THE DEATHS of Petra Kelly and Gert Bastian will be felt deeply by many throughout the world, writes Satish Kumar.
I came to know Petra when she was working for the European Commission in Brussels and started to voice her passionate concern for the oppressed, for the ill and for the victims of the arms race. When I first received a contribution from her for my magazine Resurgence I could not believe that someone could work in the Brussels bureaucracy while holding such radical views.
Of course she could not reconcile the European Commission's work and her personal commitments to peace, environment and sustainable economics. So she resigned and threw herself wholeheartedly into the work of the Green Party in Germany.
Her articles for Resurgence grew in stature, impatience and urgency. She communicated her deeply held values with lucidity and ferocity. Sometimes when I suggested that she should tone down her language, she felt let down. She would say, 'No words are strong enough to warn the world of the suicidal course our civilisation is taking.'
Petra became a beloved figure to radical Greens throughout the world. She was in great demand from Moscow to Melbourne and from Dublin to Delhi. It was difficult for her to say no to requests people made of her time. Sometimes she would say 'yes' to an invitation but be unable to fulfil it because she would be overtaken by the pressing desire to help with some new disaster. She was like a candle burning at both ends. I saw her taking not a moment of rest.
Petra lived a life of anguish, anger and compassion all in one. I saw these three qualities prominently manifested in her latest campaign to restore the rights of the Tibetan people. She never understood the indifference of Western democracies towards Tibet. She was particularly drawn to the cause of Tibet because she believed that under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, Tibet could provide an example of a nation practising an environmentally sustainable and spiritually desirable way of life.