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European Parliamentarians call on President Obama to free Bradley Manning

http://www.bradleymanning.org

Open Letter from Members of the European Parliament
to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Pfc. Bradley Manning (photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Pfc. Bradley Manning (photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As Members of the European Parliament, who were elected to represent our constituents throughout Europe, we are writing to express our concerns about the ongoing persecution of Bradley Manning, the young U.S. soldier who released classified information revealing evidence of human rights abuses and apparent war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army has charged Private First Class Manning with 21 different crimes, including ‘Aiding the Enemy’; a capital charge. To convict a person who leaked information to the media of “Aiding the Enemy” would set a terrible precedent. Although we understand the US government is not seeking the death penalty for Bradley Manning, there would be nothing to stop this from happening in future cases.  As it is, PFC Manning faces the possibility of life in prison without parole, recently rejected as “inhuman and degrading treatment” by the European Court of Human Rights.

On July 2nd , Army prosecutors closed their arguments in the case without having provided any real evidence that Bradley Manning aided the enemy, or that he intended to do so. In his defense against those charges to which he pleaded not guilty, PFC Manning was not permitted to bring any evidence of motivation. And in a statement calling on the court to allow a ‘public interest’ defense, Amnesty International said that this was ‘disturbing…as he has said he reasonably believed he was exposing human rights and humanitarian law violations.  Moreover, the prosecution provided no evidence that PFC Manning caused harm to U.S. national security or to US and NATO troops.

We agree with Amnesty International that the U.S. government should immediately drop the most serious charges against PFC Bradley Manning, and that to charge Bradley Manning with ‘aiding the enemy’ is ‘ludicrous’ – a ‘travesty of justice’ which ‘makes a mockery of the US military court system’.

“We’ve now seen the evidence presented by both sides, and it’s abundantly clear that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ has no basis,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director for International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.  “The prosecution should also take a long, hard look at its entire case and move to drop all other charges that aren’t supported by the evidence presented.”

Rather than causing harm, Bradley Manning’s release to WikiLeaks of the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diaries shone much needed light on those occupations, revealing, amongst other abuses, the routine killing of civilians. The bleak picture painted by these war diaries contrasts greatly with the rosy progress reports being provided to the public by military and political leaders. PFC Manning has said he felt that if the American public had access to this information, this could ‘spark a domestic debate’ on American foreign policy ‘as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan’. Far from being a traitor, Bradley Manning had the best interests of his country in mind. 

The Iraqi people continue to suffer the consequences of this war, even after the withdrawal of foreign troops, with millions of homeless refugees and the resumption of sectarian violence. Meanwhile, eleven and a half years after the U.S invaded Afghanistan, that nation has yet to form a functioning democracy or to free itself from the Taliban and fundamentalist warlords. 

Bradley Manning:  ‘I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to co-operate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year.’

Bradley Manning was witness to the wrongdoing of the U.S. military.  He says this ‘troubled’ and ‘disturbed’ him. But instead of ‘passing by on the other side’ like so many others, he acted in accordance with international law and with a strong commitment to truth, transparency and democracy. He wrote at the time that he hoped his actions would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” 

Bradley Manning also released information about the men who continue to be wrongly held in indefinite detention at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba.  Over one hundred of these prisoners have been carrying out a long, indefinite hunger strike, and 45 of them are being force-fed by U.S. soldiers.  This intolerable situation continues to undermine U.S. claims to promote freedom and democracy, compromising the standing of the US in the world and diminishing US moral authority.

Bradley Manning’s courageous action, for which he has three times been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was an inspiration to others, including Edward Snowden, who recently revealed massive U.S. government surveillance in the U.S. and also against European governments and citizens. 

We are concerned that the U.S. administration’s war on whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning is a deterrent to the process of democracy in both the United States and Europe. 

We hereby urge you to end the persecution of Bradley Manning, a young gay man who has been imprisoned for over three years, including ten months in solitary confinement, under conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez deemed “cruel and abusive.”  Bradley Manning has already suffered too much, and he should be freed as soon as humanly possible.

Signed,

Marisa Matias, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden
Ana Maria Gomes, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal 

Gabi Zimmer, Member of the European Parliament, Germany 
Paul Murphy,  Member of the European Parliament, Ireland 

Sabine Wils, Member of the European Parliament, Germany

Jacky Henin, Member of the European Parliament, France
Alda Sousa, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Martina Anderson, Member of the European Parliament, Ireland
Nikola Vuljanić, Member of the European Parliament, Kroatia
Sabine Lösing, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Lothar Bisky, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, Germany 

Willy Meyer, Member of the European Parliament, Spain

Mikael Gustafsson, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden

Marie-Christine Vergiat, Member of the European Parliament, France

Patrick Le Hyaric, Member of the European Parliament, France

His 'Crime' is Patriotism, not Betrayal Like Hale's Philip Nolan, Snowden has Become a 'Man Without a Country'

By  Dave Lindorff

 

In Edward Everett Hale's short story "The Man Without a Country," US Army Lt. Philip Nolan, following a court-martial, is exiled from his country, his citizenship snatched away, leaving him doomed to sail the seven seas confined to a Navy vessel, unable to make any country his home. His crime: being seduced by a treacherous leader to betray the US of A, the country of his birth.

In Obamaland, ‘Rule of Law’ is for the Other Suckers: US (and French) Courts Have Ruled Head-of-State Immunity is Absolute

By Dave Lindorff


It is clear that the entrapment and forced landing in Austria of the official airplane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was the work of the US, which was obviously behind the decision by France and Portugal to deny air rights to the flight, and which also was obviously behind the Austrian government’s demand to be allowed to search the jet after it landed. After all, those countries have no interest themselves in capturing US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is only Obama’s and the NSA’s quarry. 


Servile Euro Leaders Cave Under US Pressure: Bolivia's Morales Dissed and Pissed as Diplomatic Immunity Ignored

By Dave Lindorff


Those of us who have been saying that the US has become a weak, or at least more ordinary power among many in the world because of its military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because of its economic decline, will have to recalibrate our analysis after watching the pathetic behavior of the leaders of Russia, Germany and France under pressure from the Obama administration not to allow Edward Snowden to gain asylum in those countries or even to escape his purgatory in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Public Support Grows for Snowden in Europe: Germany and France Should offer NSA Whistleblower Asylum

By Dave Lindorff


Europeans are pissed off at the US, in the wake of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s latest revelation that the US was aggressively spying on its European allies, both at their and the European Union’s embassies in Washington, and in Europe itself, gleaning not information about terrorism, but inside-track knowledge about trade negotiation positions and other areas of disagreement or negotiation.


Parliamentary meeting: No new intervention in Syria


Stop the War bulletin | July 2013 | stopwar.org.uk

1) Parliamentary meeting: No new intervention in Syria
2) National Conference 2012


1) Parliamentary meeting: No new intervention in Syria



Stop the War is supporting a parliamentary briefing to discuss the Syrian crisis and build opposition within Parliament to the further militarization of the conflict that Cameron and his allies propose. The meeting is open to the public - so please come along.
 

Wednesday 3rd July, 7pm
Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House
London SW1A 2LW

Speakers include Peter Hain MP
Chair: Jeremy Corbyn MP


The US, Britain and France are threatening to send arms to the opposition in Syria and are also talking about imposing a no fly zone over much of the country. This escalation of their intervention, which so far has been covert, is the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria by the regime. This allegation comes from CIA intelligence, an unreliable source given its record on the Iraq war.

There is one simple fact which stands out in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya: war to avoid humanitarian disaster has always created greater humanitarian disaster. We are told that the aim is to save lives, but in all these cases the result was a much higher death toll.

Please lobby your MP to encourage them to attend the briefing and to oppose British military intervention in Syria. You can contact your MP directly with our online lobbying tool.


 


2) National Conference 2013

Stop the War Coalition's 2013 National Conference will be held on 14 September 2013 at The Old Cinema, University of Westminster, London. National Conference is the major democratic forum within the Coalition and sets the policy and objectives for the upcoming 18 months. Conference will begin with registration at 9.30am and runs until 5pm.

Conference is open to national members and delegates from affiliated local anti-war groups, trade unions and political campaigns and parties. Affiliated bodies can submit motions for consideration by delegates. This is the main opportunity to help shape the anti-war movement in Britain over the coming months and we strongly encourage everyone who can to attend.

Please reserve the date in your diary. Details of registration cost, eligibility for delegates and deadlines for motions will be posted on the Stop the War website and sent by email soon.
 


Stop the War Coalition | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 9311

The Protest of Obama in Berlin

Obama's Visit to Berlin - Our Demonstration on June 17th 
By Elsa Rassbach

For the official visit of President Barack Obama to Berlin on June 18th & 19th, ca. 800 people protested against US policies in a lively demonstration through central Berlin. The main banner reads "Against War, Repression and Racism!" The call for the demonstration was by a broad coalition of peace, civil rights, and solidarity movements and takes as its theme the red penalty card, used in many sports, indicating that a player has committed an offense so serious that she or he must immediately leave the game. 

At the climax of the demonstration, the protesters made a human chain encircling the US Embassy, which is next to the Brandenburg Gate where Obama was to speak. Because of the high-security lockdown of central Berlin during Obama's visit on June 18th & 19th, this broad-based, legal demonstration to the US Embassy could only be scheduled prior to his visit. Other demonstrations took place throughout Berlin on June 18th & 19th. 

See also: June 18th RT video of demonstration and an interview with Elsa Rassbach, Code Pink Germany, who spoke about drones at the demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1bnhOIOvPY&feature=youtu.be


 ____________________________________________________________________


YES WE CAN: Show Obama the Red Card

Show US Policy its Borders

For many, Barack Obama's election had inspired hope of positive changes in US foreign and domestic policies: a roll-back of aggressive US imperial aggressions and arms policies, sustainable peace initiatives for the Middle East, initiatives for global disarmament, shutting down Guantánamo, steps toward ending racism in the US penal system and domestic social justice.

Six years later, his administration has fulfilled none of these hopes – on the contrary. Murderous drone attacks have dramatically increased, the so-called "war on terror" has been intensified and, behind its smokescreen, even more democratic rights are dismantled, government expenditures on arms and warfare have skyrocketed, while poverty, desperation, and social decay is spreading in the USA.

 

An alliance of Peace, Civil Rights, Solidarity Movements, and Free Mumia Initiatives is calling for "red-carding" US government policies.

Demonstration and Human Chain in Berlin, June 17, 2013

Begin: 17 o'clock at the Bertolt-Brecht-Platz

End: Pariser Platz in front of the US Embassy

 

Stop the "War on Terror" – Ban Combat Drones

Global military dominance has remained the declared objective of US policy, even under President Obama. US combat drones are murdering and spreading terror in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Under Commander-in-Chief Obama, US troops and secret service agents are active in dozens of countries of the Middle East and Africa, as well as in other regions of the world. The sovereignty of weaker nations, as well as international law and human rights are constantly violated. People are tormented in torture prisons. Guantánamo is but one example of this US government policy.

We call for an end to US drone and special commando liquidation policies; a ban on combat drones; Guantánamo's immediate closure; compensation for the victims and their families.

Expansion of wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, military aggression and threats, interference in the domestic affairs of other nations and even subversion – no end is in sight. 750 foreign US military bases constitute the centers of operations and interventions for current and future wars.

We call for "Bringing all troops home;" Shut all US bases abroad.

The USA is the world champion in armament. With an arms budget of $682 billion, the Obama administration has the USA accounting for nearly 40 percent of the entire world's arms expenditures. The USA and Russia account for 95 percent of the world's approx. 19,000 nuclear weapons. Though both countries are reducing the quantity of their nuclear warheads, the USA is modernizing its nuclear arsenal and installing missile defense shields.

We call for a world without nuclear weapons and missile defense shields. The US nuclear weapons based in Büchel, Germany must be removed.

 

Defend Democracy and Civil Rights – Dismantle the Racist Penal System!

Democratic and human rights are under constant threat in the USA. Surveillance technology is used to intensify repressive controls and destroy democracy. The security state is being expanded. The militarization of the police and domestic deployment of the military are increasing. The US accounts for twenty-five percent of all the prisoners on the planet (while representing merely five percent of the world's population.) Private prison companies are making lucrative profits from these prisoners. The USA is one of the few industrialized nations still applying the death penalty. Since 1977 more than 1300 death sentences have been carried out.

We are calling for safeguarding democratic and human rights; putting an end to the racist and political penal system as well as the death penalty; Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Cuban 5 and all other US political prisoners!

Bradley Manning, a 25-year old US soldier, exposed war crimes, torture, corruption and secret service intrigues of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to the public. Those responsible for these crimes are handled with impunity, while Bradley Manning is persecuted. For more than three years, he has been in pre-trial confinement, suffering at times under inhumane prison conditions. He is charged among other things, with espionage and aiding the enemy.

We call for Freedom for Bradley Manning. Those who are responsible for, who committed, and covered up the war crimes belong in prison, not Bradley Manning. Bradley Manning deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his courage.


Solidarity with Latin America – End US interference

Progressive governments have come to power in many Latin American countries. This has brought about a change in the relations between the Latin American countries and in their relationship to the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere. Regional integration projects are providing alternatives to the discriminatory North-South relations. US policy, using intelligence services and exerting direct influence, is attempting to protect the interests of the international raw materials conglomerates and torpedo Latin American governments' policies.

We call for a halt to US interference in the democratic developments of Latin America and an immediate end to the blockade of Cuba.


The German government must engage itself – in favor of a peaceful foreign and security policy

German foreign and security policy is multifariously implicated (predominantly within a NATO framework) in US policies of arms buildups, military interventions and the imposition of economic and natural resources interests on southern hemisphere nations. This is why it also seeks to procure combat drones. US drones in African air space are piloted from US bases in Germany (AFRICOM in Stuttgart and Ramstein). The German government appears to be quietly tolerating this, making itself complicit in this internationally illegal aggression.

We call for: No combat drones for the German military; no use of German territory for the illegal US drone missions; end all foreign interventions of the Bundeswehr. The German government must orient its foreign policy strictly on a non-violent peace policy. Germany must make an active contribution toward creating the conditions for a just and equitable development process in the countries of the southern hemisphere.

Berlin, May 31, 2013

Occupy Gezi Through Eyes of OWS

BY CARL GIBSON
http://www.occupy.com/article/occupy-gezi-through-eyes-occupy-wall-street-organizer  
 
[]

As the Occupy Gezi movement picks up steam In Turkey, mothers of protesters have formed a human chain around the protests blocking police from attacking their sons and daughters. Justin Wedes, one of the earliest organizers and participants of Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, was in Istanbul last week taking part in the protests. Justin is an administrator of the @OccupyWallStNYC twitter account and was one of the first activists arrested by the NYPD at the Liberty Square occupation in 2011. I spoke with him about his experience in Istanbul.

CARL GIBSON: So what was the scene when you got off the plane and left the airport? Describe what you saw when you made it to the square.

JUSTIN WEDES: When I got to downtown Istanbul, the police were retreating from Gezi Park. They had been attacking the protesters for 2 or 3 days with tear gas and water cannons, but the protesters held fast. As police were leaving, the park and the square were being flooded with more people. The park itself was very festive and joyous after the police left. It was hard to tell who was partying and who was protesting. It was a beautiful, autonomous zone.

[]

CG: I’ve heard some people say that this is more similar to Tahrir Square than it is to Zuccotti Park. Having been one of the original members of Occupy Wall Street from day one, what’s your response to that?

The Piano Man and Love in Gezi Park

By PopularResistance

“If Music be the Food of Love…”

Piano concert in Taksim. Via @sinanchakmak

Piano concert in Taksim. Via @sinanchakmak

Istanbul, June 14, 1201 hrs.

Dear people,

Every revolution needs its heroes. Ours is called Davide. He is the pianoman.

Yesterday and tonight he has been playing in Taksim for twelve hours straight, until ten o’ clock in the morning. When the rain started, people held a canvas over him and his piano, and he continued to play. ‘Imagine’, ‘Let it be’, ‘We are the World’, ‘Bella Ciao’, etc. etc. Fifty meters away there was a row of police buses and water cannons ready for the final attack. On the other side, candles were burning in honour of the people who died in the protest.

Protest Saturday: Stop Western Intervention in Syria


Stop the War bulletin | June 2013 | stopwar.org.uk

1) Protest Saturday: Stop Western Intervention in Syria
2) Public meeting: Woolwich and the War on Terror
3) Together Against War


1) Protest Saturday: Stop Western Intervention in Syria
 

US Embassy Grosvenor Square London W1A 2LQ
Saturday 15 June 2013 1pm


This week senior US administration figures are discussing a big escalation in the supply of weapons to the Syrian opposition - a policy that has been pushed by Britain and France for months now.

Washington is even considering the possibility of no fly zones - the prelude to the horrific bombing campaign carried about by Britain and France in Libya.

The West's real concern is not a peaceful resolution but that the balance of power is shifting in Assad's favour.

Outside intervention in the civil war is already fracturing states in the region along sectarian lines.

If the West pumps more weapons in to Syria it can only increase the level of killing. It will ratchet up the tension making the prospect of meaningful negotiations ever more remote and threatens to spread war across the region.

Stop the War has organised a protest outside the US embassy at 1pm this Saturday June 15. Please make sure you attend and spread the word.

Take action

  • Join our protest at the US Embassy on 15th June. We are the majority but they will only listen to us if we mobilise!
  • Share the event with your Facebook contacts.

Read more on Syria

Others events


2) Public meeting: Woolwich and the War on Terror

Conway Hall
7pm Thursday June 26


The terrible attack in Woolwich confirmed what the anti-war movement has warned of from the start: that the devastation caused by the war on terror will come back to haunt us. The reality of our foreign wars - drone attacks, night raids, indefinite detention and abuse of prisoners - causes  bitterness across whole regions of the world. Campaigning against the wars is central to stopping a racist backlash.

With

People of UK Say No to Attacking Syria


Stop the War bulletin | June 2013 no.5 | stopwar.org.uk

1) Protest: Stop Western Intervention in Syria
2) Together Against War


1) Protest: Stop Western Intervention in Syria
 

US Embassy Grosvenor Square London W1A 2LQ
Saturday 15 June 2013 1pm


A poll in the Observer on Sunday
showed that majority opinion in Britain is against any kind of military intervention in Syria. Only 24% of the UK public is in favour of sending arms to Syria. It also showed that 72% believe after the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, Britain should give up its addiction to  foreign military intervention.

The poll shows ordinary people displaying a level of good sense sorely lacking in Western government circles.

The British and French governments are pushing to increase the arming of the Syrian opposition by ending the arms embargo. The White House has said in the past few days that its top priority in Syria is to impose regime change. All this is likely to harden the opposition against negotiations, and to prolong and spread a war which is already destabilising Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

The West's concern is not democracy but control of the wider region. They are risking a conflagration. Stop the War has called a protest at the US embassy in London as the G8 leaders gather in Northern Ireland.

Jeremy Corbyn MP and Stop the War officers delivering the Syria statement to Number 10.

Take action

  • Join our protest at the US Embassy on 15th June. We are the majority but they will only listen to us if we mobilise!
  • Share the event with your Facebook contacts.

Read more on Syria:


2) Together Against War



For over a decade Stop the War has mobilised millions against war. The movement has relied on the participation of those who marched, attended meetings and pressured the government to end their wars. Stop the War has maintained its ability to play a leading role in demanding an end to the War on Terror because of the mass membership and affiliation of the broad movement.

To increase our power to stop war we must stand together against war.

Join Stop the War today to ensure a revitalised movement that is ready to stop new interventions in Syria, Iran and beyond.

Your membership of Stop the War will allow you to have your say about our work alongside a coalition of anti-war organizations, and your monthly or yearly membership fee will help us maintain and grow our vital campaigns work.
 


Monthly contributions by members of Stop the War have allowed us to

  • maintain an office to support the campaigns work of a network of local anti-war groups across the UK and respond to changing events by providing speakers for the media and public meetings
  • hold an an anti-war conference in February that brought together 1000 activists to assess the War on Terror 10 years after the invasion of Iraq and decide the future role of the movement in preventing new military interventions
  • launch a national campaign against UAVs, or drones, after it was announced that Britain's drones in Afghanistan are controlled at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
  • produce a popular anti-war web site www.stopwar.org.uk with the best content from a wide range of journalists and anti-war activists.


You can join online or by telephone on 020 7561 9311

Stop the War Coalition | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 9311

Teargas in ResIstanbul

Solidarity Statement with the People of Turkey from WRL's Facing Tear Gas Campaign

Over the past several days, Turkey has seen some of its largest mass mobilizations in years. Protesters are pouring into Taksim Square, Gezi Park, and other public spaces throughout the country in the thousands to reject neoliberalism and government-backed urban gentrification. As they brave vomit-inducing tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and live ammunition, it is clear that the people of Turkey are demanding much more than simply the conservation of Istanbul’s precious remaining green space. Rather, what we are witnessing in Turkey is a broad movement of people from various classes, ages, religious sects, and political backgrounds calling for real democracy. It is also imperative to contextualize this recent uprising as a continuation of many struggles that Turkish citizens have undertaken for years around economic justice, rights of minorities (including the Kurdish people), and resistance to mandatory military service.

Since 2010, the uprisings in the Arab world catalyzed a chain reaction of revolutionary change across the globe that shook dictatorships and repressive governments at their core. Turkey is no exception to this, and as members of the Facing Tear Gas Campaign, we are moved and inspired by this growing new movement.

However, we have also borne witness to immense amounts of military and police attacks on nonviolent protestors, including the use of tear gas and related chemical weapons as tools of war on protest, free speech, and democratic movements. In Istanbul, there is evidence of tear gas coming from at least two U.S. companies— Defense Technology (Casper, WY) and Nonlethal Technologies (Homer, PA)— and one Brazilian company, Condor Non-Lethal Technologies (Rio de Janeiro). Together, these companies manufacture the tear gas used to hurt people and repress popular movements in Egypt, Bahrain, Palestine, the United States, Greece, Canada, and now Turkey. Additionally, there are reports of Turkish law enforcement directly shooting civilians with tear gas canisters, which can cause injury or death.

If you are in Turkey (or know people who are), please contribute your experience toward our collective effort to end the use of tear gas. Please save and photograph any gas canisters or incidents of their use, and let our campaign know. This is the best way to expose the companies providing chemical weapons to the Turkish military and police. Share your story on our Facing Tear Gas Tumblr, follow us on Twitter @resistwar, tweet using the hashtags #teargas or #chemicalgas, or email us at facingteargas@warresisters.org. For more information about the companies involved, the movements who face their tear gas, and our campaign, visit facingteargas.org

The Facing Tear Gas Campaign salutes the peoples of Turkey and the world in solidarity with this growing movement. As the protests grow across various cities across Turkey, including at the capital Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Diyarbakir and beyond, the slogan “Taksim is everywhere, resistance is everywhere” resonates across the globe. Indeed, Taksim reminds us that another world is on its way, one free of weapons, militarism, and state violence, and toward a truly dignified freedom.

Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference: Women Mobilizing for Peace in Conflict

By Ann Wright

I am honored to be attending the Nobel Women’s Initiative, “Moving Beyond Militarism and War,” May 28-30, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Six women Nobel Peace Laureates and 80 women from around the world are gathering to discuss the weighty and seeming insolvable problem of getting past the militarism of our world and the financial need of politicians and corporations to wage war.  Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leyamh Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman will attend the conference, as well as women activists from war conflict regions.

The Reason for Hunger Strikes-from Northern Ireland to Guantanamo

By Ann Wright

I'm in Northern Ireland and yesterday on May 20, 2013, I spoke with several members of the Northern Ireland Parliament. With over 100 prisoners in Guantanamo on a 100 day hunger strike, the Obama administration would be wise to talk to some of them too--about the importance and legacy of hungerstrikes.

In 1981, Pat Sheehan was one of the Maze Prison hunger strikers-a hunger strike that brought huge international attention to the Northern Ireland "Troubles," with the goal of forcing the British government to treat those imprisoned as political prisoners, not criminals. Hunger strikers demanded the right to wear civilian clothes, the right to education and recreational opportunities, freedom from work obligations, and a set of other benefits not afforded to other inmates.Pat was on the hunger strike for 55 days and still alive when the hunger strike was called off by the prisoners.

 Bobby Sands became the most famous of the 10 who died during the hunger strikes when he was elected to Parliament while on the hunger strike-Francis Hughes, Raymond McLeish, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee, Michael Devine also died.

After one prisoner died from his lung punctured from a feeding tube through the throat, the British ended force feeding those on hunger strikes.  The British government eventually granted most of the hunger strikers’ demands.  Public opinion changed dramatically in favor of those imprisoned and on the hunger strike.

Now Pat Sheehan is a member of the Northern Ireland Parliament. The Good Friday Peace Accord brokered by the Clinton administration brought to a close, a violent chapter in British and Northern Ireland relationships.  The Peace Accord allowed former political prisoners to become part of the political process.

One never knows the future of those who have been imprisoned for political crimes--after peace talks, many may become political leaders, like Gerry Adams and Pat Sheehan.  No one can predict the future paths of those in Guantanamo, but one can be assured that the continued imprisonment of those cleared for release from Guantanamo is disastrous for the individual and for the United States.

President Obama would be wise to call former hunger striker and now Northern Ireland Parliamentarian Pat Sheehan!

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also worked as a US diplomat for 16 years and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the US government in 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq.  In 2006, she was on a delegation to Guantanamo, Cuba to challenge the US prison at Guantanamo.

Anti-Drone Protest in the German Parliament

Three women and one man from the Berlin Peace Coordination intervened yesterday during the parliamentary debate in Berlin regarding possible German acquisition of weaponized drones. The anti-drone activists, who are co-founders of the campaign "No Combat Drones!," sought to call attention the gravity of the upcoming decision by the German government, either for or against weaponized drones, in light of the growing international struggle to ban such weapons.

In solidarity with actions of U.S. peace organizations such as Code Pink, the German activists raised their hands -- which were painted blood-red -- and called out "Ban Combat Drones, sir!" when the speaker of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) came to the microphone. The Berlin activists were aware that they were violating regulations of the German Parliament. Their personal information was taken, and they were told that charges would be brought against them.

Strong Antiwar-Protest @ Berlin University Against German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière

http://cooptv.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/massive-antiwar-protest-berlin-university/

Massive Antiwar-Protest @ Berlin University on Wed, April 10

Students shouting down German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière

German Defence Minister wanted to speak at Berlin’s Humboldt University on the role of the Bundeswehr
But students did not let him speak at all. The CDU politician finally gave up.

Dozens of students on Wednesday prevented  an a speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin by Germanys Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière. The CDU politician wanted to give a lecture on “Army of Unity – The contribution of the Bundeswehr to social cohesion”.

But right from the beginning was the minister was greeted by about 300 students with rhythmic clapping and chanting as “Thomas, we love you” and was prevented from speaking. After some time, however the protesters shouted exclusively slogans like “Never again Germany”, “Germany sucks” and “No more war”. Several groups had mobilized in recent days over the Internet to protest against the event.

De Maizière then tried to come up with the students this week, writing on a computer, “Who’s afraid to hear an argument” It remained just as unsuccessful as the request of University President Jan-Hendrik Olbertz.

After about half an hour the defense minister left the university

Upon leaving de Maizière told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa): “I think it is not a sign of strength, to avoid such a discussion It’s of no use.”. Nevertheless, he would continue to occur at universities. “I do it gladly. Berlin is not everywhere.”

Icelandic leader supporting Bradley Manning in the U.S.

Hundreds gathered in Judson Memorial Church in New York City to hear Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, who worked with WikiLeaks to produce the 'Collateral Murder' video in 2010, discuss the trial and persecution of Army private Bradley Manning. Manning passed the video, which shows U.S. Apache gunners shooting unarmed journalists and civilians in Iraq, to WikiLeaks in 2010 hoping to expose criminal activity and to make Americans more aware of their government’s abuses abroad.
 
Jonsdottir joined a panel, along with FireDogLake’s Kevin Gosztola, independent journalist Alexa O’Brien, and media critic Peter Hart, for a discussion moderated by Sam Seder. They recounted Manning’s legal proceedings and his detention exceeding 1,000 days without trial, including nearly a year of solitary confinement and several mornings of forced nudity -- conditions the U.N. torture chief called "cruel, degrading, and inhuman."
 
In attendance were musicians Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground and Laurie Anderson, documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, investigative journalist Greg Palast, and about 300 others.
 
Before the panel discussion, attendees viewed the Collateral Murder video, Laura Poitras’s short documentary about the video and Manning’s description of it, and they viewed and purchased photo stills from the video. They also bid on artist Molly Crabapple’s portraits of Bradley Manning. Proceeds went to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund, which covers 100% of Manning’s legal costs and is funded by grassroots donations around the world.
 
Bradley Manning recently took responsibility for releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks as an act of conscience, in a guilty plea of 10 lesser offenses which would amount to up to 20 years in prison. However, the government is pursuing all 22 of its original counts against Manning, including “aiding the enemy,” which would carry a life sentence without parole. Manning’s trial is scheduled to start June 3, 2013, at Fort Meade, Maryland. He returns to court this week for a pretrial hearing, from April 10-12.
 
View the recorded panel discussion here, along with more information about the event and the Collateral Murder video itself: http://www.bradleymanning.org/news/pentagon-papers-whistleblower-daniel-ellsberg-invites-you-to-a-bradley-manning-event

Germany Sees Rise of Campaign Against Combat Drones

By Elsa Rassbach

Leading national and local peace and justice organizations in Germany have launched a major campaign to oppose the German government's recently revealed plan to acquire combat drones (weaponized drones).

The organizations met together in Hannover earlier this month to begin the joint campaign. As a first step, they drafted an appeal—"No Combat Drones"—which was made public this past Sunday. Close to one hundred German organizations and hundreds of individuals have already endorsed the Appeal, signaling a very strong interest in this issue.

The Appeal will be circulated throughout Germany during the annual Easter weekend peace marches.  The German activists plan to continue the campaign until the German government and military agree to abandon the plan to make use of combat drones.

FINLAND: Total objector Jesse Kamila sentenced to 180 days of 'home detention'


War Resisters' International, London, 15 February 2013

 

 

Jesse Kamila, a 24 year-old conscientious objector from Joensuu, Finland was sentenced to 180 days of home detention on Tuesday 12 February by Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus (Eastren Uusimaa district court). He had refused to do military service on 21 May 2012. He was charged with "refusal from civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen).

You can send a protest email here.

Background information

House arrest has been possible for total objectors in Finland since November 2011. The prisoner must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is allowed to work or study outside home during the sentence, but otherwise must stay at home. Since its introduction home detention has been used frequently for total objectors, however some have been imprisoned.

Jesse Kamila has refused to do civilian service because he sees it as a punishment for refusing violence. Civilian service lasts 347 days, whereas the shortest military service is only 165 days.

The UN Commission on Human Rights declared that any alternative service required of conscientious objectors in lieu of compulsory military service must be compatible with the reasons for the objection, of a civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature e.g. in its duration (Resolution 1998/77, OP4.). The length of the substitute service in Finland, however, is punitive.

Furthermore, in Foin v France (1999) the Human Rights Committee established its position that any difference in length must be “based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as the nature of the specific service concerned, or the need for a special training in order to accomplish that service” (Foin v France, Communication No. 666/1995) CCPR/C/D/666/1995, 9 November 1999, para. 10.3).

Solidarity

International pressure is important at this stage, since Jesse's sentence has not yet started. War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Tapani Katainen, or to Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/21245. A list of Finnish embassies can be found here.

War Resisters' International calls for Jesse Kamila's sentence to be quashed.

Hannah Brock
War Resisters' International

UK SPYWARE IN BAHRAIN: COMPANY’S DENIALS CALLED INTO QUESTION

New Evidence Suggests Gamma Sold FinSpy to Bahrain


[Manama] In July 2012, Bahrain Watch reported that the Government of Bahrain was targeting activists with the FinSpy/FinFisher "lawful interception" computer spyware, programmed by UK company Gamma International.  An analysis revealed that the spyware steals passwords and can record screen shots, Skype calls, and audio from a computer's microphone.  The spyware sends the data it captures back to a server in Bahrain.  The Bahrain Watch report cited a technical analysis by Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bahrain Watch member Bill Marczak published through CitizenLab, and a report by Bloomberg.  In response to these reports, Gamma International issued several statements to the press claiming that:


Intervention and growing instability in Mali

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www.stopwar.org.uk | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 9311
twitter.com/STWuk | facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

1) Intervention and growing instability in Mali
2) Confronting War Ten Years On - an international conference


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1) Intervention in Mali
Once again western powers are using anti-Islamist rhetoric to justify colonial interventions. Two days of French air strikes have already killed many civilians and is only likely to inflame instability across the region already in chaos after the West's attack on Libya. 

France's intervention in Mali is part of a growing scramble for Africa. France occupied Mali until 1960.  It was at the centre of its historic colonial empire and now at the heart of its effort to control a mineral rich area including Senegal, Burkino Faso, the Ivory Coast - all former colonies in which the French once again have troops.

That Britain was the first to support the French adventure with two RAF planes only shows how keen the government is to participate in a new rush for influence on the African continent. The danger is too, as fighting intensifies, that Britain will get further drawn in to an intervention that has already been backed by the US government. Stop the War condemns this intervention that will only intensify the crisis in the region.


More information

Stop the War's statement on the intervention in Mali can be read here: http://bit.ly/VFS7io

Glenn Greenwald: The bombing of Mali highlights all the lessons of western intervention http://bit.ly/WWQYP2



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2) Confronting War Ten Years On - an international conference
 
It is because of the ongoing and new forms of Western intervention abroad - as we are seeing in Mali - that the anti-war movement must refocus its efforts. Our international conference next month will be a platform to launch new initiatives and hear from a range of speakers from Afghanistan, Iraq, America, Canada and elsewhere.

International Conference: Confronting War Ten Years On
  • Saturday 9th February 2013 - Friends House, Euston, London. Map
  • Full details about the conference can be found at www.tenyearson.org.uk
  • Share the event with your friends on Facebook

Speakers include

  • Tariq AliTony BennPhyllis BennisVictoria BrittainChris ColeJeremy Corbyn,Brian Eno, Lindsey German, Manuel Hassassian, Kate HudsonOwen Jones,Jemima KhanSeumas MilneRobert Montgommery, Andrew MurrayDerrick O'Keefe, Mitra QayoomSami RamadaniJolyon RubinsteinSalma Yaqoob, Rafeef Ziadah.

Sessions include

  • Iraq, Afghanistan & the war on terror
  • Palestine and the crisis in the Middle East
  • Drones and remote control imperialism
  • Art and war
  • Islamophobia and racism
  • Confronting war today

Book now to avoid disappointment

Tickets cost £15 or £8 for concessions.

Telephone 020 7561 9311 to pay by card or pay online at the conference web site www.tenyearson.org.uk Cheques made payable to Stop the War Coalition should be posted to Stop the War Coalition 1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ

The Original Abolitionists

If you're like me, there are some things you would like to abolish.  My list includes war, weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post.  I could go on.  I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we'd be better off without.

All of us, then, can almost certainly learn a thing or two from the men and women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England who abolished first the slave trade and then slavery within the British empire.  I highly recommend watching a film about them called "Amazing Grace."  If you like it, you'll love a book called "Bury the Chains."

You'll discover that this was in many ways the original activist movement.  It created activist committees, with chapters, newsletters, posters, speaking tours, book tours, petitioning, boycotts of products, theatrical props, and investigative journalism -- pioneering all of these now familiar tactics.  It achieved great success without voting, as only a tiny fraction of the population could vote.  That, in itself, should be a lesson to those who believe elections are the only tool available. 

The abolition movement had stamina.  Looking back, its gains appear stunningly swift.  At the end of the 1700s the world was dominated by slavery.  Slavery was the norm.  Before the end of the 1800s it had been outlawed almost everywhere.  Yet, those who worked night and day against the current of their times to create the abolition movement faced endless defeats.  Many of the hardest working activists didn't live to see the final success.  And yet they kept working.  That too may be a lesson for us.

A war between England and France halted progress, and could have stopped it cold.  But the war ended, and the movement was revived -- in large part with a new cast of characters, a younger generation of radicals.  Freezing all forward momentum for wars has been the rule over the ages.  It's a hard lesson for us to face, as we've now accepted that we live in an era of permanent war.  The difficult truth may be that we must escape that era if we are to make headway on numerous fronts.

When the abolition movement sprang into being in England, it was a moral movement demanding rights -- but, unlike most movements we've seen -- demanding rights for other people.  The Britons were not demanding their own freedom.  In fact, they were willing to make sacrifices, to risk a reduction in their own prosperity, and to boycott the use of slave-grown sugar.  This is a useful fact in an age when we are often told that people can only care about themselves.  Never mind the dead Afghans and Pakistanis, we're advised, just make sure that Americans know the financial cost of the wars.  Perhaps that advice can be questioned after all.

However, Adam Hochschild, the author of "Bury the Chains," believes that Britons were able to appreciate the evil of the slave trade because of their own experience with the practice of naval impressment.  That is to say, because they themselves lived in fear of being kidnapped and enslaved by the British Navy and forced to sail naval vessels around the world, and in fear of their loved ones meeting that fate, they were able to imagine the misery of Africans living in fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the West Indies. 

Where might this insight lead us?  Americans do face random senseless gun violence.  Can we appreciate the evil of a drone buzzing over a village and then blowing up a family because we know that our shopping mall or school could soon be the scene of mass murder?  Americans have also been taught to fear foreign terrorism.  Can we appreciate the need to stop funding foreign terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, foreign terrorism carried out by the U.S. military? 

We do have another tool available to us.  We can make use of video, audio, and instantaneous reporting on the victims of war or other evils.  Perhaps, understanding that morality can move people, we will figure out a better way to communicate what needs to be abolished.  The original abolitionists did not have this ability.

The original abolitionists made great use of newspapers and books which -- unlike those in France and other nations that failed to develop a similar mass movement -- were completely uncensored.  (We come back to the need to abolish our corporate media cartel.)  The original abolitionists benefitted from the egalitarian organizing of the Quakers, at whose meeting any man or woman could speak -- although they were remarkably slow to make use of the voices of freed slaves who could have spoken of slavery first-hand, and who eventually did so to great effect.

The movement to abolish the slave trade was aimed at Parliament.  It did not demand freedom or rights for blacks.  It threatened the livelihood of ship captains but not of the wealthy whose investments were in the plantations across the sea.  The movement persuaded MPs of just enough to pass the legislation desired -- and even less, as abolitionists slipped through Parliament a bill designed to damage the slave trade but not advertised that way or understood by its opponents until the vote had been taken.

The movement was launched in 1787 and by 1807 had outlawed the slave trade.  By August 1, 1838, all slaves in the British empire were free. 

The slaves themselves heard of these efforts, of course, and their own struggles for freedom may have done more than anything else to win the day.  The rebellions in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Jamaica, and elsewhere had a significant impact on British thinking about slavery.  In fact, the first generation of abolitionists, now aging, failed to keep pace with public sentiment.  Their proposals for a slow and gradual end to slavery had to make way for the demand of immediate emancipation advanced by younger men and the now very active groups of women.  And ultimately a reform bill had to be passed to somewhat democratize the government before the popular demand for slavery's abolition could be answered.

 

Compensated Emancipation

Activists were somewhat disappointed when Parliament chose to compensate slave owners for the liberation of their slaves.  The slaves themselves were, of course, not compensated.  They had little but hard times ahead.

But the compensation of slave owners offered a model that might have served the United States better than bloody civil war.  During the American revolutionary war, the British had recruited slaves to fight on their side by promising them freedom.  After the war, slave owners, including George Washington, demanded their slaves back.  A British commander, General Sir Guy Carleton, refused.  Thousands of freed slaves were transported from New York to Nova Scotia to avoid their re-enslavement.  But Carleton did promise to compensate the slaves' owners, and Washington settled for that.

The original British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson, greatly influenced Americans like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas Douglass.  But few picked up on the idea of compensated emancipation, which had not originated with the abolitionists.

Elihu Burritt was an exception.  From 1856 to 1860 he promoted a plan to prevent a U.S. civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, following the example that the English had set in the West Indies.  Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking.  He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland.  He lined up prominent supporters.  He edited newsletters.  He behaved, in other words, like Clarkson and many an activist since.

And Burritt was right.  Britain had freed its slaves without a civil war or a slave rebellion on the scale that was possible.  Russia had freed its serfs without a war.  Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that.  And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.

 

Virginia

When a former slave found his voice in London, told his story in a best-selling book, filled debating halls, and became a leader in the movement to free all others, he was a man who had been a slave in my home state of Virginia.  His name was Olaudah Equiano.  He was one of, if not the first, black to speak publicly in Britain.  He did as much to end the slave trade as anyone, and it might have gone on considerably longer without him.

I've never seen a monument or memorial in Virginia to Equiano.  In contrast, just down the street from my house in Charlottesville is a tree called Tarleton's Oak.  Next to it is a gas station by the same name.  The tree is not old, having been planted to replace an enormous aging oak that I recall seeing.  Under that one, supposedly, during the revolution, British troops camped.  They were led by a young officer named Banastre Tarleton.  He later got himself into Parliament, and there was no more obnoxious defender of the slave trade than he.  Africans themselves, he maintained, did not object in the least to being enslaved.  Tarleton lied at tremendous length without a hint of shame.  His memory we mark, not Equiano's.

Budget Day Protest -- Cut War Not Welfare: Scrap Trident

Wednesday 5 December 6pm-7pm
Downing Street London

www.stopwar.org.uk

The government's savage austerity policies have cut tens of billions from the public and welfare services, hitting millions of the most vulnerable people, whether it be the disabled, the unemployed or the poor. Health, education and transport services are under huge pressure from government to implement deep cuts in provision.

But chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne is not satisfied. He has signalled he will be cutting tens of billions more from services in his budget announcement on Wednesday 5 December.

One cut he will not be announcing is in the buget for war and for Britain's pointless Trident nuclear missile system. The Afghanistan war -- which everyone knows is futile and lost -- is costing around £6 billion a year. The yearly maintenance costs for Trident are £2.2 billion a year. The cost of renewing the Trident system -- which this gvernment is committed to do -- would cost up to £130 billion. Two aircraft carriers are being built at a cost of £7 billion. Then there's the £15 billion to be spent buying 150 F-35 jets from the US, each of which will cost £85 million plus an extra £16 million for the engine.

Osborne won't mention a word about war expenditure in his budget speech on Wednesday 5 December, because that is one area of public expendidute which is never subjected to cuts.
Which is why Stop the War and CND will join other anti-austerity groups to protest outside George Osborne's home in Downing Street, London, from 6pm - 7pm. Do join us, if you can.

THE 2012 PEACE PRIZE IS UNLAWFUL AND CANNOT BE PAID TO THE EU

FROM: Nobel laureates demand 2012: c/o Peter Kolbe, Werderstr. 36 69120 Heidelberg, Germany p.kolbe@nobelforpeace-summits.org
TO: The Nobel Foundation, P.O. Box 5232, SE-102 45 Stockholm, Sweden
CC: The Foundations Authority, Stockholm County (Länsstyrelsen)

The European Union, announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as the winner of the peace prize for 2012, clearly is not one of "the champions of peace" Alfred Nobel had in mind when he described the purpose in his will. We ask the Board of the Foundation to clarify that it cannot and will not pay the prize from its funds.

We would like to remind you of the decision of the Swedish Foundations Authority (Länsstyrelsen) on March 21, 2012, requesting the Board to examine the purpose Nobel described in his will, underlining that all prizes must comply, and clarifying that the Swedish Foundations Act places the supreme authority and responsibility also for the Norwegian decisions in the Board of the Nobel Foundation.

Unauthorized transformation of Nobel's purpose

Instead of an unspecified prize for “peace,” Alfred Nobel in his 1895 testament explained in precise terms the champions of peace (“fredsförfäktare”) whose work he wished to benefit. Nobel intended to support the political work for a demilitarized global peace order (a “folkens förbrödrande”), based on co-operation, law and disarmament.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has redefined and reshaped the prize in a way that is not in accordance with the law. The choice of the EU for the 2012 prize fails on at least two counts:

  1. the EU is not seeking to realize Nobel's demilitarized global peace order,

  2. the EU and member states condone security based on military force and waging wars rather than insisting on the need for an alternative approach.

The purpose of the peace prize is clarified by recent research. In 2008 Fredrik S. Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer and author and a former IPB Vice President, published the first known legal study of the prize and its purpose. In 2010 he published The Nobel Peace Prize. What Nobel Really Wanted (Praeger, 2010) with later updates in Chinese, Finnish, Swedish (Leopard, 2011).

The case for declaring the 2012 prize unlawful further rests on facts widely known and mentioned in comments following the announcement and we implore the Foundation to act in defense of the Nobel Peace Prize and its creator Alfred Nobel.

Loyal promotion of Nobel 's global peace order is the committee's main obligation. Even accepting some flexibility with technical rules, the 2012 prize for the EU is particularly problematic in relation to Nobel language on “the last expired year” and that the winner should be a “person.”

We would appreciate an urgent clarification from the Foundation.

Sincerely,

Mairead Maguire, Nobel laureate, Northern Ireland

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel laureate, South Africa

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel laureate, Argentina

Co-signed by the following in their personal capacities (organizational affiliation only for identification and relevance)

Bruce Kent, former president of the International Peace Bureau, IPB (UK)

Robert Hinde, professor, Movement for the Abolition of War (UK)

Peter Kolbe, Board Member, UNA Branch of Baden Württemberg (Germany)

David Swanson, author, warisacrime.org (USA)

Tomas Magnusson, Co-president, International Peace Bureau (Sweden)

Ståle Eskeland, professor of law, University of Oslo, Norway

Fredrik S. Heffermehl, lawyer and author (The Nobel Peace Prize), Norway

15,000 march for Gaza in London: report, video, pictures

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Newsletter #1263. 25 November 2012

www.stopwar.org.uk | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 9311
twitter.com/STWuk | facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

In this newsletter:
1) 15,000 march for Gaza in London: report, video, pictures

2) Become a Friend of Stop the War
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1) 15,000 march for Gaza in London: report, video, pictures


The calling of a ceasefire and atrocious weather did not deter 10-15,000 protesters from marching to show their solidarity for Gaza on Saturday, as Lindsey German, national convenor of Stop the War, reports below. For a video and pictures of the demonstration, see:  http://bit.ly/10QiuCH

LINDSEY GERMAN REPORTS:

The march from Downing Street to the Israeli embassy in Kensington was a marvellous display of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

After eight days of brutal bombardment, which left 160 Palestinians dead, around 40 of them children -- our commitment to show Gaza that it was not alone was not dampened by the ceasefire called two days ago.

Nor did the incessant and gloomy rain stop the determination of 10-15,000 protesters from marching through London to show the British government that the green light it gave to Israel's assault was not in our name.

The crowd was very diverse, with lots of young people and students and Anonymous masks mixing happily with hijabs and Palestinian scarves.

We chanted, waved banners and placards and were a constantly vibrant presence as we passed through some of the most affluent parts of London to the Israeli embassy gates, where we were greeted by Tony Benn, president of Stop the War Coalition, the first of the speakers to express solidarity with Gaza.

Other speakers included delegates from the Palestinian town of Jenin, the Egyptian novelist Adhaf Soueif, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian, MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter, speakers from the trade unions, and a representative from the SOAS students who occupied their university in solidarity with Gaza.

Very well received was journalist Seumas Milne, repeating what he wrote in his Guardian column last week, that Palestinians have every right to defend themselves.

Renowned film director and long time supporter of the Palestinian cause, Ken Loach, was one of those not able to be there but who sent a message of solidarity. 

The demonstrators were united in their determination not just to protest at this latest outrage by Israel but to call for an end to the siege of Gaza and to see the day -- after 65 years of occupation and brutal repression -- when justice will be achieved for all Palestinians.

The protesters were enthused by the sense that Israel had been forced to curtail its attack -- at least in part -- due to the changed balance of forces in the Middle East since the Arab revolutions, and in particular since the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The distorted media coverage, which has often seemed little more than an adjunct to the Israeli propaganda machine, came in for shouts of disapproval from the crowd -- not least when the BBC was mentioned.

That the motivation for Israel's attack may in part have been motivated by a plan to wage war next year against Iran -- as Britain's chief rabbi Jonathan Sachs revealed inadvertently on BBC radio -- brought roars of anger.

This particular Israeli attack may have ended, but there is no such thing as an Israeli ceasefire where Gaza or the West Bank are concerned.

Our campaign is but another step in the path to freedom for Palestine. Campaigning will go on -- for a boycott of Israeli goods and against any future wars in the Middle East. Stop the War will be at the heart of these campaigns because our anti-war activity has always been driven by an understanding that the issues of war and western imperialism are inextricably linked.

For a video and pictures of the demonstration, see:  http://bit.ly/10QiuCH

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2) Become a Friend of Stop the War

Yesterday's magnificent demonstration was a testament to the work of Stop the War's supporters across the country, who helped mobilise people to join the march for Gaza, and donated to our Campaign for Gaza appeal, without which we could not have funded our activites over the past two weeks.

We were also very gratified to see how many people were inspired by our Gaza campaign to become members of Stop the War members, which is one of the best ways to help sustain all our anti-war activities (become a member here -- it costs as little as £2 a month: http://bit.ly/IjsLPu ).

We also have a special layer of membership, called Friends of Stop the War, for those who are able to pay an increased monthly subscription, and who then receive a range of benefits. To become a Friend of Stop the War see: http://bit.ly/IjsOen

The need for an anti-war movement that actively campaigns against the war policies of our government was never clearer -- with the pointless war in Afghanistan still being waged by politicians and generals who know it is lost, the looming prospect of overt western intervention in Syria, threats of war against Iran, Britain's investment of billions in drone warfare . Many thanks to all our supporters and members for helping Stop the War its its aim to achieve this.

Campaign for Gaza: We need your help

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1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
Newsletter #1261. 21 November 2012

www.stopwar.org.uk | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 9311
twitter.com/STWuk | facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition
-------------------------

1) Campaign for Gaza: We need your help

Stop the war is stretching its resources to the limit in the build-up to Saturday's national demonstration for Gaza. Many thanks to everyone who has donated to our Campaign for Gaza Emergency Appeal. The response has been magnificent. But we still urgently need funding to ensure that we can meet the challenge of mobilising for Gaza and sustain all our anti-war work. If you have not donated yet, please consider doing so now. We appreciate contributions of any size, big or small. GO HERE TO DONATE: http://bit.ly/XS9qhx

Tony Blair in hiding from anti-war protesters

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1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ


Newsletter #1260
. 14 December 2012

 

www.stopwar.org.uk | office@stopwar.org.uk| 020 7561 9311
twitter.com/STWuk | facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition
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1) Tony Blair in hiding from anti-war protesters
 
The man trying to rehabilitate his career in mainstream British politics is proving very reticent when it comes to public appearances. When it became clear that protests would greet Tony Blair's appearance at the launch of University College London's Institute for Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS), the much publicised event suddenly became very secret and UCL denied it had anything to do with it.

The provost of UCL, Malcolm Grant, who sits on the advisory panel of ISRS, instructed his media relations department to contact Stop the War to say, "provided the law is observed, we do not operate a policy of barring speakers with controversial views".

The irony of applying the principle of observing the law to Tony Blair was obviously lost on the UCL provost. But it was not lost on the thousands who over the past week have signed the letter -- initiated by John Pilger, Tony Benn and others --  reminding UCL that it is totally innapropriate for a seat of learning to invite a war criminal to lecture on peace and war.

Nor was it lost on over 200 protesters on the day of the conference. Report and pictures here: http://bit.ly/SlefsP

As for defending the right of free speech, the only place this should be granted to Tony Blair is in a court of law, answering charges of international war crimes. There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whose right to free speech was taken away with brutal finality when Blair and Bush concocted their lies to wage an illegal war of mass slaughter.

TAKE ACTION: ASK YOUR MP TO SIGN EDM 712
MPs Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Virendra Sharma have signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament which states: This House is appalled at University College London (UCL) opening the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies on its premises' and noted that the institute is 'in partnership with weapons manufacturers, Ultra Electronics and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company both of which supplied weapons used for the bombing of Iraq'. (See full text here: http://bit.ly/RXUvNJ )

Write to your MP here: http://www.writetothem.com


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