On Friday 29th August several members of TRAKNAT (Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network against the Arms Trade) met Vince Cable at his constituency office. Most of the issues discussed were ones that had been raised with Dr Cable before, but following Israeli actions in Gaza, there was concern because he had failed to stop all arms exports to Israel and while in office had failed to improve UK arms export controls. These are issues TRAKNAT believes are important, where there are changes that could be made in arms control policy before next year’s general election so that Dr Cable would leave a positive legacy.
A list of specific requests was presented to him. Some of these points were quite detailed. One important outcome of the meeting was that Dr Cable agreed to set up a meeting between his staff at UK Trade & Investment and TRAKNAT and arms control experts from other organisations, to seek clarification and answers on the specific questions and requests for an improved Section 9 (of the Export Licensing Criteria and Export Control Act) guidance. This would enable more detailed work to be done on some of the issues.
Following the meeting, Paul Tippell of TRAKNAT wrote to Dr Cable asking that he consider a number of actions. These are summarised below:
Two reports on the protests against the NATO summit
There was a peace camp at Tredegar Park during this week, where activists were able to come together and plan events and protests. It was a well run, vegan camp with many facilities including showers, a wellbeing tent, a social tent, a welcome tent (for tea, coffee and information) and a kitchen tent, where the food was produced 3 times a day!
Cardiff Council was host to a counter summit organised chiefly by STWC and CND. It was a day-long event, featuring antiwar speakers from around the globe, as well as Kate Hudson, Lindsey German, Chris Nineham and Jeremy Corbyn. There were two further day-long counter summits in Newport over two consecutive days, following this.
The first demo kicked off in Newport on Saturday 30th August and marched through town, ending in Westgate Square, where there was a rally. There was a further march from Newport town to the Celtic Manor on Thursday 4th September. A delegation was allowed through the security fence to present letters from the antiwar movement. That evening there was a rowdy demo outside Cardiff Castle, where NATO members were attending a banquet.
Although it was not an enormous demo it was interesting in the variety of people attending. There was a large contingent from Belgium, with a very striking banner, a beautiful traditional Unison banner from the Rhonda, and a one-man peace activist from Glasgow wearing a tartan g-string, who attracted a lot of smiles. Luckily for him the weather was fine and warm.
I also saw many hand-made banners, including "every Afghan has a name - war is not a video game" which seemed pretty appropriate. I took our smaller Kingston Peace Council banner, made by Noel.
At the rally in Newport town centre there were speakers from USA, Germany, Eire, Wales and London, and a good audience of local people. Although we had been told of a massive police presence at the NATO conference the police accompanying the march were friendly. It was good to meet up with some old friends and to speak to others from many places. I was sorry not to be able to stay on for some of the other events, but glad I had gone to this one.
Jeremy Gilley’s first office was a spare bedroom in his mother’s house in Richmond. Now the organisation he founded – Peace One Day – is based in Richmond and a survey in 2013 estimated that some 470 million people knew about the day of peace. Jeremy’s idea was to try and achieve a day of ceasefire, when fighting in the world’s conflicts stopped, and then to build on that to a ceasefire of two days and then longer. As readers will know he was able to persuade the UN to pass a Resolution in support of this and the first peace day was in 2001.
Meanwhile KPC members are spreading the message of peace day by visiting local schools to give assemblies – this year 13 primary schools and 2 secondary schools. Of course, too, we know that other schools are also marking peace day and there are excellent educational resources which can be downloaded from the Peace One Day website. Maggie Rees contacted a special needs school where we gave an assembly last year. This year they are holding three peace day assemblies including releasing doves from the school at the last of the assemblies, which sounds great.
Zac Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond Park, came to the assembly at Meadlands Primary School. He was very enthusiastic about peace day and said that he would contact Jeremy Gilley and help us get more local publicity next year if he is re-elected. We hope this would mean more schools celebrating peace day. Maggie has a wonderful repertoire of stories about mules, frogs, cranes and even a sword and Hilary has produced excellent presentations for older children. So just a last reminder to readers that if you have links with any local school we would be pleased to get in touch and ask if they would like to be on our list for next year.
Kingston Peace Council/CND marked the International Day of Peace by inviting Kingston shoppers to write messages of peace on paper doves which they could then hang on our ‘peace tree’.
Children were particularly keen to participate, and they were also able to take away a wordsearch puzzle with a peace theme to complete at home. The tree with its hanging doves was then on display in All Saints’ Church for the next few days.
Mass Lobby of Parliament for Gaza by Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Hundreds of supporters for Palestine met with MPs at the Emergency Mass Lobby for Gaza on Tuesday 9th September. In total, well over 100 MPs from all sides of the House supported the Lobby and met their constituents.
Perhaps the horrific Israeli bombardment on the ordinary citizens of Gaza encouraged greater than usual numbers of local Palestine Solidarity Campaign members to lobby our MP, Zac Goldsmith, on 9th September. Perhaps it helped us all focus on the issues that really matter. We were 10 or so (I didn’t count) and Zac, having said he could only spare ten minutes, very generously gave us an hour and agreed that even that was inadequate to thoroughly air the issues, suggesting we continue at a later date.
Zac said that he had been bombarded by correspondence both pro and anti and thought he might have been targeted for his name and supposed Israeli sympathy.
Zac agrees the government line that the settlements are illegal and the barrier/security fence ought not to be in the West Bank. He supports the idea of a two-state solution as the only realistically practical solution and he accepts that the seemingly endless cycles of violence will never help resolve differences. For him the main difficulty in supporting the Palestinian freedom movement is the Hamas Charter pledging to drive Israel ‘into the sea’ – we pointed out that despite the language Hamas didn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of achieving that against a nuclear armed Israel and anyway, Hamas is pledged to be reconciled to Israel when it withdraws to the 1967 cease-fire line.
He sympathises with the Jewish feelings of persecution and insecurity which are so central to their cultural heritage and likely to provoke extreme emotion if they feel their cherished homeland threatened. We agreed that was an important factor but we insisted that the current situation would in the long term not work in Israel’s best interests and we all agreed that we had concerns about Hamas and its methods which did not always sit well with our own more moderate attitude. Zac showed great interest in points made by our group and suggested a further meeting would be a good way to pursue our discussion.
It has since emerged that the IDF declared parts of Gaza a free-fire zone where anyone and anything was a ‘legitimate’ target. So much for IDF claims that their policy is strenuously to avoid civilians.
Dear members of KPC,
Once again there is mention of the 911 atrocity being perpetrated by Muslim terrorists in this month's KPC Newsletter [the reference in September’s KPN was to “alleged terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks” Ed] and once again I wish to draw attention to the increasing belief that the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives planted internally to cause a "classic demolition pattern" of collapse.
I am not a lone voice filled with paranoid conspiracy theories. In New York there presently is a "High Rise Safety Initiative" which has over 100,000 signatories to reopen the investigation, to expose the truth that the buildings would not have fallen due to impact from aircraft or fire without assistance from the deliberate planting of explosives beforehand.
I am well aware of the huge implications such an act would present to the post-911 world in terms of undermining the very basis of much of the numerous conflicts now taking place, but please investigate this yourselves to help expose this truth. If we seriously want peace in this world, surely the first step is to undermine the lies and propaganda that have caused much of the conflict in the first place?
4th September 2014
If you would like to respond to this letter, or wish to write on any other issue, please send your contribution to next month’s editor, Harry Davis.
Wednesday 12th November, 7.30pm, Kingston Quaker Centre
Our November meeting will be a special meeting marking Remembrance Day in the year of the centenary of World War One. Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi will be speaking to us about those who opposed that war and strove for peace.
Some of the lesser known stories from the First World War are of the peacemakers of the time. Their efforts and persistence can encourage us to look at where action for peace needs to happen today if we really want to work towards a future without war.
Please come along to the meeting, to which we are inviting other local groups, including churches and faith groups. It will be held in the hall at the new Quaker Centre (see below).
As from November, our monthly meetings will be held in the Kingston Quaker Centre, Fairfield East, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2PT (from December at the usual time of 7.45pm).
The new Centre is a short walk from Kingston railway station, Cromwell Road bus station, Fairfield North bus station, Eden Street bus stops and Kingston shopping centre. There is ample space in the adjacent Cattle Market car park but there is limited parking for disabled use at the front entrance of the Centre. Parking in Fairfield East is for residents only.
Please note that our October meeting will still be at Surbiton Hill Methodist Church hall, Ewell Road, Surbiton.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Gill Hurle
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND