Kingston Peace News - May 2022

The newsletter of Kingston Peace Council / Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Some of our members have been attending regular protests at the Russian Embassy.

three demonstrators -- If we don't end war, war will end usthere is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people

Hilary is holding the big banner belonging to Abolish War.
Maggie's placards were much-photographed.


UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has called for further increases in UK military spending and for warplanes to be sent to Ukraine. But the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain's leading pacifist network, said it is naive to suggest that deep-rooted problems can be solved with an endless supply of weapons.

The PPU works with peace activists in Russia who report that Putin repeatedly uses the presence of NATO weapons in Ukraine to argue that Russia is under attack from the West - making it harder for anti-Putin activists to mobilise Russian public opinion against war. PPU staff are in regular contact with these very brave people trying to publicise the truth of Putin's brutality.

Here's a bit of good news for a change!  (Received April 25th)

Care 4 Calais (with a digit 4).  A family being escorted by police

We are proud and delighted to announce that the Home Secretary abandoned the controversial Pushbacks policy just over a week before our case was due to be heard in the High Court, says Care4Calais.

Care4Calais joined forces with the Public and Commercial Services Union, Channel Rescue and Freedom from Torture to challenge the proposed Home Office policy to forcibly push back small refugee boats in the English Channel. The hearing was set for May 3rd.

With just days to go the Home Office wrote to confirm the policy had been withdrawn.

Before this, Priti Patel had repeatedly insisted that the pushback policy would be used, but the climbdown shows that the policy was never really viable. There is simply no safe way to carry out pushbacks at sea, which means the Home Office attempt to defend them was almost certain to fail. It is a shame that it took a legal challenge from us and others to bring it to an end.

It is now clear that the pushbacks policy was only ever another example of this government trying to score political points by bullying vulnerable people who simply need our help.

It is great that no more time and money will be wasted on this, but now we must look to a new danger created by another impractical, toxic, publicity-seeking threat from this government. We’re preparing to challenge the plan to send innocent people to Rwanda - another staggeringly expensive exercise with cruelty to innocent people at its heart.

As compassionate, caring people who are prepared to act, we should take heart from this climbdown. We must keep fighting this government’s seemingly endless stream of despicable schemes, and that means fighting the Rwanda plan.

We would like to thank all our amazing supporters who enabled us to challenge the pushbacks policy. We want you to know that your support has saved lives. We also want to thank our brilliant lawyers Duncan Lewis.

If you would like to donate to Care for Calais, go to

But this is NOT good news!

Here is a suggested letter drafted by Amnesty International for you to send to your MP:

I am writing to express how horrifying we/I find the UK Government’s plan to send people seeking asylum 4,000 miles away to Rwanda. We/I strongly believe that this is a shocking and disastrously ill-conceived plan, which history suggests will end badly.

We/I ask that you raise our concerns in writing to both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, as well as calling on them to abandon measures in the Nationality and Borders Act which will do serious damage to the UK's asylum system.

Seven years ago, Israel struck a deal to send refugees and people seeking asylum to Rwanda. The scheme was abandoned. But not before people had suffered serious human rights abuses in Rwanda leaving many to embark on new journeys, controlled by smugglers and other abusers, in search of refuge.

Australia’s infamous “offshoring” schemes with Nauru, Manus Island and Papua New Guinea also provide a stark warning. The Australian authorities have spent vast sums of money to prop up a cruel project based on deliberately marooning people in isolated locations where - predictably - mental illness and cases of self-harm have been rife.

To repeat these failed schemes represents a shameful abandonment of the UK’s responsibility to refugees under the Refugee Convention.

Meanwhile, the Government’s draconian Nationality and Borders Act is set to criminalise many people seeking asylum in the UK.

As we’ve seen from terrible crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine, from tragic drownings in the Mediterranean and the Channel, and from numerous other zones of conflict and persecution, our world needs to provide humane and efficient means for desperate people to seek safety.

To this country’s everlasting shame, the Home Secretary’s toxic anti-refugee policies are rapidly destroying our own asylum system as well as setting a terrible example to the world.

Yours sincerely,

Why not do it now? Make sure you include your address and postcode 

Congratulations to Sunray Recycle

Do you live near the Sunray Estate, just off the A3, near Knollmead Allotments?

If you do you may have discovered this amazing recycling site, there are very many skips there for a huge number of different items. 

Sunray Recycle recently won the Kingston Chamber of Commerce Sustainable Business Award.  The founder, Janine Martin from Knollmead on the Sunray Estate went to the Awards ceremony at All Saints Church Kingston wearing a crown of crisp packets and a recycled gown and earrings designed by Janie Harland and Tessa Kind of Fusion Arts, Kingston.  She rode in a 'carriage' - ie a South London Waste Partnership recycling truck, and was escorted by the street cleaning team.   

Janine's group cuts landfill by recycling plastics through TerraCycle and other campaigns, they also encourage repurposing and reusing.

Gather up your old toothpaste and handcream tubes, crisp packets large and small, medicine foil trays and pay them a visit. 

Thanks to the goodlife Surbiton for this article.

It is better to light a candle than to sit and curse the darkness.

These words have been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, Confucius, and many other people. What do you think?  Whoever said it it's a good philosophy to follow. 

Received April 5th from the Constitutional  Rights Center USA

"We’re thrilled to be able to share this news: Sufyian Barhoumi was the second longtime Center for Constitutional Rights client to be released from Guantánamo in the last month, following Mohammed al-Qahtani, and both are finally home! In early March, the Biden administration transferred Mohammed to Saudi Arabia, and this past weekend Sufyian went home to Algeria. Both men had spent twenty years in detention"

This is good and bad news as 37 men are still detained.

Mohammed was diagnosed with schizophrenia long before he was rendered in 2002 to Guantánamo, where he was tortured and held for two decades. Although U.S. government officials knew he was severely mentally ill, they subjected him to a programme of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. In recent years, his hallucinations had intensified and led him to harm himself, making his transfer all the more urgent.

Mohammed has always belonged in the care of psychiatrists, not in a prison. He survived Guantánamo through enormous personal courage, and we hope that with proper mental health treatment close to his family, he can manage his symptoms and salvage the remainder of his life.

“And at that moment, I saw my mother in the room in front of me, and I couldn’t stop crying.” – Sufyian Barhoumi

This is how Sufyian described what he was feeling after he was told by the prison officials that he would soon be repatriated to Algeria. The Obama administration cleared Sufyian for release in 2016, but unexplained diplomatic problems delayed his release and he was left stranded in the prison during the Trump administration, which all but stopped transfers. After years of praying that he would be able to see his elderly mother again before she died, the day has finally come

Despite the cruelty of his decades-long detention, Sufyian showed incredible fortitude. He was always good-humoured, well-liked by guards and the other brothers, and showed constant empathy for the suffering of others at Guantánamo and in the outside world. His final words to our legal team were “Hasta la vista!”

After more than a year in office, President Biden has only transferred three men from Guantánamo. From a total of 780 men, 37 remain; 25 are not charged, and 18 have been cleared for transfer. You can read the stories of many of these men, including our clients, Sharqawi Al Hajj, Guled Hassan Duran, and Majid Khan, in the Center’s new resource, Faces of Guantánamo.

The Constitutional Rights Center says "We will continue the fight until our clients are free and the system of indefinite detention without charge that defines Guantánamo has ended."

Another problem we are in danger of forgetting about while the awful events in Ukraine continue is Afghanistan.

From UN Wire/Reuters we read that Afghan women are worse off due to asset freezes.

The freezing by the US of assets belonging to  Afghanistan's Central Bank  has exacerbated gender-based violence and other suffering by Afghanistan women and girls, according to 14 independent rights experts in the UN. They also blamed the Taliban for growing discrimination against women and girls..

Afghan central bank funds have been frozen since August when the Taliban took over and foreign forces withdrew.

US President Joe Biden issued an executive order in February setting wheels in motion to free up half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets on US soil to help the Afghan people while holding the rest to possibly satisfy terrorism-related lawsuits against the Taliban

But with over half the population facing starvation is this enough?  It is reported market stalls have food but most ordinary people cannot afford sufficient for their families. 

While Ukrainian cities are being pulverised, thousands of people dying and millions of refugees fleeing the country, the international arms industry and the many politicians that support it are laughing all the way to the bank.

A cursory surfing of YouTube reveals how the war in Ukraine has become the shop window for American and British anti-tank weapons, Turkish drones and other countries’ armoured vehicles.

Connect to social media and marvel at how somebody’s guided missile ‘took out’ this Russian helicopter and see how these Russian tanks were destroyed one by one by this amazing shoulder-launched projectile. The Sun newspaper’s website seems especially fond of these video clips, occasionally warning that viewers may be distressed by what they see. Those who certainly won’t be distressed are the arms salespeople – no longer dependent on computer simulations – who can demonstrate real life – or to be more accurate in respect of the Russian soldiers whose vehicles or aircraft are being obliterated before our very eyes – real death situations.

None of this shifts the blame from Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch war on his neighbour or obfuscates the continual encirclement and prodding of the Russian bear by NATO since the end of the Cold War.

All wars provide a bonanza for those who deal in arms. It’s just that now the sales pitch has become all too brazen, thanks to social media. The Independent, in mid-April, quoted an ‘international arms trade expert’ William Hartung, describing how the war had been a “gold rush” for the industry and describing how that CEO of US arms manufacturer Raytheon Technologies was “bragging” about the profits his firm would be making thanks to the conflict.

Hartung said Raytheon, in common with other arms manufacturers, attempted to sanitise their businesses by claiming they were helping to sustain democracy even though they continued to sell weapons to authoritarian regimes around the globe; Saudi Arabia and Nigeria to name but two.

The Pentagon recently convened a meeting of eight major arms manufacturers, then issued a ‘nothing to see here’ statement claiming it was “part of a normal, scheduled, routine conversation.” Not to be outdone, Britain has hosted similar meetings and welcomed Ukrainian officials to see UK-built weapons systems being put through their paces on Salisbury Plain.

Since the Russian invasion Raytheon’s share price has jumped 15%. UK arms companies including BAE Systems, Babcock International and Qinetiq have seen their value rise by almost £5billion since the Ukraine crisis began. Shares in six London-listed companies have surged by as much as 24%.

Bosses, investors and analysts all believe the conflict will turbocharge spending among European NATO members

Meanwhile the gaslighting incumbents of Downing Street, it is rumoured, are planning a charm offensive to convince ethical investors that they should consider backing the defence companies from whom they removed support over the past several years. Let’s see how that goes!

 Politicians of all stripes responsible for shaping defence policy are quite content to invest their money in the very contractors who benefit from those policies. Long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the Insider website reported (December 2021) that 15 members of the US Congress had financial ties to defence contractors that together were worth nearly $1million. And throughout 2021, both Democrats and Republicans serving on the congressional Armed Services committees have continued to invest in the most important players in the military and US defence industry.

Here Open Democracy reported in March that Tory peers are among five members of the House of Lords with investments of at least £50,000 in BAE Systems. Given the increase in the company’s share value, thanks to Putin’s murderous actions and the West’s enthusiastic response, each peer’s investment has probably increased by £11,500 since the war began.

Roy Isbister, of the arms unit at 'peace-building' NGO Saferworld, commented: “The war in Ukraine appears to be turbo-charging a vicious cycle where conflict leads to greater demand for arms, leads to heighten tensions, leads to further conflict, and so on. This cycle of violence ultimately benefits no one more than the arms companies and their shareholders, whose profits and prospects blossom as the bombs fall. There needs to be a fundamental rethink about the way we manage and prepare for international crises.”

Thanks to Phillip Cooper for this article. 

Faith leaders have condemned the Nationality and Borders Bill, (now an Act) warning it will criminalising refugees

We cannot close our door on desperate people needing sanctuary from war, persecution and suffering, but this Bill does just that,’ Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist representatives say

MORE than 1,000 faith leaders have condemned the Tory government’s anti-refugee legislation, warning it will undermine Britain’s ability to help those escaping conflict and risk criminalising Ukrainian refugees.

In their letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the group, which includes former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Muslim Council of Britain head Zara Mohammed, says it is “horrified and appalled” by the Nationality and Borders Bill.

A protest against the legislation, which was debated in the House of Lords recently, took place in central London, with campaigners warning that provisions to make it illegal for asylum-seekers to enter Britain via “irregular routes” will affect the most vulnerable.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has claimed the government “is urgently looking at what more we can do” to help those displaced by the bloody conflict in Ukraine,  which has sparked worldwide condemnation.

Ministers have introduced temporary visa concessions for the family members of British nationals in Ukraine, including waiving the application fees.

But many have told the BBC they have experienced long waits and technical issues when attempting to secure visas for loved ones.

Labour and the SNP have called for the government to follow Ireland’s example and immediately waive all visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens, branding its failure to do so “immoral.”

The letter, also co-signed by Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist representatives across Britain, stresses it is not too late to make changes to the Borders Bill “even at this late stage.”

It states: “While there is still conflict and injustice in the world, there will always be desperate people needing to seek sanctuary from war, persecution and suffering.

“We cannot close our door on them, but this Bill does just that.

“We assert that the values that bind UK citizens together, especially those concerning human dignity and life, will be fundamentally damaged by this Bill.”

The letter urges Mr Johnson to drop plans to restrict the rights of asylum-seekers, saying the policy is “without a basis in evidence or morality.”

The PM must show political leadership and promote “compassion, human life and dignity,” the leaders say, calling on him to meet them and open official safe routes for refugee families and unaccompanied children.

Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg added: “Both my parents were welcomed here as refugees. Their experiences taught me to host refugees in my house.

“[This] Bill proposes that we close the door on them, cruelly leaving them without any opportunity for safety and a future. We cannot let his happen.”

The letter was co-ordinated by the ecumenical Joint Public Issues Team, made up of the Methodist Church in Britain, Baptist Union of Great Britain and United Reformed Church, working with the Church of Scotland. 

Forthcoming Events

National Demonstration: END APARTHEID – FREE PALESTINE!

 Saturday 14 May 2022

 Assemble 12 Noon Portland Place, by the BBC, London 

Organised by: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al- Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

"Join us to demonstrate against 74 years of Nakba = Exist, Resist, Return!"

For the past few weeks we have all witnessed Israeli attacks mounting against Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

 On the last Friday of Ramadan  worshippers and journalists at Al Aqsa mosque were attacked again by Israeli Police, and Israel once more flew tear gas drones above the Haram al-Sharif.

Our mainstream media continues to refer to clashes between Palestinians and Israeli Forces and an “escalation of violence”. The reality we're witnessing is the raw face of the continuing violence required to enforce a system of apartheid over an entire people - whether that's over Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, living as unequal citizens in Israel, or in exile and denied their right to return home. It is an apartheid manifested in raw violence, but also in the continuous implementation of discriminatory law and policy.

Amnesty International has just published a big report on this: Israel's apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity.

This week Israel announced new restrictions for foreigners wishing to travel to the West Bank to visit Palestinians, volunteer or work, or study at Palestinian universities. No such restrictions exist for those wishing to visit illegal Israeli settlements and stay with settlers. Palestinians with foreign passports will be forced to provide ID details for all those they wish to visit.

Our political leaders remain silent in the face of Israel’s attacks on Palestinians, and have sought to ignore the growing consensus across civil society confirming the reality of apartheid.  We need to continue to pressure them and show the depth of support across the UK for the cause of justice for the Palestinian people.

Let's try and get a good turn-out for this.  Maybe we can take our big banner which hasn't been out for quite a while. 

Please let me know if you can come - Rosemary Addington, 0208-399-2547

This summer why not combine a visit to Faslane Peace Camp with a holiday in Scotland?

Confronting the UK’s Weapons of Mass Terror


A gathering of people to peacefully confront the UK’s ongoing addiction to the possession and deployment of horrific and illegal weapons of mass destruction.

We hope that people coming to the gathering will make their own arrangements (for travel, accommodation, sustenance and material for protest and nonviolent direct action), but there will be camping space at Peaton Wood, close to the Coulport base, and there will also be some common legal support and media work.

Our peaceful confrontation may take many forms, including blockading, entering the bases, and “redecoration”. Through all of this we can network and share ideas with some common planning here and there. Contact Angie Zelter at for more information or to get involved.

Advance Notice: in November we will be holding a joint meeting with Palestine Solidarity Campaign Richmond and Kingston branch with Andrew Feinstein who is an academic, writer, campaigner against South African apartheid and former member of the South African Parliament.  He is the author of “The Shadow World,” behind-the-scenes exposé of the global arms trade that examines the deadly collusion between senior politicians, weapons manufacturers, and arms dealers.  He has appeared regularly in a variety of print and broadcast media, including the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, NPR, The Guardian and The New York Times. Feinstein lives in London.  More details later in the year. 

Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington

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