Conscientious Objectors’ Day, 15th May 2014, Tavistock Square, London WC1 - 12 noon.
Please try and come to this – it will be especially interesting this year as many representatives of families of WW1 conscientious objectors will be attending.
If you are reading this and had a relative who was a CO or non-combatant you might like to get involved.
In the run up to the centenary of the First World War, we will be remembering the Conscientious Objectors and the women peace campaigners who said No to the war. Descendants of more than 30 WW1 COs and women peace campaigners from all over the country will be coming to commemorate the lives of their relatives and the brave stand taken by all those who opposed the war.
Flowers will be laid in tribute to the COs of WW1 and to COs all over the world.
Led by the First World War Peace Forum.
Afghans celebrate New Year on the 21st March. Voices for Creative Non-Violence (VCNV) held a weekend of solidarity with Afghans who will be facing uncertainty and the probable escalation in conflict during the renegotiation of the international presence within Afghanistan.
Kite flying has become synonymous with Afghanistan as a well loved pursuit which was banned under the Taliban. Now Afghans are more used to the presence of UK and US armed and surveillance drones flying overhead. In the last 5 years there have been 547 UK drone strikes on Afghanistan, which is now the ‘drone capital‘ of the world.
In support of this members of KPC/CND joined a small group at Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner to fly kites. The wind was gusty so this was not an unmitigated success. Noel had made a beautiful kite, which unfortunately only made one flight as a crucial strut broke, but it joined the display of banners along the fence to advertise the issue!
Maya Evans of VCNV had brought some genuine Afghan kites which flew well but were flimsy and suffered damage. Probably we need lessons from Afghan children in the art of managing these!
Moazzam Begg was arrested in February after travelling to Syria, accused of going there to participate in the fighting.
To anyone who has heard Moazzam speak since his release from Guantanamo Bay this is a ridiculous concept – a more peaceable person could hardly be found. If there is any evidence against him he should have an early trial date set.
Please write cards in support and sent to Moazzam Begg, A8423DD, HMP Belmarsh, Western Way, Thamesmead, London SE28 OEB.
Please do not discuss his case in your remarks.
Lindsay German has been invited to speak on Syria on May 7th, yet to be confirmed.
David Swanson has agreed to speak on July 2nd in connection with his book “War is a Lie”.
Both Meetings will take place in the Bertrand Russell room at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL, 8 – 9 pm after the LRCND Council Meeting from 7 – 8pm.
Our fund-raising season is about to begin.
We have already received many good quality books and some very saleable bric-a-brac to sell to swell the coffers for this year, but would like more. Have you done your spring turnout yet? Any unused gifts, unchipped crockery or ornaments would be most welcome. No books at present please.
The first sales will be held in my garage on both May Bank holidays. Many will be busy on these days I’m sure and many can think of far better things to do on a Bank Holiday and that’s fine, but if you are willing and able to join me on Monday 5 May or Monday 26 May for an hour or longer that would be appreciated. My garage is in Lower Ham Road near the Hawker Centre and is at the rear of 289 Richmond Road. The sales will begin at 11 am and will continue until 4 pm if the weather is good. Please note the later starting time than in previous years.
The other sales booked for this year are:
Ham Fair (on Ham Common) on Saturday 14 June
New Malden Fair on Saturday 12 July
Carshalton Environment Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 25 August
Please find out if you are able to help at these events as lots of help is needed, but I can assure you that if the weather is good - which it often is - then a really enjoyable day is in store.
Wherever we go, KPC is complimented on its interesting and informative newsletter. I’m sure we all agree that our editors and contributors do an excellent job. Thank you to all 4 of our editors for their work. The money we make enables our newsletter to be printed and distributed to interested people all over the country.
We also pay expenses of visiting speakers, donations to other groups with whom we have links and to causes which, like us, are striving for a better and more peaceful world.
Please contact me on 020 8549 0086 or email Maggie at galdor.co.uk to request collection of goods or with offers of help. Thank you.
Thanks to Non-Violent Resistance Network Newsletter for these Items:-
This was the title of an open letter to prime Minister Netanyahu, published on March 8th and signed by over 60 Israeli Jewish school students in which they state their refusal to do compulsory military national service in the Israeli Army. This is the largest group of Israeli draft refusers in the history of Israel and is the first act of its kind for five years.
The letter gives as their main reason for this refusal “opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories.” It also states “The problem with the army does not begin or end with the damage it inflicts on Palestinian society. It infiltrates everyday life in Israeli society too: it shapes the educational system and our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination.”
On 23rd March 18-year old Omar Saad arrived at the Induction Base in Tiberius where he declared his refusal to serve in the Israeli Army and was sentenced to 20 days imprisonment in military prison No. 6. This was the 6th consecutive time Omar had been sentenced to 20 days since he was first jailed in early December after he and his siblings performed a musical protest outside the same military induction centre. (Omar plays the viola and in a 2012 letter to Israeli leaders he wrote that his viola is his only weapon).
After being sentenced this time Omar stated:- “I will not serve in the Israeli Army even if they arrest me 60 times more …an occupying army that kills youth in cold blood and detains women and children cannot be respected or trusted”.
If you would like to receive the NVRN Newsletter which is published approx 6 times a year, (for a very small subs. to cover postage), email email@example.com
Our member Angela Cooper has recently asked Sarah Waldron, Core Campaign Co-ordinator at Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), about investigating charities which she has supported in the past, such as the Salvation Army and Save the Children, about whether they invest in the arms trade.
She had seen a Panorama programme dealing with this issue, and as a result has stopped donating to Save the Children. (Perhaps other members might like to take this one up?)
She has received this reply from Sarah:-
Good news! We've had a statement from the Salvation Army. It says:
"The Salvation Army has an ethical investment policy with investments being managed by an Investment Advisory Committee (IAC) which meets quarterly. As part of its duties the IAC is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the investment managers in the implementation of the ethical requirements and other constraints of its Ethical Code of Practice which states among other considerations:
Firstly, investment is excluded in companies which derive a material amount of their revenues from the following activities:
* 'weapons' refers to both nuclear and conventional
We also subscribe to Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS), 80-84 Bondway, London, SW8 1SF, who keep us up to date with current developments."
Sarah also made the following points:-
”We don't have a full list of charities' investments at present - partly because we hoped that argument had been won and that no charities would hold such investments any longer!
However, we have recently noticed a worrying trend of the arms industry quietly finding its way back in. We were shocked that Comic Relief hadn't realised how unacceptable and controversial its arms trade investments were. We've also recorded other types of associations: for example, we found Guildford Cathedral hosting events for the arms trade. Luckily in that case, when we raised our concerns the Cathedral recognised it was inappropriate and cancelled an event it had been due to hold.
In case you didn't see it, we have set up a petition to Comic Relief and are pleased they have now announced they will sell their arms trade investments whilst they conduct a review. However, our petition continues as we want to make sure that their review recognises it would never be acceptable for them to invest in the arms trade. We hope to be able to meet them as part of their review process to make this point. My colleague is also writing an article for a charity fundraising magazine, so we hope to make sure that other charities will also get the message.”
Angela was very glad to receive this assurance, stating “along with many other non-believers, we recognise the good works the Salvation Army does with the poor and homeless. Living in London you see their presence in so many ways, working with AIDS sufferers, prisoners etc, and I genuinely believe they are good people who live their religion”.
Congratulations to Sarah and to CAAT for the work they are doing on this. For more details or to get involved see www.caat.org.uk.
Read the following to find out why!
In August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. The First World War had begun. John Burns, President of the Board of Trade and MP for Battersea, resigned from the government saying he would have “nothing to do with such a criminal folly, the effects of which will be appalling to the welter of nations who will be involved. It must be averted by all the means in our power. Apart from the merits of the case, it is my especial duty to dissociate myself, and the principles I hold and the trusteeship for the working classes I carry, from such a universal crime as the contemplated war will be”.
Burns was referring to the traditions and history which had brought him to high office. He had been brought up in poverty in Battersea, South London. Apprenticed as an engineer, he was introduced to radical politics. In 1878 he was arrested for holding a political meeting on Clapham Common. He worked in Africa, where he was horrified by the way Africans were treated. He returned in 1881.
On 'Bloody Sunday' in February 1887 Burns led the defiance of a ban on a meeting in Trafalgar Square against government policies. He was sentenced to six weeks in prison for it.
The late 1880s saw the rise of new 'general' trade unions in a wave of strikes, including the match girls strike in 1888. Burns came to prominence as an organizer of the 'new unions'. Battersea was an important centre of them.
In 1889 Burns led the London dockers’ strike, which won its main demands after five weeks.
Burns represented Battersea on the London County Council from 1889. In 1892 he became independent Labour MP for Battersea.
Battersea Trades and Labour Council was set up in 1894. It was one of the first in London, bringing together labour, radical liberal and socialist organisations and 'old' and 'new' unions.
In 1894 the Progressive Alliance of the same political forces won control of Battersea council. In 1900 it repeated the feat, winning two thirds of the seats.
The late nineteenth century saw the carve-up of much of the world, especially Africa, between a handful of imperialist powers, as well as growing rivalry between them.
Britain wanted to annexe the 'Boer' republics of South Africa. The war began in October 1899. Battersea was a centre of anti-war activity. Battersea Stop the War Committee was formed in February 1900. Its President was William Matthews, a stonemason and Chairman of the Progressive Alliance. The Committee included the same organizations as the Trades Council and the Alliance. The Borough Council too opposed the War.
Burns strongly denounced the war in Parliament. The Liberal Party was split into imperialist and antiwar factions. Radical Liberals like Lloyd George joined Burns in attacking the government, accusing it of 'a policy of extermination'.
Burns held public meetings chaired by Matthews against the war every Sunday from May to August 1900 in Battersea Park. The Committee too held meetings. Thousands attended.
In October 1900 a 'Khaki election' was held on the back of early British victories. The Conservatives kept power. But Burns held Battersea without losing votes.
As the war dragged on and reports of abuse of civilians came in, opposition to it grew. The British army interned the population of whole districts in 'concentration camps'. About 28,000 Boers, mainly children, and 14,000 black Africans died of starvation, disease and exposure in the camps.
The Boer War was the longest, most expensive and bloodiest fought by Britain between 1815 and 1914. The 250,000 troops was the largest force Britain had ever sent overseas. The war cost around 75,000 lives: 33,000 Boer fighters and civilians, 22,000 British and allied soldiers and perhaps 20,000 black Africans.
The war ended in May 1902. William Matthews died in June; thousands turned out to pay tribute.
Battersea's Latchmere Estate was opened in 1903. It was the first municipal housing estate built using a council's own labour force at a time when jerry-building private contractors were the norm. It was well-designed and well-built. Homes contained what had once been regarded as luxuries. Burns called the estate 'the common victory of the common people'.
He pointed out that its 'streets bear democratic names'. One is named after William Matthews, President of the Stop the War Committee and Councillor. Another is named after General Piet Joubert, Commandant-General of the Boer forces until 1900, other streets are Freedom, Reform, Burns (named after John Burns himself), and Odger - named after an earlier leading trade unionist and radical.
A Liberal government took power in 1906 after a landslide victory which partly reflected revulsion over the Boer War. Burns became President of the Local Government Board, the first government minister of working-class origin. But he disappointed the labour movement with his time in office.
When war came in 1914 Burns returned to the tradition that made him and resigned. His former ally against war, Lloyd George, went on to become Prime Minister, responsible for waging a war the horrors of which made those of the Boer war seem like a footnote.
Jim Brann; February 2014
Leafleting at the Ferry terminals on August 4th will begin early in the morning and according to numbers taking part it is hoped to continue through the day. More details later.
“Ten million lives were lost to the world in the 1914-18 war and they say that 70 million pounds of money were spent in the preliminary bombardment in the Battle of Ypres. Before any infantry left their trenches the sum of 22 million pounds was spent, and the weight of ammunition fired in the first few weeks of that battle amounted to 480 thousand tons.
“I do not believe that that represents the best use the world can be expected to make of its brains and its resources. I prefer to believe that the majority of people in the world these days think that war hurts everybody, benefits nobody – except the profiteers – and settles nothing......
“As one who has passed pretty well half a century in the study and practice of war, I suggest to you that you should give your support to Disarmament and so do your best to ensure the promotion of peace.”
FIELD-MARSHAL SIR WILLIAM ROBERTSON, Chief of Imperial General Staff, 1915-1918.
I see in the Morning Star, Friday 11th April, that Israel has prevented 30 runners from leaving Gaza to take part in the Marathon being run in Bethlehem on 12th April (one day before the London marathon).
One of the runners, Nader Masri, took part in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The Palestine Olympic Committee said it had asked Israel for permits for the 30 runners to travel to Bethlehem for their second annual international marathon, which would also include some shorter races. It was expected to attract some 700 runners from Europe in addition to local athletes.
After the permits were refused by the Israeli Supreme Court the Israeli human rights group Gisha was approached by Masri, and they appealed on his behalf. The Court replied that it could not intervene in the Defence Ministry’s decision, but the Judge Daphne Barak-Erez commented “It is hoped, of course, that in the future the security situation will improve to allow the easing of such restrictions”.
So hope we all!
This took place on 29th March in the Wesley Chapel, City Road.
The first speaker was Tim Llewellyn, former BBC Middle East correspondent and author. He spoke mostly of the background to the conflict, which I found very helpful (it is all too easy to forget the complex history to the terrible events that occur).
Tim went back to the settlement after WW1, when France was given Syria and Lebanon. They severely truncated Syria, making Lebanon larger and stronger, and Christians were given more influence. Within Syria the Alawite population was already more advanced. After WW2 France left Syria virtually broke. And with the creation of Israel, Palestinian refugees flooded in, and the West saw Syria as an agent of communism. The rise of the secular Ba’ath party gave some stability but big uprisings in the 1970’s led to terrible slaughter. When the latest uprisings began the West saw a chance to break the link between Syria, Iran and Hisbollah, but they have failed to achieve this as the rebels lack any coherent policies or leadership. Alawites, Christians and some Sunnis are very afraid of instability so prefer to stay with Assad, however unpalatable.
The next speaker was Baria Alamuddin, a Lebanese woman who has been in Britain for 35 years, since the Israeli invasion. She did not agree that a majority want Assad to stay, but the situation is more and more complex, “to do with whole world disintegration”. She warned that the Lebanon war lasted 16 years – so could this. “In this world politics has no morality”. She also warned that casualty figures are even worse than the UN reports. The Crimean situation is further destablilising. Hisbollah within Lebanon has more wealth than the Lebanese government – it is supported by Syria and Iran. Born a Muslim but raised a Christian, she remembers her grandfather telling her “All God is the same. No God will tell you to go and kill someone”.
Dilip Hiro spoke next. A journalist, he has written many books on the Middle East, and recommends his “Dictionary of the Middle East”. He said the army are completely behind Assad as otherwise (as Alawites) they would be in danger. Iran and Iraq support Syria as being the only country that never came under US control. Saudi Arabia support the rebels only because they are Sunni. Obama understands that power politics have shifted – the USA cannot undertake to be the sole policeman and they would not want to fight alongside jihadists. The US population is fed up with war.
Finally I heard Thomas Daffern’s contribution:- he was more positive in a way! He is a philosopher and has set up an Institute of Peace Studies at London University. He asked “Should we bomb? Do sanctions? Just sit and watch? NO - we should set up a Peace Policy”. This is not a soft or easy option – it requires a great deal of will and push. He has suggested to Paddy Ashdown the setting up of a trained Mediation Service, as provided for in the European Constitution. This would engage with the intelligence and scientific communities, because many are sick of this war. It would require a type of truth and reconciliation commission and of course disarmament on both sides. It would need a neutral meeting ground for leaders – a Peace Ship perhaps? “I am talking miracles here” he said.
There were other speakers but unfortunately I had to leave. More details can be found on www.unitingforpeace.com.
The distributed version of Kingston Peace News contains a "For Your Diary" section which I do not reproduce in the web version as it gets quickly out of date. This month Rosemary mentioned that the event list comes from the web site of Network for Peace (www.networkforpeace.org.uk), and we recommend you visit them for up to date events news to find something of interest to you.
Charles Wicksteed, webmaster
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND