Kingston Peace News - December 2014 / January 2015

Dr. Rebecca Johnson slams her old University

Rebecca Johnson (long-term resident and campaigner at Greenham Common, now a CND vice-president and head of the Acronym Institute) originally studied Physics at Bristol University and left the course after finding they were working with the atomic weapons factory at Aldermaston. Later she graduated from Bristol with a degree in Politics.

She now says “I am outraged to discover the University is now taking millions of pounds for carrying out research for Aldermaston.“ She revealed this in a lecture given at the neighbouring University of the West of England. It will be a serious embarrassment to Bristol as Rebecca is now a top-level academic - among other things having been a Senior Adviser to former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix on the International WDM Commission that he chaired in 1996.

She further states “Research that contributes to the replacement of Trident is a violation of the UK’s binding international treaty obligations to eliminate nuclear weapons. The only legally justifiable research is in verifying nuclear disarmament and ensuring that existing weapons are safely and securely dismantled and eliminated.”

Thanks to the Morning Star 28th November for this item. They also say they have twice contacted Bristol University for a response, but have received no reply.

Telling it like it is!

This letter appeared in the Big Issue, Nov. 10th – 16th. (edited)

If the country is indeed being swamped by migrants it is the fault of the economic system. The whole world is now at the mercy of a dysfunctional economic system that creates winners and losers. ….If people can see no hope for themselves in a country that’s a loser under this system, is it surprising that some choose to move to a country with a more resilient economy?

Some of the people who come to this country are escaping war. Is it surprising when we have a world-wide economic system that values war rather than building peace? Economic growth is dependent on and measured by the speed of circulation of money. More money is used during war than peace, so war is valued more by the system.

If we want to stem the flood of immigrants we should create a new economic system…. one that doesn’t create winners and losers. One that doesn’t value war more than peacebuilding…..

Thanks to Patricia Knox, Anglesey.

Our November Meeting with Pat Gaffney in new Quaker Meeting House

We were delighted to welcome Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi to speak at our inaugural meeting in this beautiful newly built venue in Fairfield East. We look forward to many more meetings here.

There was a good audience for Pat’s illustrated talk on First World War Peacemakers – Lessons for Today. She started with the well-known quotation “If you want Peace prepare for War” – no, she said “If you prepare for War you get War” This seems very obvious to most of us in the Peace Movement today – but before WW1 people were terrified by the rapidly growing armaments especially in Germany.

In spite of this, 100.000 German workers demonstrated against the war-fever, and the International Conference at the Hague had 1,200 women participants – very few from Britain as passports were confiscated at ports here and ferries were stopped in order to prevent British women going there. Only some who were already in mainland Europe managed to attend. But 2000 women protested here on the night of August 4th.

Next Pat spoke of individual women campaigners, such as Emily Hobhouse, who travelled to South Africa to protest against our concentration camps in the Boer war. She became so frightening to the South African authorities that on one occasion they wouldn’t allow her off the ship.

Then there was the huge split in the women’s suffrage movement, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst decided they must support the war, some women were released from prison to support the war-effort. But Sylvia Pankhurst stood firm in her opposition to the fighting.and campaigned against it throughout the East end of London. .

In Scotland and Northern England there were Helen Crawford and Maude Roydon who started the Women’s Peace Crusade and in Nelson hundreds of women attended meetings.

Not forgetting the men – Fenner Brockway and his wife started the Non-conscription Fellowship in 1917 when conscription was brought in. Pope Benedict XV sent Peace Emissaries to all Governments in 1917. Our Government ignored this.

Discussions and questions concentrated on the idea that we must be inspired by these stories. and not give up or be deflected from resisting war and militarism. We must guard against being told it is useless or unpatriotic to campaign against war - it is not.

Such things as Armed Forces Day must be resisted – there will be a Global Day of Action on Military Spending on April 15th next year. The Millenium Development Goals are likely to be unmet – this can be publicised, as can the increasing use of drones, the growth in foodbanks, military access to schools, the list goes on and on.

So unsurprisingly Pat’s final message was “don’t be discouraged – don’t give up – remember those who came before us and whose lives we now celebrate.”

Thanks to the Surrey Comet for this report in the issue of Friday 28th November – put in your diaries now.

Witnessing Lives Ruled by Conflict.

A former Kingston University student is getting ready to present a series of talks on the Israel/Palestine conflict, following a three month trip to the West Bank as a human-rights worker.

Nikki Ray from New Malden was sent to the village of Yanoun in the north of the West Bank by Quaker Peace and Service in August, where she saw first-hand the lives of Palestinians living under Israeli control.

Most of the inhabitants are farmers.

She was also involved in monitoring access to education, which is crucial for Palestinians, and relayed her findings to interested people back home.

Nikki will present a series of talks on her experiences in the West Bank, at New Malden Methodist Church, starting on Tuesday January 13th 2015. Doors will open at 7.30 for 8pm start.

Empire Troops & WWI

Despite the endless stream of books, pamphlets, meetings, articles and TV programmes you could miss the fact that Britain recruited about 2 million Asian, African and Afro-Caribbean men, and without them we could not have halted the German advance.

Baroness Warsi said that Indian soldiers fought for freedom alongside their white comrades but India was not liberated from British occupation for another 33 years.

Many Indian Army regiments volunteered to fight for King and Empire and fought bravely. Some, like the proud Sikhs, were so ferocious that they frightened the Germans. Sikh losses were up to 25%.

As the war was fought in many parts of the globe Empire soldiers were used, not all willingly. Some enlisted for financial reasons, particularly as collapsing trade destroyed local economies. Others were tempted by inducements that were not always honoured and yet others were coerced in various ways, some shamefully so to fulfil conscription quotas.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Egyptian, South Africans and others were conscripted as Labour Battalions to service front lines. No doubt many were killed and wounded.

Information is thin and doesn’t reflect the contribution of the 2 million to the white man’s war, nor their suffering. Many suffered bigotry and prejudice but the record is largely silent. Humiliations, inferior rations and conditions were believed not uncommon. Perhaps some were thought more expendable than British Tommys. There are few hard facts.

Isaac Hall, a joiner from Jamaica tried to return as war was declared but could not. A committed Christian conscientious objector, he was conscripted in 1916. A tribunal sent him to Pentonville: “an ignorant, unlettered creature who had no right to any opinions”. A tall fit man, he was reduced to a frail sick, skeletal wraith by unending brutality and abuse till rescued by Dr Salter, a Quaker Prison visitor with help from Fenner Brockway. It took 9 months to restore his physical health.

Herbert Morris was a 16 year old Jamaican sent to the trenches. He was highly thought of but succumbed to severe shell shock and fled. Without proper medical examination he was found guilty of desertion. He was trussed up, tethered to a post and shot.

Hundreds of West Indian conscripts without adequate clothing were killed and injured by frostbite as their ship was diverted to Nova Scotia. The story was hushed up.

In 1918 eight thousand West Indian soldiers waiting months for discharge in Taranto were ordered to clean latrines and wash white troops’ laundry. A rebellion was ruthlessly repressed. The South African Brigadier said that as “niggers” the army had treated them better than they had a right to expect. Many were sentenced to 5 years’ prison. Others remained virtual prisoners till September 1919. Returning home they were ostracised as potential trouble makers – no hero’s welcome.

Army manuals forbade “blacks” being given combat roles lest they become a danger, and none was allowed promotion. A secret colonial memo said “the black man has begun to think and feel himself as good as the white.” Official celebrations and acknowledgements were banned.

But some did defy the manuals, rule books and secret memos.

Walter Tull, a Northampton Town star footballer, enlisted. He was severely shell shocked witnessing the worst of the trenches. He recuperated, fought at the Somme and was promoted to commissioned officer, despite unsuitability “owing to his colour.” He served with great distinction but was killed in 1918. His statue stands at the Northampton Football Ground.

Norman Manley, Jamaican Prime Minister, 1959 – 1962 served with distinction on the western front and was promoted to NCO. He was disgusted by the racism. On Armistice Day in Hyde Park he despaired that the unity of commitment to the idea of “the war to end war” was being drowned out by jingoism and triumphalism.

Noel, November 2014

Volunteer Doctor banned from Gaza for ‘security reasons’

(Thanks to Morning Star 15th November.)

Israel has barred a Norwegian doctor from entering Gaza after he severely criticised its military campaign while volunteering in a Gaza hospital during the devastating conflict in the summer. Dr. Mads Gilbert, a trauma surgeon, said he did not know how long the ban was for. “This is not about me. This is about Israel denying the Palestinian people in Gaza international support.” During the war Dr. Gilbert charged that Israel was committing ‘state terrorism at the highest levels’. He now says “I’ve done nothing wrong. The truth on the ground is very inconvenient for Israel. Anyone who conveys that truth is unwanted.”

(There is now a 38 Degrees petition about this.)

World War One – what people are thinking now

Latest statistics on people’s reaction to the ongoing centenary commemorations for the First World War have thrown up some interesting facts.

Now that the early controversies over how the conflict should be marked have died away more than two-thirds of people surveyed feel the tone of the commemorations has been ‘about right’. More than half those surveyed (57%) also wanted to learn more over the next four years.

People were also asked to respond to a pair of provocative statements. One ran:

Instead of focusing on the pity of war and the loss of life, the central theme of the first world war commemoration should be that this was a just war that was important to Britain to fight and win.

While 28% of respondents agreed with this view 40% disagreed. This was a question that was also posed a year ago when the difference of opinion was much closer with 33% agreeing with the sentiment and 35% disagreeing.

This finding indicates that more people, having been subjected to so much media coverage about the conflict, have rejected the view prominent among right-wing historians such as Max Hastings and politicians such as Michael Gove that the centenary should be triumphalist.

A second provocative statement in the survey was:

We should worry about the rush to commemorate the first world war as this may encourage war and nationalism, when this was a futile war of unimaginable slaughter.

Only 16% of respondents now agree with this view (down from 19% a year ago). The sentiment that the commemoration might encourage war and nationalism was rejected by 55%, up from 51% a year previously.

The survey was undertaken by the thinktank British Future.

Phillip Cooper

Thanks to Jim McCluskey for the following:-

On 15th November Cameron was in Canberra addressing the Australian Parliament. His speech included the following words (of course it is not just diplomatic posts he opened across Asia).

For the first time since the 1970s the UK is expanding our presence east of Suez, opening diplomatic posts across Asia…Our economic prosperity underpins our national security and we are using it to modernise our armed forces with the most modern equipment—new fighters; new hunter-killer submarines; renewing our nuclear deterrent; type 26 global combat ship, the world's most advanced frigate; and two new aircraft carriers, the most powerful the Royal Navy has ever put to sea in its history.’

Thanks to Harry Davis for this. (And please Harry – Don’t let this be the last piece you send us! We will miss you – and we wish you all the best in Australia!)

Pacifism – all or nothing

Leafing through Aldous Huxley’s stories, essays and poems I came across this. Huxley became a noted pacifist and here in Diary of Anthony Beavis he explains how pacifism must be absolute. The great majority of people are not psychopaths, and would rather help strangers than kill them, but reserve the right to use violence to combat evil. After analysing how violence may enforce reform but will not “produce the reality of genuine and permanent good behaviour” he goes on to say:-

“Note that we’re all ninety-nine percent pacifists, as in the Sermon on the Mount, provided we’re allowed to play Tamburlane or Napoleon in our particular one percent of cases. Result: everyone is the predestined victim of somebody else’s exceptionally permissible war. Ninety-nine percent pacifism is merely another name for militarism. If there’s to be peace there must be one hundred percent pacifism.

Wales for Peace project gets underway

The contribution of Wales and Welsh people to peace over the past century is the subject of a major new research initiative. Wales for Peace or Cymru dros Heddwch is being run by the Cardiff-based Welsh Centre for International Affairs. The four-year project has been made possible by a grant of more than £900,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Using the First World War as a starting point, the project will explore personal accounts of ‘peace builders’ from Wales in the last century. It will shed light on this little known aspect of Welsh heritage and will conclude with a travelling exhibition of the project’s findings.

The multi-faceted project has five main themes. It will look at Soldier’s Stories uncovering the impact of war. This will involve digitising Wales’ National Books of Remembrance for the two world wars which contain the names of 35,000 service personnel. Making this information more widely available will enable researchers to discover more about the stories behind the names of those who lost their lives.

A second theme of the project is entitled The Peace Builders. This will set out to reveal the details of people from all walks of life who have contributed to peace, whether as notable musicians, poets, pacifists and conscientious objectors, politicians, community leaders or ordinary citizens whose stories have remained hidden up to now.

The three remaining project themes are Peace Now - engaging people in discussion about how conflict and peace have shaped Wales today through formal and informal events and by exploring current public attitudes to peace and conflict; Future Generations – encouraging young people by using Wales’ peace heritage as a basis for creating teaching resources with the aim of inspiring a new generation to work for a peaceful future; and The Whole Story – Wales for Peace Exhibition. The main travelling exhibition will bring together all elements of the project and will tell the story of Wales and peace from 1914 to the present.

The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has said: “I hope that this project provides a very poignant reminder of the outcomes of the war and its legacy for Wales during the past century and for future generations.”

The Welsh Centre for International Affairs is based at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. Details of the project are on the WCIA website

Phillip Cooper

Sad News. Our member Lib Rowlands Hughes died in mid October, aged 96.  Fortunately it was sudden and she was at home - she got up and went downstairs to make a cup of tea, collapsed and died.  Her son Bleddyn was staying with her for a few days so it must have been a dreadful shock for him but nice for Lib.

Although life was getting more difficult for her, she never lost her tremendous enthusiasm for getting the peace message across.  It feels very much like the end of an era and difficult to believe that we won't hear her cheerful voice again telling us that we really MUST buy the Morning Star TODAY, or that she's just about to send yet another batch of cuttings, pictures and cartoons which will be very useful in getting the message out!  She often asked for extra copies of KPN if something particularly impressed her, so that she could pass them on to all and sundry.  I used to call her our Member for Wales (MfW on the envelope) which tickled her and which seemed an appropriate re-use of one of Henry Richard's nicknames.

She was such a warm, cheerful, likeable and thoroughly amazing person and will be sorely missed by all her many friends around the country.

Hilary Evans

Lib was such an inspiration.  Though she was well into her nineties, she was such a vital spark that it was a shock to hear she had died.  She was a tireless campaigner, someone who believed in the possibility of change, that speaking truth to power will be effective, that minds can be changed by the force of reason.  Jim Addington called her ‘a one-woman peace movement’, which she was.  When she phoned to draw attention to the latest ‘absolutely stunning’ piece in the Morning Star, or to recommend an indispensible book, she was so fluent, so enthusiastic, so convincing, and always, I discovered, so right.  I will miss the phone calls. I have never known anyone remotely like her.

Harry Davis


Shaker Aamer is the last British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay. He has been held there since 2002, but has never been charged with a crime or been given a trial. In 2007 he was cleared for release by the US government, and the UK government has repeatedly stated that they want Shaker released and returned to his family in London, but the US and UK intelligence services appear to be working together to ensure he stays where he is.

Please note there are regular vigils in Parliament Square, facing the Houses of Parliament, on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm while Parliament is sitting.

But are you reading this and thinking – “Oh dear I can’t get to any of those”?


Salve your conscience and make a donation instead.

Here’s why and Here’s how:-

The campaign would like to purchase more orange prison jumpsuits and make black hoods given the increased turnout at recent VIGILS - target for this initiative is £200. In addition, the regular printing of leaflets, fact sheets, posters, placards, model letters and hire of meeting rooms means we always require a regular flow of monies coming in to the campaign fund - 1000 leaflets can cost SSAC around £15. We also hope to have some FREE SHAKER AAMER NOW T-shirts printed, and produce some new banners which could be used by SSAC activists both in and outside London. We need to ensure campaign resources are always available to our activists. Please donate to the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign SSAC what you can afford.

You are able to make a donation direct into the SSAC account or send your donation to SSAC Treasurer, 15 Reynolds Close, SW19 2QJ.

The paper version of this newsletter contains the bank account details - contact KPC via the contacts page.

Please also write to your MP, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond MP, to urge them to get Shaker sent back to the UK. For addresses see

More about Shaker Aamer – following a meeting in the House of Commons on 26th November.

1. John McDonnell MP is setting up a Parliamentary Group. All MPs have been informed of the first meeting of this group which will be on 10th December. The idea is to get a real momentum going to put pressure on our Government to stop passing the buck back to Washington, and to insist that Shaker is sent back to Britain.

A delegation to the American Embassy is planned, and possibly even to Washington.

All Parliamentary candidates will be contacted in the run-up to the General Election next year. It appears that one of the reasons that our Government does not seem to pushing for his transfer here is that they know his testimony will speak not only of his own torture but of that of others, refuting the statement endlessly repeated that “our Government does not use or condone torture”. Every candidate must be made aware of this lie.

2. A doctor from Birmingham, David Nicholls, will be running the London Marathon for Shaker, in an orange jump suit. (In the unlikely event Shaker has been released he will run it for Amnesty.) He also intends going to Washington to push the case, and to speak out against force-feeding.

3. Solicitor Louise Christian is thinking of bringing a Judicial Review as three Judges did hammer MI5 in the Binyam Mohammed case – they seem to be becoming more aware of these issues. She quoted a recent case in which the Government is being sued for damages over torture.

4. Kate Hudson reported a recent article by Peter Oborn in the Daily Telegraph, saying “They don’t want us to hear what he has to say on release. The West has created a living hell for people in that region”.

5. Victoria Brittain, journalist, pointed out that most of the prisoners still in Guantanamo are Yemeni. The Yemeni Embassy in Washington is constantly badgering the US Government to release them – recently seven were transferred out to other countries. Why doesn’t our Embassy in Washington fight for Shaker?

Michael Morpurgo gives the annual Remembrance Day lecture at the Imperial War Museum. “Who will sing the Anthem? - Who will tell the story?”

This was an inspired choice for this event – thanks to Movement for the Abolition of War, the organisers.

Michael was an excellent speaker, and also attracted a large audience including many children. He spoke movingly about his two uncles, one of whom was killed early in the second world war, the other who started as a conscientious objector but after his brother died decided he should enlist.

Much of the time he spoke directly to the many children. He asked who had read or seen War Horse – there were many, and asked whether those who had seen more than one preferred the book, the play or the film – most said the book – which he announced was the right answer – stressing the benefits of using one’s imagination.

He read poems, not always in English, and sang, including a song from “Oh What a Lovely War” which ends “I know where the private is – hanging on the barbed wire fence” - and generally kept the audience enthralled.

If you would like to watch a video of this speech, it is available on

Veterans for Peace lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on 11th November

Veterans for Peace members and supporters marched to the Cenotaph after the ‘Establishment’ ceremony, under the banner ‘Never Again’, to remember all of those killed in war including civilians and enemy soldiers.

A wreath containing 90% white poppies and 10% red was laid, signifying the proportion of civilians to military killed in modern warfare.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone was sung, followed by a one-minute silence and reveille sounded to close the ceremony.

Joe Glenton, who was jailed for refusing to return to Afghanistan in 2007, said he joined VFP to “counter the institution of war and to lead the way towards better alternatives to it.”

Negotiators fail to agree on future of Iran’s nuclear policy

Nuclear negotiators failed this week to meet a deadline for a deal over Iran’s atomic programme. But diplomats at the talks in Vienna said that it had been agreed to extend negotiations for a comprehensive agreement until July 2015.

Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the UN security council – China, France, Russia, Britain and the USA – had set a deadline of midnight to come to a final agreement on a mechanism whereby Iran’s pathways to develop a nuclear weapon would be closed in return for relief from international sanctions.

But British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it was not possible to meet the deadline due to wide gaps on well-known points of contention, including levels of uranium enrichment and the number of centrifuges that Iran would operate.

Talks would resume in December and in the interim leading up to July 2015 Iran would receive about $446 million per month in frozen assets, Mr. Hammond said.

CND hits out at Cameron’s backroom Trident Renewal.

CND has revealed that the Cabinet has signed a new contract for nuclear missile tubes, despite parliamentary discussions on whether to replace Trident taking place in a year’s time.

Kate Hudson, CND’s General Secretary, said “We now have a £37 million contract, placed without parliamentary authorisation, for 12 missile tubes for a ‘successor’ submarine bought from US arms dealer General Dynamics. The Government must now explain whether it has misled the public and the international community over the reduction in capacity of the UK’s nuclear-armed submarines, or whether it has just squandered public money on missile tubes which will remain empty. Those really are the only two options: grand deception or gross ineptitude.”

Stop press - London Guantanamo Campaign anniversary event at the US Embassy, 11th January 2015, 2-4 pm

Speakers include Ben Griffin (Veteran for Peace) and Louise Christian (solicitor)

Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND