Plans to use EU peace fund for military activity

by Keziah Cooper

In March 2014 the European Union earmarked 2.3 billion euros to prevent civilian conflict and help promote peace. The IcSP (Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace) funds were to last until 2020 and were to be used in three main areas: crisis response, conflict prevention, and strategies to deal with emerging threats to peace and stability.

Since 2014, these funds have been used to support over 200 projects in 72 countries. In the Kivu region of the DR Congo, funds have been used to build a network of community leaders trained in peaceful dialogue, who step in where the government has mostly stepped aside. In Haiti, an IcSP project provides training and psychosocial support for marginalised communities affected by violence. In Iraq, over 3 million euros have been dedicated to ensuring that counter-terrorism strategies remain respectful of human rights.

However, the European Commission has recently started discussions on whether a new article should be introduced to the IcSP, directing a portion of its budget towards supporting military activity in some of the countries where it acts. This “enhanced” support for security and stability could include security training, capacity building programmes, and the provision of “non-lethal” equipment.

Security is clearly an important part of peace, and in areas touched by conflict, the safety of civilians is a huge concern. However, to use the military to address these concerns, particularly within a budget specifically devoted to peace and reconciliation, is deeply worrying. Not only would this risk the prioritisation of military spending and projects, but to aim for peace by military means is contradictory and detrimental.

You can call on the EU to uphold peaceful principles and keep peace and military budgets separate by writing to your MEP.

Other useful sites:

About the projects supported by the fund
Read more about the fund (official regulations document)
Press release about the plans from the EU

Remembrance

Armistice Day: Friday 11th November
Remembrance Sunday: 13th November

As pacifists, we mourn the dead of every single victim of war.

The season of remembrance is upon us.  We encourage people to think about the consequences of war throughout the year, but peace activists make a concerted effort during November. We consider the way we publicly remember war as a society; is it becoming one-sided, white-washed or over-simplified?

Remembrance is increasingly being used to paint the military is an entirely positive light and even to recruit people. We’re seeing shamelessly militaristic language, including poppies being sold in Manchester through self-proclaimed “office ‘raids’ in partnership with local businesses“.

Photo: British Legion

Photo: British Legion

How can we resist militaristic commemorations of war?

We must remember those killed in war. Often, though, our memorials and ceremonies forget, or deliberately omit, to talk about civilian deaths.  Are we really learning from the tragedy of war to prevent further conflict and death?  The “never again” message of Remembrance seems to be lost. Often lost amongst promotion of the armed forces. How good are we at spotting when war is being glorified, or soldiers hailed as heroes and a special sort of courageous?  Do we frequently deny that many civilian deaths are caused by members of the armed forces?

Perhaps you’d like to hold a vigil in your town square at 11am on 11th November. All you need is to invite people, and perhaps have a few white poppies for people to wear (see below). You could use some of the time to think about the different groups of people killed in war. All wars, and all people on all sides. Civilians. Soldiers. The people that the British military set out to kill. We must mourn all of their deaths, as they’re all victims of a violent, militarised society.

There will be a short vigil in Oxford for people of all faiths and none on Friday 11th November at 11am, to include a 2 minute silence and any prayers or poems people would like to contribute. At the Peace Plaque, Bonn Square (next to Westgate). Other events happening throughout the country.

We’re the only country in the EU to recruit children into the armed forces. You can sign this petition to raise the age of recruitment into the armed forces from 16 to 18.

White poppies are to remember all the victims of all wars. They are an outward sign that you reject violent forms of intervention and support peaceful alternatives.  You can get yours from FoR by calling 01865 250781 or fill in the form below.  Suggested donation for a poppy: £1.50 including p&p then 60p for each additional poppy. (Orders over 25 poppies, best to get them direct from the Peace Pledge Union)

For orders below £5, send a cheque payable to “Fellowship of Reconciliation to the address at the bottom of the page or by BACS: Account name as above, AN: 50492192, SC: 08-90-34

Here’s a prayer for Remembrance Sunday or during a vigil on Remembrance Day:

God the creator, sustainer and redeemer ,

We thank you for life and the freedom to live it.
We thank you for giving us people to love,
And people to find challenging.

Through your son you call us
To love our enemy.
Let us not forget that the people caught up in war
are not those in disagreement, but civilians;
That WWI was not fought between enemies,
But by pawns, children, conscripts in distant fields.

Help us never to forget those who have died in war,
But to be reminded that war is not an inevitable evil,
And to creatively seek nonviolent means.
Lead us along your path to peace,
Help us when the  pressure to conform grows strong
And to question when groups are scapegoated over
social,  political, or economic  problems.

Make us channels of your peace.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 For more information on the peace movement during WWI, see FoR’s publication Opposing World War One: Courange and Conscience.  There is also an interesting resource on Reimagining Remembranceproduced by Ekklesia.

FoR begun in 1914 to prevent the outbreak of WWI and to seek a nonviolent alternative. You can join a movement of people seeking to prevent war by addressing root causes of conflict, by becoming a member of FoR.

Other resources: The Peace Education Network has an assembly resource for upper primary and lower secondary pupils.

White poppy order form

 

Verification

Peace Sunday in Kerala, India

Photo by Habel Foundation

Photo by Habel Foundation

MarThoma Church, Kerala, India. Organised by the Habel Foundation.
Report by Samuel Nellikkadu

Habel Foundation celebrated Peace Sunday on September 25th 2016 in joining hands with Fellowship of Reconciliation. We held two meetings on the day and the short report is given below:

Morning session:

On 25th after the worship service a special “Peace Sunday” program was arranged in the Church. Dr.Samuel Nellikkadu presided over the meeting and explained about the need of peace building activities in today’s life. The President of the Mallappally Block Panchayat( Local Govt.body in Kerala, India) Mrs. Sosamma Thomas inaugurated the program.

The Lions Club Region Chairman Jacob Mammen Vattasserril, Joseph Chacko, Brigith P John, Jacob Kurian and N.B John spoke. An interfaith prayer was also conducted.

Afternoon session:

The same day afternoon at 3.pm we conducted another program in Habel Foundation’s hall. Dr. Samuel Nellikkadu, Chairman Habel Foundation presided over the function. Mr. Regi Chacko, President, Kallooppara, Grama Panchayat (Local Govt. body) inaugurated the function. The Vice-President of the Panchayat Mrs.Sheena Mathew, Members of the Panchayat Regi Philip, Soji Mathew, Lions Club Region Chairman Jacob Mammen Vattasseril Miss. Shanti Wilson facilitated.

We are keen to conduct more programs in connection with Peace and Reconciliation in the future. Thank you for allowing us to join hands with FoR to celebrate Peace Sunday.

We Will Not Fight – review

Review of We Will Not Fight performed by the UnderConstruction theatre company

Oxford, 19th May 2016

Singing "Guide me, oh, they great Redeemer". Phot: Stu Allsopp

Singing “Guide me o thou great Redeemer”. Photo: Stu Allsopp


 
A disused courtroom in central Oxford reverted to its former role in May as Under Construction Theatre re-enacted the court-martial of John “Bert” Brocklesby, one of the pacifists to be sentenced to death in World War One. Bert was one of 35 British pacifists condemned to be shot by firing squad in the spring of 1916. The sentence was commuted to ten years in prison.

Remarkably, director Lizzy McBain and her four actors had rehearsed and put together the play in only two days. The play was adapted from an earlier script produced by the Amnesty International group in Canterbury.

The play did a good job of conveying the complexity of first world war politics, as well as the personal struggles of an individual conscientious objector, in less than an hour. The trial was only a part of the play. We saw Bert’s mother frantically seeking advice about her son’s stubborn stance, a discussion between leading peace activists about the popular hostility to them, and the tribunal hearing at which Bert sought total exemption from the army as a conscientious objector – and, like most, was denied. A scene based on a debate in the House of Lords provided political context for those who were unfamiliar with the subject. This was followed by some painful viewing as we saw Bert bullied and beaten after being forced into the army and refusing to obey orders. Finally, the courtroom setting came to life as Bert was court-martialled, sentenced – and saved.

Adaptations were necessary to pack so much into such a short time and small space. There were some variations made to the details of Bert’s life and other facts. However, it was only the details that were changed, not the truth that they represented. Thus, an extract from Bert’s memoirs, describing the filthy conditions on his first night in detention, was turned into a letter to his mother. While this changed the format, the words were Bert’s own: “The stench of humanity and drunks was nothing to the crowning stench of a filthy latrine in the corner, of which the drain was choked and urine was seeping across the guardroom floor… I did not feel happy, nor that I was suffering in a noble cause.”

Questions and discussion after the play revealed that it had made a powerful impact on a number of viewers with little or no knowledge of resistance to World War One, a much overlooked aspect of the war’s history. I was privileged to be on the panel for the post-show discussion. Questioners were interested in all sorts of things: How many people had been conscientious objectors? What were they aiming for? How many died? And, most importantly, what relevance do they have today?

In the UK today, we are no longer directly conscripted to fight. Modern warfare needs money and technology, not endless numbers of people to fill trenches. But our minds are still enlisted in the ideology of militarism that permeates British society. Performances such as this one are a reminder of why conscientious objection – in so many senses – is vital.


Symon Hill is a member of FoR and a pacifist author, journalist and tutor. Symon has recently become coordinator of the Peace Pledge Union.

The play was part of a series of events marking 100 years since conscientious objection to conscription in Britain during WWI. They are organised by Commemorating the Peacemakers, a group of people representing FoR, Oxford Quakers and Movement for the Abolition of War.

The Relevance of the Cross – press release

Wombourne Good Friday procession 2016

“The relevance of the cross”

WOMBOURNE METHODIST CHURCH
PRESS RELEASE
For immediate publication

On Good Friday (25th March), thirty Christians from churches in Wombourne (in South Staffordshire) walked their witness to Christ. Starting from Wombourne Methodist Church they walked towards the village center as some of the group also carried protest banners such as “Justice for Palestine”; “The Wall must Fall”; “Make Peace, not War” and “Books not Bombs”. The Rev’d Christopher Collins said: “the cross is a very political symbol that is the result of Jesus’ stand against the empire. The banners made a link between the protest of the cross of Christ and modern day issues for which we still crucify Christ on earth today.” Importantly, the banners bore witness that the cross is for the very real issues that people face today.

As the procession reached the village center they were joined by many families who had been taking part in children’s banner making sessions in other churches in the village. The procession culminated in an open air service which attracted its largest crowd for some years.

END

Notes
1. Contact: The Rev’d Christopher Collins 07791 651418 / 01902 687635 / Christopher.collins@methodist.org.uk / 34 Bellencroft Gardens Wolverhampton. WV3 8DT

2. The caption for the photograph should read “Some of the group walking their witness outside St. Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Church. Photograph: Rev’d Nadene Snyman)

Peace Prayers

Have you got a favourite prayer for peace? Please share it here and mention where you found it.

To start us off, the Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Add yours in the comments box below.

As they come in, they’ll be added to the “Pray for Peace” page in the Resources section.

White poppies

Photo: FoR

Photo: FoR


Remember all the victims of war, and wear a white poppy this year.

Order yours below. Suggested donation of £1.50 each (including p&p), then 60p for each additional poppy.

For orders under £5, send a cheque payable to “Fellowship of Reconciliation”, to the address at the bottom.

For orders of more than 25, it’s best to get them directly from the Peace Pledge Union.

White poppy order form

 

Verification

No Faith in War

Steph Neville, an FoR member living in Birmingham, reports on her experiences resisting the arms trade this month.

On Tuesday 8th September, the second anniversary of Pope Francis’ denunciation of the evils of the arms trade, Christians gathered outside the ExCeL centre in London as it prepared to host the world’s largest arms fair. Travelling from across the country and representing diverse denominations and groups, they maintained a presence at the gates throughout the day.

Peacefully, prayerfully, many of those present stepped out into the roads, successfully preventing access to the entrances to the centre where preparations for next week’s exhibition are underway. Multiple blockades through the day were part of a whole week of creative action to disrupt the set-up of the DSEi Arms Fair. Informal prayers sat in front of a growing tail-back of lorries and a funeral procession for the unnumbered victims of the arms trade were among the powerful moments which took place in the approach roads to the ExCeL gates.

Supported by those maintaining prayerful vigil on the surrounding verges and pavements, the atmosphere remained one of respectful peace and of passion steeped in gospel values: a stark contrast to preparations for an event which will contribute to the continuing escalation of instability and conflict; the human cost of which is becoming increasingly evident.

DSEi takes place every two years and brings thousands of arms manufacturers and dealers together with representatives of global governments including those from some of the world’s most repressive regimes . As the refugee crisis in Europe draws our attention to increasing global conflict and instability, there is an almost sickening irony in knowing many of those conflicts are fuelled by a trade which being encouraged here, in our capital.

The theme of the Beatitudes reverberated through the day, with different groups independently choosing their inclusion in their liturgies. The power of Jesus’ words, spoken to an audience living under a military occupation, resonated through acts of repentance and resistance, in the face of a system which continues to perpetuate violence and oppression.

The sense of joy and community, which pervaded the day, even in the seemingly impenetrable face of death and destruction, allowed us to experience the truth of the blessing, that the peacemakers and those who hunger and thirst for justice will know happiness.

Notes
Read more about the actions against the Arms Fair as well as about DSEi itself at
www.caat.org.uk
www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk

To contact Steph, you can request her email address by calling the FoR office on 01865 250781

William Hague new chair of military think-tank

Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/PA in the Guardian

Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/PA in the Guardian

A former Conservative Foreign secretary has just become the Chairman of a right-wing military think tank.  William Hague was welcomed into the post at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) earlier today.  Peace activist have frequently said that “foreign policy” all too often means “war”, but this takes the biscuit in terms of career progression.

RUSI is largely funded by the arms industry, taking huge amounts of money from BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Finmeccanica and MBDA Missiles to name but a few sponsors.  These companies sell weapons to many of the countries on a Human Rights Concern list, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and to both sides of Gadhafi’s Libya.

Hague, while no longer an MP, was leader of the Conservatives 1997-2001 and foreign secretary 2010-15 and has shown that his party are rather too fond of the arms industry, subsidising it by £700m a year and ring-fencing the “defence” budget, as well as pledging to renew Trident next year at a cost of £100billion and in breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty the UK signed in 1968.  Part of his role will be to do with the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which many campaigners are pushing to include Trident, rather than have it seen as a separate issue.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph on 31st August 2010 entitled “Human Rights are Key to Our Foreign Policy”, Hague congratulated the British public and Department for International Development on their support for those affected by floods in Pakistan that year.  He said that their response “…confirms something fundamental about our society’s attitude to the suffering of others, whether that distress is caused by natural disaster, state oppression, or conflict.”  Now, he chairs a group which profits directly from this oppression and conflict.

It seems that William Hague has no shame in admitting that his attitude to foreign policy is to arm dictators and lobby for high military spending – taking funds away from what really keeps us safe, such as the NHS and research into renewable energy to prevent runaway climate change.  He is one of many people to have campaigned hard for an end to sexual violence in conflict.  We applaud him for this, but wonder why he’s prepared to compromise his stance against violence by endorsing companies which fuel conflict and corruption and arm repressive regimes.  As foreign secretary, William Hague gave a talk to RUSI in 2013, repeatedly referring to human rights.  Now it would seem that he’s overlooking the role that RUSI’s sponsors play in human rights abuses.

RUSI attracts many current and former foreign secretaries.  Philip Hammond, the current foreign secretary, addressed RUSI this March and in 2012, during his time as “Defence” secretary, was the keynote speaker at their Land Warfare Conference and also their Chief of the Airstaff’s Airpower Conference, both held at Church House Conference Centre, in June and November respectively.  Politicians should not share platforms with arms dealers or, like Church House Conference Centre, allow their reputation to be used to raise the profile and reputation of weapons manufacturers and thus increasing their sales and profits.

Hague’s Telegraph article went on to say, “It is a sad fact that there are scores of countries in the world where human rights are severely curtailed.”  “Sad” is certainly a starting point, but it is not enough to be sad and then to stand by – let alone collaborate – as companies ensure that human rights abuses continue so they can make a tidy profit.  RUSI may not be an arms company itself, but it could not exist without arms sponsorship, and BAE et al sponsor their events knowing that they will ultimately lead to more weapons sales.

FoR is part of a coalition of organisations campaigning for an end to RUSI conferences taking place at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster.  You can sign the petition here.

Sacrificial Love: a reflection after Lent

Reverend Barbara Calvert is a Methodist minister and a member of FoR.  During Lent, Barbara’s church, Chislehurst Methodist Church, displayed the Drones Quilt and it got her thinking…

Sacrificial love                              

Throughout the Lenten season we at Chislehurst Methodist Church reflected on the theme of peace and reconciliation. We had the drones quilt hanging in our church throughout Lent to remind us of the indiscriminate violence of war – each square of the quilt representing an innocent life lost through weapons of blind destruction.

Each Sunday we explored the lectionary readings to see what God might be saying to us through the scriptures. The reading on the first Sunday of our series was from Mark 8. 31 – 38 where Jesus talks of his suffering to come. We explored the theme of power and suffering and what we mean by speaking of an all-powerful God when there is so much suffering in the world. We struggle to understand as we look at the expressions of power all around us. The power of Putin in Russia that is looking increasingly frightening;  the power of sections of the world  financial industry which feeds the wealthy with good things and robs the poor;  we see the power of international companies avoiding tax, exploiting the labour market and making millions for themselves. This sort of power, we concluded is the power of Caesar.

Our understanding of an all-powerful God is a God of love whose power can never be overcome. This is a very different understanding of power to the power of Caesar. God is love:  that is God’s power….and love can never be overcome. Human power comes and goes. It dies. Evil and corrupt leaders, who seem all powerful one day, will eventually fail, their power will fade, it and they will die. The power of the God of love never dies.

Quilt at Chislehurst methodist church

The quilt above the church’s prayer labyrinth (A. Faulkner)

 

Another Sunday we were led in reflection on Christians who suffer persecution and violence simply by seeking to live as Christians. Sadly there were contemporary events to support the theme of Church attacks in Pakistan and Nigeria.  A third Sunday was a Taizé service with the theme of reconciliation as its focus. The final Sunday in the Lent series was Palm Sunday and after the usual distribution of palm crosses we explored the theme of extravagant love inspired by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus who poured out her whole jar of spikenard perfume on the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.

We sought throughout Lent to mirror the approach of Jesus as he faced the brutality of Roman occupation– that is,  not to offer clever arguments on just war theories, or arguments for nuclear disarmament, or arguments for the case of pacifism – although we might have done that but we sought to mirror  the action of Jesus. We simply endeavoured to lay alongside the symbol of war and suffering, the drones quilt, an alternative vision; a vision of nonviolent resistance, a vision of extravagant love, a vision of sacrificial love, a vision which led us into holy week where God is revealed not as some alien force above us, but as a human being, fully alive yet prepared to give of his life in the battle against inhumanity and darkness.

Over and against the events of holy week – the cries of the crowd which turn so quickly from ‘Hosanna, hosanna’ to ‘Barabbas, Barabbas,’  the denials of Jesus friends, the flogging, the mocking , the injustice of the court trial,  the crown of thorns piercing his head, the nails hammered into his hands and feet, the crucifixion…over and against all this violence and hatred and inhumanity is laid the power of love. Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness.

 Reverend Barbara Calvert 

Interested in borrowing the Drones Quilt?  There’s more information here.