Save squatting

I had to write a letter to PN to ask people to fill in this consultation about the criminalisation of squatting on www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/ dealing-with-squatters.htm.

The government is currently holding a consultation on squatting and proposing to make it illegal. This is happening alongside a vicious media campaign propagating the idea that squatters can take over already occupied homes. This is false because there are already laws in place to protect against such actions. Changes to the law of trespass could affect many different groups and have detrimental effects on political protest and occupation.

Although many are understandably sceptical about government consultations, we need your support to ensure that we get the majority who respond to say the current law is adequate. If they then decide to carry on with the criminalisation, we are equipped with facts and figures from their research to throw back at them. There is less than two weeks left to fill it out. I urge you to respond. We need to ensure that squatting is an option for future generations. For more info see www.squashcampaign.org

Leslie Barson, London

A good read

I appreciated the variety and breadth of the last issue including up to the minute items on Afghanistan and the UK riots. As always PN surprises, this time with the colour photos of Guy Smallman and art of Lorna Vahey.

Rona Drennan, Hastings

Conscious Wales

In July of this year, following exhibitions in Llangollen and Carmarthen, there was an exhibition of Emily Johns’ prints “Conscious Oil” at the environment centre in Swansea. These pictures have a dramatic impact on most people who see them, and have prompted debate throughout the sustainability movement in South-West Wales.

On 22 July the exhibition was accompanied by talks by Aghogho Okpako on the oil spills in the Niger Delta and the "Wild Law" barrister Polly Higgins on the need for an internationally recognised bill of rights for the earth and a law of ecocide.

This law would particularly affect multi-national corporations, who at present are not governed by laws of social or environmental responsibility and are answerable only to shareholders for whom they have an obligation to make profits. The ecocide law that Polly Higgins is campaigning for would put a legal obligation of environmental responsibility onto the corporations.

Currently, damage to the natural environment continues unchecked and is threatening the lives of all species (including ours) on this planet. One hundred species of life become extinct every day, twenty two million tons of oil are extracted, one hundred million tons of greenhouse gases are emitted, two million tons of toxic waste are dumped into rivers and oceans, one thousand acres of peat bogs are excavated and one hundred and fifty acres of tropical rainforest are cut down. Millions of migratory birds are dying in Canada as oil is extracted from tar sands on land which was once a safe staging post for them in their flights across the globe.

Our earth is becoming like a war zone. We seem to be intent on destroying not only the means of survival of other species of life, but of our own as well, and all because we have become addicted to consumerism and the profit motive.

You can read more about these issues in Polly Higgins’ book Eradicating Ecocide. There will also be further exhibitions of the Conscious Oil pictures.

Diana Marquand, Carmarthenshire, diana.marquand@btinternet.com

PN camp keeps us sane!

I attended the previous two years’ Peace News Summer Camp and believe that this one was the best yet. Protesting and activism are probably the most meaningful things a responsible human being can do with their life today. But often there can be a high price to pay both psychologically and emotionally (if not through imprisonment and fines), for there is a lot wrong in this world, too many things to change (the list gets longer every year!) and seemingly far too few people who care about any of it. Sometimes I fear that we humans will die out because of apathy and inertia, as the majority's response to critical problems (such as global warming) is suicidally underwhelming.

So what about those who do care? Where do we go for rest and recuperation from the insanity of modern western civilisation? Apart from reading very good books, reading great newspapers (like Peace News!) and having supportive friends, it is possible once a year to experience the kind of society that a lot of us would wish to see. A society based on mutual, face to face democracy, shared labour and play, an abundance of open, intelligent and caring people, a feeling that it’s safe to speak one’s mind about the things that really matter, to trust that one is respected and that, most importantly, our beloved Planet is respected. That space is Peace News Camp. I look forward to meeting all “the people who care” there next year!

Lucy Lant, Bristol