Insurrection at the UN

Glen T. Martin and E.P. Menon

On April 29th E.P. Menon arrived  from San Diego to Kennedy International Airport in New York City.  Menon is well-known as a World Citizen Gandhian activist from India who launched his activist career by literally walking around the world in 1961 and 62 to protest nuclear weapons. He walked from central India to Moscow, then to Paris and London, then from New York City and Washington, DC and finally from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Today, at age 88, he is still speaking truth to power, still nonviolently struggling in the face of a nuclear armed world order protected by an impotent and misguided UN system.

Martin began his own career of protest as a teenager, but his first world-scope protest was in Washington, DC in 1967 when hundreds of thousands of people descended upon Washington and the Pentagon to protest the slaughter that was the Vietnam War. The USA had a military draft at that time, and Martin refused to participate in their criminal enterprise as a conscientious objector to all war.                                           

May Day celebrates International Workers. It is also the day of the 1886 Chicago Haymarket protests and massacre of workers in their struggle against capitalist exploitation. In front of the UN on May 1st, for us it meant the struggle of the people of Earth against a system that for 75 years has been impotent to end war, establish planetary social justice, eliminate nuclear weapons, or protect the endangered environment.  Menon’s sign reads “Abolish Veto Power” and “Create World Government.” 

An effective world government would be the ultimate triumph of the people of Earth over the global ruling class, including the UN’s elite five nations that have veto power over the entire body. Besides protesting outside the UN on the New York City street where freedom of speech obtains, Menon and Martin toured the UN grounds and the many displays for visitors set up in the expansive UN lobby.  All visitors to the UN are screened carefully just as in an airport.  There is no airplane to possibly hijack, but there is an ideology in that Visitor’s Center that needs to be carefully protected.

After the screening area, no protests, signs, placards, or “controversial” speech is permitted.  We were informed repeatedly that all signs and such speech is absolutely prohibited. However, we managed to get through screening with our signs undiscovered, and when authorities were looking the other way, we engaged in guerrilla protest tactics.  Here are a couple of photos from inside the UN grounds, the strike and retreat tactics of the Octogenarian set.

Menon in a forbidden action in the UN Security Council Chamber

Martin holding a forbidden sign at the famous gun sculpture in the UN Plaza

The extensive displays in the UN Visitor’s Center were of great interest. One large graphic, for example, represented the Vietnam War and stated that the bombs dropped on Vietnam during a ten-year period, if laid end to end, would encircle the entire planet. The display never mentioned who dropped all those bombs on that tiny country.  Prudent censorship, UN style.

Another display depicted the horrors of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It described the UN efforts to prevent genocides everywhere. The display never mentioned the fact that the World Bank and IMF had forced structural adjustment austerity programs on Rwanda for two years prior to the genocide: engendering hunger, joblessness, and desperation in that hapless population, clearly a contributing factor to their genocidal desperation. Everywhere the displays announced: “How you can get involved.”  Needless to say, involved citizens must participate in projects like “ending genocide” without ever asking the causes of genocide and war, that is, without ever questioning the UN system itself.

A third display had to do with the destruction of the former Yugoslavia by NATO in 1999 in which NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 straight days using depleted uranium weapons in order to prevent “genocide” that they claimed was happening. The display was straight propaganda for NATO and the western imperialist destruction of the only successful post-USSR socialist state still in existence. There was no mention that today these countries are suing the imperialist powers for significantly increasing their number of cancers and deformed births by poisoning their lands with radioactive uranium. 

So much for the UN preventions of genocide. How does the UN prevent genocide?  By bombing the victims of genocide.  How does the Security Council prevent war?  By going to war against any country that it declares is threating the “peace.”

Outside the UN on the NYC street, we passed out literature about the Earth Constitution, talked with some interested people and in general made it clear that the UN Charter must be replaced by the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  We also wrote a cover letter to the Indian Ambassador to the UN and brought her a package of materials (that included Menon’s book called “Footprints on Friendly Roads” narrating his walk around the world). We personally carried this material to the address of India’s Permanent Mission to the UN to make sure it was properly received and recognized.

The UN Visitor’s Center was an eye opener even for us, with our long experience of seeing through the war-mongering propaganda systems of the imperial nation-state system. The New York City UN is not going to criticize the imperial wars of its host country. Nor is it going to analyze the system of militarized sovereign nation-states upon which its very existence is constructed. The Menon-Martin team on May 1st to 3rd, 2023, was an historic hammer against the failed world system that is leading humankind toward perdition and possible extinction. We prevailed with dignity, boarding a train for southwest Virginia on May 4th, resolved to fight again another day.