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Time to stop war and end the arms trade that supports war

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a public meeting:

‘Time to stop war and end the arms trade that supports war’

15 years on from the US led invasion of Iraq its high time that the lessons were heeded and action taken to stop war and the trade in arms that promotes war.

The people of Iraq are still suffering whilst the horrors of war continue to be visited upon countless others, as remote governments repeat failed military adventures and big business reaps the benefits of the trade in arms.

This meeting will bring together three expert speakers to talk of the lasting legacy of the illegal invasion of Iraq, the folly and tragedy of military conflict,
and the abhorrence of the international arms trade.

Nazli Tarzi – from Tadhamun (solidarity) Iraqi women organization.
Ian Chamberlain – from Stop the War.
Phil Mahon – from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

Come and take part in the debate and join with us as we heed the lessons
and commit to work to stop war and control the arms trade.

Wednesday 23 May 20187.30–9.30p, m, doors open at 7.00.
At Sutton Quaker Meeting House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

There is no entry charge, donations will be taken on the night – please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk
or by text message to 07740 594496

During this year Sutton for Peace and Justice will be staging a series of events
to mark Hiroshima Day, remember the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1,
and call for an end to war and the trade in arms that promotes war.

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Iraq Solidarity Month

Iraq Solidarity Month seeks to be a reminder of the crimes committed in dismantling a state, society and culture so that they are not repeated; to be a celebration of Iraq’s history, resistance and aspiration for peace based on equality and justice; and to reclaim the basic principles of peace and respect between nations that is the foundation of our shared humanity and guarantee we can all live in a future devoid of the scourge of war.
15 years on from the invasion of Iraq, Iraqi women organisation Tadhamn launched Iraq Solidarity Month on 26 April at a public meeting at SOAS, University of London.
Remembering Iraq is not only important to the millions of victims who deserve justice, it is necessary.
Find out more here.

TADHAMUN تـضـامـن

Tadhamun (solidarity) is an Iraqi women organization, standing by Iraqi women’s struggle against sectarian politics in Iraq. Fighting for equal citizenship across ethnicities and religions, for human rights, and gender equality.

Find out more here.

Why do Eritrean’s risk their lives to flee their country?

Report by Mike McLoughlin.

On the 6th April Sutton for Peace & Justice invited a settled Eritrean refugee Fessahaye Gebregiorgis, know as George, to speak about the present situation in Eritrea and why so many young people risk their lives by trying to escape the country. He brought an Eritrean friend, Gabriel, who has worked in the Ethiopian refugee camps for “Save the Children” and also contributed to the discussion.

George started by saying he was very grateful to the UK for twice accepting him as a refugee, first when Eritrea was invaded by Ethiopia and then after the present president tore up the independence constitution and became a dictator controlling every aspect of Eritrean life and ridding himself of his previous co-fighters.

After 30 years of war for independence, Isaias Afwerki became the first president of Eritrea, and has held that position ever since its independence in 1993. In 1994 he got rid of the UN peacekeeping force on the Eritrea/Ethiopia border and in 1998 declared war on and invaded Ethiopia. Then using this as an excuse, he declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution, imposing military rule and arresting his deputy and some cabinet members. None have been seen since and they are all believed to be dead. Afwerki has removed all possibility of a challenge to his regime of fear and divide-and-rule, and dictates everything concerning life in Eritrea.

In Eritrea there is no freedom of speech, no right to assemble, religious freedom is restricted and young people are conscripted into indefinite military service, many being used as, in effect, slave labour. In a country which now has a population under 4 million there are 300 prisons in which no visitors are allowed and if a prisoner dies no-one is informed. If a person is arrested their family realise it is the end for them.

In view of all this it is not surprising that there are 150,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and many more in Sudan, despite the Eritrean army’s shoot to kill policy at the border.

Gold is mined there but as there is no official budget no one knows how much revenue is generated or how it is spent, except that some of it goes to the president’s supporters. The Country is rich in other minerals and there has been a recent discovery of significant amounts of potash. The UK wants to do business with the regime and is particularly interested in the potash.

The UK Government refuses to acknowledge the real situation in Eritrea and has adopted a harsh policy towards Eritrean asylum seekers, even giving as an excuse that the Eritrean government encourages its young people to try to get to Europe in order to benefit from money sent back to their families. As a result, many young Eritreans in this country, who are allowed to remain but not allowed to work and have no access to government funds, are despairing; their mental health is deteriorating and the suicide rate is rising.

The true situation in Eritrea is verified by  the UN Human Rights Commission report, the second part of which was presented in June 2016, and the Human Rights Watch Report of June 2015 – both available on the internet. There are also many videos featuring Eritrean refugees on YouTube which show the conditions there and their escape journeys, two of which were shown at the meeting.

Public meeting – Refugees welcome here

Sutton 4 Sanctuary and Sutton for Peace & Justice invite you to a public meeting in Sutton on 6 April:

Refugees welcome here

Why people flee their home country

Why we should give them sanctuary and a welcome here

This meeting will examine why thousands are forced to flee their homes and face the perils of travelling across North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea to find safety in Europe, and how some of them seek sanctuary here in Sutton.

Come and see a short film; hear the personal experience of a
refugee from Eritrea who has settled in South London; find out more and join the debate.

Friday 6 April 7.30–9.30pm, doors open at 7.00

Sutton Quaker Meeting House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA

There is no entry charge, donations will be taken on the night

Please reserve your place by email to
admin@sutton4sanctuary.uk
or by text message to 07740 594496

The Divide by Jason Hickel

Book review by Mike McLoughin 

The Divide – A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions by Jason Hickel challenges the orthodox beliefs about the roots of global inequality.

Hickel was very close to the inequality he writes about as he grew up in Swaziland and carried out fieldwork with NGOs across the developing world. What he saw and experienced led him to try to change things through academic research and teaching development studies. The book is accessible to anyone but also stimulating for a more aware audience. It questions the received wisdom on development economics and provides new ideas on the causes behind success and failure in development. It gives an historical analysis of the causes of poverty in many of today’s poor nations and shows how almost all those involved have made inequality worse.

He exposes the failure of multinational organizations to reduce inequality while attempting to make people think otherwise. He also describes the structural nature of poverty, how poor countries remain poor through the actions of rich countries and how global GDP growth can never be the solution to global poverty and demonstrates how the international agencies like the World Bank and IMF, set up to bring about the end of poverty, have achieved the opposite through the domination of neo-liberal thinking in these rich-world dominated agencies.

The text dismantles the neo-liberal arguments that favour structural adjustment with a rigorous analysis and shows how most enduring gains against poverty have happened in East Asia. In particular he uses China to show how nations should carve out their own path in order to develop in a meaningful way, rejecting the guidance of so-called development experts by nurturing and supporting their industries with a range of government assistance.

The text draws on the work of many developmental economics experts such as Thomas Pogge, Lant Pritchett, Ha-Joon Chang and Sudhir Anand but retains his own unique approach.

The Divide is a very easily read book that draws on extensive research and It is one of the best on the subject that I have read and should be top of the list for anyone interested in structural inequality, developmental politics, and challenging the economic orthodoxy.

 

The Divide – A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions, by Jason Hickel, published by William Heinemann, 4th May 2017, 368 Pages.

 

 

Towards an Economics Reformation

The World faces poverty, inequality, ecological crisis and financial instability.

But we do not need to accept that it has to be this way.

By Mike McLoughlin

31st of October 1517 was the start of the Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, changing Christianity for all time. On the 12th December 2017, a few days after the 500th anniversary, a group of economists nailed (blu-tacked in this case) 33 theses to the doors of the London School of Economics. These show what issues in economics should be open to discussion if we are ever going to change the creed of neo-liberalism which is destroying the lives of people here and the world over, by sweeping up the world’s wealth into the control of the richest 1% of the world’s population.

In their introduction the two organisations, Rethinking Economics and The New Weather Institute, are concerned that economics is doing much less than it could to provide insights that would help resolve the world’s problems. They say that an unhealthy intellectual monopoly has developed within economics. The neoclassical (neo-liberal) perspective overwhelmingly dominates teaching, research, advice to policy and public debate. They believe that the argument is not about one theory being better than another but that advance only happens with a debate, and today within economics this debate has died. Mainstream economics appears to have become incapable of self-correction, developing more as a faith than as a science. Often, if theory and evidence are in conflict, it is the theory that has been upheld and the evidence discarded. These theses challenge the unhealthy intellectual monopoly of mainstream economics.

The theses are organised under nine headings. Below is a short summary of the main points under each heading.

THE PURPOSE OF THE ECONOMY: The purpose of the economy is for society to decide. Economic goals cannot be separated from politics. Economics is not value-free. We need more discussion of what sort of economy we want and how to get there.

THE NATURAL WORLD: The economy is a subset of nature and of the societies within which it emerges. It does not exist as an independent entity. Social institutions and ecological systems are not external to its functioning. An economic theory that treats the natural world as external to its model cannot understand the degradation of the natural world – it must recognise that the availability of non-renewable energy and resources is not infinite. The global economy already operates well outside the viable thresholds of ecology, yet requires further growth to function. 

INSTITUTIONS AND MARKETS: All markets are created and shaped by laws, customs and culture, and are influenced by what governments do and don’t do. Markets are outcomes of the interactions between different types of public and private organisations, the voluntary sector and civil society. Markets are more complex and less predictable than implied by just relationships of supply and demand. It is unhelpful to propose a universally applicable set of economic policies based solely on abstract economic theory. 

LABOUR AND CAPITAL: Wages, profits and returns on assets can be shown to depend on a wide range of factors, including the relative power of workers, firms and owners of assets. Economics needs a broader understanding of these factors so as to better inform choices that affect the share of income received by different groups in society. 

THE NATURE OF DECISION-MAKING: Error, bias, pattern-recognition, learning, social interaction and context are all important influences on behaviour that are not recognised in economic theory, so mainstream economic theory and practice must recognise the role of uncertainty. 

INEQUALITY: Markets often show a tendency towards increasing inequality. In turn, unequal societies fare worse across a range of social welfare indicators. Importantly the proposition that as a country gets richer, inequality must inevitably rise before it falls, has been shown to be false. 

GDP GROWTH AND DEBT: Growth is a political as much as an economic choice. If we choose to pursue ‘growth’ then we must decide growth of what, why, for whom, for how long and how much is enough. Private debt profoundly influences the rate at which the economy grows and yet is excluded from mainstream economic theory. Finance and economics cannot be separated. 

MONEY, BANKS AND CRISES: The majority of new money circulating in the economy is created by commercial banks every time they make a new loan. The way in which money is created affects the distribution of wealth within society so the method of money creation should be understood to be a political issue, not a technical one. Economics needs a better understanding of how instability and crises are created internally, rather than treating them as ‘shocks’ from outside. 

THE TEACHING OF ECONOMICS: A good economics education must offer a plurality of theoretical approaches to its students, including the history and philosophy of economic thought. Interdisciplinary courses are key to understanding the economic realities of financial crises, poverty and climate change. The present overwhelming focus on statistics and quantitative models can leave economists blinded to other ways of thinking. Economics must do more to encourage critical thinking, and not simply reward memorisation of theories.

The full text of the introduction and theses can be found here.

 

Palestine – 100 years after Balfour

Public meeting hosted by Sutton for Peace and Justice

Wednesday 29 November 7.30–9.30pm, doors open at 7.00
At Sutton Quaker Meeting House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA

 

The legacy of Balfour – the broken promises, the suffering and conflict.

Human rights abuses and the plight of Palestinians today – occupation, checkpoints, illegal settlements, house demolitions.

The hopes for a peaceful future with justice and equal rights for everyone living in Israel and Palestine.

 

With:

Salim Alam – Executive Committee Member, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Hannah Griffiths – human rights monitor and ‘accompanier’ of children in Hebron

Linda Ramsden – UK director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD)

Doris Richards – who has visited East Jerusalem twice as an Ecumenical Accompanier

 

100 years ago the Balfour Declaration pledged Britain’s support for a ‘national home’ in Palestine for the Jewish people, on the understanding that the rights of ‘existing non-jewish communities in Palestine’ would not be prejudiced. But Britain reneged on its pledge, leaving Palestinians disposessed and living as refugees or under occupation.

Come and hear from speakers with first-hand knowledge of the plight of Palestinians today.

And join the debate.

 

There is no entry charge, donations will be taken on the night

Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk
or by text message to 07740 594496