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Peace News log archive: February 2011

Articles from the Peace News log.
For archive articles from the whole site, look here

Is 'the Gate of the Sun' tent camp the beginning of a new form of nonviolent resistance?

The jubilant celebrations I witnessed in Palestine when the UN General Assembly voted for an observer state status are in direct conflict with the grim reality on the ground. All non-violent demonstrations that resist the occupation of Palestine are deemed illegal and suppressed by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) – relabelled to reflect its real role as the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF). Any place where a demonstration takes place – village, street or field can be decreed a Closed Military Zone and demonstrators are attacked using an array of deterrents: skunk water, tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets, live ammunition and arrests. In Nabi Saleh when I was there my friend’s brother, sitting on the hill overlooking the village spring ‘stolen’ by the settlement Halamish was shot and subsequently died of his wounds.

Collective Punishment

The day after the after the Palestinians obtained a limited statehood at the United Nations General Assembly, the Israeli government decided “to punish” them by tripling its illegal settlement building.  Plans for building in E1 is a  'game-changer' destroying any chances of a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

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Virginia Moffatt on the "p" word ...

Chris’ recent  stay in Wandsworth Prison has led to some interesting conversations lately. And that’s got me thinking about when I became a pacifist and why I still am one.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint an exact moment in my life when pacifism made sense to me. But I know the milestones. The first was reading the World War 1 poets – particularly Wilfred Owen - whose  lines in Dulce et Decorum Est still resonate  with me today: “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/To children ardent for some desperate glory, /The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patria mori.”  (The old lie being, ”It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.”) Then there was the terror of growing up in an age where a nuclear war seemed a real possibility. I was an over-imaginative teenager, and spent many a night thinking planes overhead were Russian bombers. Finally, the Falklands War terrified me in a different way, as I realised many friends were turning 18, old enough to join up if the war escalated.

I never did much about it as a teenager. I vaguely thought war was wrong, but most of my reasoning was due to the pity induced by poetry and my own self-interest in imagining the effects of war on me.  Anything more than that was squashed my Dad’s stern warning that MI5 monitored CND protesters, and the sense that the War he’d fought in (World War 2) must have been OK because it got rid of Hitler didn’t it? I certainly never thought about it in the light of  my Christian faith, and at University proudly considered myself apolitical. (In fact, I was anything but, being involved in a variety of community groups, Amnesty International and the student newspaper, I just had a narrow view of politics at the time.)

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Emily Johns' self-portraits before the first (1991) Gulf War.

This is a set of pictures that I drew in 1991 in the nights leading up to the first Gulf War. They are not very hopeful, but maybe in themselves they were an attempt to avert the very apparent horrors that war would bring. Partly they were an attempt at magic and partly they were like willing the aeroplane’s wings not to fall off when you are 50,000 feet up in the air. It would take an awful lot of poppies now to mark the dead of the last twenty years.

16th January 1991, 3.10am. We are running out of poppies
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PFC Bradley Manning has been in a maximum-security prison in Virginia, USA for the past eight months after being accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. This information includes the “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts a 2007 US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people. Manning has been in solitary confinement and under constant surveillance although he has not yet been tried or convicted of his crimes.

Manning is being held in the Quantico Confinement Facility under inhumane conditions. He spends every day in a 12’ x 6’ cell and he is only allowed out for one hour a day, which he spends exercising by walking around another room. He has no sheets, no pillows, and no personal items in his cell, and he has very little contact with the outside world. In December, Manning spent his 23rd birthday alone due to the harsh terms of his visiting hours.

These conditions have contributed to a decline in Manning’s physical and mental health. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has said that Manning’s living conditions are abusive, and the UN has begun investigating Manning’s treatment on the grounds that it may amount to torture.

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Follow-up piece to Virginia’s earlier post

Chris Cole outside Wandsworth Jail

Christian peace activist Chris Cole was released from HMP Wandsworth this morning after serving 15 days for an act of civil disobedience.

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