Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

UNAC statement: Ban nuclear weapons starting with the US! Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A statement from the United National Antiwar Coalition

On August 6, we will once again recognize one of the most horrendous events ever to take place in human history. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the largely residential city of Hiroshima. Three days later they dropped a second nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. As many as 250,000 people, men, women and children were annihilated and many more died subsequently from the wounds, radiation poisoning and radiation-induced cancers. The United States is the only country to ever drop a nuclear bomb on people.

The stated reason for this barbaric act was to hasten the end of World War II. But many historians believe that Japan was ready to surrender before the dropping of the bomb especially once the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan and moved its forces into Manchuria. Germany had already surrendered, and Japan stood alone. At the time, some argued that the bomb should be dropped in Tokyo Bay in the water where it would have done far less damage and Japan’s leaders could see its destructive potential, but the decision was made to drop it on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. Once was not enough, they had to do it twice.


Many people now believe that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not to end WWII, which was in its final days but to start the Cold War and show the Soviet Union and the world what the US could do if any country dared to oppose it.

One also wonders if dropping the bomb on non-white people played a role. Were Japanese lives valued less by the white supremacist US government, which maintained a segregated military during World War II? After all, people of Japanese descent, including US citizens were put in internment (concentration) camps in the US while people of German descent were not.

There was also serious consideration by the US of using nuclear weapons in the Korean war. The US actually sent the B29 bombers used to drop the bombs on Japan to a military installation in Okinawa along with the nuclear bombs and the fissile cores needed to make them work. This was in preparation for their possible use in the war. President Truman told a press conference in November 1950 that he would take whatever steps were necessary to win in Korea, including the use of nuclear weapons. General Douglas MacArthur, who was the “supreme commander” of the US led forces in Korea disagreed with Truman on the use of nuclear weapons in the war. So, Truman fired MacArthur and replaced him with General Matthew Ridgway, who was given “qualified authority” to use the bombs if he felt they were necessary.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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The problem the US administration faced with in the use of the atomic bomb in Korea were two-fold. The first was that the US public and certainly the people of the world were horrified after seeing the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Much of this horror was accredited to the book Hiroshima by John Hershey which was published in its entirety in the New Yorker magazine in 1949. The book described the destruction and told the story of 6 survivors of the bombing. It led to a groundswell of opposition to nuclear weapons. The second problem for the US administration was that in 1949 the Soviet Union conducted their first tests of an atomic bomb, and the assessment was that they soon would have a workable weapon. Although nuclear weapons were not used in Korea, the military did several test-runs with their B29 bombers carrying conventional bombs.

Unlike WWII, the United States has consistently refused to end the Korean war. To the US government, it is still going on and they still intend to win. The US maintains a large troop presence in Korea at the border with the North and has conducted annual “war games,” which many consider practice invasions of the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK), AKA, North Korea. These “war games,” typically include scenarios in which the US uses nuclear weapons against the DPRK. In recent years the US has provocatively sent nuclear capable bombers within 75 miles of the border with the DPRK. Yet in the upside-down logic of US Imperialism and its corporate media it is not the war games, the US troops on the border, or the nuclear capable flights that are provocative but the clearly defensive nuclear program of the DPRK.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened the nuclear arms race that has led to today’s reality where it is possible to kill off the entire population of the world several times over. This is supposed to make us safer.

But the nuclear arms race was always one-sided, with the US making the new and more advanced systems, and then the Soviet Union and later China taking steps to do the same to gain parity. After the development of the atomic bomb, the US made the more powerful hydrogen bomb, then the Soviets did the same. The US then made missile delivery system and multiple warhead missiles, nuclear submarines, etc. and then others scrambled to gain parity. And now the US has announced it will develop a space force, so other countries feel the need to find a way to counter or do the same. Without the investment of money and effort that was put into these weapons of mass destruction, the world may have been able to address global warming, hunger, poverty, etc. That would have made us safer.

In recent years the U.S. has unilaterally withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, has initiated a $1.5 Trillion program to modernize the US nuclear arsenal and started the creation of the new military space force.

For these reasons, the United National Antiwar Coalition sees the main danger of nuclear war coming from the United States and believes that we in the US have a special obligation to the world to oppose that danger.

Ban nuclear weapons starting with the US!
Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nagasaki Peace Declaration

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A declaration by TAUE Tomihisa Mayor of Nagasaki

This year saw the passing of a Catholic monk. OZAKI Toumei spent his whole life following in the footsteps of Father Maximilian Kolbe, the man who was called the “Saint of Auschwitz.” Brother Ozaki spoke out about his experiences in the atomic bombing up until just before his life came to a close at the age of ninety-three. In his diary he left behind these words:

The countries of the world, all of them, must completely abolish nuclear weapons or there will be no peace on earth. Nuclear weapons are not conventional bombs. Only those who experienced the atomic bombings can understand the terror inherent in radiation. Parents, children, loved ones and many others were killed by these bombs. In order to see that they are not used again I keep saying, “This is wrong! This is wrong!” I keep screaming for the abolition of nuclear weapons.


Those of us who survived the hell of the atomic bombings want to make sure that we have peace without nuclear weapons before we die.

The “peace without nuclear weapons” that Brother Ozaki continued to call for has not as yet been realized. However, the wish he had has borne fruit in the form of a certain treaty.

This year marks the 76th year since humankind experienced the tragedy of the atomic bombings and we are now standing on a new horizon with regard to nuclear weapons. When the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force this January, it was the first time in human history that there had been an international law clearly stating that nuclear weapons are unequivocally illegal.

The process to make this newly-established treaty grow into a universal rule for the world and realize a world free of nuclear weapons will now begin. The point of departure will be the first meeting of state parties to the treaty, which will be held next year.

Conversely, however, the danger of nuclear weapons continues to grow. While the nuclear-armed nations have a responsibility to uphold the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and reduce nuclear weapons, moves such as the public announcement by the UK about increasing the number of nuclear warheads in that country show that dependence on such weapons is actually increasing. Furthermore, the competition to replace existing nuclear weapons with more sophisticated weapons and develop new types of nuclear weapons increases.

In order to follow a single path toward a world free of nuclear weapons amidst these two conflicting movements, world leaders must commit to nuclear arms reductions and build trust through dialogue, and civil society must push them in this direction.

I hereby appeal to the Government of Japan and members of the National Diet:

As the country that is most aware of the tragic consequences of nuclear weapons, please join as an observer to the first meeting of state parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in order to look into ways to develop this treaty. With regard to the stipulation in the treaty to provide assistance to victims of the use or testing of nuclear weapons, surely this is an area where Japan and its government can contribute more than any other country. In addition, please sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and see to its ratification at the earliest possible date.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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While adhering to the war-renouncing principle of peace in the Japanese Constitution, please look into building a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia that would create a “non-nuclear umbrella” instead of a “nuclear umbrella” and be a step in the direction of a world free of nuclear weapons.

I hereby appeal to the leaders of nuclear-armed nations and countries under their nuclear umbrellas:

You must face the reality that thinking of nuclear weapons as necessary to defend your countries under “nuclear deterrence” actually makes the world a more dangerous place. I ask you to see that substantial progress towards nuclear disarmament is made at the next NPT Review Conference, starting with greater steps by the U.S. and Russia to reduce nuclear weapons.

To everyone living on this earth:

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have experienced on a global scale the loss of everyday aspects of our lives that we previously took for granted. We have learned that in order to overcome this crisis it is necessary for each and every one of us to think of ourselves as concerned parties and act appropriately. Now we all ponder together the question of how we can build an even better future when the pandemic is over instead of just returning to the way things were before.

It is the same with nuclear weapons. Are we members of the human race going to choose a future in which we continue to maintain nuclear weapons that will pollute the earth and doom humanity?

Hasn’t the time come for us to raise our individual voices, as is being done in the movements for decarbonization and sustainable development goals, and speak out against the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons in order to bring about change in the world?

May Nagasaki be the last place to suffer an atomic bombing.

These words are sent from Nagasaki to people all over the world. Hiroshima will eternally be remembered in history as the first place to suffer an atomic bombing, but whether Nagasaki continues to take its place in history as the last place to suffer an atomic bombing depends on the future we build for ourselves. The unchanging resolve of the hibakusha to see that “no one in the world ever goes through that experience again” is expressed in these words, as is the goal clearly stated in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is a hope that each and every one of us should continue to hold onto.

Let us share these words with the people of the world and follow a clear path towards a nuclear- free world over the twenty-five-year period that begins this year and brings us to the one- hundredth anniversary of the atomic bombings.

While joining forces with young people of the last generation to directly hear the voices of the hibakusha, Nagasaki will continue to communicate the truth about what happened seventy-six years ago; facts that must never be forgotten.

The average age of the hibakusha is now over eighty-three. I ask that the Government of Japan provide improved support for the hibakusha and relief measures for those who experienced the atomic bombings but have not yet received official recognition as bombing survivors.

Ten years have now passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath. We will not forget what happened in Fukushima. We extend from the bottom of our hearts a call of encouragement to all those in Fukushima who continue to face a variety of hardships.

While extending our deepest condolences to those who lost their lives to the atomic bombs, I hereby declare that Nagasaki will work tirelessly alongside Hiroshima and all people who desire peace to spread a “culture of peace” around the world and bring about the abolishment of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal peace.

The City of Hiroshima: PEACE DECLARATION

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A declaration by The City of Hiroshima

August 6, 2021. On this day 76 years ago, a single atomic bomb instantly reduced our hometown to a scorched plain. That bombing brought cruel death to countless innocent victims and left those who managed to survive with profound, lifelong physical and emotional injuries due to radiation, fear of aftereffects, and economic hardship.One survivor who gave birth to a girl soon after the bombing says,”As more horrors of the bomb came to light, and I became more concerned about their effects, I worried less about myself and more about my child. Imagining the future awaiting my daughter, my suffering grew, night after sleepless night.”


“No one else should ever suffer as we have.”These words express the will of survivors who, having known horrors too painful to recall, were condemned to fear, frustration, and agony by the likely future of their children and their own irradiated bodies. When hibakusha tell their stories, they convey not only the horror and inhumanity of nuclear weapons but also an intense yearning for peace, born of compassion. Finally, after 75 long years of sustained activity, their demands have moved the international community. This year, on January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into effect. It remains now for world leaders to support this treaty, shifting their focus toward a truly sustainable society free from nuclear weapons.

The novel coronavirus still ravages our world. The community of nations recognizes this threat to humanity and is taking urgent measures to end it. Nuclear weapons, developed to win wars, are a threat of total annihilation that we can certainly end, if all nations work together. No sustainable society is possible with these weapons continually poised for indiscriminate slaughter. The combined wisdom of all peoples must be trained on their total abolition.

The road to abolition will not be smooth, but a ray of hope shines from the young people now taking up the hibakusha’s quest. One survivor who witnessed hell that day entrusts our future to the young with these words:”Start small, but I hope each of you will do whatever you can to promote and maintain the treasure we call peace ..” I ask our young to sustain an unshakeable conviction that nuclear weapons are incompatible with full, healthy lives for their loved ones. I further ask them to share that conviction persuasively with people around the world.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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We must never forget that young people can certainly compel world leaders to turn away from nuclear deterrence. Three years after the bombing, Helen Keller visited Hiroshima, encouraging its residents in the struggle to recover. “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Her words remind us that individuals, when united, have the power to change the world. If the determination to live in peace sweeps through civil society, people will elect leaders who share that determination. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate human violence. If civil society decides to live without them, the door to a nuclear-weapon-free world will open wide. The atomic bombed city of Hiroshima will never stop preserving the facts of the bombing, disseminating them beyond borders, and conveying them to the future. With the more than 8,000 Mayors for Peace member cities in 165 countries and regions, we will promote a worldwide “culture of peace.” In a global culture where peace is a universal value, world leaders will find the courage to correct their policies.

Given the uncertainty concerning nuclear weapons derived from stalled disarmament negotiations, I have an urgent demand to make of world leaders. The time has come for a profound tactical shift away from reliance on threats toward security based on trust derived from dialogue. Experience has taught humanity that threatening others for self defense benefits no one. Our leaders must understand that threatening rivals with nuclear weapons achieves nothing of value, but treating each other with empathy and building long-lasting friendships connect directly to national self-interest. To that end, I urge all world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, achieve a deeper understanding of the bombings, fulfill the disarmament mandate of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and join the discussions aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of the TPNW.

With respect to the Japanese government, I request productive mediation between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Furthermore, in accordance with the will of the hibakusha , I demand immediate signing and ratification of the TPNW, then constructive participation in the first Meeting of States Parties . Fulfilling the role of mediator must involve creating an environment that facilitates the restoration of international trust and security without reliance on nuclear weapons. The average age of our hibakusha is close to 84. I demand more generous assistance for them and the many others suffering daily due to the harmful physical and emotional effects of radiation. I demand as well immediate relief for those exposed to the black rain.

At this Peace Memorial Ceremony marking 76 years since the bombing, we offer heartfelt prayers for the peaceful repose of the souls of the atomic bomb victims. Together with Nagasaki and likeminded people around the world, we pledge to do everything in our power to abolish nuclear weapons and light the way toward lasting world peace.

MATSUI Kazumi
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima

Bangladesh: Dhaka to host World Peace Conference on Dec 4-5

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Dhaka Tribune

The government has fixed December 4 and 5 to hold the planned “World Peace Conference” as part of the ongoing celebration of birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen adressing the press in Dhaka on Thursday, May 20, 2021 Focus Bangla

“We have decided to hold the conference in the month of victory, and we are hopeful to make it in-person,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his residence on Monday.

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Question related to this article:
 
Are there countries that promote a culture of peace?

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He said that the “Bangabandhu Peace Award” would be introduced and conferred during the conference. Many countries introduce such awards after the name of their father of the nation, like Gandhi Peace Prize in India.

Momen also said Dhaka is not planning to invite any heads of states or governments to the conference, rather the government will gather the world-renowned peace activists, writers, poets, singers and global civil society figures to promote the culture of peace and tolerance.

A national committee headed by Speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury has already been formed to organize the peace conference successfully. The committee members sat for the first meeting on Monday.

At the conference, a special discussion would be held on the life of Bangabandhu as Bangladesh is now a model of peace following the path shown by its founding father, the minister said.

He added that Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is spreading the peace message across the world, which is the “culture of peace.”

Mayors for Peace Adopts New Vision and Action Plan

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

Text taken from the Mayors for Peace PX Vsion and Actio Plan

In order to achieve a world in which all people can perpetually benefit from peace by realizing the total elimination of nuclear weapons and by attaining and maintaining peaceful coexistence between the whole of humanity, subsequent to the 2020 Vision, Mayors for Peace adopted the Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World (PX Vision): Peacebuilding by Cities for Disarmament and Common Security at the 12th Executive Conference in July 2021. Based on this, we will build cities where citizens act with a strong sense of solidarity for the ultimate goal of realizing lasting world peace.


Participants in 12th Executive Conference
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As the Vision of a global network made up of heads of local governments, whose role is to ensure citizens’ safety and security, it centers on the objective “realize a world without nuclear weapons” in the quest for the eradication of the greatest threat to our peaceful lives.

Another objective, “realize safe and resilient cities,” has been set forth as a target indispensable to ensuring citizens’ safety and security by tackling the issues distinctive to each member’s region that are threatening the coexistence of the human race.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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While accomplishing these two objectives, we must also bring about a fundamentally important paradigm shift involving two things. Firstly, we will seek to change the “nation-minded” approach currently prevalent among global leaders, which prioritizes each country’s own interests, to a “civic-minded” approach, which values mutual aid and the recognition of shared interest. Secondly and more importantly, we will seek to build a consensus in civil society in favor of the realization of a peaceful, nuclear weapon-free world. Through the shift represented by these two things, we will urge policymakers to demonstrate decisive leadership to effect peace-oriented policy change. For this reason, we have set forth a third objective, “promote a culture of peace,” to establish a concrete base for the other two objectives. This entails cultivating peace consciousness and causing a culture of peace—a culture in which the everyday actions of each member of the public are grounded in thinking about peace—to take root in civil society. As a network composed of mayors of local governments, the most immediate presence to citizens, Mayors for Peace has concluded that promoting a culture of peace is the most significant role to fulfill both locally and internationally.

These three objectives to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace are mutually reinforcing goals. Together, they aim to cultivate a shared sense of belonging to a single human family, regardless of our cultural, religious, or ethnic differences.

Furthermore, sustainable development of Mayors for Peace as an organization will be key to consistent implementation of various initiatives under this Vision. To that end, in conjunction with further expansion of our membership, we will enhance our members’ initiatives, work in collaboration with a diverse range of groups, strengthen the functions of the Secretariat, and improve our financial capability.

Based on the following Vision and the 2021 – 2025 Action Plan, and in solidarity with 8,037 member cities in 165 countries and regions, we hereby express our determination to continue our utmost efforts toward our goal of realizing lasting world peace.

US: Why Daniel Hale Deserves Gratitude, Not Prison

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Kathy Kelly in Transcend Media Service

“Pardon Daniel Hale.” These words hung in the air on a recent Saturday evening, projected onto several Washington, D.C. buildings, above the face of a courageous whistleblower facing ten years in prison.

The artists aimed to inform the U.S. public about Daniel E. Hale, a former Air Force analyst who blew the whistle on the consequences of drone warfare. Hale will appear for sentencing before Judge Liam O’Grady on July 27th.


Image of Daniel Hale projected on a building in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 2021. Photo credit:  Nick Mottern

The U.S. Air Force had assigned Hale to work for the National Security Agency. At one point, he also served in Afghanistan, at the Bagram Air Force Base.

“In this role as a signals analyst, Hale was involved in the identifying of targets  for the US drone program,” notes Chip Gibbons, policy director for Defending Rights and Dissent, in a lengthy article about Hale’s case. “Hale would tell the filmmakers of the 2016 documentary National Bird  that he was disturbed by ‘the uncertainty if anyone I was involved in kill[ing] or captur[ing] was a civilian or not. There’s no way of knowing.’”

Hale, thirty-three, believed the public wasn’t getting crucial information about the nature and extent of U.S. drone assassinations of civilians. Lacking that evidence, U.S. people couldn’t make informed decisions. Moved by his conscience, he opted to become a truth-teller.

The U.S. government is treating him as a threat, a thief who stole documents, and an enemy. If ordinary people knew more about him, they might regard him as a hero.

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Question for this article:

Drones (unmanned bombers), Should they be outlawed?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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Hale was charged  under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing classified information to a reporter. The Espionage Act is  an antiquated World War I era law, passed in 1917, designed for use against enemies of the U.S. accused of spying. The U.S. government has dusted it off, more recently, for use against whistle blowers.

Individuals charged under this law are not allowed  to raise any issues regarding motivation or intent. They literally are not allowed to explain the basis for their actions.

One observer of whistleblowers’ struggles with the courts was himself a whistleblower. Tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, John Kiriakou spent  two and a half years in prison for exposing government wrongdoing. He says  the U.S. government in these cases engages in “charge stacking” to ensure a lengthy prison term as well as “venue-shopping” to try such cases in the nation’s most conservative districts.

Daniel Hale was facing trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, home to the Pentagon as well as many CIA and other federal government agents. He was   up to 50 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

On March 31, Hale pled guilty  on one count of retention and transmission of national defense information. He now faces a maximum of ten years in prison.

At no point has he been able to raise before a judge his alarm about the Pentagon’s false claims that targeted drone assassination is precise and civilian deaths are minimal.

Hale was familiar with details of a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker. He saw evidence that between January 2012 and February 2013, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed  more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

Had he gone to trial, a jury of his peers might have learned more details about consequences of drone attacks. Weaponized drones are typically outfitted with Hellfire missiles, designed for use against vehicles and buildings.

Living Under Drones, the most complete documentation  of the human impact of U.S. drone attacks yet produced, reports:

“The most immediate consequence of drone strikes is, of course, death and injury to those targeted or near a strike.  The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs.  Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.”

A new variation of this missile can hurl about 100 pounds of metal through the top of a vehicle or building; the missiles also deploy, just before impact, six long, whirring  blades intended to slice up any person or object in the missile’s path.

Any drone operator or analyst should be aghast, as Daniel Hale was, at the possibility of killing and maiming civilians through such grotesque means. But Daniel Hale’s ordeal may be intended to send a chilling message to other U.S. government and military analysts: keep quiet.

Nick Mottern, of the Ban Killer Drones  campaign, accompanied artists projecting Hale’s image on various walls in D.C. He engaged people who were passing by, asking if they knew of Daniel Hale’s case. Not a single person he spoke with had. Nor did anyone know anything about drone warfare.

Now imprisoned at the Alexandria (VA) Adult Detention Center, Hale  awaits sentencing.

Supporters urge people to “stand with Daniel Hale.” One solidarity action involves writing Judge O’Grady to express gratitude that Hale told the truth about the U.S. use of drones to kill innocent people.

At a time when drone sales and usage are proliferating worldwide and causing increasingly gruesome damage, President Joe Biden continues to launch  killer drone attacks around the world, albeit with some new restrictions.

Hale’s honesty, courage, and exemplary readiness to act in accord with his conscience are critically needed. Instead, the U.S. government has done its best to silence him.

Barcelona will host the Second International Peace Congress from October 15-17, 2021

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Pressenza

Under the title “(Re)imagine our world: Action for Peace and Justice”, participants from around 70 countries will attend the meeting of the international peace movement and other social movements, with renowned activists and experts.


The congress will have a hybrid format, with face-to-face activities, conferences, workshops and cultural events, but with the possibility of following many of them online.

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) are the main organisers of the Second International Peace Congress to be held in Barcelona from October 15-17, 2021.

Under the title “(Re)imagine our world. Action for Peace and Justice”, participants from around 70 countries will attend this event with face-to-face activities, conferences and workshops, most of which will take place at the CCCB (Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona).

The main goal of the congress is to invigorate international pacifism and peacework, offer a meeting point for different actors, redefine action for peace, and, as the motto of the congress says, reimagine the world through the prism of a culture of peace.

According to the IPB Co-President, Philip Jennings, the congress aims to be the largest gathering of activists for peace in 2021, the year that the United Nations has declared the International Year of Peace and Trust. “It’s also a big year for IPB, as we celebrate our 130th anniversary and as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Olof Palme report on common security; the time has come to develop a new blueprint for common survival”, he adds.

“The IPB World Peace Congress in Barcelona will allow so many of us to meet in person for the first time in almost two years. Networking among peace and disarmament activities in different countries and regions is our most essential resource”, says Lisa Clark, IPB Co-President.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article or here for a French version.)

Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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The congress seeks to foster synergies between organisations and individuals and between interconnected social movements fighting for global justice: peace and disarmament advocates, feminist and LGBTQIA+ activists, environmentalists and climate activists, anti-racists and indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and trade unionists.

During the three days of the congress, there will be talks and lectures by more than thirty speakers. Featured names include Noam Chomsky, Martin Chungong, Jeremy Corbyn, Beatrice Fihn, Wada Masako, Vandana Shiva and Jody Williams.

A congress with a long history

The first peace congress in history was held in 1843 in London, then in Paris in 1889 and Rome in 1891 when the IPB was created.

In 2016, the World Congress returned with the idea of putting disarmament on the global agenda. This first congress of this new stage took place in Berlin, and now the continuation will take place in Barcelona five years later.

The IPB has their headquarters in Berlin and offices in the Catalan capital and Geneva.

“Barcelona is a city of peace – one of the few in the world with an organized and resourced commitment to promote and campaign for peace – and it has opened its arms to the IPB, with both the city and the region playing an active role in preparing for the congress”, says Jennings.

The city is the home of one of the congress hosts, Centre Delàs, an IPB member and a hive of peace, research, and campaigns regionally and globally. The IPB has a unique presence at Centre Delàs, where the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) is based and animated.

The co-organiser of the Barcelona Congress is the ICIP, a research, dissemination and action organisation created by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2007 to promote peace in Catalan society and internationally and make Catalonia play an active role as an agent of peace in the world.

For more information, you can contact Sean Conner (sean.conner@ipb-office.berlin or +49 176 5688 5567).

If you need photographs, videos or other materials, you can access this link:
https://trello.com/b/MPBI8oQZ/wpc2021

You can download the programme draft here.

US-Russia Summit advances key points in international Open Letter

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An email received from Unfold Zero

At their Summit Meeting in Geneva yesterday, President’s Biden and Putin adopted a U.S.-Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability in which they reaffirmed ‘the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’ and announced that they will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future. ‘Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.’

This agreement advances key points in the Open Letter to Presidents Biden and Putin in Advance of their June 16, 2021 Summit, which was sent to the two leaders last week. The Open letter was endorsed by over 1200 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics and scientists and other representatives of civil society.


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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Endorsers included UN Messengers for Peace Michael Douglas and Jane Goodall; public visionary Deepak Chopra; two former UN Under-Secretary Generals for Disarmament Sergio Duarte and Nobuyasu Abe; Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire; former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson; and a number of former foreign and defense ministers, generals, UN ambassadors and other officials of nuclear armed, allied and non-nuclear countries.

From Joint Presidential Statement to concrete policy

In addition to affirming that “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, the Open Letter calls on the USA and Russia to make a ‘joint commitment that their nations will not use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, and to make this a key step toward fulfilling the United Nations goal to totally eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet.’ The adoption of such No First Use (NFU) policies should be one of the objectives of the Strategic Stability Dialogue that the two leaders are embarking upon.

There is growing traction globally for the adoption of NFU policies by the nuclear armed (and allied) states, as evidenced by legislative action, public appeals and NFU campaigns including the global campaign NoFirstUse Global.

The adoption of such policies would not only reduce the risk of nuclear attacks, but aso pave the way to the adoption of more comprehensive nuclear disarmament measures toward the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. See Why No-First-Use.

Afghanistan: Striving for Human Security While Ending Forever Wars

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has initiated an essential discussion of the terms and conditions under which the demilitarization of security might be carried out without undermining the human security of the populations involved.  While the process of demilitarization will be long and complex, the immediate requirements of something more than careless abandonment are evident in Afghanistan. We urge the peace education community to inquire into the terms of the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan that would be as ethical and constructive as possible. We see such an inquiry as a first step toward the design of a comprehensive and effective transition strategy from a militarized to human security system. In the near future further pieces on the problematic of troop withdrawals and human security will be shared here as we explore the possibilities for such design.


A woman walks in front of tents at an internally displaced persons (IDP) site in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. (Photo: OCHA Afghanistan/Fariba Housaini)

We recommend that educators begin this process with a discussion of Nicholas Kristof’s Op Ed in the May 17, 2021 issue of the New York Times reproduced below. Carefully review the multiple practical needs withdrawal that he outlines, and reflect together on Kristof’s assessment of the significance of education.  Also, note that he quotes our colleague and longtime GCPE member and IIPE participant, Sakena Yacoobi. And, if you are so moved, write to the President and other US responsibles, urging them to assure that the withdrawal process does not cause further suffering among the Afghan people.

-BAR, 5/17/21

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Question related to this article:

Is peace possible in Afghanistan?

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Education Poses an Existential Threat to Extremism

(Reposted from: New York Times.  May 15, 2021)

By Nicholas Kristof

Lying in her hospital bed in Kabul, Afghanistan, having survived an extremist group’s bombing  that killed more than 80 students at her school, a 17-year-old named Arifa was as determined as she was frightened.

“I will continue my education, even if I’m afraid,” Arifa, who hopes to become a doctor, vowed  to Richard Engel of NBC News.

Afghan girls and boys may lack books, pens and laptops, but in their thirst for education, they have plenty to teach the world. Indeed, one of the few things the extremists and the students seem to agree on is the transformational power of education, especially girls’ education.
In some hideous way, perhaps it was rational for fundamentalists to blow up the school, because girls’ education poses an existential threat to extremism. That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. It’s why the Afghan Taliban threw acid in girls’ faces.

In the long run, a girl with a book is a greater threat to extremism than a drone overhead.
“The way to long-term change is education,” said Sakena Yacoobi, a hero of mine who has devoted her life to educating her fellow Afghans. “A nation is not built on temporary jobs and mining rights, contractors and political favors. A nation is built on culture and shared history, shared reality and community well-being. We pass these down with education.”

Since 9/11, we Americans have sought to defeat terrorism and extremism with the military toolbox. As we pull our forces out of Kabul and Kandahar, this is a moment to reflect on the limits of military power and the reasons to invest in more cost-effective tools to change the world, like schooling.

After almost 20 years and $2 trillion, the mightiest army in the history of the world couldn’t remake Afghanistan. Some Americans are critical of President Biden for withdrawing from Afghanistan, but I think he made the right decision. I’ve long argued that we were losing ground and that the war was unsustainable.

I reached that conclusion after Afghan contractors in Kabul who supplied U.S. forces told me  that for every $1,000 America paid them, they gave $600 to the Taliban in bribes to pass through checkpoints. To support a single U.S. soldier in Helmand Province, contractors paid the Taliban enough in bribes to hire 10 men to fight against that American.

Yet while America’s longest war is unsustainable, we must remember our obligations. We should greatly accelerate visas for the roughly 17,000  Afghan translators, aides and others who have worked with the United States and will be in danger when our forces are gone. Otherwise, their blood will be on our hands.

So with a heightened appreciation of the limits of military power, let’s try to chip away at extremism with tools like education. It’s also much cheaper. For the cost of deploying a single soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we can establish and pay expenses of 20 rudimentary schools.

There’s a misperception that the Taliban will not allow girls to be educated. It’s not easy, but it can be done. The Taliban tolerates many girls’ schools, particularly primary schools and those with female teachers, but aid groups must negotiate with communities and win support. It doesn’t work to have a sign saying it’s donated by America.

“Most aid groups have been able to operate successfully on both sides of Taliban front lines,” noted Paul Barker, who has spent many years in the region as an aid worker.

Girls’ education is not a magic wand. Schools were built in all corners of Afghanistan over the last 20 years, yet this was not enough  to stymie the Taliban.

“It’s not that you go to school and suddenly are empowered,” a young Afghan woman told me. Let’s be honest: Nothing works as well as we would like to overcome extremism.
Yet this young woman is an example of what’s at stake. She studied on her own in the Taliban heartland and then was able to come to the United States — where she is now doing research on quantum algorithms.

Education is an imperfect weapon against extremism, but it helps. It works through some combination of opening minds, building a middle class, giving women a greater voice in society and reducing population growth and thus a destabilizing “youth bulge” in the population.

So I hope that as we, chastened, pull military forces from Afghanistan, we will learn something from extremists and their victims alike: Promoting girls’ education isn’t about mushy idealism, but about employing an inexpensive tool that is frustratingly slow — but sometimes the best tool we’ve got.

“There is no other way to build a nation,” Yacoobi told me. “Maybe someday we will melt down some of these guns and trade them in for medicines and new Homeric epics. If we wish to get there, we must always start with education.”

Thousands of Jews and Arabs Rally in Tel-Aviv for Peace and Coexistence

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Information from Israeli media, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

A mass march and rally for peace and coexistence, organized by the movements “Standing Together” and “Breaking the Silence” took place on Saturday (May 22) in Tel Aviv.


Photo from Twitter account of Haaretz

The marchers welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and demanded the government to end its occupation of the West Bank and to make peace with the Palestinians. Their chants included “This is all of our homes,” “We stand together without hatred and without fear,” and “The answer to the Right is Israel and Palestine,”

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Question related to this article:

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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The rally was addressed by Israeli novelist David Grossman, author ʻAwdah Bishārāt, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh and Knesset member Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), as well as two of the organizers of the demonstration, Itamar Avnery and Sally Abed.

Ayman Odeh said, “People are speaking about the darkness that is descending on this country,” he said. “ I see light. I see a strong light. Jews and Arabs together will dispel the darkness. You are the light.”

The article in the Times of Israel quoted participants at the rallies who came to “hear different voices from what is in the media” and to see others who want peace and coexistence.

A similar rally with about 200 people took place on Saturday in Jaffa.

Also on Saturday, hundreds protested outside the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Residence in Jerusalem, blaming him for the escalation in Gaza and calling for his resignation.