“War is terror” – Danish peace activists
There is no shortage of skepticism in Europe over the war in Afghanistan. In Denmark though, veteran activists have been camping outside parliament for nearly a decade to make politicians listen.
Their calls have fallen on deaf ears.Members of Peace Watch have been standing in front of Danish Ministry of Defense and Danish Parliament for the last nine years, day in and day out, demanding the withdrawal of Danish troops from Afghanistan. And they are not planning on leaving any time soon. “Among us, the enthusiasm is big. We don't want to go home and leave it to them [authorities] again,” says Bo Harut, a Peace Watch organizer. Peace Watch is a Danish non-governmental organization with its main tenet that the government of Denmark is doing the wrong thing by participating in the war in Afghanistan. “You cannot fight terror with war, because war is terror. That's our main issue,” says Bo Harut. Denmark has more than 700 troops in Afghanistan. A recently-killed soldier brought the total number of Danish losses to 39. Peace Watch activists believe their case is as important today as it was in 2001.
However, attention to their actions is small. In fact, Peace Watch activists say it is not just the government that ignores them, but the media and the general public, too. Danes who happen to pass by also do not show much enthusiasm. “Sometimes we say ‘Well, Denmark is at war’, we say it to the youngsters over here, coming to us. They say, ‘Look around’, say, ‘Where? I don't see any war’,” Harut says.“I don't see, really, an opposition to these aggressive militaristic policies,” says Hanne Leni Andersen, one of the Peace Watch activists. And lack of attention is a big question, taking into account the perseverance of the anti-war activists. Some believe it is because an anti-war mood in the country is something of a new thing.“Within [the] last year, now there's a majority of population against our continued participation in Afghanistan. Even though there's still a very large majority in Parliament FOR it, the public opinion has become skeptical, but that’s quite new,” believes Toger Seidenfaden, editor-in-chief of Politiken newspaper. Nevertheless, Peace Watch are determined to stay put until they attain their goal, even if it takes another nine years.“Well, I'll stay here until the war is ending,” says Peter Henning, another Peace Watch activist.