War resisters

28 March 2023Blog

'Sometimes refusing to fight is the bravest and most effective action one can take for peace and justice'

It’s been 20 years since the lies and obfuscation that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. I’m about to turn 37 and it hit me: those events 20 years ago were how I began my political journey, though I didn't know it at the time. As a progressive activist, one doesn't easily lead with: 'As a teenager, I joined the Marines'... but I did.

At the intersection of my life as a high school kid living just outside NYC during 9/11 and the…

10 September 2018Blog

This is the longer version of an obituary of the prominent US radical pacifist.

David McReynolds, who died in New York at the age of 88 on 17 August, played a leading role in the US and international peace movement. He was one of the main organisers of the anti-Vietnam war mobilisation in the US, which not only contributed to the ending of that war but had a profound impact on US politics and society. He was also prominent in the anti-nuclear campaign both in the US and internationally, and, though not a gay…

1 June 2016Comment

From the outset, PN carried otherwise little-known information about pacifists and other peace campaigners in other countries. The second issue was no exception.

Though it goes by the formidable title of ‘An Appeal’, a pamphlet by the War Resisters’ International is in reality a valuable addition to the all too meagre information that is available concerning the heroic stand that is being made by pacifists in countries where the penalty for such views is exile, imprisonment, torture, or even death.

In French Guiana, France, Lithuania, Italy, Rumania, Germany, Yugoslavia, Poland, Switzerland and elsewhere it is the same story. ‘I may be…

25 November 2014News

Updates on two US war resisters

An African-American US Iraq veteran may be able to claim asylum in the EU after arguing that the Iraq war was illegal. On 11 November, a German judge ruled that military deserters may be able to claim asylum in the European Union if they have a reasonable fear that they would have been ordered to commit war crimes if they hadn’t deserted, and if they face punishment on returning to their home country.

Eleanor Sharpston, the advocate general of the Munich administrative court, was…

20 March 2014Resource

Adam Hochschild, author of 'To End All Wars' helped us launch the Peace News WW1 project 'The World is My Country' in January 2014 at Friends House in London.

Adam‘s book 'To End All Wars: A Story of the Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914 – 1918' is the major inspiration for The World is My Country

Lion tamers and agents provacateurs

The only recent account of the First World War to foreground the war’s…

20 January 2014Project

The First World War centenary (2014-2018) was accompanied by a tidal wave of events, exhibitions, TV series, books and commemorations. However, one key aspect of the War’s history received little attention: the history and stories of the people and organisations that opposed the conflict.

Moreover, this history – of police raids and clandestine printing presses, disobedient soldiers and feminist peace initiatives, Maori princesses and striking German munitions workers – appears to be…

1 September 2013News in Brief

Hornsey Historical Society seeks information about First World War resisters who lived in Hornsey, Crouch End, Harringay, Stroud Green, Muswell Hill and parts of Highgate. They’d like to know about conscientious objectors, and women who took part in peace initiatives. Info before December to: FAO Jennifer Bell, HHS, Old Schoolhouse, 136 Tottenham Lane, London N8 7EL; or jennifer_bell@btinternet.com

1 September 2013Comment

Jeff Cloves reflects on desertion's representation in popular music

Lately I have been thinking – once again – about desertion from the military. This time, I’ve been prompted by reading a review (not the book) of Deserter: The Last Untold Story of the Second World War by Charles Glass (HarperPress, 2013, £25). The review reveals that ‘as many as 100,000 British and 50,000 US Servicemen are believed to have deserted at some point’. I hope to return to this book about ‘the final taboo’ in a future PN.

But taboo? Well, that’s as maybe but…

22 May 2013Feature

30,000 German soldiers deserted during the Second World War: 20,000 were executed

Memorial for deserters by Nikolaus Kernbach in Stuttgart.
Photo: Ohne Rüstung Leben, Stuttgart

Most friends in the peace movement are familiar with the name of Franz Jägerstätter. There were other conscientious objectors who, like him, refused to fight Hitler’s war of aggression and paid the ultimate price. A few of these are pictured in Lars G Petersson’s book Deserters (2005), which mainly focuses on the 30,000 German soldiers who deserted while on…

5 April 2013News

Menwith Hill protests

On 12 March, demonstrators protested at Menwith Hill US spy base in Yorkshire in support of US military whistle-blower Bradley Manning, currently on trial, and against the treatment of Guantánamo Bay detainees, many of whom are hunger-striking against deteriorating prison conditions.

At Menwith Hill, they attached a banner saying ‘The Shame of Guantánamo Bay’ to the fence while one demonstrator, dressed in a hooded orange jumpsuit resembling those that…

5 February 2013News

On 16 January, US military judge colonel Denise Lind ruled that US army intelligence officer Bradley Manning will not be able to use a whistleblower defence during his trial.

Manning, who was arrested after allegedly providing Wikileaks with classified US military information, has been confined for nearly 1,000 days awaiting trial for what could turn out to be a life sentence in military custody. He has been banned from providing evidence for all but a few of the motivations for his actions.

Lind also ruled that Manning could not put forward evidence to support his claim that the Wikileaks revelations had little or no impact on US national security.

30 May 2012News

Recent campaigning in Wales in solidarity with the US whistleblower.

WISE Up for Bradley Manning is a grassroots network in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (WISE) taking action for the young US military intelligence analyst who has been held by the US government for two years without trial.

Accused of blowing the whistle on US war crimes and revealing other truths the US would have preferred to keep buried, Bradley Manning has been tortured and denied his constitutional rights.

When US president Barack Obama, commander-in-chief of the…

13 May 2012Blog

Review of 'Three Weeks in Wales', a tour in solidarity with the Bradley Manning who lived and went to school in Wales.

WISE Up for Bradley Manning is a loose network of groups and individuals in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (WISE) taking action for Bradley Manning, the young US military intel. analyst with Welsh roots who has been held for almost two years without trial accused of blowing the whistle on war crimes and revealing other truths the US would have preferred to keep buried. Bradley Manning has been tortured and denied his…

1 March 2012News in Brief

Egyptian pacifist Maikel Nabil Sanad has finally been released by the military authorities. Maikel was arrested on 29 March last year for criticising the military for its role during and after the Egyptian uprising. He was convicted by successive military courts of ‘insulting’ the army and ‘spreading false information’.

Peace News has been following Maikel’s case since the beginning (see PN 2533 for the background).

Maikel was finally released on the anniversary of the uprising…

1 December 2011News

Navy medic and conscientious objector Michael Lyons was released from Colchester military prison on 9 November. He had served a seven-month sentence for refusing to take part in rifle training in September 2010 because he disagreed with the war in Afghanistan, and was not prepared to shoot to kill. (PN 2537)

Supporters of Veterans for Peace, London Catholic Worker and Peace News raised over £1,000 to help Michael’s wife Lillian with the travel costs associated with visiting Michael in…