Some KPC/CND members may, like me, have previously attended the Nagasaki memorial event which takes place each year at the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park on the evening of 9 August. If so you will have admired the beautiful hand-made and decorated lanterns launched onto the river that evening, and perhaps considered what a big job it is to make around 40 such gorgeous lanterns.
Well, now you can find out more, as Rev. Nagase at the Peace Pagoda is appealing for help in making them during the first week of August (all materials provided and instruction given). Please email him londonpeacepagoda at outlook.com or tel. 020 7228 9620 to arrange your visit.
Also please do go along on Wednesday 9 August to the ceremony at the Peace Pagoda, followed by launching the lanterns at dusk. The ceremony starts around 8pm at the Pagoda. Or you can join the Peace Walk from Westminster Cathedral to the Peace Pagoda. This commences after the commemoration service for Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian farmer executed on 9 August 1943 for refusing to serve in Hitler's army. (This is organised by Pax Christi at 6.30pm in the Crypt Chapel, Westminster Cathedral, entrance via Ambrosden Avenue.) The Peace Walk to Battersea will leave from there at around 7.30pm. See http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/August_-peace-events.pdf
Our Local Hiroshima Event is at Canbury Gardens on the Kingston river bank, on Sunday 6 August 2017 at 8.30 pm. Please note this year we aim to bring white flowers to cast onto the water in remembrance of those who died. Please also bring candles to illuminate the path beside the river during our commemoration.
This is the the world's largest arms fair, and it takes place in London, at the Excel Centre, every two years.
That's why Campaign Against Arms Trade is starting to organise now - the plan is to shut it down before it even gets started by blockading the gates and impeding equipment going in. (This will risk arrest but supporting roles are also very important.)
Get involved in the planning weekend, 22 and 23 July 2017. Hear from powerful speakers, take part in workshops and learn from inspiring groups already taking action.
Book your place and find out more at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/it-starts-here-tickets-32928933326 (free). Lunch available Sat.only for a donation.
On 22 July there will be a “Dance to Disarm” evening event at Rich Mix Bethnal Green to support CAAT’s work. Tickets £10 in advance, £12 on the door. www.richmix.org.uk/events
Jeremy Corbyn was all but devoured by the press pack for suggesting the Manchester bombing had a foreign policy dimension. There was a connection but perhaps not an obvious or direct one.
Salman Abedi was a member of a community of Libyan ex-pats settled in Manchester seeking refuge from Qadafi terror. It suited UK foreign policy objectives to encourage returners to fight Qadafi in 1996, in a failed assassination plot, and to overthrow the regime in 2011. 16 year old Salman Abedi accompanied his father fighting with the LIFG, al-Qaida associated group, veterans of Mujahideen combat in Afghanistan; fighting alongside other al-Qaida affiliates, some fresh from the Iraqi insurgency.
These rebel groups fought with the blessing of British agents covertly funding and arming them via Qatar. UK policy has had the effect of laying waste to formerly functioning states in Libya, Iraq and, via the funding and arming of al-Qaida affiliated militia by allied Gulf States, large swathes of Syria. These areas subsequently emerged as havens for ISIS affiliates with vast areas of the Middle East open and freely accessible to a variety of sympathetic groups - what Russia called a wake of instability and failed states.
It was nauseating to see civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq brutally treated by military invasion after 9/11 though they had no connection to it. That was not a direct cause of European attacks though the effect probably was to start fighting men down the road to radicalisation in disgust. Terrorist groups’ mission is to convert the world to their uncompromising view of Islam with those resisting being Kuffars, “enemies of Islam” and disposable. There are two main ways of operating. 1) Establish a base and organisation if it is defensible. 2) Attack westerners with low tech assaults using knives and vehicles which are hard to intercept, killing “civilians of the crusaders” frequently, as a kind of guerrilla war wearing down western resilience.
With tacit UK approval Salman could move around encountering radical groups, getting mentally screwed up and somewhere along the line getting training and advice. He was free to roam and re-enter the UK. His choice was slaughter of adolescents, with no input to UK foreign policy, out enjoying themselves at a family oriented concert in Manchester. His choice. His responsibility.
A hard lesson following the blowback from the Afghan Mujahideen escapade, which involved arming, funding, augmenting fighters with crazed Middle Eastern convicts and the recruitment of Osama bin Laden as acting middleman, was that toying with radicals and fanatics is dangerous and likely to burn more than finger tips. That was the 1980s, yet by 2017 the lesson isn’t learnt. Al-Qaida affiliates are used as proxy fighters in Libya and elsewhere, funded and armed through intermediaries to do UK foreign policy ‘dirty work’.
The London Bridge attack was a classic low-tech, difficult-to-intercept attack designed to demoralise. The terrorists’ aim is conversion of everyone to their interpretation of Islam, or kill gruesomely. Religion is supposed to be positive and hopeful but this seems so irreligious that perhaps we should stop calling it Islamic terrorism.
Jeremy Corbyn was correct about a UK foreign policy dimension though not in a way many might think. Perhaps it is too complicated for explanation in the midst of electioneering. The people committing atrocities are guilty and there can be no excuses for them. Religion and the Quran are innocent bystanders since terrorists have first to decide that to commit gruesome, murderous barbarity is an appropriate personal choice.
The war-on-terror response to 9/11 has consistently been pursued erratically, dishonestly and as a mercurial exercise in populism. There is considerable disagreement amongst jihadi groups and we should not create a common enemy to unite them. And it is hypocritical to fight jihadis and simultaneously cosy up and use them as proxies and tools of foreign policy.
We should spare a thought for the many good and kind Muslims settled in the UK. They share the emotional burden of the attacks but additionally may feel blamed and mistrusted. To victimise innocent Muslims is doing the jihadis’ work as they can argue that Muslims are unsafe in western societies.
Noel Hamel, June 2017
N.B. Please note that Noel wrote the above before the latest terrorist attack on people - mainly Muslims - standing outside the Finsbury Park Mosque on Seven Sisters' Road late on 19 June, as they gathered together at the end of the Ramadan fast for that day. Sadly one person was killed and several injured. The driver of the van was caught by bystanders, and the police were able to arrest him, so it will be possible in this case to question him. It is of course beyond most people's comprehension that anyone should think this behaviour is the right way forward. Ironically this took place just after thousands of us were involved in the wonderful Jo Cox "Better Together" events at the weekend. Ed
July 2017 is the first time that a walking arts festival ‘Refugee Tales’ comes to Kingston. On Sunday 2 July at 7.45pm, an evening of literature and music will be hosted by Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council in an event at All Saints Church. Refugee Tales is inspired by The Canterbury Tales and every evening on a long walk, famous writers read tales of the refugee experience. On 2 July at All Saints Church, tales will be read by Vahni Capildeo and Helen Macdonald, author of ‘H is for Hawk’. African musician Amadou Diagne will entertain and the audience will be greeted by St Michael and All Angels Steel Orchestra. The event is free so please arrive early to be sure of a seat.
Refugee Tales is an outreach project run by Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) and seeks to honour those held in immigration detention centres in the UK who ask the charity for their stories to be heard and shared. GDWG visitors befriend those held in detention at Gatwick Airport.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, patron of GDWG wrote ‘The Canterbury Tales collected together stories about a set of travellers in England in the 13th century. From my experience, as a current day lawyer, refugees' stories are just as affecting: horrifying but also life-affirming, frightening but also uplifting. Our humanity is measured by our empathy and willingness to step into the shoes of others. The idea of sharing the migrants’ experience by travelling with them and lending an ear as well as a hand is ingenious. This is a journey worthy of our support.’
Ali Smith, patron of Refugee Tales wrote ‘The telling of stories is an act of profound hospitality. It always has been; story is an ancient form of generosity, an ancient form that will tell us everything we need to know about the contemporary world. Story has always been a welcoming-in, in one way or another a hospitable meeting of the needs of others, and a porous artform where sympathy and empathy are only the beginning of things.
The individual selves we all are meet and transform in the telling into something open and communal.’
The walk is in solidarity with refugees and detainees and walkers reflect on the long and dangerous journeys that refugees make when they flee war and persecution to seek sanctuary. They call for an end to indefinite immigration detention in the UK, since the UK is the only country that detains people indefinitely.
The walk takes place over five days and ends at Westminster. Anyone who likes walking can sign up on the website www.refugeetales.org – just £7.50 for one day, or £170 for the full five days with overnight accommodation, all meals and free evening events. Walkers will be joined on their journey by the local community who will gather to listen to the tales.
Kingston residents may experience the transforming power of the tale if they join writers, musicians, refugees and modern day pilgrims in Kingston on 2 and 3 July. They will arrive at All Saints Church after a day of walking from Walton on Thames and on 3 July will walk from Kingston to Brentford.
For those interested in finding out more about indefinite detention the website www.refugeetales.org offers more information and ways to become involved in campaigning for a 28 day time limit to detention.
Refugee Tales stories are available in an anthology published by Comma Press. Photos also available on request.
Apologies if you have received this Newsletter after this event has taken place. We did send it to our members and core supporters by email. If you would like to be included on this email list please send your e-address to Gill Hurle, see the contacts page.
Better still - please join us - your small subscription will help to pay for our activities and frequent donations to other good causes.
‘No need for nuclear: the renewables are here’ was the title of an excellent conference organised by CND on 17 June. "That’s blindingly obvious" many readers of KPN might think, but I certainly learnt a lot and came out feeling much more hopeful that we are unlikely to see many more nuclear power stations built in the UK. Not only does nuclear power present lots of problems: the risks of major accidents and terrorism, the dangers of increased radioactivity in the environment, the issue of disposing of nuclear waste and finite supplies of the necessary uranium, but there is also the colossal expense.
Professor Steve Thomas from Greenwich University, an expert on the costs of nuclear electricity, said he didn’t think Hinkley C would ever become operational because we just wouldn’t be able to raise the necessary funds. EDF, the French firm with the major responsibility for Hinkley, is in fact owned by the French state. No private firm wants the difficulties and risks involved with nuclear power. The same goes for the other projected nuclear power stations planned for the UK.
Yet we have been told time and time again that the market knows best. Surely we should question the viability of nuclear power if commercial firms don’t want to touch it - even at inflated prices to consumers? So it is taxpayers who will be subsidising any power stations that go ahead. At Hinkley some of the money is also being put up by the Chinese. It is said that we need nuclear to provide a reliable sustainable supply of electricity. But how reliable is an energy supply dependent on France and China who will have their own interests to consider?
This is happening at a time when the costs of all types of renewable electricity sources are coming down and will come down further, and as the risks, and hence the costs, of nuclear power are increasing.
Another interesting aspect was raised by Professor Burke who had been asked to speak about UK Energy Policy. He said this was difficult because the UK didn’t have an energy policy let alone a policy that was coherent. It was just a question of lurching from one intervention to another, influenced by lobby groups and special interests. The government removed support from wind farms supposedly because they were unpopular and then gave the go ahead for fracking which is also extremely unpopular.
Many other points were made during the day.
Of course here I have just skimmed through some of the points from a very full day.
The nuclear lobby is a powerful force and there is the suggestion that the government’s enthusiasm for nuclear power is linked to its attachment to nuclear weapons. At the beginning of the day I thought nuclear power stations were not a good idea but that the government would go ahead in spite of the dangers and expense. I came away believing that this probably wouldn’t happen and a better world is possible.
Mary Holmes, 22 June 2017
To read more about this conference look at the report on the CND website – www.cnduk.org
As part of the worldwide support for the United Nations General Assembly’s current attempts to negotiate a treaty to ban the bomb, demonstrations and marches were held in all Australian capital cities on 17 June. Here in Canberra an excellent demonstration was organised in the city’s centre, with some interesting speeches and some stirring anti-nuclear songs. One song brought back memories – sung on the Aldermaston marches, with the refrain,
|Men and women! Stand together!||Do not heed the men of war.|
|Make your minds up, now or never,||Ban the Bomb for evermore!|
Australia once played an important part in the attempts to resolve the present nuclear impasse (remember the Canberra Commission, which aimed to describe a practical step by step method to eliminate nuclear weapons?), but today’s Australia seems to be in thrall to US foreign policy. Donald Trump urged the NATO countries to support the US in its boycotting of the current attempts to ban the bomb. The Europeans ignored him. But Australia, mistaking the hideous mushroom cloud for some kind of umbrella, was one of the very few non-nuclear nations that heeded Trump and joined the nuclear powers in the boycott.
So it was all the more reassuring to attend the demonstration and to witness anti-nuclear fervour that matched what I was used to for all those years in Britain, under the banner of Kingston Peace Council.
Note: In the June issue of Kingston Peace News we referred to Harry Davis as an Ex-KPC member. In fact we awarded Harry honorary membership when he moved to Australia. We are very grateful that he continues to make interesting contributions to the newsletter.
And a bit more good news:- from Morning Star 20 June
Oxford University has sent a 19th century violin to a young Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. The German-made violin was part of a collection of historic instruments held by the university which has lent it to 14-year old Aboud Kaplo. Aboud and his family were forced to flee their home city of Aleppo amid the Syrian civil war.
Film maker Susie Attwood noticed Aboud's passion for music while she was making a film about Syrian Christians in Lebanon, and she also noticed that the talented teenager did not have an instrument. Bate Collection of Musical Instruments curator Andy Lamb said "the moment I read about this lad's situation I thought the collection should make some kind of positive contribution".
Protest Power & Change, held at the Imperial War Museum (IWM)
History informs, warns and inspires. History is part of our culture and if we want to move away from the current militaristic culture, we need to change our focus – to take account of alternative, forgotten histories and learn from their successes and mistakes. The lessons of history are important (and interesting too!).
Conference participants and others enjoyed associated events on the preceding Friday: a guided tour along the London Peace Trail in the afternoon and, in the evening, Michael Mears’ excellent performance of This Evil Thing, his acclaimed play telling the stories of some WW1 Conscientious Objectors (see review on page 7).
The Saturday conference, organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War in partnership with the IWM, and timed to coincide with the latter’s major new exhibition People Power: fighting for peace, opened with a welcome from Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Research and Academic Partnerships at the IWM. Later, Matt Brosnan, curator of the exhibition, explained some of the considerations involved in its design and mounting.
Frank Cottrell Boyce, children’s novelist and screenwriter, read excerpts from Erasmus’s satirical essay The Complaint of Peace, first published 500 years ago and still relevant today. Erasmus, one of the greatest writers and scholars of all time, wrote as Peace personified and observed sadly how unwelcome Lady Peace is amongst people everywhere in Christendom, whether in the church, among scholars or in the home. Cottrell Boyce noted that questions raised by Erasmus - on the extent to which we need/don’t need each other, on how far our welfare is dependent on peace, on the value of soft power rather than hard power - were all revisited in the recent general election.
Also with much present relevance was the session on the Lucas Aerospace alternative plan of 1976 with a fascinating film and an engaging speaker: Phil Asquith, former Chairman of the Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards’ Committee. Faced with recession and threatened redundancy, the shop stewards wanted to plan well ahead and give the highly skilled workers the choice not between weapons production/dole but between weapons production/socially useful production. Dozens of alternative products were suggested, many way ahead of their time including hybrid cars and solar products. Sadly, the company refused to accept the plan (Phil Asquith identified the potential shift in power relationships as a major stumbling block) and many of the products were taken up by international competitors. Politicians (apart from a certain already-aware Labour leader) and Union leaders concerned for members’ jobs could learn many lessons from the Lucas experience, particularly from their conclusion that military expenditure actually creates fewer jobs than does socially useful non-military employment.
Several 2017 anniversaries were featured in the conference. This is the 150th anniversary of the births of German anti-war artist and activist Käthe Kollwitz and of American feminist peace campaigner Emily Greene Balch. It is also the centenary of the death of British artist Felix Moscheles, pacifist, internationalist, founder of the London Esperanto Society and godson of Felix Mendelssohn. Sixty years ago, 1957 was a watershed year when activism against the increasing number of nuclear weapons gave rise to the movement which became CND. Fifty years ago, in 1967, one year to the day before he was murdered, Martin Luther King gave his powerful anti-war speech, denouncing not only the Vietnam war but war in general as a way of resolving conflict. It destroyed his hitherto good relationship with President Johnson and isolated him from a very large section of the Civil Rights movement.
The final session of the day described how the power of peaceful protest by Christian and Muslim women in Liberia had effectively played a crucial part in ending the country’s civil war in 2003. Elizabeth Blunt, former BBC West Africa Correspondent, gave a lively account, interspersed with illuminating video clips.
Hilary Evans, June 2017
Don't Forget – the exhibition People Power - Fighting for Peace is still on at the Imperial War Museum until 28 August 2017. It is well worth a visit - see Phil's excellent review in the May KPC Newsletter.
Thanks to Michael Mears for a wonderful evening. This Evil Thing was written and performed by Michael; on the flyer it quotes the Observer review which called him “One exceptional man”. I'm sure no-one present would dispute this description.
The play was put on by the Movement for the Abolition of War recently at the Oasis Hub, Waterloo, and very many thanks to them, but I hope one day it will be put on by the National Theatre - I am sure they would not regret it.
The story of Bert Brocklesby and other “absolutists” refusing to do anything at all which would assist the killing in the first world war is extremely powerful - and the skill with which Michael portrays one character after another with just a change of accent and body-language is completely gripping. He uses minimal props and no scenery and none was needed. It was an unforgettable performance.
Sounds a long way away from here? No not really. It is just off the Thames Path in a very interesting area of London - there is a wonderful riverside pub called The Mayflower very close. It is only one stop on the Overground from Canada Water (reached on the Jubilee line from Waterloo).
So now you know you can get there, why should you? BECAUSE
1. It's a very interesting cinema club and more, see www.sandsfilms.co.uk 020 7231 2209
2. There will be seven live cabaret-style performances of The Good Soldier Schwejk from 7 to 17 July. Directed by Christine Edzard, this is based on the satirical WW1 novel by Jaroslav Hasek about the absurdity of war. It will be performed within the film studio because it is also being filmed, partly funded by Kickstarter, and KPC/CND have contributed to this.
Booking details are on the website. It is not cheap - concessions are £20 - but should be a unique experience.
3. Also, London Region CND are co-operating with the Sands Film Studios to show a series of nuclear-related films during the two weeks from 1 to 13 August. As this Newsletter goes to press there are no exact details of these, but we will email details to our usual email list as information becomes known. If you are not currently on this list send your details to me Rosemary (see the contacts page) and I will make sure the information is sent to you.
(Details from Morning Star 22 June)
Readers will probably be aware that recently Israel has reduced the electricity it supplies to Gaza - already the inhabitants were only receiving about 2 hours a day, and of course hospitals, sewage treatment plants and many other public services are completely hampered by this situation. This latest cut was triggered by a dispute over payment for these meagre supplies.
A small but crucial move by Egypt has helped mitigate this slightly - they allowed eleven tankers carrying between them 220,000 gallons of fuel through the normally closed Rafah border crossing which will allow Gaza's own power plant, closed since April, to restart, thus providing 50 megawatts a day - albeit a fraction of the 440mw a day which is needed. It was hoped that another consignment would be sent the next day. Better still would be the opening of the Rafah crossing to traders and to Palestinian civilians, but this is unfortunately unlikely due to the complex intricacies of Middle East politics!
This is an excellent and shocking book - recently the subject of a talk by Loretta at the Cafe Diplo, about how smuggling of desperate refugees and migrants funds terrorism. The book is available from Kingston Library, a most interesting though frightening read.
Heard on BBC Radio 4 on 5 June by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury:-
"Every time a Muslim is abused on a bus or a mosque is attacked, the terrorists have taken a step forward"
Seems obvious to me, but sadly not apparently to some. ed.
from the Morning Star, 20 June:-
President Moon Jae In of South Korea has scrapped plans for new nuclear power plants, signalling a shift in decades of reliance on nuclear energy. He also said they will not seek to extend the life of existing plants, nor will they build more coal-powered plants. He was speaking at a ceremony marking the closure of the country's oldest nuclear plant, Kori 1, in Busan. One third of energy was produced by nuclear last year, but the disaster at Fukishima has changed opinions.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND