30 Jul,2013

The international congress on Social And Health Effects Of Small Arms held at Germany from 30th May to 2nd June 2013

The international congress on “Social And Health Effects of Small Arms” organized by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) at Villingen Shwenningen in Germany from 30th May to 2nd June 2013 called upon the weapon producing countries to stop producing these arms as these cause death, injury, deprivation, psychological trauma, displacement and abuse of women and children in the conflict as well as non conflict regions of the world. Expressing concern at that over 875 million small arms are there in the world which cause death of nearly half a million people every year out of which 300,000 are due to conflicts and 200,000 due to homicides and suicides. About 90% of deaths due to small arms are of civilians. These arms are used by the military where inter country relations are not conducive. These are used by the non state actors to cause subversive activities. These are also used for criminal activities and for violence at local levels. It is an irony that the Security Council member countries produce and sell these arms in maximum number which are now being used in the conflict regions like south Asia, Middle East and Latin America. Danger with small arms is that are easily available and within the reach of civilians. The congress appealed to the gun producing industry to convert them to produce the items of common use like sewing machines and cycles or toys. All the delegates held a rally outside the gun producing Heckler and Koch where a concert was held for peace and for elimination of guns.

Various speakers in different sessions expressed satisfaction at that the arms trade treaty (ATT) has been passed but it must be ratified by various countries of the world. The speakers also pointed out that this ATT is weak and does not say anything about the supply of arms to terrorist groups. Also the treaty does not say about the supply of arms to countries as loans and gifts. This needs an amendment in the treaty in the coming time.

The delegation of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) comprised of 22 persons including 14 students and young doctors. Dr Arun Mitra in his presentation on ARMS RACE AND SOCIAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT- SOUTH AISAN PERSPECTIVE at the plenary session cautioned that India is the biggest importer of arms in the world and this huge expenditure is being done at the cost of social expenditure on health and education. Perpetual conflict with Pakistan is the main cause of this. This aberration has to be corrected by both the countries who must sit together and have dialogue and promote more trade and people to people relations. The economic gaps among the population have increased under the neo liberal economic development policies. This has further led to increase in violence due to small arms due to greed, need and desperation.

Dr S S Soodan gave a presentation at the workshop on “Small Arms Production, Trade and Use - Effect on Health & Development in Context of South Asia” in which Dr.Tipu Sultan, President Pakistan Doctors for Peace and Development (PDPD) and Dr Ranjit Jayasekhera from Sri Lanka also participated. It was decided to hold a south Asian regional meeting in Pakistan at Karachi and Lahore An exhibition on the effects of small arms was organized by Dr Navinder Singh Bawa. About 50 students from allaround the globe took out a bike tour from the city of Ulm to Villingen covering a distance of over 200 Kilometers spreading the message of peace and non violence demanding check on proliferation of small arms. This group included 4 students from India Miss Apram Jyot, Miss Soumyashree, Miss Namarta and Mr Arshdeep Singh. Other prominent delegates include Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman, Dr Tejinder singh, Maninder Singh, Dr Miss Chetna Hans, Agya Dass Aggarwal.