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Remembrance not celebration

Today, the 11 November, we seem to need a reminder of why we mark 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, and how the focus has shifted from Armistice Day to ‘Remembrance Sunday’.

The original spirit of marking Armistice Day was to remember those who had given their lives and to pledge to prevent such loss of life happening again – in remembrance, not ‘celebration’.

How many times have we heard veterans of both world wars saying that they do not want to be described as heroes, and rather that we should remember those who died when they survived.

The way this annual call for peace has been hijacked and transformed into a glorification of militarism is a disservice to those who deserve to respected and remembered.

It is well worth reading this report by Joe Glenton, written after Remembrance Day last year, that expresses this better than  I can.

Joe Glenton was a British soldier for six years, serving in Afghanistan, whose book Soldier Box was published in 2013. Follow him on Twitter at: @joejglenton

Posted by Mike Cooper.

Sutton Peace Symposium

The Sutton Peace Symposium is being held on Saturday 21st May 6.30pm, Thomas Wall Hall, Benhill Ave, Sutton SM1 4PD.

Peace Symposium’s purpose is to create awareness about many local, national and international issues, including extremism, prejudice, human rights abuse and wars. This Symposium is an opportunity to share views and focus on promoting a peaceful co-existence for all the diverse communities in Sutton.

For further details see their flyer here.

Go to their website – www.SuttonPeaceSymposium.org.uk

To register for the Symposium email – register@suttonpeacesymposium.org.uk

General Election Peace and Justice Question Time

On Friday 27 March Sutton for Peace and Justice will be holding a ‘General Election Peace and Justice Question Time’ at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA, doors open 7.00pm for a 7.30 start.

Come and hear representatives of the political parties standing in the general election in Sutton & Cheam and Carshalton & Wallington answer questions on the theme of peace and justice.

This event follows up on a similar question time held prior to the last general election. It will be run along the lines of the BBC Question Time programme and for the panel we have invited each party to send one candidate from either constituency. It is an opportunity to hear the views of candidates on issues of peace and justice that are often overlooked by mainstream political campaigning and hustings events.

Questions will focus on the topics covered at our previous question time and the issues that have been of most concern to our members and attendees at our events. We expect that they will cover issues such as:  inequality, trade justice, tax dodging, Palestine, Trident and the arms trade, human rights, civil liberties and the so-called war on terror, refugees and asylum seekers.

If you would like to ask a question at this event on the theme of peace and justice, please email your question to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk with ’Question’ in the subject. The organisers reserve the right to select, amend and composite questions.

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

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

Films you might like to see

‘Long Walk To Freedom’, the 2013 film of Nelson Mandela’s story from freedom fighter, to political prisoner to President.

Being shown at Carshalton Methodist Church, Ruskin Road, Carshalton, SM5 3DE.

On Saturday 27 September, at 3pm and at 7.30 pm.

Doors open half hour before show. Admission free, donations appreciated.

See www.carshalton-methodist.org.uk

 

Also on the same day…

‘Within the Eye of the Storm’,  an award-winning 2012 documentary film telling the parallel stories of Palestinian and Israeli fathers who both suffered the pain of bereavement when their daughters were killed in the conflict but who are working together to prevent the vicious cycle of retaliation.

Being screened by Universal Peace Federation at Haslemere Hall, Haslemere Road,  Thornton Heath CR7 7BE.

On Saturday 27 September, 2.30 to 5.30pm.

Reserve places by telephone to 020 8665 1005 or email to upf.southlondon@gmail.com

Within Eye of storm

 

MPs to be lobbied on Gaza

Members of Sutton for Peace and Justice will be taking part in the mass lobby of Parliament for Gaza on 9 September.

They will be joining with hundreds of others from across the country lobbying their MPs to show how much we care about the situation in Palestine.

The lobby is calling for:

  • An immediate and permanent lifting of the blockade on Gaza, allowing free movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid
  • An end to the arms trade, and all military-industrial collaboration, with Israel
  • Sanctions against Israel until they abide by international and human rights law

 

There will be a briefing session to prepare people for meeting their MP, at Westminster Cathedral Hall between 12 and 1.45.

This will be followed by the lobby of MPs at the House of Commons between 2 and 4 pm.

If your MP is Paul Burstow or Tom Brake and you are interested in joining the lobby please contact Saleh Mamon on salehmamon@yahoo.co.uk

The lobby is being organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and there is more information on their website.

 

Mandela – icon for peace and justice

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Nelson Mandela, at his home in Johannesburg last night (5 December) at the age of 95.

Mandela was and will remain an inspiration to all who strive for equality, peace and justice.

After 27 years in prison, he became the first President of a democratic South Africa, breaking down barriers between communities and promoting reconciliation, and leading a peaceful transition to unite a country previously violently divided by apartheid.

In Mandela’s own words, at his trial in 1964:

‘I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’

Drones – a new way of war

Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are playing an ever greater role in modern warfare.

The USA and UK use Drones in Afghanistan, the USA (CIA) in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and Israel uses them in Gaza. In November 2012 the Ministry of Defence said it had carried out 349 drone strikes in Afghanistan since June 2008. Total US and UK Drone strikes in Afghanistan exceed 1,500.

Drones are operated remotely and there appears to be little attempt or interest on the part of those who use them to follow up on the results, to monitor casualties or deaths caused by drones. This violates the 4th Geneva Convention which places an obligation on members of official military forces involved in armed conflict to record details of those captured, wounded, or dead. Drones also terrorise communities, destroying homes and land.

Some drones loiter in an area after an attack and strike again when people come to help the injured or collect the dead, so called ‘rescue’ attacks. This is a violation of the principles of proportionality and distinction between military and civilian targets.

Drone strikes are carried out by both the US military and the CIA, an agency whose actions are covert, which sometimes seems to work outside national legal authority, and whose rules of engagement are less stringent than those of the military. Used in this way, drones act as both judge and executioner.

Since 2005 the UK has been involved in the development of its own UK-operated systems and since 2007 has spent £2 billion on drones. This includes investment in research and development by British universities and British companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls Royce. The UK currently buys drones from the US, Israel and Norway.

In theory Drones might possibly be used in a way that conforms to Just War teaching – such as in a war declared by legitimate authority, with discrimination between combatants and civilians. But that is not how they are currently being used.

Pax Christi believes that the use of Drones contravenes existing moral and legal codes that govern war and the conduct of war, and that their development needs to be challenged before they become enshrined as a ‘legitimate’ weapons system and play a deeper role in the tragedy of warfare.

MEDACT, in ‘Drones – the physical and psychological implications of a global theatre of war’ (October 2012) stated: The danger posed by armed UAVs cannot be separated from the asymmetric manner in which they are presently used. There is presently no international law relating to asymmetric war, one area where international law is lagging behind technological development…The armed forces of rich nations have an ever increasing global reach.

Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic, ‘Living Under Drones’, September 2012, said of the US use of armed Drones in Pakistan: The campaign is ‘damaging and counterproductive’, and neither policy-makers nor the public can ‘continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm’ it causes.

Pax Christi in its 1995 international vision statement summed up their search for peace in the face of new ways of killing such as Drones: The peace we seek cannot come from weaponry, but from a commitment to justice and nonviolent actions which recognise the dignity of every human person and all creation. We reject models of security that rely on fear, the demonisation of others or on the strength of arms – conventional and nuclear.

(From an original text by David Murray.)