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An elected voice for peace

At 25, Bethan Jenkins may be our youngest Assembly Member but she is a seasoned peace and justice activist. Born in Merthyr Tydfil, her activism began when she joined with her parents in the anti apartheid movement.

At university in Aberystwyth, Bethan was elected President of the Guild of Students and was energetic in the network of “town and gown” groups opposing the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Committed to citizen activism and sceptical of party politics, she was so impressed when she heard Dafydd Iwan and Leanne Wood speak that she joined Plaid Cymru.

How Plaid will fare in their recent Assembly Government pact with pro-nuclear, pro-Trident replacement, pro-the Iraq war Labour remains to be seen. Bethan, though, now believes we need both party politics and citizen activism: “Political parties can learn a lot from the creativity of protest movements.” One activist campaign that still makes her smile was the overnight transformation of Bus Stops to Bush Stops, a matter of a few creative brush strokes.

For Bethan, nonviolent direct action can be “hugely effective” and she will have no truck with violence. One ambition for her work in the Assembly is to support a Peace Festival that each year takes place in a different community in Wales.