PNedit's blog

    29 Aug 2011

    Leslie Barson

    I was very intrigued when I first heard about the Piccadilly Community Centre. To someone who works in community centres, knows what value they provide to individuals and communities, often fights to keep them open and despairs at how many are now closing, the opening of a new community centre in central London was very exciting.

    When visiting it on opening day it was obvious that money had been spent on the project. For example the signage outside the building was brand new and gleaming, there were about six new computers for use, there were free teas, coffees and biscuits provided…

    28 Aug 2011

    Bill Hetherington

    <p>Bill Hetherington on his activities on (and around) 6 June 2011 - PN's 75th birthday.</p>

    In the month leading up to 6 June a major pre-occupation was preparation for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day, 15 May.

    For the past ten years I have prepared a list of representative COs of as many countries as I can find a name for, to be read out at the annual COs’ ceremony in Tavistock Square, London, whilst white flowers each bearing the name of a CO are laid on the Commemorative Stone. Each year further research expands the list, and this time there were 75 names, ranging from Maximilian, beheaded in 295 AD for refusing service in the Roman Army, to COs recently…

    28 Aug 2011

    Russ McPherson

    Russ McPherson responds to an article on Metalkova social centre in Slovenia in PN 2535 with his own experiences in Australia

    Spread across 10 acres of land in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, is the Ceres Community Environment Park. Pronounced “series” the name has several connotations, the most appropriate perhaps being with the Roman goddess of agriculture.

    Dotted with wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels, Ceres certainly lives up to its founding principle to “initiate and support environmental sustainability and social equity.” The 4 hectare park includes a farm, community gardens, a café selling delicious vegan food, a market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings which sells organic foods and…

    28 Aug 2011

    Pippa Bartolotti

    <p>Pippa Bartolotti writes about her experience of the Gaza "Flytilla" on 7 July when solidarity activists flew to Israel to attempt to openly visit Palestine.</p>

    The grating sound of metal on metal as the reverberating CLANNGGG of the heavy prison doors closing on you for the first time cannot be forgotten. The smell of prison; the malicious looks of the guards; the claustrophobic feeling of a cell which distorts your intestines and bleaches your thoughts bare before you even see it.

    “I am here for no reason. I have not been charged with anything. Does anyone know I am here?”

    My crime was to say I was going to Bethlehem. There were 11 of us on the Easyjet flight from Luton, and we were all to be incarcerated in Givon Jail, Ramla,…

    28 Aug 2011

    John Linsie

    <p>John Linsie reflects on the media's simplistic response to the 2011 "riots".</p>

    The present state of affairs on English streets is bad enough but the situation is exacerbated by the platitudinous responses made by most politicians who seem both to have no idea of what is going on or how to respond to the situation without making it worse. The platitudes come out thick and fast: “pure criminality”; “only a minority of the population” (has Cameron any conception of what it would be like to face even a small mob of youths?); “nothing justifies such lawless behaviour”; “sections of our society are sick”; and so on.

    Water cannon and plastic bullets are seemingly now…

    28 Aug 2011

    Adam Weymouth

    Adam Weymouth on his walking from England to Istanbul, challenging xenophobia, the fear of strangers.

    As I walked along the European bank of the Bosphorus, I stumbled upon a small group of fisherman who were coming to the end of their dinner. They called me over, offering me grapes and raki, and I explained in my smattering of Turkish what I was up to. “Londra, Istanbul,” slap legs, mime walking. “Sekiz ay” (“eight months”).

    Throughout my whole journey I had been offered hospitality to an extent I could never have imagined before I left. I had been invited to sleep in peoples’ homes, in bars, in barns, in churches and in mosques. I was fed in restaurants and at mountain passes. I…

    14 Jul 2011

    Milan Rai

    <p>Milan Rai on the origins of "al-Qaeda"</p>

    I’m doing a talk about al-Qa’eda for Peace News Summer Camp which is in two weeks. (Really looking forward to seeing Tracy Curtis perform – I’ve heard Seize the Day and the Carbon Town Cryer before – they’re fantastic.)

    I’m marvelling once again that the name al-Qa’eda…

    03 Jul 2011

    Maya Evans , Milan Rai

    <p>PN contributor and peace activist Maya Evans gets visited by the bailiffs…</p>

    The second historic Peace News podcast.

    01 Jul 2011

    Genny Bove

    PN invited activists from around the movement to record what they were doing when Peace News turned 75.  Our birthday was on 6 June 2011.

    Peace News is 75. Happy birthday! Today is another anniversary; it’s two years  since my Mum’s death so I’m feeling somber, remembering the failings in the hospital care she received and our struggle to get her home so she could die as well as she had lived: in peace, with her family, in familiar surroundings. Time was short, and when some of the things that should have happened to facilitate this did not and our questions met with poor excuses, we blew the whistle to get things moving. Although this had the desired effect and there was soon a proper package of support in place, we were…

    01 Jul 2011

    Phil Steele

    <p><em>PN</em> invited activists from around the movement to record what they were doing when Peace News turned 75. &nbsp;Our birthday was on 6 June 2011.</p>

    Looking back, looking forward

    So Peace News was first published on 6th June 1936.  6th June was also, as it happens,  the date of  other momentous events – the D-day landings in 1944, the publication of  George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, the bombing of Haiphong during the Vietnam War in 1972.

    2011 seems to be a year of  significant anniversaries: 75 years of Peace News… 50 Years of Amnesty International…  and good grief, very nearly 10 years  of our local peace group,  Bangor & Ynys Môn Peace & Justice.  Still meeting…

    01 Jul 2011

    Malcolm Pittock

    Malcolm Pittock uses PN's 75th birthday as an opportunity to reflect on a lifetime of peace activism

    Keep on keeping on

    I have been a peace campaigner more or less continuously since I was imprisoned as an unconditionalist conscientious objector from September 1954 to January 1955, and over nearly 60 years have learned the necessity of keeping on keeping on. Many in the peace movement fall by the wayside. Some – and this is particularly true of politicians – end up as enemies of the movement they once supported; others, perhaps even more inexplicably, without any change of belief, after a period of activity suddenly decide they have had enough, and are never seen…

    01 Jul 2011

    Pippa Bartolotti

    Pippa Bartolotti writes about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

    Going to Gaza

    As September approaches, a potentially momentous political event looms before us: the admission – or not – of Palestine as a member state of the UN. There are diverse opinions on whether this is a good or bad thing, but the discussion must be held, and quickly. Those of us concerned with the upholding of human rights and fair play in this world know that we cannot ignore this complicated issue which deserves serious and detailed consideration. The fate of the Middle East, so long confused and befuddled by meddling outside powers is on the brink of a…

    01 Jul 2011

    Jill Gibbon



    01 Jul 2011

    Chris Knight

    <p><em>PN</em> invited activists from around the movement to record what they were doing when Peace News turned 75. &nbsp;Our birthday was on 6 June.</p>

    Arrested for Attempted Street Theatre

    It was 5.30 pm on the eve of the royal wedding. “The Government of the Dead” street theatre troupe had just built a 12-foot high guillotine, topped with the banner headline “Some Cuts Are Necessary”.

    We’d added an effigy of Prince Andrew with a rather long neck – easier to chop through. We’d pinned on him the knight grand cross of the royal victorian order, the bauble his mum had given him four weeks earlier. And then there were Andrew’s friends – cardboard cut-outs of a whole bunch of arms dealers, dictators and…

    01 Jul 2011

    Cedric Knight

    PN invited activists from around the movement to record what they were doing when Peace News turned 75.  Our birthday was on 6 June 2011.

    On 5 June 2011, the day after a Peace News 75th anniversary celebration was held nearby in North London, I attended a panel discussion at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival. It was 90 minutes on “The Age of Dissent”, featuring Laurie Penny, Dan Hind and Dan Hancox. Despite the overarching title of the festival, the panel had practically no literary content (other than that the panel were writers and journalists), and only the most tenuous of connections to Stoke Newington.

    In the seventeenth century, Stoke Newington was a village sufficiently beyond the bounds of the…