Two campaigners well known to members of Kingston Peace Council/CND will celebrate their ninetieth birthdays this month. We send both of them our warmest congratulations!
Harry was a stalwart of KPC, turning out regularly to man stalls at local events and at our fortnightly ‘pram’ in Kingston Market Place. He also edited Kingston Peace News for many years.
He returned to his native Australia in 2015 to be near his family, and we miss him a lot.
See Harry’s article below.
Bruce is widely recognised as the foremost public champion of peace in the UK over the last five decades, and is to this day still working tirelessly, consistently, effectively and with a clear broad vision - to establish and promote a culture of peace. He was chair of CND between 1977-79 and 1987-90, and CND’s General Secretary from 1979-85. He is now a vice-president of CND and president of the Movement for the Abolition of War. He has always been willing to speak to local groups, invariably giving his audience renewed vigour to carry on with what can sometimes seem a daunting task.
Harry Davis, ex-editor of Kingston Peace News, moved to Australia four years ago, but still keeps in touch. With his 90th birthday coming up this month, he has written this piece on the time in 2006 that he went to Faslane in the company of Quakers and got arrested.
It was early, about six thirty, on a cold, foggy Scottish morning, and there were eight of us jammed into the old van. We had arrived at Faslane, a short drive from the Glasgow Youth Hostel where we had spent the night, after travelling up from London the previous day.
I was an invitee, the lone non-Quaker in the company of around 200 Quakers, who had claimed one day of the year-long anti-nuclear protest at the Faslane submarine base. It was decided to block the south entrance to the base, as there would be plenty of action at the main gate. A little way from the gate we were stopped by police. The chief officer warned that we could protest as long as we liked on the pavement, but if we went on the road to block the entrance, we would be arrested. A calm, mature lady smiled sweetly at the officer and explained, ‘We have come up all the way from London, to be arrested.’ The policeman nodded, and let us past.
Our group at once occupied the centre of the road in front of the gate. Our observer was on the path, and one of the group looked at me and indicated the path. But I decided to stay on the road, for the time. It was a good feeling, to be blocking access to Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Cars began piling up behind us, and they were being redirected away. The police allowed us to block the gate for a good half-hour, as if they owed us something for having come all the way from London. But then we began the Hokey Kokey. We got as far as putting our right leg in and shaking it all about, when the police arrested us and took us to the side.
We were held on the path pending the arrival of the vans to take us away. The policeman ‘holding’ me, by lightly pinching my sleeve, apologised. Apparently the normal procedure would be to grip my wrist to prevent escape, but as we had sought arrest, this was hardly necessary.
We were taken about half way to Glasgow, held for a time, before changing vans, and though we had been arrested in the morning, it was nearly dark when we arrived for processing at Glasgow prison. The police were exceptionally friendly.
It was a relief to be allotted an individual cell, which was small and sparse, with a small barred window, a bed that felt like concrete, no pillow, two thin blankets, and a toilet near the door. I was looking forward to supper, as we had eaten nothing since breakfast. I had been advised to say I was vegetarian, as prison did not cater for vegetarians, so the meal would have to be brought in from a nearby restaurant, reputedly delicious. I thought the prison food could not be all that bad, but I was wrong. It was practically inedible - a small sausage made of cardboard, cold congealed baked beans, and a bit of mashed potato.
Our fingerprints were recorded, and we were photographed. Back to the cell, and an attempt to sleep, which was difficult, although I was tired. I rolled up one of the blankets for a pillow, but that meant being fairly cold with one thin blanket (a generous description for the cloth provided). On the hour, every hour through the night, a guard rattled the cell door and yelled, ‘All well?’ He would not go away until a reply was received.
We arrestees did not know whether we would be formally charged (probably with ‘breach of the peace’), which would mean going to court, then, or at some future time. However, the numbers of protestors proved too much for such a procedure, and, to my relief at least, we were told we would be discharged, with a warning not to do it again.
We all met upon discharge, and compared experiences. Most of our group were going straight to the main gate to encourage the next day’s protestors. I shared a taxi to the station, and was soon on the train back to London. I felt great. The Quakers had helped me to do something I may not have been able to do alone.
Of course, my protest had been miniscule, compared with many who had endured numerous arrests, many who had spent long terms in prison. But I was enormously pleased to have joined the company of protestors. That year of protest at Faslane had been amazing, with more than two thousand arrests. Groups from all over Britain had taken part, and there were even groups from the continent.
A fuller version of this account is on our website – see http://kpc.gn.apc.org/KPN2019.06/harry-arrested.html
Thursday 6 June 2019, 1 pm to 7 pm, Blagdon Road Park, New Malden, KT3 4AN
Members of local peace and community groups invite you and your family to join us for a Peace Picnic in Blagdon Road Park (5 mins walk from New Malden Station, behind Blagdon Road Leisure Centre).
Besides being D Day, 6th June also falls on the second day of Eid.
Come with friends, family and colleagues at any part of the day to try free delicious vegetable samosas, cakes and other shared refreshments. Bring something to sit on, a picnic lunch and food to share.
There will also be Rambling Protests outside the local offices of arms companies Northrop Grummon and BAE Systems (see below).
Tariq will be encouraging a sing along of Imagine, Give Peace a Chance, Redemption Song and other peace song classics. If you are, or you know any, creative types, invite them to jam together with us acoustically.
This will be a family and disabled-friendly picnic with the theme of Peace.
We all love peace, but what is it?
Peace of heart?
Peace of mind?
Peace of soul?
Peace of body?
Peace in New Malden, Kingston, London and world wide?
How can we achieve real peace?
Is this of interest to you?
Then join us, sing, share, eat and drink with us and help us find the answers.
Important: Parents are responsible for their own children throughout the afternoon.
There are no public toilets in the park. Please note also that there will be no shelter, no water, no electricity, no gas, no nothing at the picnic site, so come self-contained and be prepared to clean up everything after you.
We want this to be a totally peaceful and non disruptive event. Posters, leaflets and information on creating peace are welcome.
Knowing that many people are working on a Thursday, if this is successful, we will aim to have another Peace Picnic on a weekend in the Summer when more can attend.
Finally, please respect everyone's opinions. Do not insult, hurt or intimidate anyone with your actions, words or thoughts - put PEACE first.
Let us just hope for good weather!
Even if you can’t walk we need you to stay in the park, look after the stalls and help with sharing food, drink and games.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) will lead a Rambling Protest (or a Peace Conga) through the back path from Blagdon Road Park onto Burlington Road.
We ask everyone to stay in single file and only walk along the footpaths. We shall cross a pedestrian crossing on Burlington Road and walk to 118 Burlington Road, where Northrop Grummon have a subsidiary, arriving about 3.15pm and holding a vigil for about half an hour. Then we will walk on the footpath up Burlington Road towards the Fountain Roundabout, where we will turn right and walk on the footpath down New Malden High Street to the station, where XR will lead a die-in in front of the BAE Systems offices in Apex Tower, by New Malden Station. We can leaflet commuters and raise a petition etc., finishing at 6pm and returning to Blagdon Road Park and the peace supper, debrief and die down.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade (www.caat.org.uk ),
Kingston Peace Council/CND (http://kpc.gn.apc.org ),
Save the World Club charity (www.savetheworldclub.org ),
Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND (http://www.wdc-cnd.org.uk ),
Merton UN Association (www.una.org.uk/branch/una-merton ).
Further info from: Dr Tariq Shabbeer c/o CAAT (www.caat.org.uk )
9 May 2019, Farnborough
Every year, CAAT supporters attend the Annual General Meeting of the UK’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems, to challenge its Board face to face. Two members of Kingston Peace Council/CND were there this year.
The following is an account by Sarah Waldron, of Campaign Against Arms Trade.
The slick and choreographed meeting is a world away from the impact of BAE’s lethal weapons, but activists ensured the focus remained on those things BAE didn’t want to celebrate: its profits from the war in Yemen and repression in Saudi Arabia – and its efforts to keep the arms sales flowing, whatever the human cost.
They included Ameen Nemer, an Arabian activist who attended to “tell the Board and shareholders about what was really happening to my people and land.” Rehab Jaffer, who has family in Yemen, pushed the Chair on the company’s complicity in the war.
It’s important that we were there to ensure that this meeting is not a respectable formality.
A year ago today, Saudi Arabian authorities began arresting prominent women’s rights activists. Some have been tortured in prison and now face trial for “undermining state security”. Last month 37 people were executed in what Amnesty described as “an example of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent”.
None of this has stopped BAE and the UK Government from trying to finalise a new arms deal with Saudi Arabia. As yet, they have not succeeded – and controversy and continued public scrutiny is part of that. Thank you for your support in keeping the pressure on.
Read more from Ameen Nemer on CAAT's blog:
Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) is an arms fair held every two years in London Docklands. It returns in September 2019. As usual there will be protests in the week running up to the opening of the arms fair, when the offensive equipment is being delivered. It is expected KPC will participate in the No Nuclear Day and the Festival of Resistance.
|Mon||2 Sept||Stop Arming Israel|
|Tues||3 Sept||No Faith in War|
|Wed||4 Sept||No Nuclear|
|Thur||5 Sept||Conference at the Gates|
|Fri||6 Sept||Climate Justice|
|Sat||7 Sept||Festival of Resistance|
|Sun||8 Sept||Borders & Migration|
|Mon||9 Sept||Quakers will organise a vigil.|
“The government is breaking UK arms export law and parliament is doing nothing to stop it” says Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown and member of the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC). The CAEC is a coming-together of the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and International Trade Select Committees, because each has an interest in arms exports as part of their scrutiny responsibilities. The CAEC should be ensuring the government abides by the law but the committee is broken.
His extreme frustration with the dysfunctional nature of the CAEC has led Lloyd Russell-Moyle and a few committee colleagues, including Catherine West and Chris Law, to organise a series of events that will invite the public to hear evidence, ask questions and vote on issues around the arms trade.
The Attlee Suite at Portcullis House was packed for the first of these meeting with a wide range of interested people: MPs, their assistants, academics, policy makers, journalists, representatives from NGOs and campaigners.
First speaker Dr Anna Stavrianakis, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Sussex, specialising in UK arms licensing, believes that the fundamental problem with the CAEC is that because half of UK arms sales are to Saudi Arabia and many are used in Yemen, parliamentary committees refuse to put this issue on the agenda. There is a more general issue too with CAEC’s composition and status: Government Ministers can’t be forced to appear before the committee, its recommendations are not binding and the government will not accept them. And on a personal level, there are questions over the impartiality of the CAEC Chair and the manipulation of doubt about what is happening in Yemen. It seems, too, that although Dr Stavrianakis has made a written submission to the committee and is the leading academic expert in the field, she has not been invited to give evidence.
Rosa Curling, solicitor representing Campaign Against Arms Trade at their recent High Court appeal on the legality of licensing arms sales to Saudi Arabia, questions whether such licenses are lawful under Criterion 2 of the Consolidated
Criteria governing the issue of licences. She referred to overwhelming evidence in findings by international UN and EU bodies and officials, of International Humanitarian Law having been, and continuing to be, broken by the targeting of Yemeni civilians recklessly, deliberately and disproportionately. The Court’s judgement is expected later in the summer.
Among the other first-rate speakers, arranged in three panels, were Catherine West MP (who commented that civil society has made an impact in raising the profile of arms sales for use in Yemen); Rawan Shaif, Yemen expert at Bellingcat, the investigative journalism website; David Wearing, Royal Holloway specialist on UK relations with Saudi Arabia (arms sales are at least as much about strategic benefit and desire to maintain status as a ‘global power’ as about economic benefit); John Deverell, former brigadier and defence attaché to Saudi Arabia and Yemen (will we look back on this period in the same way that we look back on the slave trade, recognising that progress was obstructed by economic interests?); Bonyan Jamal, legal expert at Mwatana, Yemeni human rights observer; Andrew Feinstein, author of The Shadow World; Paul Holden of Corruption Watch UK (we never hear ‘what about the jobs in the plastics industries?’ now we are cutting down on plastics – compare with concern for arms industry job losses. Also highlighted: arms trade profoundly corrupt, heavily dependent on government subsidies, virtually no competition – things which wouldn’t be accepted in any other industry.); Ann Pettifor, political economist.
This may seem a long list but all speakers were captivating experts and, after hearing from them, the citizens present deliberated in groups on the case of one arms export application to Saudi Arabia, according to three of the Consolidated Criteria.
Interesting, informative, stimulating, thought-provoking, well organised, and so encouraging to know that some of our MPs are doing their best under difficult circumstances to bring about change – this was a great initiative and Lloyd Russell-Moyle and his colleagues are to be congratulated.
Hilary Evans, 26 May 2019
Service at Westminster Abbey on 3 May 2019
Kingston Peace Council/CND joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and other organisations outside Westminster Abbey on 3 May to protest against a service being held there to mark 50 years of Britain’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD).
The service was announced in a Royal Navy press release on 18 January, which began: “Events across the UK will celebrate the 50 years of dedication of submariners on the longest operation ever carried out by our armed forces. No mission has been longer – or more important – than the nuclear deterrent patrols performed around the clock by the Royal Navy over the past half century.”
CND was quick to respond. Kate Hudson, its general secretary, said: “It’s morally repugnant that a service of thanksgiving for Britain’s nuclear weapons system is due to be held at Westminster Abbey. This sends out a terrible message to the world about our country. It says that here in Britain we celebrate weapons – in a place of worship – that can kill millions of people. If the Defence Secretary doesn’t cancel this service, we call on the Church authorities to step in to stop it.”
But the then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told Parliament on 25 March “In this, the 50th year of the continuous at sea nuclear deterrent, the MOD is proud to continue to protect the security and stability not only of our nation, but of our allies.”
At least 5,000 letters of opposition were sent from members of the public to the Dean of Westminster Abbey, Dr John Hall, and to the Defence Secretary asking for the service to be cancelled.
And a statement calling on the Dean to “urgently reconsider” the planned service was signed by 194 Anglican clerics, who argued: “At a time when the United Nations has agreed a new Treaty to ban nuclear weapons and the Church of England General Synod passed a motion [in July 2018] calling on Christians to ‘work tirelessly for their elimination across the world’, we believe this service sends the wrong message to the global Anglican communion.”
But the plans were not cancelled. On the eve of the service Kate Hudson said: “Surely Westminster Abbey must now realise it has made a very serious error of judgement. The Abbey should listen to these members of the clergy and listen as well to the thousands of members of the public who have written to the Dean to make clear that nuclear weapons should not be celebrated. And listen to members of the House of Lords who, in a report out this week, said the threat of nuclear war is dramatically rising. We say to the Dean, it is not too late to cancel the service, and millions would respect the church for having listened and taken action to correct a mistake.”
The Dean gave an address in which he described the history and current world situation with regard to nuclear weapons. Acknowledging the volume of correspondence asking him to abandon the service, he said “Clearly we have not done so, and are proud to be holding it here in the Abbey…….We cannot celebrate weapons of mass destruction. But we do owe a debt of gratitude and sincere thanks to all those countless men and women who in the past fifty years have maintained the deterrent, and indeed to their families who have stood by them.”
Meanwhile outside there was an ‘inter-denominational witness for peace’ organised by Christian CND and at 12 noon, as the service commenced, the protestors performed a ‘die-in’ to represent the victims of nuclear warfare, followed by a CND rally.
This talk took place on 20 May 2019 at Amnesty’s London office - it was arranged by Global Justice Now (GJN) who are running a major campaign for global free movement. The speaker was Guardian journalist Gary Younge, who made a thoroughly convincing case, both intellectually and emotionally for global free movement.
He pointed out that the catastrophic foreign policy decisions and errors, made by the UK and US governments in particular, only lead to wars and refugee flows - he was referring obviously to the selling of weapons and to the constant interventions in other countries primarily for reasons of domination. These decisions, so often portrayed as necessary to secure our ‘security’ of course only succeed in undermining this.
Gary believes that free movement of people is one of the best things about the EU and that this should be replicated all over the world - it is usually a good thing and the NHS, for example, would pretty much collapse without foreign workers - familiar arguments from the Brexit debate. Many studies have also apparently shown that immigration only affects wages minimally, if at all. At present free movement is only available to the rich and to multinational corporations and the attempts to stop free movement, however it is portrayed, is in essence racist and an attack on the poor - borders preserve the privileges of the wealthy at the expense of the poor - restricting access to the resources and opportunities available to those within wealthy countries. GJN describes this as a form of ‘Global Apartheid’.
Borders, of course, do not stop immigration in any case - they simply make it more dangerous and encourage people smugglers.
KPC readers will not need to be convinced of any of the above arguments, but it was nonetheless heartening to hear them stated so clearly.
A couple of events would be of interest to members of Kingston Peace Council:
Friday 28 June 2019, 7.30pm
Lantern Arts Centre, Tolverne Road, SW20 8RA
Human Flow, an epic film journey directed by the renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to human migration and the massive movement of refugees in recent times.
After the film there will be a discussion with Eleanor Harrison OBE of Safe Passage.
Price: £5 (proceeds to Safe Passage), book online at www.lanternarts.org or on the door.
Suitable for: 12+
Monday 1 July 2019, 7:30-9pm (doors open at 7pm) Lantern Coffee House, 195-205 Worple Road, SW20 8ET
Learn from award-winning activist and founder of the global Craftivist Collective Sarah Corbett how you can use craft to do slow, quiet and kind activism that works. Come alone or with friends to this adults’ workshop, no skills or experience needed. Everyone will receive their own ethical Craftivism DIY kit.
Price: £9, book online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/craftivism-workshop-tickets-60663495147
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Gill Hurle
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND