone. “The Peace Watch” is a small group of individuals who takes turn in keeping the vigil going.
“The Peace Watch’’ leaflet says “we are demonstrating against impotence, hysteria and violent attacks. We are a tiny worm gnawing at the stone heart of power and the conscience of society. We are a permanent knot in the floor of the polished corridors of power. We are a splinter in the eye of the Snow Queen. We are the children whispering about the Emperor… Look! He’s got no clothes”.
“The Peace Watch” is an association of people who believe that the road to peace is built on dialogue and global justice, across boundaries of political, religious and ethnic divides. It keeps a flame of home lit, a symbolic flame of life for all those whose lives, families, and societies have been smashed by war.
In the chilly weather of Copenhagen Inge Paaske stands behind a makeshift stand plastered with peace messages in all languages. She says her vigil is not just to bring back the Danish troops home but for world peace. She stresses Denmark was not attacked by any of these countries where Danish troops have gone, neither Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya nor Syria. Why are our troops in these countries, she asks?
Paaske has a son and a daughter and a grandchild. She says her fight is for the children. They are going to inherit a world of violence. They will be sufferers of the violence we unleash now upon the innocents. She says we want peace for ourselves and mostly for our children and our grandchildren.
As I stand talking to this grandmother of peace a group of school children who are visiting the parliament house breezes past us led by a tour guide. They don’t notice this peace warrior. My friend John tells me, the tour guide should have at least explained to these children why this grandmother is standing here outside the parliament in this cold weather.
Several springs, summers, autumns and winters have come and gone in these 5614 days. This grandmother stood in the icy cold of many a winter Copenhagen days. I leave this peace grandmother with the lines of Shelley on my mind,
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Binu Mathew is the editor of www.countercurrents.org. He can be reached at email@example.com