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GAAW April Bulletin
Saturday April 07, 2012 21:30 by Galway Alliance Against War
GALWAY ALLIANCE AGAINST WAR
APRIL 2012 BULLETIN
GAAW PEACE EVENT
The Funeral of Irish Neutrality:
14th April 2012, Eyre Sq., Galway at 2pm
Cortege will proceed to Labour Party Conference at NUIG
Dress Code: Black
GAAW SUPPORTED PEACE EVENT
Shannon Peace Vigil
Sunday, 8 April 2012
14:00 until 15:00
Meet at small roundabout just before Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport continues to operate as a staging post for US military forces occupying Afghanistan. Join us in Shannon on Easter Sunday to say enough is enough - end Shannon's complicity in war.
1. John Arden
2. The Labour Party Conference & the Death of Irish Neutrality
3. Wikileaks: News from the Middle East
4. War Criminals: The ICC & US Courts
5. Remembering Gallipoli & the Futility of War
We mourn the death of our Comrade John Arden.
John’s deep and active commitment to the cause of peace and social justice spanned his entire lifetime.
As a young man he played his part in the peace movement and only 3 months ago, aged 81 years and wheelchair-bound, John took part in the January peace vigil at Shannon airport, as he frequently did. He knew imperialist war had to be opposed irrespective of one’s age or one’s position in society. Indeed, as an artist John saw the need for art to be employed to cut through the political spin propagated by the media justifying wars. And this he certainly did.
We feel privileged to have had John Arden in our ranks for so many years. He is an outstanding example of a life well and fully lived in pursuit of a future free of wars for profit and power, for a world that cherishes all its children equally.
Words written by Nikolai Ostrovsky are a fitting epitaph for John Arden:
"One's dearest possession is life. It is given but once, and you must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, you might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world - the fight for the liberation of humanity."
John’s death is a great loss to our movement. Our deepest sympathy goes to Margaretta and family.
Tribute to John Arden by Michael Randle
(Michael Randle is best known as a peace campaigner and peace researcher, one of the pioneers of nonviolent direct action in Britain, and also for his role in helping the Soviet spy George Blake escape from a British prison in 1966).
Tá brón mór orm nach bhfuil mise ansin libh inniu
John Arden’s reputation as playwright, novelist and short story writer rests on an impressive body of work which will surely be noted by other contributors to this occasion when we both mourn his loss and celebrate his life. I want to say a few words about him as a political activist and campaigner, the capacity in which I knew him best and in which I have collaborated with both him and Margaretta.
In truth, however it would be a mistake to draw a sharp division between these roles. His work from the early plays like Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance down to his most recent collection of short stories, Gallows and Other Tales of Suspicion and Obsession published a couple of years ago were an expression of the same commitment that took him in his 80s in a wheelchair to join protesters against the use of Shannon Airport as a staging post for US warplanes on their way to bombing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I got to know John as a fellow member of the Committee of 100, the anti-nuclear organization set up in 1960 by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the anti-apartheid campaigner, Rev Michael Scott, to launch a campaign of civil disobedience against nuclear weapons during a period in which there was a real danger of nuclear war. I got to know Margaretta properly in that same period too as she was also an active member of the Committee, though our paths had crossed tangentially many years earlier when we were both pupils, or should I say inmates, of a Dominican Convent School in Dublin during the Second World War.
Many Committee of 100’s activities closely paralled those of today’s campaigners at Shannon airport to whom I would also like to express my support. At first the mass sit-down demonstrations were mainly focused on city centres; later the focus shifted to military bases. On 17 September 1961 an estimated 12,000 people took part, in a sit-down demonstration in London, some 1,300 of whom were arrested while the previous day 500 supporters of the Scottish Committee of 100 blockaded the Holy Loch nuclear submarine base in Scotland.
Prior to the September demonstrations around 50 members of the Committee were summonsed to appear at Bow Street magistrates’ court, including some of its well-known members, notably Russell and Scott, and spent a month in an open prison. Neither John nor Margaretta were among those summonsed, and talking to them afterwards I had the sense that they saw it as something of a slight! A subsequent call in December 1961 for 50,000 supporters, to blockade military bases, fell far short of this target, though it did lead to a highly publicized prosecution of six of the organizers, myself included, under the Official Secrets Act and prison sentences ranging from a year to eighteen months.
Some at the time felt the move from the city centres to the bases was a tactical error. Perhaps the move was premature. But when in response to the threat posed by the NATO Cruise and Pershing missiles, and the Soviet SS20s in the late 1970s and 1980s there was a world-wide resurgence in anti-nuclear campaigning, the women at Greenham Common, among them Margaretta and my wife Anne, showed that a mass sustained blockade and nonviolent occupation was possible and could have a significant political impact.
John was also a regular contributor in the 1960s to the weekly pacifist paper Peace News, and for a number of years was Chair of its Board of Trustees. His contributions to the paper were always lively and succinct, and he was never afraid to challenge received opinion either inside or outside the movement. His literary work too is imbued with anarchic energy and sense of the absurd.
I want, finally, to express my appreciation of the support that John and Margaretta have given me and Anne during various campaigns and trials and my admiration for their own involvement in anti-militarist and kindred campaigns in Ireland. The greatest tribute that the Irish authorities could now pay John would be to close Shannon Airport to the US military traffic. May I appeal, as someone with Irish as well as UK citizenship, to President Michael Higgins, who has an honorable record of speaking out against racism and military adventurism, to use whatever influence he can to achieve this end.
The Labour Party Conference & the Death of Irish Neutrality
Last month Cllr Colette Connolly put forward a resolution at Galway City Council opposing the use of Shannon airport as a strategic hub for the US military en route to war. It was defeated by the casting vote of a pathetic FF deputy mayor. GAAW respects the principled stand taken by Colette and her fellow councillors. We are also conscious that many rank-and-file Labour members support Irish neutrality. However, the problem is the Labour Party leadership: in opposition– as with the Greens – it purports to support neutrality. In reality – or in power – it works against neutrality. Wikileaks exposed the real character of Gilmore and his leadership: he tells lies to the Irish people (including Labour Party members) and confides the truth to the US ambassador.
Labour’s assent into government has not saved Irish neutrality. It continues to be crushed by the millions of US troops that have passed through Shannon airport en route to war; crushed to death by the millions of tons of weaponry that continue to be transported through Shannon airport and further crushed by the CIA “rendition” flights that have landed.
GAAW cannot allow Labour to hold its annual conference in the city without raising the issue of this government’s collusion in the “war of terror”. So, on Saturday 14th April 2012 those mourning the death of Irish neutrality are asked to assemble on Eyre Sq at 2pm sharp. Irish neutrality’s Tricolour-draped-coffin followed by the cortege will then proceed to Labour’s Conference in NUIG. Memoriam cards marking the death of our neutrality will be distributed on the day. Mourners will include a group of chained individuals in orange Guantanamo camp overalls.
Wikileaks: News from the Middle East
US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.
James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”
“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id5441475)
In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”
Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and currently co-chairs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.
During his involvement with Stratfor, Smith provided intelligence on missing surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) (doc-id 5321612) and allegedly “took part” in the killing of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. (doc-id 3980511)
By Antony Loewenstein: a Sydney-based independent freelance journalist, author, documentarian, photographer and blogger. www.antonyloewenstein.com
War Criminals: The ICC & US Courts
There has been much talk in the media over recent weeks about the conviction of a Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, and the so-called “Merchant of Death”, Viktor Bout, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the US justice system respectively. They are both perhaps war criminals. But the response to Lubanga’s conviction by one of his friends - quoted in the Guardian – hit the nail on the head: “You'll never see an American pass before the ICC.” The same too could be said for the US courts. The two biggest war criminals of the 21st century, George W. Bush and Tony Blair are deemed to be Western statesmen and therefore will never appear in any dock, the ICC’s or otherwise, for their crimes against humanity.
Remembering Gallipoli & the Futility of War
Eric Bogle’s: And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda