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"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

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Prevention

On 24 August, Extinction Rebellion (XR) co-founder Roger Hallam and four other members of Beyond Politics/Burning Pink (BP), a breakaway group from XR, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit public nuisance and criminal damage.

The five were remanded in custody until a court hearing on 22 September (when at least two of them were released) which meant they were in prison during the XR September Rebellion.

BP claims that the five were arrested because a Green Party member infiltrated a Zoom planning session and handed a recording of the meeting to the police.

Banishment

The Council of Europe has issued a media freedom alert after the ministry of defence (MoD) barred the media outlet Declassified UK, which investigates the British military and its intelligence agencies.

On 25 August, a journalist for the website contacted the MoD for comment about the arrest of Ahmed al Babati (see here).

The journalist was first asked ‘what sort of angle’ Declassified UK had taken on Yemen. He was later told that the MoD was ‘no longer deal[ing] with your publication’.

Execution

Declassified UK has discovered that British intelligence agency MI6 has supported a covert Kenyan paramilitary team responsible for a series of extrajudicial killings in the mostly Muslim coastal region.

According to their investigation, MI6 has played ‘a key role in identifying suspects for a “kill or capture” list and finding and fixing their location.’

‘When these extrajudicial killings happen, Muslims feel they are under siege because they cannot comprehend why the government cannot arrest these people and take them to court, instead of killing them’, the chair of Kenyan human rights organisation Muhuri said.

Assembly

Netpol – the network of activists, lawyers and researchers that monitors and challenges excessive and discriminatory policing – is crowdsourcing the ‘knowledge and experience of campaigning groups to find out what changes they want to see’ to protect the right to protest.

‘Rather than continuing to ask the police and other authorities for transparency and getting nowhere, perhaps it’s time we started offering solutions ourselves’, the group noted.

Netpol plans to contact a wide range of campaigning organisations with the aim of turning the material gathered into a new Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights.


Five to go

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), agreed by the UN in July 2017, is edging closer to reality.

50 states need to not only sign the treaty, but to ratify it for it to become international law. (In democracies, ratification usually means parliament passing a law.)

In mid-2019, the TPNW hadn’t even reached the half-way mark. (PN 2630 – 2631)

Now, 45 countries have ratified the treaty. Ireland, Nigeria and Niue (in the Pacific) all ratified this Hiroshima Day, while St Kitts & Nevis (in the Caribbean) ratified on Nagasaki Day.

Keep track with ICAN: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews3273

Elbit eight?

On 14 September, three activists from a new network, Palestine Action (PA), were arrested in Staffordshire after locking themselves to the gates of a factory belonging to Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit.

Other PA activists occupied the factory roof for three days. There were another five arrests.

After more than a dozen anti-Elbit actions in August and September, many involving property damage, there have been few arrests and no prosecutions – all charges have been dropped so far, say PA.

£22

A bank fraud is going around different peace groups.

In early September, the Network for Peace spotted a mysterious new direct debit in its bank accounts. It was made out to ‘BG Services’, for just over £22.

Then we found two direct debits, each for a similar amount, also for ‘BG Services’, in a PN bank account.

The same thing was found in Christian CND’s bank account.

Our admin worker, Claire Poyner, says: ‘The small amount is presumably in the hope that most people won’t notice it. So, everyone, check your bank accounts ASAP!’

4,025

‘Campaign Nonviolence’ Action Week 2020, organised by US Christian peace group, Pace e Bene, was beginning as this issue of PN was being written.

The number of activities (almost all in the US) that are listed as part of the week has grown from 140 in 2014 to 4,025 today. (Most today are online.)

The annual week of action against war, poverty, racism and environmental destruction took place from 19–27 September.

COVID-19

The Peace Museum in Bradford has a new online exhibition, ‘Peace and Pandemic’, exploring the peace movement’s response to COVID-19.
One of the three strands is ‘Protest in Lockdown’: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews3426

Topics: Culture

Yemen’s vital port

As the humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsened and fighting intensified, UN secretary-general António Guterres issued a new warning on 17 September about the crucial port of Hodeidah.

An oil tanker, the FSO Safer, which has been marooned off the west coast of Yemen for five years without maintenance, is in danger of breaking up – or exploding – and releasing 1.2 million barrels of oil.

Guterres warned that such an oil slick would not only ‘severely harm Red Sea ecosystems relied on by 30 million people across the region’, but would also force Hodeidah to close for months. This would cut millions of Yemenis off from access to food ‘and other essential commodities’.

The tanker is controlled by the Houthi rebels, who refuse to allow UN access without concessions by the Saudi-led coalition.

On the other hand, for the last five years, the Saudi-led coalition has refused to allow the oil to be transferred to shore, to be used in rebel-held territory, or to guarantee that the revenues from the oil will go to the Houthi forces.

The British government backs the Saudi war effort politically and with arms sales, restarted in July (see PN 2644–2645).

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Topics: Yemen

Afghan peace?

On 12 September, for the first time ever, there were direct, public talks between representatives of the Afghan government and of the Taliban.

The Taliban, a Sunni fundamentalist movement, ruled Afghanistan from 1996–2001 and currently control about half the country.

The peace talks in Doha, Qatar, follow a US-Taliban agreement in February which has led to the steady withdrawal of US troops. Where there were 12,000 in January, there will only be 4,500 US personnel in Afghanistan by November, when the US presidential election will be held.

The government-Taliban talks were meant to have taken place in March, but were held up until the government released 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and the Taliban freed 1,000 government prisoners.

The Afghan Analysts Network reported in August that: ‘2020 has been as violent in Afghanistan as 2019, despite the peace process and the coronavirus pandemic.’

The difference is that the US is now playing ‘a minimal direct role’ and the Taliban have stopped attacking foreign forces.

Topics: Afghanistan

Termite satyagraha

A German-Brazilian team of researchers has found that some termites manage to live in the nests of other termites by never fighting back, and refusing to escalate their conflicts.

Despite termites generally being aggressive, the most forceful thing the squatters do is throw faeces to distract attackers as they run away.
Gene Sharp, take note.