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Alternative Armistice Day Event, London

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Monday November 14, 2011 13:51author by The Catholic Worker Farm - The Catholic Worker Farm Report this post to the editors

Britain passes its ten year mark in the war on Afghanistan, a war that has never had any popular support and presently has no end in sight. This year's Armistice Day 11/11/11 was hyped by the media into a compulsory red poppy wearing day as a form of loyalty oath to the war without end. Compulsory for all those in public life. The wearing of the red poppy may have begun as a "Never Again" sentiment, the government has attempted to hijack it as a recruiting tool in these long years of war. Footballers had the red poppy sewn into their jersies, the international friendly against Spain was tarnsformed into an electronic Nuremberg Rally by the televison conglomerates. All those appearing on Sky and BBC had to wear a red poppy.

Sue and Ciaron reading the names of the military and civilian dead
Sue and Ciaron reading the names of the military and civilian dead

The compulsory nature of this act points to a token sentimentalism of the ruling elites and functionaries in relation to the young men and women they have sent to kill and be killed in Iraq and Aghanistan over the past decade. As Phil Berrigan once remarked to me "Sentimentality is not love!" Love of those slain in previous wars would bring an end to the wars in which we are now engaged. Rather we are left with once a year tokenism, sentimentality, a government that can't break from the daily grind of bombing, kidnappings, torture and execution and a public largely disengaged and resigned to war as the background muzac to their daily lives. Catholic Worker and Veterans for Peace have been around and about the Occupy London site, located at the historic St. Paul's Cathedral, for the past month advocating solidarity for war resisters Michael Lyons imprisoned in Colchester, Bradley Manning in chains in Leavenworth and Julian Assange electronically tagged and all but hogtied for deportation and eventual rendition to a U.S. gulag. On Nov 11th. 25 of us gathered on the steps of St. Paul's behind a banner "Mourn the Dead! Heal the Wounded! End the Wars!. Our number included 3 veterans; JIm Radford of WW2; Matthew Horne of Iraq and Ben Griffin of Iraq and Afghanistan. We made our way in single file through the financial district and gathered once again outside the Bank of England. Fr. Martin Newell of the Catholc Worker's Giuseppe Conlon House, an economist by training, welcomed us and explained the relevance of the locale. The banks and bankers of this area finance wars and reap the profits of war. They need to be confronted on this day and every day the killing and dying goes on. We read a litany of the namesof the dead of the war on Afghanitsan. Both British military and Afghan civilians. We observed the two minutes silence at 11 am, along with a larger number of bankers on the steps opposite. Fr. Martin Newell then gave a scriptual relfection on nonviolent resistance to war and war preparations Jim Radford sang the anti-war ballad "The Band Played Watzing Maltida" Ben Griffin of Veterans for Peace then spoke from experience, challenging the media hyped notions of the romance of war. He told of collecting body parts from a downed British Hercules in the middle of the night on an Iraqi field, the retribution he was involved in that followed and how such a response only contributed to a spiral of violence that held no solutions. Matthew Horne spoke of the homeless veterans he had met while living at the Occupy London site, exploited in the prime of their youth only to be abandoned by the governments that have sent them to war. Former anti-war prisoner of the U.S. Ciaron O'Reilly spoke of the nonviolent resistance in the U.S. military during the first Gulf War, the resistance of Michael Lyons who had been released from Colchester military prison this past week at the conclusion of serving a sentence for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. Michael had made this decision after being exposed to footage and cables circulated by WikiLeaks. Ciaron called for solidarity with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning still in the sites of the U.S. military.

WW2 veteran Jim Radford and Fr. Martin Newell of the London Catholic Worker
WW2 veteran Jim Radford and Fr. Martin Newell of the London Catholic Worker

Ben Griffin & Fr. Martin Newell
Ben Griffin & Fr. Martin Newell

Shrine - Bradley Manning "Banks Reap the Profits of War", "Banks Invest in War"
Shrine - Bradley Manning "Banks Reap the Profits of War", "Banks Invest in War"

Veterans Matthew Horne and Ben Griffin and former anti-war prisoner Ciaron O'Reilly
Veterans Matthew Horne and Ben Griffin and former anti-war prisoner Ciaron O'Reilly

author by Youtube-Veteranspublication date Mon Nov 14, 2011 16:32Report this post to the editors

Two former British soldiers who served in Iraq address the crowd at Occupy the London Stock Exchange at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday 13/11/11.

Their powerful statements speak for themselves.

Nothing heroic about Iraq War - British Soldier Ben Griffin Speaks Out -

We haven't forgotten Tony Blair - British Soldier Speaks Out -

author by Occupy Veteranspublication date Mon Nov 14, 2011 18:56Report this post to the editors

At Occupy Camps, Veterans Bring the Wars Home

In Zuccotti Park, Army Specialist Jerry Bordeleau, 24, was sitting next to a table of IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) literature. On his sweater were two buttons: an Iraq Campaign metal and one from the IWW. He served two tours in Iraq and now says he's unemployed and can't find work for over $10 an hour. And he can't live on $10 an hour. When I asked him why he's at Occupy Wall Street he says, "I went and fought for capitalism and that's why I'm now a Marxist."


I ask him what was the switch for him and when. He explained that it was WikiLeaks. It was the footage of the Apache helicopter gunning down Iraqis released by WikiLeaks in April of 2010. Up to that point he had been interrogating Iraqis and using what he describes as psychological torture. He was 10 years old when the World Trade Center was hit. He wanted to fight terrorism in Iraq. He bought into the whole thing, he tells me. He had been looking forward to signing up ever since the 5th grade and then, suddenly, last November, he found himself watching a video of his fellow soldiers gunning down Iraqis on the street and it all changed for him.

author by serfpublication date Mon Nov 14, 2011 19:49Report this post to the editors

Keep up the good work Ciaron et al.

author by Shoutpublication date Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:36Report this post to the editors



Last Thursday, carrying a coffee back to my tent in Parliament Square in London after my morning visit to the public toilets in Green Park for ablutions, I noticed a line of metal fences along the pavement around Westminster Abbey, and a large crowd of mostly aged people in various kinds of military attire congregating in the grounds where thousands of small wooden crosses bearing names and red paper poppies had been planted in the mown lawn, a Field of Remembrance to commemorate those who died fighting in wars for their country.  I learned from one of the numerous luminous-lemon-jacketed policemen that the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was about to arrive to lay a cross of his own.  Deciding to wait among the smallish crowd of mostly curious camera-weilding tourists to witness the event, I noticed a strange curved shape among the plywood Poppy Factory crosses a young Chinese woman was selling from a tray at the gate, and she showed it to me.  It was in the shape of a Muslim crescent, minus poppy.  She also showed me other shapes – one in a Jewish star, one like an hourglass for Sikhs, and one like a lollipop stick for ‘No Faith’.

Police started to move people away from the Abbey so I went over the road to Parliament Square where I got a good view of the arrival of the Duke in his insignia-crested Rolls and his greeting of the clerics and dignitaries.  Then it was the two minute silence to remember the war dead.  Traffic came to a halt and the air was pregnant with silence.  Suddenly a trembling indignation came over me.  I felt that silence was an inappropriate way to commemorate those gassed, maimed, crippled, killed, and driven mad by armed conflict, both in the past and today.  Instead I felt like shouting “No More War!” at the top of my voice.  But I didn’t.  I was afraid that I might swiftly find myself in police custody on a charge of ‘breach of the peace’.  The silence ended, the chatting began again and the traffic resumed its incessant roar.  I had missed my chance.  Disappointed at my funk, I went back to my tent and finished my coffee in a pensive mood.  I still had another chance.  The official Day of Armistice was on the morrow, the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2011, and the 2 minute silence would begin at 11am at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.


author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:24Report this post to the editors

is just another element of the glorification and normalisation war...and slots in with the continual references 'our heroes' for the indoctrinated poor fools who as you say go out to 'kill and be killed'.

I suggest you organise an alternative ceremony to commemorate the Unknown and Unrecorded Civilian Child Casualty. Maybe next year?Get on to Dresden, Coventry, Hiroshima, Derry, Falluja, Kandahar, and Kinshasa. Before they cancel next year.

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