The Peace Pledge Union is troubled by the praise given to men of Bomber Command - including the 50,000 of its members who were killed - which itself killed over 300,000 people in Germany and many more elsewhere in Europe.
Mourning for these men will already have taken place a long time ago and many have been commemorated on memorials around the country and at the sites of airfields from where they flew. The vast new memorial to be unveiled by the Queen goes far beyond mere commemoration. Its sheer scale and attendant ceremony are a clear statement by its supporters, the military and the state that the core activities of Bomber Command - which an unbiased International Court would readily identify as a war crime - are here seen as laudable, heroic and noble.
We understand that the men of Bomber Command were shunned at the war's end. The politicians, Churchill in particular, chose to distance themselves from Bomber Command's appalling and cruel destruction in the closing months of the war. The remaining men of Bomber Command have reason to be angry at their masters' duplicity; instead they lionise their commander-in-chief, Arthur Harris, the architect of indiscriminate mass killing.
We understand that amongst a group of men responsible for killing hundreds of thousands, many will feel the need to justify their actions; but we regret that wider society, and particularly those in power who support this enterprise, remain attached to such barbaric means. It is regrettable that the concern expressed by people in Britain at "obliteration bombing" during the war itself finds so little echo 70 years later.
We will meet as usual on the riverbank at Canbury Gdns, Kingston, at 8.30pm.
Please bring small boats with night-lights to float on the river in memory of those who died in the first atomic bomb attack in 1945.
A good way to make these is with half-grapefruit skins, food trays or cut-off plastic water bottles, though we have to collect these later.
For more ideas/details email Rosemary – email@example.com
Please come and help on our stall at the Sutton Environmental Fair on August Bank Holiday – Monday 27th August 2012.
If you haven’t been to this before it is a lovely event with lots of interesting campaigning and charity stalls, delicious food and drink, everything powered by solar or pedal-power. Often the weather is pleasant too!
It’s our last fund-raising event of the year, and also a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with people interested in peace issues.
Please email Maggie at galdor.co.uk to offer to help on our stall.
Since the 1950s US agencies developed a system to psychologically destroy human beings with drugs, sensory deprivation and sensory overload and, rather like having a standing army or armaments industries, their very presence craves opportunity for use. Invading Afghanistan the US blindly trawled for the planeloads of fanatics they imported years before to fight the Russians. For $5000 bounties they netted untold hundreds of innocent Muslims, arbitrarily designated “foreign terrorists”.
As a boy in Saudi Arabia Shaker Aamer had imbibed the teachings of Muhammad and the Holy Qur’an at the Madrasa. Zakah, the third pillar of Islam, requires Muslims to provide charitable support to those less fortunate. Commitment to Zakah was to bring Shaker, his family, and Moazzam Begg and family, to practice charity in the field for those less fortunate in Afghanistan. They believed the true Zakah of their faith required they do more than donate to charity after Friday prayers.
Whatever the weather in Guantanamo air conditioning maintains a chilly 18° against which skimpy prison garb is no protection. Deemed “non-compliant” he is kept in isolation (“segregation”) in a tiny cell with scarcely room to pray. The constant electric light, 24 hour surveillance, the cold metal bed and the squat toilet fitted with a tap for washing are designed for discomfort. He is on hunger strike again to protest continuing imprisonment without charge or trial; remembering that he was cleared for release in 2007 and 2010. It’s reported that he takes minimal food to sustain himself and avoid painful force-feeding. His body mass is halved. Comb, toothbrush, toilet paper, etc … are forbidden. Arbitrary “cell searches” day and night are frequent and brutal, leaving him bruised and battered. In “Forcible Cell Extractions” squaddies wearing heavily padded protective suits commonly constrict his windpipe, and his wrists with plastic straps. Sleep is constantly disturbed by banging and shouting.
He complains of isolation and feeling vulnerable but when authorities complain he is “non-compliant” he answers that it is they who must become compliant. The regime is neither legal nor humane though US law was modified to permit ‘torture-light’ and a range of oppressive techniques. So, despite the attempts of the system to break his spirit, it seems he retains sufficient to deny them absolute control.
For many years Guantanamo strictly kept its secrets but, with time and discharges, lawyer visits and access by the news media, increasingly more is known – though still much is classified ‘State Secret’, because, we are told, it could threaten the “security of the United States” if revealed. Lawyers Ramzi Kassem and Clive Stafford Smith are tightly restricted about what they can report.
Now we hear that after ten years improved cells and recreation facilities are to be provided, in what is seen as PR to counter negative publicity, but it’s only for those deemed “compliant.”
Clive Stafford Smith has recently criticized the UK government Green Paper advocating secret court hearings on the grounds of “National Security.” Most believe it is really to avoid embarrassing public exposures about torture and UK agencies’ involvement, as revealed by Binyam Mohamed. It is believed that Shaker Aamer does have further revelations. Our coalition government pledged to get Shaker back but has nothing to show for two years’ ‘work.’
Obama was unable to close Guantanamo as pledged. American public opinion is brainwashed into believing the prisoners are all implicated in the 9/11 attacks and could pose a mortal threat to the whole US if released. The opposite is the truth but the Republicans, Congress and the pending Presidential elections are all stacked against the prisoners. Some believe movement may be possible after November and before Inauguration in January. We aren’t holding our breath.
For more information see www.saveshaker.org or phone 07756 493877
After a wobbly start the family has initiated a year-long government epetition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33133
Noel Hamel, June 2012
Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network Against the Arms Trade (www.traknat.org.uk) is a network of local groups, representing residents of Vince Cable's and neighbouring constituencies.
TRAKNAT works to end the government’s promotion and financial support for arms exports, and other exports that damage people and the environment. Members of TRAKNAT believe that: UK arms sales to autocratic repressive regimes are wrong; Arms sales are an unfair financial burden on poorer communities overseas, they divert resources from development and exacerbate poverty; Government arms sales promotions constitute a wholly disproportionate UK taxpayer expense; moreover any commitment to arms sales detracts from worthwhile issues like green technology, energy sustainability and tackling poverty at home and abroad.
TRAKNAT members include: Richmond & Twickenham Green Party, Richmond & Twickenham Amnesty Group, Richmond & Twickenham Friends of the Earth, Richmond & Kingston World Development Group, Richmond and Kingston Greenpeace, Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Kingston Peace Council/CND whose members have played a vital role in setting up the network and supporting its activities.
TRAKNAT’s principle activities so far are:
Collecting petition signatures at stalls at Summer Fairs. KPC will be at New Malden on July 7th and Sutton on August 27th , Bank Holiday Monday, and Amnesty will be at St Margaret’s Fair.
A TRAKNAT planning meeting will be organised shortly. At it we will plan action for:
Please contact Paul with ideas for future action: paul1 at traknat.org.uk 07970 868508
Arranged by Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition and Merton PSC. – report by Rosemary Addington.
Chris Cole is a member of Christian CND, and views the campaign against drone warfare as crucial. He stressed that the increasing use of drones is making war more likely for 3 main reasons.
1. It is risk-free. Never before have we been able to wage war on countries far away with zero risk to our own forces. Last year US drones were used to attack in 6 countries – Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen. Simultaneous wars like this have previously been impossible.
2. Play-station mentality. This dehumanises those targeting the drones, a great danger for the future.
3. Expanding the battlefield – into urban areas where so called “precision strikes” can be made. The attacking nations have a great faith in their accuracy not borne out by the target nations. Very little detail can be gathered in Afghanistan of civilian casualties as there are few journalists or NGOs but a lot more in Pakistan, who claim 90% civilian casualties.
John Hilary from War on Want said that our big planned troop reduction will be made up for by increasing use of drones and also mercenaries. BBC claims that drones were minimising civilian casualties in the Libyan war must be challenged. Israelis are selling drones as “road tested” – ie in Gaza.
Britain and USA are now going down the “targeted assassination” route – until recently this was seen as unacceptable. War on Want has been working with MPs to persuade them of the moral necessity of keeping casualty figures, as required by the UN.
More information will be in our next newsletter.
Two months after the atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima, George Orwell wrote a piece in Tribune titled You and the Atom Bomb. As usual, Orwell’s take on the new situation was unexpected and original. He first focused on the difficulty and expense of making the Bomb, which he correctly assumed were such that only super-states (Orwell’s word) could afford them. At the time he wrote, only one nation had the Bomb, but he predicted the Russians would soon make one, and then ‘East Asia, dominated by China’, resulting in the surface of the earth being
‘parcelled into three great empires, each self-contained, and cut off from contact with the outer world and each other, ruled, under one disguise or another, by a self-elected oligarchy’.
The tendency of the new weapon was to promote authoritarian regimes at the expense of democracy.
‘The atom bomb may complete the process [of the rise of autocratic, threatening regimes] by robbing the exploited classes and peoples of all power to revolt, and at the same time putting the possessors of the bomb on a basis of military equality. Unable to conquer one another, they are likely to continue ruling the world between them, and it is difficult to see how the balance can be upset except by slow and unpredictable demographic changes.’
At this point, readers will recognise the plot of Nineteen Eighty Four outlined, three years before its publication. The atom bomb gave Orwell the inspiration for perhaps the most iconic novel of the 20th century.
Orwell’s prediction of the shape of the post-Bomb world was uncannily accurate. Russia did acquire the Bomb a few years later. China now has the bomb. Democracy has suffered. In America, Senator McCarthy was enabled to flourish. In Russia a cruel repression of the people under Stalin became notorious. In China democracy has yet to make an appearance. Orwell considered ‘the kind of world view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable (original italics) and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbours’. (This must be the first time the phrase ‘cold war’, which was to become so familiar soon, was used.)
Orwell expected that democracy would decline with the advent of the atom bomb.
‘The great age of democracy and of national self-determination was the age of the musket and the rifle. . . . But thereafter every development of military technique has favoured the State as against the individual, and the industrialised country as against the backward one.’
It is hard to deny the trend towards centralisation of power after Hiroshima. Democracies have clearly become less democratic. Vide the war in Vietnam, conducted by democracies where decisions were routinely taken by the Executive behind closed doors, where the public was deceived, and kept on side by constantly being warned of the menace of communism. This was pre-eminently a ‘cold war’ war. So like Nineteen Eighty Four - vide also Afghanistan and Iraq.
‘. . . it [the atom bomb] is likelier to put an end to large-scale wars at the cost of prolonging indefinitely ‘a peace that is no peace’.
From the Christian CND Queen's Peace Party at Aldermaston
submitted by Martin Birdseye
Your Majesty, we party here outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston on the occasion of your Diamond Jubilee. You have continued through thick and thin for many years and we, who protest against nuclear weapons, are equally persistent. We celebrate with you, as Head of the Church of England, the Synod vote against the renewal of Trident and the similar announcements made by the other Christian denominations.
However, inside this abominable factory, warhead development continues. We ask, “What has happened to the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?” A fifty-year collaboration with France on warheads has been announced. Your government’s statement that it is “fully committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons -” unfortunately ends “ in the long term”. Those words point up the need for persistence on our part. You can be sure we will persevere until they are no more.
The existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to everyone. History tells something of what would happen were they used again but even before use they damage us. Not only by their financial cost but also by their cost to our very humanity. Toleration degrades our sensitivity and corrodes our moral discernment. Saying they are merely a deterrent cuts no ice, because they cannot deter without the intention to use them. Possession makes us potential murderers and the immorality of accepting them spreads a subtle contagion, blunting our integrity in general. We will not have that.
With the hibakusha in Japan we have to cry, “No more nuclear weapons!”
Weapons of mass destruction cannot provide true security. People of all faiths and none realise that.
Your Majesty, our choice of this sad place to party at is to challenge its doom-ridden pretence of security and share with each other the life-affirming vision of a world without nuclear weapons. A world where all people can celebrate friendship together in a truly noble humanity.
Thank you, Ma’am, for your kind attention. 3/6/2012
This book could have been a crime novel except the plot was too complicated for a fictional writer to dream up and, unlike most crime novels, the murder is not solved nor are the real perpetrators apprehended. But it comes very close. The sheer scale of the research, compilation and cross referencing of facts, observations and opinions and their interpretation through the eyes of a loyal, retired serviceman and law abiding subject of the British Crown, lead one to the inevitable and chilling conclusion that seeming police incompetence was a cover for state security intervention, liquidation and fabrication.
But what Rob Green is suggesting, nay affirming, couldn’t happen in this country, could it? Well, anybody who was involved in anti-nuclear activities during the 1980s was placed under Police Special Branch surveillance in their own localities. Those asking the more penetrating questions and those encouraging others to join them in actively opposing the nuclear state were subject to more intensive forms of intimidation – and worse – at the hands of MI5 and their sub-contractors. The ‘civil’ nuclear power industry also did surveillance
Hilda Murrell was one of those anti-nuclear activists whose research and writing was deemed dangerous enough by the security state to warrant their full attention and to prevent her ideas from spreading and challenging those who held power. Although it is hard to comprehend in our post-Cold War and less ideological environment, those who held power decided that those who fundamentally challenged it could legitimately be harassed, have their human rights suspended and be marginalised – all in the name of defending freedom and democracy.
The irony is that those who were campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the prevention of the expansion of the nuclear power industry were trying to achieve it by almost entirely democratic means. Their path to this objective was blocked by official secrecy, non-accountability, compliant politicians and judiciary and the apparatus of state security. And, as Rob Green came to realise, the state here in the UK, just as in the communist countries, would, ultimately, defend itself.
Contrary to received wisdom, endlessly inferred by enquiring police officers and lazy journalists, Commander Rob Green did not leave the Royal Navy a disaffected or disillusioned 38 year-old. He wasn’t infected with his Aunt Hilda’s anti-nuclear virus, nor had he passed on any sensitive military secrets to her about the sinking of the Belgrano, an act of unprovoked aggression which effectively committed Argentina and Britain to waging war over what they called Los Ilas Malvinas and we called The Falkland Islands, thirty years ago this year.
Rob Green learned, through many years of hard graft and intelligence gathering, that the country that he was unquestioningly loyal to, even prepared to go on a suicide mission to deliver a nuclear bomb to defend, was rotten at the core and protected by an unscrupulous and corrupt bureaucracy which, if challenged, could react viciously.
Hilda Murrell paid the ultimate price for her quiet and carefully constructed convictions. Only her ideas were a threat. But, of course, that is exactly what those who held power feared the most. Rob Green came to share his beloved aunt’s ideas and has subsequently spent many years doing his very best to help spread those ideas and, at the same time, expose the workings of the nuclear state and bring the perpetrators of her death and their paymasters to account, even if they are now deceased. He deserves our individual and collective support in his endeavour to re-open the coroner’s inquest. Perhaps some in the Fourth Estate can make a contribution too, if they can get past their own gatekeepers, external as well as internal.
But, then again, Rob Green could just have his head full of conspiracy theories and have drawn unsubstantiated conclusions from a series of random observations while the West Mercia Police Force could have been exhaustive in their enquiries and, somewhat belatedly, bang on in convincing the judicial system to convict a then 16 year-old truant from a local foster home and petty criminal for abduction and murder.
Read and make your own judgement!
Nigel Chamberlain, January 2012
PLEASE NOTE – I HAVE BOUGHT THIS BOOK AND WILL BE GLAD TO LEND TO ANYONE REQUESTING IT. firstname.lastname@example.org
Is your garden a mess? Perhaps you have no time, or aren’t as young and fit as you once were? Don’t worry, help is at hand! Our member John Johnson is offering one-off clearance or regular basic maintenance for £10 hour (negotiable). Please telephone 0208-398-6915 Please note John does not have a car so must be within bike distance of Hinchley Wood.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND