Nobel Peace Prize Medal Comes to Scottish Parliament

Scottish ICAN partners including Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre Coordinator Brian Larkin with Bill Kidd MSP holding the Nobel Peace Prize Medal

The Nobel Peace Prize medal, which was awarded to the the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in 2017, was displayed at Scottish Parliament on 12 June. Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre is one of five Scottish civil society groups that are among the 468 worldwide ICAN partners, who collectively share the Peace Prize. The medal was brought to a meeting of meeting of the Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament by ICAN Co-Chair Dr. Rebecca Johnson. The event coincieded with the Trump – Kim summit.

Dr. Rebecca Johnson, founder of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, reported on last month’s historic women’s walk into the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea and discussed the recent developments in the negotiations concerning the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the prospects that such events open.

In particular, Rebecca discussed what she believes to be essential points of the joint statement released by US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un after their historic meeting which took place the same morning. Dr Johnson stressed that although the statement might appear as not bringing much novelty to the table, it is essential as it establishes a new development of two people working together for peace and prosperity.

In this complicated situation, there are three main issues at stake for the Koreans. Firstly, there is a desire for a peace treaty as, since the end of the war in 1953, there has only been an armistice in the region. Rebecca recalled that, during the Korean war, there had been discussion in the American administration about the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Korea.

Secondly, Kim is interested in providing prosperity to North Korea for maintaining his position. Kim, a very young leader, is seeking recognition in a region, Asia, in which there is a culture of always looking up at the elderly. To last as a leader and live he needs the support of China and possibly of Japan so that he can achieve economic prosperity.

Thirdly, the negotiations may open up a way for the Koreans to open up the society and manage a transition from oppression. In the statement released at the end of the Trump-Kim summit, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reaffirms the 27th April Declaration released after the meeting between Kim and Moon in the denuclearised zone and commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Rebecca noted that every action will need to be built on what Kim and Moon agreed on and the two leaders must continue to be the central actors in the negotiations even though the American involvement is important and the contribution of Russia and China is necessary to achieve a lasting solution. Also, it would be positive if all the countries that were at war in Korea would sign as well.

Significantly, in this meeting, none of the actors put preconditions down and during the press conference which took place after the meeting stressed the fact that “war games” in Korea would end. This is important considering that the US has around 70 bases in Korea and that, even if nukes were removed after the Cold War, there are suspicions that US ships carrying nuclear weapons visited these bases a few months ago.

Thus, Rebecca concluded, optimism is possible, and experts suggest that disarmament will not necessarily require a long time. Still, it must be kept in mind that the Trump administration positions change quite rapidly and that, while negotiations with North Korea now seem to be on a positive track the US is simultaneously withdrawing from the Nuclear Deal which had been signed with Iran.

Rebecca also discussed the importance of the ICAN Nobel Peace Prize, which belongs to everyone who has worked for Nuclear Disarmament, and of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Still, she stressed that they will remain just a medal and a piece of paper if campaigning is not continued. The Scottish Parliament can play an essential role in the process by enacting legislation to implement the aims of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). There are steps the Scottish Government can take even within its devolved powers to confirm adherence to the Obligations listed in Article 1 of the TPNW, in particular to enact legislation confirming the Prohibitions on aiding anyone involved in the production, distribution and deployment of nuclear weapons. Such legislation would directly challenge UK basing of Trident nuclear weapons system at Faslane and the transport of nuclear weapons on Scotland’s roads.

At the same time, NGOs can get involved in actions such as petitioning for the UK government to adhere to the Treaty and talk about denuclearisation of the British Islands.

This report was compiled by Margherita Distrotti and Brian Larkin. 

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Conscientious Objectors Memorial Competition Now Open

CO Memorial Competition Now Open
Deadline for Applications 15 December

The Peace & Justice Centre and the Conscientious Objectors Memorial Committee are pleased to announce the Design Competition for a permanent Memorial to Conscientious Objectors – and all those who oppose wars, in all times and places – to be created in Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens.

Artists are invited to submit applications by 12 noon 15 December 2017. A shortlist of three or four artists will be engaged to create designs for the Memorial.

View and Download the Brief Here.
Queries should be directed to: COMemorial@peaceandjustice.org.uk

Background

Following approval of our petition for a memorial to conscientious objectors the City of Edinburgh has committed to work with us to find a suitable location for the memorial.

Conscientious Objectors to Military Service: Dyce Quarry Work Camp 1916

Our proposal for a site in Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens will be considered for approval when we submit a design. We aim to install the Memorial by April 2019, the centenary of the end of the First World War for COs who were released from prison in April 1919.

A World Heritage site visited by millions of people, Princes St Gardens is home to numerous war memorials and adjacent to Edinburgh Castle and the National War Memorial.

Located in the midst of eight memorials to those who fought and died in many wars, the CO Memorial will dramatically raise awareness of resistance to war and of the often overlooked fact that Britain was the first country to establish in law a right to conscientious objection to military service, a right that has since been recognised by all but one European country and the United Nations.

Opposition to the First World War and conscientious objection to conscription was a notable part of the social history across Britain, especially in Scotland, being rooted in social and political movements such as socialism, communism and nonconformist religious communities such as Quakers.

The Memorial will be as a space for public reflection on the moral implications of warfare and suggest that there is a better way, through peacebuilding and conflict resolution. It will be an enduring locus of reflection on the important role of those who resist dominant norms even in the face of ostracism, vilification and personal hardship. Such people have often led the way to changes in attitudes and social, political and cultural practices that are later recognised and accepted by the mainstream of society. The Memorial will assert the essential value of dissent, inviting reflection on the traditions of liberty, humanism, and internationalism that have shaped political and cultural norms central to democracy such as tolerance and diversity.

Across the UK there are thousands of war memorials, . Yet the fact that tens of thousands of British men and women have refused compulsory service is largely invisible. By virtue of its location in proximity to these prominent national war monuments, a memorial to COs will represent a respectful counterpoint, suggesting that there is another way to resolve conflicts than through war.

The CO Memorial Committee includes representatives from:

  • Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre
  • Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop
  • Edinburgh Stop the War
  • The Iona Community
  • Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh
  • Pax Christi UK
  • Quakers in Scotland
  • Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  • St Thomas Aquins Secondary School
  • University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Science
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Scottish Branch

Project Partners

Workers Education Association Scotland

School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

School of Art, University of Edinburgh

Further information on the CO Memorial project including names of individual members of the CO Memorial Steering Group can be found at: http://peaceandjustice.org.uk/peace-organisations/conscientious-memorial-project/

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Threatening Use of Nuclear Weapons Is Not OK

As Peace & Justice News goes to press the war of words between two apparently unstable heads of government has, once again, been ratcheting up. US President Donald Trump, speaking at the UN, demonstrated an astonishing lack of good sense, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea. When the North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho described Trump as a “mentally deranged person” on a “suicide mission” Trump tweeted back that Ri and Kim Jong-un “won’t be around much longer”. The undiplomatic exchange resembles a schoolyard shouting match between two little boys.  Such foolishness has no place in international relations, especially between the Heads of a nuclear superpower and a country close to acquiring nuclear weapons.

Demonstrating their prowess, US Air Force B-1B bombers flew provocatively close to North Korea’s borders. But, Trump, and it seems from these manoeuvres, the Pentagon do not understand that, regardless of US capabilities, there is no military solution to this conflict. That’s because of the mass of N Korean heavy artillery arrayed along the Demilitarized Zone, ready to rain destruction down on the people of Seoul.

The Peace & Justice Centre has joined in calls for the US to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. We have called on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises; encouraged China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States to consider the comprehensive approach for a North-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone; and encouraged the six countries to turn the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a formal end to the Korean War.

Trump has also suggested that the US will pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reinforced that stance in meetings with Iran’s Foreign Minister at the UN, arguing that Iran has not complied with the spirit of the agreement and that the agreement is not permanent. Yet Trump certified that Iran was in compliance, and the administration admits the agreement ensures that Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon during the lifetime of the agreement. For the US to withdraw would create a second nuclear crisis. Iran would very likely restart its nuclear programme and would soon have the capability to reach Israel with a nuclear weapon. Most mainstream arms control advocates and former national security advisers agree abandoning this agreement would be a foolish move.

Instead of threatening N Korea and talking about ending the Iran agreement the US should take its nuclear forces off hair trigger alert and join the more than 50 countries that have now signed the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. By doing so, it could signal to Iran, N Korea and any other would be nuclear powers that nuclear weapons cannot provide the basis for security and lead the way to a world free of the imminent threat of a nuclear holocaust.

Brian Larkin

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John Dear to speak at P&J AGM on Nonviolent Resistance in the Age of Trump

The Peace & Justice Centre is delighted to announce that John Dear will be our special guest speaker for our AGM on 13 July.

Long time activist, and movement organizer Fr. John Dear is the author of 35 books, including “Living Peace,” and “The Nonviolent Life.” He has been arrested more than 75 times. John was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu and is Outreach Coordinator of Campaign Nonviolence which coordinates hundreds of actions for peace and the environment each year.

A Catholic priest, he has served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, and after September 11, 2001, as one of the Red Cross coordinators of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center in New York City, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. He has worked in homeless shelters and soup kitchens, traveled in warzones and been arrested over 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war, including for a disarmament action – known as a Plowshares action.

John writes: “On Dec. 7, 1993, my friends Philip Berrigan, Lynn Fredriksson, Bruce Friedrich and I walked onto the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. at 4am, passed through thousands of soldiers in the middle of full-scale national war games, came upon an F-15E nuclear capable fighter bomber and hammered upon it to fulfill Isaiah’s Advent prophecy that someday, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.” John served nine months in prison with the renowned Catholic peace and disarmament activist Philip Berrigan for that action and was a very close friend of Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan.

John was a Jesuit priest for decades but was dismissed from the order for, according to the order, being “obstinately disobedient”.

In 2016 John took part in a Vatican conference called “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence” that included 80 participants from around the world who represented broad experiences in peacebuilding and active nonviolence in the face of violence and war.

The participants called on Pope Francis to consider writing an encyclical letter, or some other “major teaching document,” reorienting the church’s teachings on violence. This led to the MESSAGE OF POPE
FRANCIS 
for the 50th World Day of Peace 
1 January 2017: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace. 

Marie Denis, Co-President of Pax Christi International said Pope Francis makes “very clear” that active non-violence is not mere passivity or withdrawing from engagement in a very violent world. Rather, she says, It is a way of life and a spirituality, but also “a powerful set of tools to help us respond” to threats of extreme violence and danger. She says the Pope takes an important step in the direction of non-violence as a message for the Catholic community worldwide, showing that our way of engaging the world has to reflect the life and teachings of Jesus.

6pm. Informal gathering with light meal at the Peace and Justice Centre – an opportunity for networking and fellowship.

6:45pm John Dear’s talk at the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace.

8:30pm. P&J AGM.

Please register to our Facebook or Eventbrite event and share to spread the word!

 

John will be co-leading a Reclaiming Gospel Nonviolence Conference 14—16 July 2017 at St. Mary’s Monastery, Kinnoull, Perth, PH2 7BP. For more info on the conference see HERE. 

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Pancakes for Peace – 28th February 2017

Are you planning on having Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday this year?Why not invite some friends and neighbours around celebrate together with our free resource? Or if you don’t fancy cooking, you can print it out and take it to pancake night at the local pub. It includes ideas for prayer & action, plus a recipe for vegan pancakes.  Check it out and start thinking about what toppings you’d like to have.

Don’t forget to tweet your pictures @forpeacemaker using #PancakesForPeace.

Quiz (answers on reverse):

1. How many pancakes could we make with the cost of replacing Trident, Britain’s nuclear arsenal?

2. What is the fastest someone has completed a marathon whilst flipping a pancake?

3. How many words can you find using the letters in SHROVE TUESDAY?

4. Are you doing anything different for Lent this year?

5. How easy is it to write to your MP about the upcoming Nuclear Ban Treaty negotiations in March?

Find out more information here: Pancakes for Peace – 28th February 2017

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Ask Your MSPs to Call on Scottish Government to Recognise International Conscientious Objectors Day

Alison Johnstone MSP (Scottish Greens) has lodged a motion calling on Scottish Parliament to recognise International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 15 May.
DSC_0233The Peace and Justice Centre is urging all who share our vision of a world where conflicts are resolved without recourse to violence to contact their constituency and regional MSPs and ask them to support Motion S4M-15865. We want to thank Alison Johnstone for putting forward this motion.
The full text of the motion is as follows:
Motion S4M-15865: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 08/03/2016
Recognition of International Conscientious Objectors’ Day
support right to refuse to kill croppedThat the Parliament believes that the centenary of the First World War reminds people of the huge cost to human life on all sides of conflicts; notes the desirability of the resolution of international disputes through negotiation and peaceful means; recalls that more than 16,000 individuals refused military service in the First World War and that more than 60,000 refused in the Second World War, sometimes at great cost to themselves and their families, facing vilification in their communities, harsh conditions in prison and even death; recognises what it considers their courageous stance in refusing to take part in wars or preparations for war; recalls that conscientious objection to military service is recognised as a human right by the UN; considers that conscientious objectors and opponents of the First World War laid foundations for peace-building, the promotion of human rights and peaceful means of the resolution of conflicts; notes that the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow have granted public space to memorials to conscientious objectors, and calls on the Scottish Government to recognise International Conscientious Objectors’ Day in Scotland on 15 May, in this year and in all years, so that Scotland can be a beacon for peace and justice. The motion has so far been supported by: John Finnie, Drew Smith, Patrick Harvie and Jean Urquhart.Please contact your constituency and list MSPs and ask them to support Motion S4M-15865.To Find Your MSP please click here to visit the Scottish Parliament website Find Your MSP page where you can search by post code. There is a link for each MSP to email them as well as full contact details.The motion supplements the ongoing campaign for a memorial to conscientious objectors and people who oppose wars in Edinburgh. More information on the Edinburgh CO Memorial project can be found here.

Please note that everyone in Scotland has a Constituency MSP and seven Regional MSPs. You can then send each of them an email or letter. 

The motion will be open for signatures until the end of this Parliamentary session Wednesday 23 March. 

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