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Articles from the Peace News log: Conversion

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

Blending theatre, art and politics, the Peace History Conferences go from strength to strength

Michael Mears performs This evil thing

The Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW), organiser of the series of Peace History Conferences, has a strong and creative relationship with the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London. This works because, on MAW’s side, there is an attitude not of dogmatic pacifism but of reasoned opposition to the legitimacy of war; and on the Museum’s side, war is not glamorised but commemorated in all its aspects. This makes it a fitting venue for a conference like the one on 10 June, especially as the IWM in London is also currently running a major exhibition on the history of the peace movement.

The previous evening, actor and writer Michael Mears presented his one-man play This evil thing at the nearby Oasis Hub. The story of conscientious objectors in the First World War, and especially of CO Bert Brocklesby, was brought to life by Mr Mears as he rearranged the wooden crates which served as props to suggest platforms, trenches or rooms. He also played every role, putting on a jacket to indicate a new character, and switching accents and mannerisms with ease. The play, which first won praise at the Edinburgh Fringe, is accessible to all, a riveting story for those with no prior knowledge of the subject, and one that will probably shed new light on this topic even for seasoned peace campaigners.

The day which followed illustrated both the diversity and the consistency to be found in those working for peace.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce, writer and screenwriter famed for his opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, read extracts from a work written in 1517 by Desiderius Erasmus, The Complaint of Peace, in which Peace, personified, wonders why humanity persists in the use of violence. Both the issues and the wit with which they are described are surprisingly relevant for a modern audience.

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Jessica Corbett reports from a recent meeting of anti-arms trade campaigners at City Circle.

ImageOn 10 September, DSEi invades London. DSEi, or Defence & Security Equipment International, is the world’s largest international arms trade fair, and is held every two years at the London ExCeL Centre.

One of the most touted arguments in favour of arms production is employment. Companies and politicians constantly make the claim that a reduction in arms development means a loss of jobs.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case, and some alternatives to arms trade may actually be better for workers and the economy.

In many nations with arms trade industries, governments subsidise arms trade-related jobs with taxpayer money. As of May 2011, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated the UK arms export subsidies at around £700 million per year.

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