I find this increasingly difficult as time goes on and claims and lies fly around the media.
On the one side membership of the EU ties us in very closely to Nato - but would this be any different if we left? I can't imagine that it would be, however hard we campaign against it.
Older people will remember that the original idea of the EU and the desire for membership was to ensure that the terrible wars of the last century could never happen again. That has so far been achieved - but at what enormous cost as proxy wars have been fought around the world.
Then there is the disaster of the refugees fleeing wars. Western countries bear at least some responsibility for this. Many of the advocates of leaving seem to think this will help Britain to dodge all responsibility to help them
Other "leave" supporters want to ditch such institutions as the International Court of Justice and human rights legislation, environmental and pollution protection measures so we can be a 'sovereign' power again.
So for me, hard as it is to be on the side of David Cameron and however much I hate the corruption and 'Big Business' aspect of the EU, including what they are doing to Greece and Spain for example, I cannot think this is a good time to try and come out. I suspect this is why Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are advocating "Remain".
And how could I vote against Jeremy anyway? ed.
Following Phil's article in last month's KPC News on "Arms Exports to Saudi Under the Spotlight" it is most encouraging to read the following:
They put protesters on trial, but it was the arms trade that was found guilty.
Eight activists on trial for blocking the set up of the London arms fair, DSEI, last September, have been found NOT GUILTY!
After four days of powerful and moving testimonies the judge ruled today that the activists were acting to prevent a greater crime. The judge said the court heard "compelling evidence" that arms sales at DSEI were for repression and human rights abuse.
The protesters had used their trial to highlight UK complicity in war crimes in Yemen, human rights abuses in Bahrain and the slaughter of Kurdish civilians by Turkey.
They also argued that illegal weapons had repeatedly been displayed at the fair but no effective action had been taken to prevent this.
The protesters had taken action as part of a huge week of action to stop the set up of the arms fair and the biggest-ever protests against DSEI. For six days entrances were blocked, disrupting the set-up of the fair. DSEI brings over 30,000 arms dealers together with the world's largest arms companies and military delegations from around the world.
When the arms fair returns in 2017, the protests will be even bigger and with your help we plan to shut it down for good!
After the trial the defendants said:
"Over the week, we put DSEI and the arms trade on trial and we have proven them to be illegitimate. Our only regret is that we didn't succeed in shutting down DSEI. Our thoughts are with the people who suffer as a result of the arms trade and the survivors of repressive regimes, torture, war and conflict. We call on more people to join us in our efforts to shut down DSEI 2017 and take collective action to end the arms trade. Please join us in doing so.in 2017."
As the defendants have noted, the scandal of the arms fair is much greater than the illegal arms that have been repeatedly displayed there: it is about the horror of an event which exists solely to promote tools of murder and repression, for profit. Our government doesn't just allow this to take place: it actively facilitates it - inviting repressive regimes and encouraging deals.
As we were protesting against the arms fair in 2015, UK weapons were being used in Saudi Arabia's bombing of Yemen, using weapons of the type on display at DSEI. Inside the fair, the UK government was courting a Saudi military delegation and encouraging more deals. This is not acceptable.
If the Stop DSEI defendants have inspired you, make a pledge to take action when the arms fair returns in 2017:
Thanks to Sarah Waldron of Campaign Against the Arms Trade for this Report.
The pictures were taken at the 2015 DSEI blockade referred to above.
We shall be holding the first two of this year’s Book and Bric-a-brac sales in Maggie’s garage in Lower Ham Road, Kingston at the rear of 289 Richmond Road KT2 5DJ.
They will be held on May Bank Holidays Monday 2 and Monday 30 from 11 a.m. to approx. 4 p.m.
(Free parking in Lower Ham Road as it is a Bank Holiday)
Come, browse and buy – free tea or coffee to KPC members!
We have many, many books, but good quality bric-a-brac or unwanted gifts would be very welcome especially for our stall at HAM FAIR on 11 June.
More campaigning for you to take part in, this time at Burghfield during the month of June. Trident Ploughshares are arranging a rota in an attempt to get a protest there every day in June.
Dates you should consider are June 20th and/or possibly June 30th.
A Women's Action will definitely take place on June 20th, explanation and details as follows:-
The UK Government is about to vote on replacing and modernising its Trident nuclear weapon system, and will vote ‘yes’ unless we can show enough resistance. Work on the new system has already started at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield, the military base near Reading in Berkshire responsible for the assembly of nuclear warheads.
Trident replacement will cost over £100 billion pounds, at a time when the government is cutting billions from public spending on health care, legal aid and domestic violence services. Two women a week are murdered by their partners in the UK, but funding for women’s refuges has been cut – and these cuts are proving fatal.
The submarines that carry Trident missiles on 24-hour patrol are based in Faslane, Scotland. Each carries eight Trident missiles, and each missile has up to five nuclear warheads. Each warhead is eight times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing over 140,000 people, so each of the four submarines could kill 45 million people – and trigger ‘nuclear winter’.
Join us on June 20th at Burghfield to show that we want our money spent on protecting health, legal aid and domestic violence services – not on replacing dangerous nuclear missiles!
NB This will probably be an early morning action overnight accommodation likely to be available if required.
Another action arranged by London Groups will be The Mad Hatters, this will take place on EITHER 20th June also, at a different gate, or possibly on June 30th. This will be a fun action with music, dancing and a tea-party. This action will start around midday.
To find out more details about this nearer the date consult the web-site above, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If anyone can attend by car, to give lifts and take some folding tables or chairs, please contact David as above. For local info contact anyone on the contacts page.
OF COURSE SUPPORTERS WILL BE WELCOME ON ANY OF THE DAYS ACTIONS ARE TAKING PLACE - JUST CHECK THE WEB-SITE FOR DETAILS.
(From Morning Star 22nd March)
Two British ships arrived yesterday at Japan's main nuclear facility in Tokai to transport plutonium to the US for storage under a bilateral agreement, (2014). 331kg. will go to the Savannah River site.
Japan has accumulated a massive stockpile of plutonium, which is a source of international security concern. There are 11 tons in Japan, and 36 tons that have been reprocessed in Britain and France are waiting to be returned to Japan.
This massive amount would be enough to make 6000 atomic bombs.
SIR – In all the debate about renewing Trident submarines, there is little or no discussion about the potential humanitarian impact of the nuclear missiles they would be carrying. The explosion of less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s current nuclear weapons in a limited, regional nuclear war would disrupt the global climate and could lead to more than a billion people round the world facing starvation. With more than 1,000 nuclear warheads on high alert across the world and all nine nuclear-armed nations investing heavily in the modernisation of their arsenals, it is clear that there are continuing risks from the use of nuclear weapons.
The 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty pledges that Britain will “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. The International Red Cross Red Crescent movement, the World Medical Association and other health organisations have called for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons because they contravene humanitarian law and pose unacceptable risks to humanity. Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not explicitly prohibited in international law. A clear majority of countries has now pledged to fill this legal deficit, and a UN working group has begun meeting to advance this goal.
We urge Parliament to back these international efforts to establish a treaty banning nuclear weapons, and to halt the renewal of Trident. Our possession of nuclear weapons will not keep us and the world safe. Instead, we should release billions of pounds and create international political capital that would allow us to address today’s real security threats, including climate change, poverty and terrorism.
Dr David McCoy Director, Medact
Professor Sir Andrew Haines
Dr Clare Gerada, Dr. June Crown
Dr Margaret McCartney
Dr Richard Horton
Professor Sir Edward Dillwyn Williams
Professor Stuart Logan
Professor Catherine Law
Dr Helen Zealley
Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown
Sir Iain Chalmers, Dr Sheila Adam
Dr Iona Heath, Professor John Yudkin
Dr John Chisolm
Dr Frank Boulton
Professor John Middleton
With such an impressive list of signatories can our Government really continue to keep its head in the sand? Unfortunately no doubt it can and will.
there is an article referring to the recent Scottish TUC/CND Report (which of course the Government is most unlikely to be reading).
This has a section "Arms Conversion :Learning from elsewhere" which tells of , ironically, the US Government 's base realignment and closure programme. This requires the government, 5 years before the closure of any base or manufacturing facility, to initiate planning and investment for its alternative use with the requirement of fully replacing all jobs.
This argument was picked up by Jeremy Corbyn in a defence diversification briefing launched in August last year, saying that many facilities in the US had successfully made the transition to a post-nuclear age. He gave a clear commitment to establish a defence diversification agency to focus on ensuring a just transformation for communities whose livelihoods are based in sections such as Trident, so that engineering and scientific skills are not lost but transferred into socially useful industries, and 'green' jobs.
Lists of military equipment provided by Britain to a wide range of foreign governments (when such lists are available) have often included rifles and telescopic sights. It doesn't require a great leap of the imagination to comprehend how such weapons might be used. We are not talking about army trucks, tear gas canisters or water cannon to break up demonstrations, we are talking about equipping a foreign government with sniper rifles to target and kill people quite deliberately.
Now the lid on this particularly nasty aspect of British arms sales has been lifted with the news, exposed in The Independent in March that British commandos are training Bahrain’s armed forces – which violently put down pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring in 2011 – in the use of sniper rifles. Revealed has been the fact that elite Royal Navy commandos have been running week-long training courses for Bahraini personnel.
Pro-democracy activists in Bahrain say the military training by elite troops from the Royal Navy’s 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group proves that the British Government is “turning a blind eye” to abuses in the country where the regime stands accused of using snipers to target protesters during anti-democracy protests in 2011.
The Independent reported that the most recent training took place when specialist commandoes visited Bahrain in January on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS St Albans. The warship docked at HMS Juffair, Britain’s new naval base in Bahrain, and Royal Marines marksmen trained “multiple groups” of Bahraini personnel and were “awarded” Bahraini sniper badges in return. Bahraini authorities have already requested that the elite snipers return to run the course for a new batch of recruits.
Britain has taken the lead internationally in arguing that Bahrain has reformed its security forces since its violent crackdown on dissent during the Arab Spring, but a Human Rights Watch report released last November found that torture and illegal detention are still common in the country.
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, Emily Thornberry, demanded guarantees about how sniper training would be deployed in future. She said: “People will be rightly concerned to discover that our elite commandos have been tasked with training sniper units in Bahrain, which risk being deployed against the civilian population of the country.”
Shadow human rights minister Andy Slaughter MP, added that he was “dismayed” that the British government appears to be holding Bahrain to a lower standard than other countries over human rights . He said: “It seems there is a completely different level of scrutiny for Bahrain compared to other repressive regimes. This can only be linked to our very strong military ties.”
The latest figures show that the British government has approved more than £45m of arms sales to Bahrain since the 2011 Arab Spring, including sniper rifles, machine guns and assault rifles.
Andrew Smith, of Campaign against Arms Trade, said: “Despite the on-going crackdown, the UK charm offensive in Bahrain is continuing unabated. It's not just arms and training that are a major cause of concern; it's also the uncritical political back-scratching and military integration that has gone with it. This is yet another symptom of that toxic relationship. If the government really cares about the human rights of Bahraini people then it must finally stop arming and supporting the regime that is oppressing them.”
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “As repression in Bahrain intensifies, the UK is helping the regime by providing training to brutal and unaccountable security services.”
The revelation over military training for Bahraini security services came two weeks after the prominent human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested and imprisoned with her 15-month-old daughter on charges of insulting the Kingdom’s monarchy.
An MoD spokesperson is quoted by The Independent, saying: “The UK enjoys close links with Bahrain, spanning 200 years, which reinforce our commitment to the Gulf region. We don’t shy away from raising issues of concern, including human rights, at all levels within the Government of Bahrain in all our defence discussions.
On 30th Sept. 2015 John Pilger quoted George Orwell in an article, as follows:-
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." These are dark times in which the propaganda of deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has been privatised and illusion legitimised. The information age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by media; war by media retribution by media; diversion by media - a surreal assembly line of cliches and false assumptions.
(For complete articles see http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-revolutionary-act-of-telling-the-truth
(From Jonathon Prynn Evening Standard 24/2/16 (edited)
An "intimidating" garden, bristling with barbed wire and surrounded by dying plants to symbolise the tragedy of the migrant crisis, is to be a star attraction at the Hampton Court Flower Show , July. 5th - 10th
The landscapers, Tom Massey and John Ward said "Accounts of refugees fleeing brutal regimes, violent conflict and persecution to find shelter inspired us".
The 18 metre wide circular garden called Border Control has 2 metre fences topped by rolls of razor-wire, with a moat around a lush wildflower meadow "safe-haven" accessed via a turnstile and probably manned by a 'border guard' who will check visitors' passes.
Outside the fence, plants growing in a landscape of rubble will be starved of water and nutrients to make them wilt.
John Ward said "the wildflower garden will also have many non-native flowers, representing the intermingling possible when a country accepts displaced people. It is important to get across the theme of successful integration so it is not seen as a 'them and us' message, "
The outer ring will be planted with non-native plants from nations worst affected by conflict, including Syria and countries in Africa, S. America and Asia.
It is hoped that refugees will help with the planting of the garden which is sponsored by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
There was an Anti-Austerity March on April 16th. KPC/CND was there with our small banner. Anyone remember this? Probably not - can't have been very big can it? - didn't read anything about it in the Sunday or Monday papers.
CORRECTION - it was massive - Malet Street choc-a-bloc - very slow - Trafalar Square packed out with young and old - excellent speeches - creative placards -------
Well well --- same old, same old!
And I forgot to take my camera!
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND