Challenging Militarism

NHS not Trident

Saturday, March 4, 2017

LONDON. NHS not Trident bloc at it’s Our NHS demonstration. March in support of the NHS, and against Trident. Assemble 12noon in Tavistock Square. Full info, transport and supporting organisations: www.ournhs.info / [email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/events/1771664639725061/

Ash Wednesday public witness

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

LIVERPOOL. Ash Wednesday. Public act of repentance for preparations for Nuclear war (replacement of the Trident weapons system). 16:25 – 17:25. Gather on the steps of St Luke’s, the bombed church and then process through city centre.

A MAGISTRATE'S PROTEST

From The Tribunal, July 27th 1916
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This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918.
For other extracts go: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

What is rightly called in the press “an unusual situation” arose at the York City Police Court on July 18, when Mr. Robert Kay, the presiding magistrate, refused to hand over to the Military Authorities Herbert Coupland, a conscientious objector, charged with being an absentee.

Mr. Kay said that the Act of Parliament exempted genuine conscientious objectors from military service. He knew the man before him, and knew him to be an honest, hard-working man, and a conscientious objector – not a shirker but a real man. He did not think the military authorities had any right to ask to be handed over to them a man whom the law of the land exempted from military service. He objected to handing him over to the military, because they had dealt so fiercely with others such as he who had been handed over previously. “Whatever may be the consequences,” he said, “I will not hand over, and I will not be a party to handing over Herbert Coupland, who I have known all his life, to be treated as some conscientious objectors have been dealt with.”

The other magistrate disagreeing, Coupland was discharged. He was, however, owing to the beneficent provisions of the law, charged again and brought before another magistrate, with the usual result.

The Yorkshire Herald said such conduct was absolutely against the whole principle of English law. We are beginning to agree. It further adds that it is largely inconsistent with the pure administration of justice; but that’s changing the subject

NFPB Update, December 2016

Changing the narrative for peace – critical role of the media

!/f/nfpb/imce/logo_strapline_image_smaller.jpg(media logo image)!

Darlington Meeting House was the venue for Northern Friends Peace Board’s conference on 24th September. Organised by the Board’s ‘Sustainable Security’ project group, the event was attended by around 40 participants, speakers and committee members.
David Gee, our first speaker, presented participants with the challenge to ‘rethink security’, introducing a document of that title that he and others have published on behalf of the Ammerdown group.
Michael Gray, a young journalist from the even younger CommonSpace website and The National paper in Scotland, shared his experiences of working in a changed and changing political and social context. And Andrew Smith, the Media Coordinator at Campaign Against Arms Trade shared practical advice, from the value of brevity in catching attention, to being able to identify when, where and how news content can most effectively see the light of day. He explored the potential and dangers of new media and social media in shaping news, and encouraged us to be smarter and more responsive in how we engage.
The day continued with workshops, building on the themes of the speakers and giving participants an opportunity to dig deeper into some of the practicalities and context.
A fuller report and related material and links can be found on a new blog at https://peacetogethersite.wordpress.com/blog

h3. Inspiring speakers, important challenges

NFPB members met in early October and late November, in Penrith and York respectively. Common themes linked the two meetings, with a number of people joining us to speak and to explore current issues and challenges. Facing a continued drift towards increased militarism and military spending, alongside a political environment that is become more polarised and fearful, in the UK and beyond, Friends have been in a sombre but determined mood.
In October, Penrith Quaker Ruth Harvey, the newly appointed director of Place for Hope , gave an account of that project’s work to support faith communities in dealing with conflict, as well as inviting us to explore our own feelings about conflict and particular areas of conflict arising from the EU referendum. Opening up differences, Ruth suggested, can lead to greater understanding. But before getting to that point, having an understanding of our own different approaches and attitudes to conflict was important.

Our second speaker was Julie Ward, one of the Labour Party’s MEP’s for North West England. Julie’s passion and energy in using her time as an MEP to promote the causes of peace, justice and participation were striking. As well as outlining the opportunities for positive political engagement at the European level, she gave an account of her work on issues ranging from women’s and children’s rights, inter-cultural dialogue, Palestine and Israel, to nuclear disarmament and European responses to the needs of refugees.

At our November meeting in York, NFPB member and Edinburgh Friend Janet Fenton described the process that had led to the UN committing itself to working towards a global nuclear weapons ban treaty. Through her involvement with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Janet had been able to attend key UN working group discussions and other sessions that prepared the ground for this decision, and she urged us to ask our government and MPs to play a constructive role in this unique multi-lateral disarmament initiative.

Michael Elstub of Settle Meeting was our second speaker in York, on the subject of Veterans for Peace . Michael’s personal account of his journey was powerful and moving testimony; from becoming an army dentist (they helped pay his student fees), through long but uncomfortable service in the army to becoming an active Quaker and member of the UK branch of Veterans for Peace. VfP continue to grow in the UK and their members are keen to speak to groups to help give a fuller picture of life in the armed forces.

We ended our last session of the year in discussion and reflection, looking ahead and exploring priorities, opportunities and resources for our work. Insights and approaches to peace work that are rooted in our Quakerism should and can inform what we do. There are opportunities to speak out, to ask questions, but also to listen – meeting and talking with people who have very different perspectives as well as drawing support from our own community. NFPB is beginning the process of developing workshops for Friends and others on these themes.

h3. EU Referendum

Northern Friends Peace Board, meeting on 18th June at Central Edinburgh Meeting House, produced the following statement, in the aftermath of the murder of MP Jo Cox and on the eve of the referendum on EU membership.
After the referendum, regardless of the outcome, there will be many people in the UK and elsewhere feeling hurt, angry and disappointed. The role of the media and many politicians in framing the debate has too often been very negative; passionate assertions have been presented as credible predictions, untruths have been used as if they were fact (in spite of frequent challenges), and fears and prejudices have been stoked up in support of competing agendas.
As Friends concerned for peace, we can unite in affirming the importance of equality, respect, integrity in public life, and environmental sustainability as key foundations for peace. We can also affirm our commitment to internationalism and to cooperation between nations and peoples, the basis on which the EU was founded. Global challenges require responses at all levels, from local to international. Cooperation is not always easy or straightforward, but in linking across cultures, national boundaries and languages, violent conflict is made less likely.

We know that, for these and other reasons, many Friends are committed to the European Union and to the UK staying within it. We also know that Friends have real concerns about the EU as an institution, and in particular by how it is shaped by the less positive influences of multinational trade. We aspire to a Europe whose security is based on mutuality and care for the marginalised and vulnerable, rather than on militarism and fear of the other.

Whatever the outcome, we as Quakers want and need to be ready to engage with our neighbours, in our communities, between nations and across Europe as a whole in challenging policies, practices and structures that work against the building of peace, and in promoting those which sustain and nurture it.

“Let us then try what love will do.”
William Penn

h3. Thank you

We close the year with some Friends finishing their service for NFPB; thank you to these Friends. And thank you to all those who have supported our work financially and in other ways. We look forward to meeting and working with and Friends, including new Area Meeting representatives, and others in 2017.

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WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE?

From The Tribunal July 20th 1916

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918.
For other other extracts go to:_http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

Another debate on the position of the conscientious objector took place on the Vote of Supply to the Local Government Board.

Mr. Morrell wanted to know what steps the president of the Local Government Board was taking to see that the administration by the Tribunals of the second Military Service Act was more satisfactory than the administration of the first Act. After quoting various instances of maladministration by the Tribunals Mr. Morrell criticised the statement which had repeatedly been made by Mr. Long as to the satisfactory working of the Tribunals. “The facts show,” he said, “that over and over again, not in scores of cases, but in hundreds of cases, I venture to say even in thousands of cases, but certainly in hundreds, the Tribunals have utterly declined to acknowledge the genuineness of the objection held by the applicant before them, and they have not given him the relief which Parliament intended he should have. What is the reason of all the trouble? It can only be traced back to one thing, the mistake of the Tribunals before which the men were called. To-day a question was asked about thirty-four men who were condemned to death in France. Here you have thirty-four men, well known, of good education and hight character, who were taken over to France, and who, because they refused to obey military orders, were condemned to death, and afterwards to ten years’ penal servitude, which, presumably, they are now undergoing. Who is responsible? Ultimately it is the Tribunals who fail to recognise the genuineness of the conscientious objection of these men. What these men had suffered and are prepared to suffer is absolute proof that the Tribunals before whom they came acted wrongly. These men suffered over and over again what the Secretary of State called horseplay, but what most people would call torture and persecution, and all because their consciences prevented them obeying military orders. Who was responsible? Again, it can be traced back to the Tribunals who failed to discover the real conscientious objection that these men held, and failed to give them the relief which Parliament intended them to have under the Act. As a matter of obvious fact, this shows that we were right, and the right hon, gentleman wrong in saying that the Tribunals would act fairly in regard to this matter.

Who Is Responsible?

From the Tribunal July 20th 1916

Another debate on the position of the conscientious objector took place on the Vote of Supply to the Local Government Board.

Mr. Morrell wanted to know what steps the president of the Local Government Board was taking to see that the administration by the Tribunals of the second Military Service Act was more satisfactory than the administration of the first Act. After quoting various instances of maladministration by the Tribunals Mr. Morrell criticised the statement which had repeatedly been made by Mr. Long as to the satisfactory working of the Tribunals. “The facts show,” he said, “that over and over again, not in scores of cases, but in hundreds of cases, I venture to say even in thousands of cases, but certainly in hundreds, the Tribunals have utterly declined to acknowledge the genuineness of the objection held by the applicant before them, and they have not given him the relief which Parliament intended he should have. What is the reason of all the trouble? It can only be traced back to one thing, the mistake of the Tribunals before which the men were called. To-day a question was asked about thirty-four men who were condemned to death in France. Here you have thirty-four men, well known, of good education and hight character, who were taken over to France, and who, because they refused to obey military orders, were condemned to death, and afterwards to ten years’ penal servitude, which, presumably, they are now undergoing. Who is responsible? Ultimately it is the Tribunals who fail to recognise the genuineness of the conscientious objection of these men. What these men had suffered and are prepared to suffer is absolute proof that the Tribunals before whom they came acted wrongly. These men suffered over and over again what the Secretary of State called horseplay, but what most people would call torture and persecution, and all because their consciences prevented them obeying military orders. Who was responsible? Again, it can be traced back to the Tribunals who failed to discover the real conscientious objection that these men held, and failed to give them the relief which Parliament intended them to have under the Act. As a matter of obvious fact, this shows that we were right, and the right hon, gentleman wrong in saying that the Tribunals would act fairly in regard to this matter.

Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

International negotiations take place in 2017 on a treaty that would ban all nuclear weapons.

Global Nuclear Weapons Ban - Lobby your MP

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

2017 is set to be an historic year as negotiations begin at the United Nations on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Call on the government to support a nuclear weapons ban and to play a full and constructive part when negotiations commence http://cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/2597-tell-boris-johnson-to-support-the-g...

WHAT IS HAPPENING AT WESTMINSTER

From the Tribunal, July 6 1916

TUESDAY, JUNE 27.
MR. PETO AND CLIFFORD ALLEN; AN ANXIOUS INQUIRY

Mr. Peto asked the Home Secretary how many of the leaders of the Anti-Conscription movement who have been sentenced by Court-Martial to terms of imprisonment have since been released; whether these men of military age have restarted their efforts to break down the Military Service Act immediately on release; whether he is aware that Clifford Allen, the chairman of the “No-Conscription Fellowship” urged men of military age, at a meeting at 186, Bishopsgate. On April 8, to defy the Military Service Act, and promised assistance to all who were absentees, and that Clifford Allen was sentenced to a term of imprisonment; will he say whether he is now at liberty; and will he say whether he addressed a meeting at the offices of the National Council Against Conscription at 22, Bride Lane, E.C., on Tuesday evening, the 20th instant, at six o’clock/

Mr. Tennant: The answer to the first part of the question is that there have been no releases, as far as I am aware, and the second part does not therefore arrive. Mr. Clifford Allen has not been sentenced. He is still at liberty, but is due to report for service on June 30. The meeting of the Executive Committee took place from 4.30 to 6 on the date mentioned.

THURSDAY, JUNE 29.
NO MORE C.O.’S TO BE SENT TO FRANCE

Mr. Whitehouse asked the Prime Minister if he would, pending the adoption of the methods he has outlined, prevent the dispatch of any more conscientious objectors to France?

The Prime Minister: As far as I am concerned, and as far as the War Office is concerned, no soldier will be sent to France who we have good reason to believe is a conscientious objector.

The Future for Peace and Disarmament

Friday, March 3, 2017

with Fabian Hamilton MP Shadow minister for Peace and Disarmament discussing what this new role entails and challenges ahead. 19:00 – 20:30, Leeds Town Hall . Organised by Yorkshire CND

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