Exclusive conference coverage from openDemocracy 50.50: Marion Bowman writes Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security for our Defending the Defenders conference.
It was a classic image of protectiveness. The figure of a soldier stood, fatherly, silent, unyielding, over a seated woman, small, lovely, smiling. But it was not how it seemed. The soldier was a full-scale replica of one of China’s Terracotta Warriors, one of several being used as ornaments in a country house hotel in the Netherlands. The woman was Dicki Chhoyang, a Tibetan politician who was leading a discussion at the 2015 Nobel Women’s Initiative conference on human rights.
The image was poignant, for China has illegally and forcibly occupied Tibet for 65 years and the armour-clad warrior of an ancient Chinese dynasty, with his clenched fists ready to grasp weapons, loomed over Chhoyang reminding us that what is often passed off as protection in the relationship between women and men and between countries is really control.
As in gender relations, so in international affairs. ‘Security’ is everywhere in official circles yet increasingly it feels as if the entire world has been given over to the most perverse notions of safety, notions of ‘safety’ that are really about death and destruction, cruelty and conflict, grandiosity and greed. From 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (ostensibly to win a war against terror but which have merely spawned ISIS and more violence), to increased efforts by the EU to control borders in response to the Mediterranean migrant crisis, while hundreds of traumatised and terrified people die, governments around the world keep proving incapable of understanding what real human security is made of.
openDemocracy 50.50 has been covering the Nobel Women’s Initiative biennial conferences since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy’s own authors. Visit their website for more coverage of our 2015 International Conference: Defending the Defenders.