Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Nuclear Abolition Day: Security Council session clashes with UN High-Level Meeting

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from Unfold Zero

The UN General Assembly held a high level meeting on nuclear disarmament on Wednesday last week (September 26) to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders from around the world used the opportunity to promote key initiatives and measures for nuclear disarmament including the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, nuclear-weapon-free zones, de-alerting, no-first-use, stockpile reductions, the Korean peace and denuclearization process, the Iran nuclear nonproliferation deal, the recently adopted treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons and the global elimination of nuclear weapons through a nuclear weapons convention.

However, apart from India and Pakistan, the nuclear armed States were noticeably missing from the meeting. The P5 (China, France, Russia, UK and the USA) were instead down the hall in the Security Council chambers for a competing event on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction chaired by US President Donald Trump. Their absence from the High Level Meeting highlighted the fact that the P5 place very little priority on their obligations to eliminate their own weapons of mass destruction, focusing instead on preventing others from acquiring such weapons.


Photo by John Angelilio

Youth activist calls on states to ‘Move the Nuclear Weapons Money’

‘The United Nations and its member countries should focus more on disarmament for sustainable development’, says 18 year old environmental activist and youth leader Kehkashan Basu who was selected by the President of the UN General Assembly as one of the two representatives of civil society to address the September 26 UN High Level Meeting.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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‘Every second, a person dies of hunger. Which means that by the time I finish speaking, 500 more people would have died of hunger and starvation,’ Ms Basu told the UN session. ‘And yet the nuclear-armed States continue to spend billions of dollars for building nuclear stockpiles, ostensibly in the name of security, but in reality threatening current and future generations and violating the rights of children to a peaceful and non-irradiated planet.’

‘Our banks, universities, cities, pension funds and governments continue to invest in the corporations manufacturing and promoting the nuclear arms race for their own personal gain with no consideration for the ethics of investing in death,’ she said.

‘Civil society organisations, in cooperation with parliamentarians from around the world, have launched the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign to cut the $100 billion annual nuclear weapons budget and reallocate these resources into the Sustainable Development Goals and other areas of human and environmental need. This includes direct cuts to nuclear weapons budgets, and divestment from the nuclear weapons industry. Already four governments and a number of cities, banks and investment funds have adopted nuclear weapons divestment policies.’ (Click here to read the full speech and see the video of Ms Basu’s speech).

Ms Basu was also a keynote speaker at Youth, disarmament and sustainable devlopment, an international youth forum held in New York to commemorate UN Peace Day (Sep 21) and International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Special screenings of ‘The Man who saved the World’

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is held on September 26, the anniversary of the incident in 1983 when a nuclear war almost erupted by accident. On this day, the Soviet nuclear early warning center Serpukhov-15 detected ballistic missiles heading towards Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, duty officer at the time, reported a ‘false alarm’ despite the information, and probably averted a nuclear ‘retaliation’ from the Soviet Union.

The story of this incident, and the follow-up visit by Stanislav Petrov to the USA 30 years later, is told in the award winning movie ‘The Man Who Saved the World.’ The movie was shown in a number of special screenings around the world to commemorate the International Day.

USA: Campaign Nonviolence

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Common Dreams

On Saturday, Sept. 22 at 9 a.m., hundreds will rally and march [in Washington] from the Dr. King Statue (on the Southside of the Lincoln Memorial), to the White House for a vigil and nonviolent direct action. Speakers will call for an end to U.S. wars and nuclear weapons, racist policies, rampant greed and growing poverty, and ongoing environmental destruction, and for a new direction toward justice, disarmament and environmental protection. Some will engage in nonviolent direct action.


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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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At 10 a.m., everyone will walk in silence with signs from the Dr. King statue in procession past the Lincoln Memorial to Lafayette Park across from the White House, where they will gather for a legal vigil, to continue their call for an end to racism, greed, war and environmental destruction, and for new leadership and a new culture of nonviolence, with respect, dignity, rights for everyone and for the earth. Some people will then engage in nonviolent direct action at the White House.

This will be the first ever march from the Dr. King Statue to the White House.
The Sept. 22 rally and march to the White House culminates the fifth annual Campaign Nonviolence national week of action, from Sept. 15-22, when a hundred thousand people across the US will speak out publicly against war, poverty, racism, and environmental destruction, and for the coming of a new culture of peace and nonviolence in over 2600 events and march. For a list of events and contact information, see: www.campaignnonviolence.org.

“This week, the president said that protests should be illegal. The right to protest peacefully is at the heart of our country. In that spirit of peaceful dissent, we gather at the Dr. King statue to reclaim Dr. King’s peaceful vision of a new culture of justice and nonviolence, to denounce the violence, greed, racism, wars, and environmental destruction which the United States government is relentlessly pursuing, and to call for a new direction, where our country seeks to make justice and peace for every human being and environmental protection its first priority,” said Rev. John Dear, long time activist and co-founder of Campaign Nonviolence.

Philippine troops, Muslim rebels mark Eid Al-Adha

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Maecy Alviar for the Andalou Agency

In a historic solidarity event, the Philippine military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) gathered on Saturday [25 August] to celebrate a Muslim holiday in the southern Philippines.  


Moro Muslims perform the Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) prayer at the orphanage opened by Turkey’s IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation in Cotabato, Philippines on August 21, 2018. ( Ahmet Furkan Mercan – Anadolu Agency )

Maminta Dimakuta, the mayor of Tagoloan Lanao, welcomed the government troops and the country’s largest Moro separatist group to the del Norte province, touting the harmonious relationship of Christians and Muslims in the town despite cultural and religious differences.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved in the Philippines?

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Brig. Gen. Ramiro Manuel Rey and Col.Thomas Sedano, representatives from the soldiers’ side, expressed their gratitude to the town officials for organizing the celebration of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha.

“I’ve long been dreaming of joining with MILF fighters in an event like this,” Sedano said, as quoted by GMA News.

The joint celebration also served to pay thanks for the milestone in the peace process in the southern Philippines, said Dimakuta.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law, the fulfillment of the 2014 peace deal between the national government and the MILF, was signed in June by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The measure for greater autonomy creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, a region with more political and fiscal powers including a bigger annual block grant equivalent to 5 percent of the total national internal revenue collection.

Eritrea hosts peace meeting between Ethiopia govt and Tigray ‘rebels’

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban for Africa News

Eritrea on Tuesday [28 August] hosted reconciliation meeting between the Ethiopian government and a rebel group belonging to the far north Tigray region.  

According to Information Minister Yemane Meskel, representatives from Addis Ababa led by the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Service met with a delegation of the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement, TPDM.

Whiles the Ethiopian intelligence chief led the government team, the TPDM was led by its chairman Mokonen Tesfay.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

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This is a continuation reconciliation efforts led by Asmara between Addis Ababa, Ethiopian regional governments and rebel groups that have been based in Eritrea.

So far, Asmara has been the venue of meetings between Ethiopia and rebel groups from the Oromia and Amhara regions.

On August 16, representatives of the Amhara Region and the Amhara Democratic Forces Movement, (ADFM), signed a Reconciliation Agreement in Asmara today. The Agreement provided for the ADFM to pursue its political activities in Ethiopia through peaceful means.

In early August, Ethiopia and the Oromo Liberation Front, OLF signed a Reconciliation Agreement.The deal was reached between President of the Oromo Region, Mr. Lemma Mergesa & OLF Chairman, Mr. Dawd Ibsa.

It provided for i) termination of hostilities; ii) that the OLF will conduct its political activities in Ethiopia through peaceful means. The two sides also agreed: (iii) to establish a Joint Committee to implement the agreement. Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu participated in the meeting.

World BEYOND War annual global conference, Toronto, September 21-22

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An announcement from World Beyond War

Join World BEYOND War for our annual global conference in Toronto on September 21 and 22, 2018, at OCAD University (Ontario College of Art and Design University), 100 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T 1W1, Canada.

At #NoWar2018 we will explore how the rule of law has been used both to restrain war and to legitimize it — and how we can re-design systems to abolish the institution of war and uphold human and ecological justice.


Video for the conference

The conference will take place on Friday September 21 (5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., doors open at 4:00 p.m.) and Saturday September 22. (9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., doors open at 8:00 a.m.).

BEFORE THE CONFERENCE:

Thursday, September 20, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Lambert Lounge, on the first floor of the main building at OCAD University: Inside Iran: Exclusive Book Talk with CODEPINK Co-Founder Medea Benjamin. RSVP.

Friday, September 21, 1:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m. Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW)’s Annual General Meeting at 519 Church St, Room 301 in Toronto. Open to the public.

AFTER THE CONFERENCE:

Sunday, September 23 at 10:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. “Inspirational Women Brunch: Shaping Peace Through Feminism” hosted by Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW), with special guests Medea Benjamin and Ray Acheson at Metro Hall, Room 308, 55 John Street, Toronto. Join #WomenShapingPeace for brunch to talk peace over pancakes and learn how you can take action to make our feminist vision of peace a reality. Purchase tickets here.

Sunday, September 23, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Blue Scarf Peace Walk. Meet at Grange Park on Beverly St. just south of Dundas St. W. Get a PDF flyer. Buy some blue scarves.

List of confirmed speakers

Conference Schedule:

September 21, 2018, International Day of Peace

4:00 p.m. Doors open for checking in (and picking up boxed dinners), tabling, meeting and greeting.

5:00 p.m. Welcome by Leah Bolger, Peter Jones; and Iehnhotonkwas Bonnie Jane Maracle providing land recognition. Brief reports from World BEYOND War chapters around the world. In Butterfield Park.

5:45 p.m. Opening remarks by Christine Ahn and Ravyn Wngz. Moderator: David Swanson. In Butterfield Park.

7:00 p.m. Music of Tom Neilson and Lynn Waldron. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

7:45 p.m. — 9:15 p.m. Plenary: Using the Rule of Law Against War with Gail Davidson, Daniel Turp, and Ray Acheson. Moderator: Kevin Zeese. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

September 22, 2018, Saturday

8:00 a.m. Doors open for tabling, light breakfast fare.

9:00 a.m. Plenary: Canadian Weapons, Wars, and Indigenous Rights with Tamara Lorincz, William Geimer, and Lee Maracle. Moderator: Lyn Adamson. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

10:15 a.m. Break.

10:30 a.m. Plenary: Global Governance: Actual and Potential with Kent Shifferd, James Ranney, and Branka Marijan. Moderator: Tony Jenkins. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

11:45 a.m. Break.

12:00 p.m. Lunch. Boxed lunches provided. Optional small-group discussions:

Intersectionality: A brainstorm session on “fusion organizing”: how to connect the dots and foster collaboration between the anti-war movement and the movements for ecological, economic, racial, and social justice. Facilitator: Greta Zarro. In Butterfield Park.
Creative Activism: Brainstorming ideas for creative, nonviolent action. Facilitator: Medea Benjamin. In Atrium.

Popcorn & a Movie: “The World Is My Country.” Broadway actor Garry Davis, desperate to stop a war, pulls off an act of political comedy so gutsy and eye-opening that it sparks a huge movement for World Citizenship — and legalizing peace! Martin Sheen calls this lost piece of history a “roadmap to a better future.” It’s a fun and entertaining outreach tool to draw new people into WBW. Q & A with the filmmakers – Melanie Bennett and Arthur Kangis. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

How the Internet Changes Activism: It’s a new world for those of us who want to change it. Facebook, Twitter, email, cryptocurrency and Internet privacy are some of the hot topics we’ll talk about in an open dialogue led by two maintainers of the World BEYOND War website and social media channels. Facilitators: Donnal Walter, Marc Eliot Stein. In Room 187.
Ideas collected by facilitators will be shared through WBW website.

Upgrading the Kellogg-Briand Pact with Kent Shifferd and David Swanson.

This workshop will cover a brief history of the Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928 treaty to end war, its current status, what has and has not been accomplished, and what we can do to make it more effective including bringing a new treaty to the UN General Assembly. Room 230.

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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1:30 p.m. Workshops:

Disrupting the Business Models of War with Peter Jones, OCAD University and Stephen Sillett.

This workshop looks at long-term strategies for facilitating a transition to new public policy and industry models that might replace war-making as a core function of Western governments.

We’ll consider how the business of the military and the industrial complex are entwined in a long-standing business model of publicly funded international violence that requires a constant flow of new enemies and targets served to the public payers. Large group and small group sessions will design and propose alternatives to the post-war, state-industrial business model which has become extremely expensive and yields poor return on public investment. Room 506.

Departments and Other National Infrastructures for Peace – A Way Forward with Saul Arbess and Anne Creter.

This workshop will present the movement for departments of peace (DoP) and progress made to date, with four countries having DoPs and others with proposed legislation, highlighting Canada and the U.S. The conversation will be broadened by consideration of other national infrastructures for peace(I4P) and a UN resolution calling for I4Ps in all member states, to counteract the military infrastructures for war and violence and to provide a legal framework for conflict resolution by peaceful means at home and abroad. Room 542.

War Tax Resistance: Legality, Practicality, Value with Doug Hewitt-White.

There are active Peace Tax Fund campaigns worldwide. Tax resistance to paying for the military began in Canada over 200 years ago. Legislation has been proposed here in Canada and several other countries. Yet legally redirecting the military portion of our taxes to support peace programs is not yet sanctioned. This workshop will examine and discuss the legal basis for conscientious objection to military service and taxation. Is there a fundamental human right at stake? How practical is tax resistance? How effective is military tax redirection at advancing the cause of peace? Is it an important and valuable strategy? Room 556.

Citizen Action Using the Law with Daniel Turp, and Gail Davidson.

This session will provide participants with an understanding of how individuals and groups can initiate legal actions under domestic and international law to oppose war and associated illegalities of torture and arms sales. We will discuss civil disobedience, the use of universal jurisdiction, the International Criminal Court, Citizens’ Tribunals, the United Nations treaty monitoring bodies, available remedies, and issues of standing in Canadian courts. We’ll evaluate lessons learned from past examples of such initiatives in Canada and around the world. Room 544.

World Peace through World Citizenship and the Global Rule of Law with David Gallup.

What do you think are the most important questions of the 21st century to achieve a sustainable, just and peaceful world? Come prepared with ideas to discuss. This workshop will explore holistic alternatives to the divisive politics of nationalism. We will contemplate how to create spaces (social, legal, political, governmental, and ethical) where humans can interact peacefully and sustainably with each other and the earth. We will examine how world citizenship and world law provide a better alternative to national citizenship and national law. This session will end with a discussion about how world peace, as well as human and environmental sustainability, depend upon the advancement of common world law. Room 554.

2:45 p.m. Break.

3:00 p.m. Workshops:

Organizing 101: Strategy, Intersectionality, and Millennials with Greta Zarro.
In this session, we will discuss the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing, with a focus on campaign development. We’ll identify effective strategies & tactics for engaging community members and influencing decision-makers. We’ll also look more broadly at movement-building from the perspective of “fusion” organizing and youth activism. Room 506.

Divestment from War Profiteers with Medea Benjamin.

Weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and many others have been making a killing on killing by profiting from the death and destruction that their products cause. Enough is enough! In this workshop, learn about and engage with CODEPINK’s Divest from the War Machine campaign. This divestment campaign calls for a radical reimagination of American priorities. Revoking the power of those who profit most from war-making is the first step in transforming our nation and ending the spread of violence, oppression, and death at home and abroad. We will strategize how to best bring the Divest campaign into your community. Room 230.

“Push Pins” Holding Up The Map of Empire: U.S. Military Bases Around the World with Leah Bolger.

How many foreign military bases does the U.S. have? 100? 300? The answer is over 800! Why does it have so many? We’ll talk about the role that these bases play in U.S. foreign policy, and their effect on global relations, as well as efforts to close them down. Room 544.
Organizing Locally to Block National Support for a War with Shreesh Juyal and Rose Dyson.
In 2003, Prof. Juyal collaborated with 88 cities’ community groups and organized mass rallies which successfully persuaded the Government of Canada to not take part in the Iraq War. The belligerent pressure of the United States on its NATO ally Canada did not succeed. This workshop will strategize and plan for application of a similar model in Canada and other nations around the world to resist current and future wars, bases, and war preparations. Room 556.

Peoples’ Tribunals with Tom Kerns.

Peoples’ tribunals provide a powerful platform for championing human rights. As a tactic in the activist toolbox, peoples’ tribunals can help increase States’ and non-state actors’ recognition of and respect for human rights, and help reduce the likelihood of war. This session will look at examples of peoples’ tribunals around the world in the past several decades. It will also more fully describe the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Session on Human Rights, Fracking, and Climate Change. Room 554.

Learning Peace in Schools with Tony Jenkins.

This workshop will analyze the contradictory ways in which children are being taught to embrace both war and peace in the schools. We’ll examine the increasingly bellicose content of textbooks and various military programs in the nation’s schools, while looking at exciting developments in teaching peace and nonviolent conflict resolution. Room 542.
4:15 p.m. Break.

4:30 p.m. Reports Back from Workshops, Discussion of Plans. Moderator: Marc Eliot Stein. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

5:45 p.m. Break.

6:00 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. Energizing the War Abolition Movement in Canada and Globally with Kevin Zeese, Yves Engler, and Azeezah Kanji. Moderator: Greta Zarro. In Main Auditorium (Room 190).

Registration

Chiapas, Mexico: Arms exchange supports peace and security, says Velasco

. DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from NVI Noticias (translation by CPNN)

With the aim of raising awareness among Chiapas families and as a preventive measure, Governor Manuel Velasco Coello has presided over the Exchange of Arms 2018 campaign, highlighting how the active participation of citizens contributes to Chiapas having one of the lowest criminal indices in the country.

Accompanied by the Commander of the VII Military Region, Carlos Ramón Carrillo del Villar and the Attorney General of the State, Raciel López Salazar, the State Executive said that since the beginning of his government, a security system has been established by which various institutions safeguard the tranquility and harmony, thereby promoting a culture of peace in all the regions of Chiapas,.

He noted that year after year the Government of the State together with the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), have conducted this campaign in which Chiapas families deliver some weapon they have in their home in exchange for household appliances or food pantries, process in which, said the president, women have played an important role with a 70 percent presence.

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(Click here for the Spanish original of this article.)

Question related to this article:

“Put down the gun and take up the pen”, What are some other examples?

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“The initiative has been coordinated among the three orders of government. Household appliances are exchanged for all possible weapons in the municipalities with the highest crime rate.

Fortunately, the response of the citizens has been great, especially the participation of women who do not hesitate to bring arms which are then destroyed by the Mexican Army,” he said.

On this occasion, the arms exchange has taken place in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Tapachula, where since the beginning of the campaign, 54 weapons have been exchanged, including14 loaders, 472 cartridges and three grenades.

It is worth mentioning that from 2013 to 2017, more than 95 thousand weapons and artifacts have been collected, with the participation of 24 municipalities.

Participating agencies include the Sedena, the General State Prosecutor’s Office, the General Secretariat of the Government, the Secretariat of Civil Protection, the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection, the Executive Secretariat of the State Public Security System and the Town Councils.

The General Secretary of the Government, Mario Carlos Culebro Velasco, assisted in this event, along with Octavio Lozoya Uribe, Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection; Neftalí del Toro Guzmán, Mayor of Tapachula and Moisés Grajales Monterrosa, Secretary of Security and Transit of the municipality of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, among others.

USA: Trump Parade Canceled — Peace Parade Goes Forward

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by David Swanson, World Beyond War

A few days after an over-hyped white supremacist rally in Washington, D.C., was massively outnumbered by people opposed to racism, and one day after 187 organizations (more than that now) publicly committed to turning out people to counter Donald Trump’s planned weapons parade with a parade for peace in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, and less than a day after the U.S. military said the weapons parade would now cost $92 million (which in fairness is a legitimate rounding up from the earlier estimate of $12 million according to the rules of Pentagon math), the parade of death and war profiteering that was threatened for November 10th in Washington, D.C., has been canceled, or (as these things are always announced) “postponed.”


Far from assuming no danger of the Trumparade actually being resurrected, organizers of the peace parade are planning to move forward as planned with a celebration of both Armistice Day and the prevention of the disastrous scheme to roll a giant middle finger to the world down Pennsylvania Avenue in the form of the weapons of mass destruction built by some of the top contributors to U.S. election campaigns, dealers of instruments of death to dictatorships around the world, and prospective members of the nascent Space Force.

Events are being planned for the weekend of Armistice Day in Washington, D.C., and around the world. The plan is to . . .

Celebrate No Trump Military Parade in Washington on November 10!

Celebrate Armistice Day and Peace Everywhere on November 11!

Sign up for any event on the world map here, or add a new one.

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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If you can be in Washington, D.C., to celebrate preventing the Trump military parade, also sign up here.

Also, join in the Women’s March on the Pentagon on October 21-22.

Come to a free peace concert in Washington D.C., November 9, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. planned by Code Pink.

We’ll also be part of Catharsis on the Mall, November 10-12, in Washington, D.C.

Note also that the Kennedy Center in DC is opening a show about the WWI Christmas Truces on the evening of November 10.

Veterans For Peace is planning a silent march to all the monuments in Washington, D.C., on November 11.

November 11, 2018, is Armistice Day 100, a century since World War I was ended at a scheduled moment (11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918). For decades in the United States, as elsewhere, Armistice Day was a holiday of peace, of sad remembrance and joyful ending of war, of a commitment to preventing war in the future. The holiday’s name was changed in the United States during the U.S. war in Korea to “Veterans Day,” a largely pro-war holiday on which some U.S. cities forbid Veterans For Peace groups from marching in their parades. Trump had planned for this year a super-pro-war weapons parade — a Trumparade — for Washington D.C. on Saturday November 10th, the day before Armistice Day.

Our goal (now partially met) was to get the weapons parade (until recently planned for November 10th) canceled but to carry through with our own peaceful Armistice Day celebration in Washington, D.C., and everywhere else on earth. If the Trumparade had not been canceled, our goal was to be bigger and make a more impressive showing for peace and friendship than the weapons parade made for war and hatred and profiteering greed.

We need your help planning Armistice Day / Remembrance Day events everywhere on earth, and adding our presence to those already scheduled. If you can start an event or a contingent to participate in a larger event, we can help you. The first step is: please enter it into our system so that it shows up on our map for people to find.

A ‘new dawn’ for Mindanao’s Bangsamoro

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Zamboanga Today

In a historic event, the Philippines’ one-time largest Muslim rebel group presented a landmark law last August 8, 2018 which will give Moro people greater autonomy in ruling their homeland in Mindanao.

Congress’ ratification of Bangsamoro and its eventual signing into law by President Rodrigo Duterte came as a huge victory for the Moro Islamic Libetation Front (MILF), which had been waging a rebellion seeking autonomy or independence in southern areas that they regard as their ancestral homeland.


Poster for film Bangsamoro: The Quest for Peace in Mindanao

The presentation developed after President Duterte led the ceremonial signing of the BOL in Malacañang three weeks ago after its signing was delayed due to the abrupt change of leadership in the House of Representatives.

It will be recalled that during his presidential campaign in 2016, Duterte, then mayor of Davao City, said he would work out for the grant of self-governance, in the context of federalism, to Mindanao’s Bangsamoro sectors, if elected president.

“There shall be a Bangsamoro country to finally end the decades-old conflict that is rooted in the Bangsamoro’s fight for self-determination and the recognition of their unique identity,” Duterte said, as he hoped it will help correct the historical injustices committed against the Moros.

The first Philippine President from Mindanao said: “May this (Bangsamoro law) serve as the final trajectory for the attainment of genuine peace, stability, [and] good governance in Muslim Mindanao. Together, let us shatter the dark clouds that once loomed over our nation for generations, welcome the dawn of a brighter future not only for the Bangsamoro people, but for all peace loving Filipinos.”

Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BOL), had called the ratified law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) an advent of a new era for Mindanao.

“It’s a new dawn for Bangsamoro in Mindanao,” he said following the ratification of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. “The MILF and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) are ready to work with the Philippine Government especially in the conduct of the plebiscite that will be held around November.”

Admitting that the “Bangsamoro was the hardest bill he ever tackled, the Mindanao lawmaker said its preamble was contentious.

“They were about to walk away. We were able to convince MILF to step back from independence bid. We will have a parliamentary system in Bangsamoro region. There will be 80 members of parliament under Bangsamoro region. There will be a chief minister,  two deputy chiefs and a ‘wali’ (ceremonial leader).”

Senator Zubiri assured the Bangsamoro people that in the Senate they will exert all efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the BOL.

This includes the budget for the plebiscite and the yearly Block Grant allocation, as well as the national program that will benefit the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, according to Zubiri.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved in Mindanao?

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“I will continue to champion our cause in the Senate for the continued peace and prosperity for your region and the whole of Mindanao,” he added.

Without any doubt, according to political observers, President Duterte made true of his promise to the Bangsamoro people and his commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process.

In a statement, Usec. Nabil Tan, deputy presidential peace adviser and chair of the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF peace accord, said the passage of the BOL is the start of a new chapter in the lives of the Bangsamoro people.

“This is just the beginning… Much work still needs to be done. We must now double our efforts,” said Tan.

Tan noted that both the Senate and House of Representatives made sure the landmark measure was crafted “within the bounds of the Philippine Constitution.”

He said the BOL is a vast improvement over the ARMM Organic Law (RA 9054) and the final peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MNLF in 1996.

“This is ARMM plus-plus,” Tan said, explaining that with the passage of the BOL, more resources will now be poured into the region to accelerate its economic development.

These resources, he said, include an annual Block Grant that will be automatically appropriated to the BARMM government to fund its operations for the next 20 years.

Tan said a Special Development Fund will also be provided to fast track the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas in the region. “We now have this law. The challenge now is how to make the Bangsamoro government work effectively,” he said.

For his part, chair of the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF peace accord Mohagher Iqbal said the passage of the BOL signifies a milestone that was achieved by the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in the peace process.

He paid tribute to those who made huge sacrifices that led to the approval of the BOL, particularly members of the MILF leadership who have passed away.

He also lauded members of Congress for their firm support to the law, which he said aims to provide the Moro people meaningful autonomy and enable them to chart their political future through the democratic process.

“We urge you to value this agreement. This peace process is for everyone,” Iqbal said.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman said the passage of the BOL is a truly momentous occasion for the Bangsamoro people.

“We have reached this point through sacrifice,” he stressed.

Hataman lauded the Philippine government and the MILF for ensuring the approval of the law, which is expected to bring a long-lasting peace and sustainable development in the region.

He said the passage of the BOL is not meant to diminish the accomplishments of the ARMM government but seeks to build on its gains over the years.

“We are not erasing the ARMM,” Hataman said.

The ARMM governor said that the greater challenge confronting the Bangsamoro people now is how to ensure the successful implementation of the law.

“The new law is now here. Let us unite behind it. This is a better law,” he said. Hader Glang

Ethio-Eritrean thaw heading for democratic Horn and stronger IGAD

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Yosef Ketema in The Ethiopian Herald

The recent  and landmark  rapprochement  of Ethiopia and Eritrea will play crucial role in  bringing about genuine  and home-grown democracy as well as strengthening the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Scholars say.    

For Addis Ababa University African Political Studies lecturer Tewodros Mebratu,  Ethiopia’s  ongoing political reforms and the rapid  thaw between Ethiopia and Eritrea  after  two decades of no peace-no war situation, have several positive spillover effects in  the  Horn of  Africa and beyond.

He says : “During the past two decades, many countries in East Africa, Middle East and others used to be in diplomatic dilemma as they could  not confidently  decide with whom they could forge warmer ties with either Ethiopia and Eritrea.” 

He, moreover, says because of the two countries’ hostile relations, insurgent groups and terrorists had been taking advantages of the situation  in carrying out various terrorist acts in the region. 

“Also regional organizations like IGAD had  been accustomed to lack of consistency in  decision -making  on various  regional and international  matters.

And this in turn has played big role in weakening IGAD’s influence on  building sustainable peace and economic partnership with other regional players, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and The Southern African Development Community (SADC) which  are relatively successful in reinforcing peace and stability as well as cooperation among their members,” he  points out.

He, therefore, notes that the thawing of the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea will benefit both countries economically, socially and politically as their priorities are definitely  going to  be realizing peace, regional cooperation and prosperity.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

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“Hopefully, the ending of the state of war between these two  countries will give impetus   to Eritrea  in a bid to  put into action  its  homegrown  democracy as  the country’s existential  security  risk has been removed for good.” 

Regarding the rejoining  of Eritrea  to IGAD, he says it will strengthen this regional organization’s activities  towards ensuring peace and  stability  in South Sudan and Somalia, which have been  the headache of  the Horn region for a long time.

“So long as IGAD member states work in unison against poverty, corruption and foreign intervention, IGAD will get the chance and capacity to positively intervene in issues like South Sudan and can reinforce stability for the region’s habitants,” Tewodros  notes.

Humanitarian Expert Mulualem Getachew, who works for the  International Organizations Affairs division at the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his part says : “The  Ethio-Eritrea Stalemate that lasted for nearly two decades had created havoc in  the efforts of  strengthening   IGAD’s role in  bringing economic integration among  member states. Plus these two countries’ rivalry  used to have great impacts against settling the conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia.”

He therefore says that from now on, it will be  easier for IGAD to mobilize its community and to solve burning issues like South Sudan’s case and channel its full effort in bringing sustainable development in the Horn region.  

If the current  promising political reforms in Ethiopia move  at a good pace , the Horn  region  will have bright future of democratization, he says adding : “Now, we can unequivocally say  that the right time has  come to fight terrorism.”

He  also  underscores  that  it was  difficult and  impossible to dismantle terrorism during  the past  two decades as Eritrea remained passive  in fighting terrorism.

Therefore, both Tewodros and Mulalem indicate the current political situations in Ethiopia and Eritrea have brought great opportunities for East African countries and IGAD  in line with  ensuring genuine  democracy, holding  similar stands on various regional and international agendas and speeding  up the ongoing  political as well as economic integration of the region.

Eritreans and Ethiopians in Khartoum rally in support of peace deal

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Shabait: Eritrea Ministry of Information

Eritreans and Ethiopians in Khartoum and its environs have jointly expressed support for the joint peace and friendship agreement signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia on 9 July in Asmara.

At the rally that was organized by the communities of Eritrea and Ethiopia on 3 August, thousands of citizens of both countries expressed support to the historic agreement reached between President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to normalize relation and they pledged to play due part for its success.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

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Speaking at the event, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, Charge d’Affairs at the Eritrean Embassy in Sudan, noting that the agreement the two countries reached will help make up years of lost opportunities of cooperation and partnership, reminded all citizens to play due part to that effect.

Expressing his conviction that the peace deal the two leaders reached without the involvement of a third party will ensue sustainable solution, the Charge d’Affairs at the Embassy of Ethiopia in Sudan, Mr. Amsalu Hatie said that the peaceful rally both Eritreans and Ethiopians in Khartoum have conducted in support of the peace deal attests to the desire of the two peoples for peace and cooperation.

Besides the rally, the communities of Eritrea and Ethiopia in Khartoum and its environs have handed over Letter of Support to the Charge d’Affairs of both countries’ Embassies expressing their support to the peace and friendship agreement.