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Articles from the Peace News log: Activism

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

Anti-war banners from Hastings artists. See article here for background.

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A film about two determined peace activists.

Peace Campaigners Helen and Sylvia grew up during the Cold War; they have 10 grandchildren, have been arrested countless times, been imprisoned at Holloway, and were the first people to be charged, under new Anti-terror legislation, for invading a U.S military base to free Britain of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Disarming Grandmothers is a 31 part web series which follows their lives through their trial for terrorism: revealing their relationship with the authorities and the press to their quirky direct actions in the dead of night!  Spanning almost 6 years in production, this series provides a unique insight into the modern day peace movement through the eyes of two extraordinary women.

The Trailer

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Peace News' co-editor Milan Rai photographed some of the participants at the "International Symposium on Nonviolence Movements and the Barrier of Fear", held 10-12 April at Coventry University.

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Who can you spot?

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Bill Hetherington on his activities on (and around) 6 June 2011 - PN's 75th birthday.

In the month leading up to 6 June a major pre-occupation was preparation for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day, 15 May.

For the past ten years I have prepared a list of representative COs of as many countries as I can find a name for, to be read out at the annual COs’ ceremony in Tavistock Square, London, whilst white flowers each bearing the name of a CO are laid on the Commemorative Stone. Each year further research expands the list, and this time there were 75 names, ranging from Maximilian, beheaded in 295 AD for refusing service in the Roman Army, to COs recently imprisoned in South Korea and Egypt., and Michael Lyons awaiting court-martial in Britain for refusing as a volunteer medic in the Navy to undertake weapons training preparatory to assisting Allied forces in Afghanistan. The same list was also read out at ceremonies in peace gardens in Birmingham and Manchester, and these actions gave impetus to a ceremony at the peace plaque in Oxford.

I have been much involved in the case of Michael Lyons, having attended his unsuccessful hearing by the Advisory Committee on COs in December 2010, and included his case in a written submission by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) to the Commons Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill 2011.

On 20 May I attended a preliminary hearing of Michael’s court-martial, in which his counsel raised issues as to the validity of the disobedience charge against him, in relation both to his status as a medic under the Geneva Conventions and his appeal as a prospective CO being pending at the time of the order which he disobeyed. The judge having ruled against counsel’s submissions, I shall attend the full court-martial in early July.

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PN contributor and peace activist Maya Evans gets visited by the bailiffs…

The second historic Peace News podcast.

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PN invited activists from around the movement to record what they were doing when Peace News turned 75.  Our birthday was on 6 June.

Arrested for Attempted Street Theatre

It was 5.30 pm on the eve of the royal wedding. “The Government of the Dead” street theatre troupe had just built a 12-foot high guillotine, topped with the banner headline “Some Cuts Are Necessary”.

We’d added an effigy of Prince Andrew with a rather long neck – easier to chop through. We’d pinned on him the knight grand cross of the royal victorian order, the bauble his mum had given him four weeks earlier. And then there were Andrew’s friends – cardboard cut-outs of a whole bunch of arms dealers, dictators and torturers on the guest list for the joyful occasion. Our banner read: “‘BAE Systems: Exporters of blood across the globe, by Royal Appointment”.

These theatrical props had been packed away in our van, but we were so ahead of time we decided to celebrate with a drink at our local pub. On returning a little later, we noticed someone loitering around: evidently a plain-clothes cop.

I was just getting my keys out ready to drive off, when 25 uniformed officers swooped on us from five vehicles. A woman police officer announced: “You are under arrest!” “Why?”, I asked. “For conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.”

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Angie Zelter on what she was doing (and thinking) on 6 June 2011 - the day Peace News turned 75.

I was 60 on world environment day – 5th June 2011 and a few days later took a 2-day hike along the Offa’s Dyke path, with panoramic views of the welsh borders, a contested area for so many centuries, I had time to reflect on years of campaigning for peace and environmental justice.

I often feel despair, and wonder what’s the point of all our protests when Britain is still threatening mass destruction by renewing its nuclear arsenal[1], still sells weapons to repressive regimes, still supports Israel despite its criminal occupation of Palestine[2], and is embroiled in wars in Afghanistan and Libya that are killing in the name of democracy and human rights. I think how our foreign policy has not changed in hundreds of years[3] and how little human beings have progressed in their relations to each other over the millennia.

We have still not learnt to truly respect all peoples and treat others as we would like to be treated, we have not learnt how to prevent the abuse of power, nor prevent vast disparities of wealth building up. We have no idea how to implement true democracy.[4] Our technological progress has been at the expense of wisdom and compassion.

I go and tend my allotment because at least I can see the tangible results of my labour in the fruit and vegetables there. But I wonder how long it will be before private enterprise takes away even these little patches of soil, when it will try privatising the rain and the sun. Yes I have been “down” some of these days. I look around and I see such wonderful potential in people and our beautiful planet but despair at the various capitalist, hierarchical, patriarchal, fundamentalist, ideological structures that distort and prevent its fruition.

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How to deal with police "kettling" tactics

I’m currently in training for the London Marathon (more details here), a slightly mad endeavour which means putting myself through increasing long runs in and around Oxford. I tend to find I do a lot of musing as I run, and it crossed my mind the other week that my experience actually might be be of use in the event of getting caught in a kettle. Since there’s a rather big protest coming up this weekend with kettling chances high, I thought it might help to share.

1. Toilet facilities. One of the things that is pretty grim about kettling is the lack of toilet facilities. Apparently the police are preparing humane kettles with portaloos and everything, but just in case you get caught in an inhumane kettle, this might help. I’ve managed to run for nearly 4.5 hours without a loo break, which is quite an achievement for me. The trick has been to control my fluid intake. So, I stop drinking at least an hour before my run. I then go to the toilet as many times as I can before I start. I carry water and a sports drink with me, and I drink them sparingly, sips at a time, just to keep my mouth from getting too dry. So on Saturday, I’ll use the same principle & make sure I use the loo at every available opportunity – just in case I reach a place when I can’t.

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