Comment

1 August 2021 Andrea Mbarushimana

Dedicated activist and co-founder of the Coventry Peace House.

Although she balked at any form of public recognition, Penny Walker had influence, power and the kind of respect that preceded her into meetings. The public grief and sadness there has been at her death is unsurprising, though Penny would’ve been embarrassed by all the fuss.

I met Penny at Coventry Peace House in 2004, a housing co-operative she set up with Becqke and John, fellow Alvis Peace Campers from the ’90s.

A founder member of the Coventry Refugee Centre, she and Alan…

1 August 2021 Milan Rai

If we want a safer country, we need a less violent foreign policy, argues Milan Rai

As the world reflects on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks in Washington DC and New York, we face a choice. We can try to understand what motivates people to carry out jihadist attacks, which might give us a chance of preventing them from happening again. Alternatively, we can close our eyes and refuse to discuss possible causes, which rules out the possibility of effective preventive action – which means more people will die.

Here in Britain, there is a sort of secret…

1 August 2021 Milan Rai

Britain has sold £20bn of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015

Yemen continues to suffer the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, with half the population going hungry and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine. 

A dramatic fall in the value of Yemen’s currency, the riyal, has only worsened the situation, while peace negotiations drag on without an end in sight.

Britain’s response to Yemen’s suffering has been to worsen the crisis, not just by supporting but by joining in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.…

20 July 2021 Milan Rai

'If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.'

I’m writing this as we’re approaching the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, and I’m thinking about racism and anti-racism and solidarity.

There’s a thing that a lot of activists call ‘being an ally’ or ‘allyship’. What this means is that you’re not the target of a particular oppression, but you want to challenge that oppression and be actively on the side of people who are the direct targets of that oppression.

So, for example, there was a wave of solidarity…

20 July 2021 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa reflects on the continuing journeys of 2015 poetry collection

Large parts of 2015 were dominated by images of people packed into wooden fishing boats and rubber dinghies trying to get to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean.

There were images of people, including unaccompanied children, making impossible journeys on foot.

There were images of people climbing over razor wire in Europe, and police forces in different countries using batons and teargas against people at the border.

Months before the image of Alan Kurdi’s body on a…

20 July 2021 Joan Michelson

A poem by Joan Michelson

i

After his success with mustard gas at Ypres,
Fritz Haber’s wife killed herself.

To be precise, she took his service pistol
and shot herself through the mouth.

Her husband had betrayed the ideals of science.
‘It makes no difference.’ he insisted, ‘It for

the fatherland.’ She was the first woman
in Germany to take a doctorate in chemistry,

her husband’s field. They had taken the same vow
to work for moral good. Now he was the…

20 July 2021 Penny Stone

What incredible strength it takes to stay where you are, to offer food and drink to strangers, and to sing together ...

‘Mawtini, Mawtini…’ ‘My homeland, my homeland / Glory and beauty, sublimity and splendour / Are in your hills, are in your hills’

I first visited the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem in 2009 when I was working as a human rights observer with EAPPI (the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel).

We visited the area because Palestinian residents had been evicted from their homes and Israeli settlers had moved in.

Israeli settlers,…

20 July 2021 Cath

Our Leeds-cooperator turns her attention to money

Money is power, money is message, money makes the world go round. Time is money. Every little counts. It’s all about money.

Credo: I want to see a world without money, where people give according their ability and receive according to their needs, where power is collective and resources are shared.

In the meantime though….

As I go to sleep thinking about money for this article, Liza Minelli and Joel Grey* are shimmying, pouting and grimacing across my mental…

20 July 2021 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We need to talk more about death, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We need to talk about death. Even as I write this sentence, I can almost hear PN readers groan ‘what, more?! Haven’t we talked about death enough in the past year?!’ But, yes, we must talk about death. We must talk about death on both micro and macro scales.

On the micro scale, the past year has painfully reminded many people, including myself, that the only two things we are assured of in life are death and taxes. I have come to the conclusion that we have absolutely nothing…

20 July 2021 Claire Poyner

Freedom of speech doesn't mean a right to insult, our columnist argues

Free speech and ‘cancel culture’.

Yes, it’s another of those current buzzwords/phrases, along with ‘woke’ (which appears to have replaced ‘PC gone mad’, ‘snowflake’ or ‘triggered’ (the latter always seems to require that quote from The Princess Bride: ‘You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means’)).

Universities in particular have also been accused of curtailing free speech by ‘no platforming’ resulting in ‘cancel culture’.

I cannot…

6 July 2021 Selina Nwulu

A poem by Selina Nwulu from a new collection

I found my body parts at the
bottom of an editor’s bin

loose rinds of the lips
my mother gave me
a yanked tooth
the bridge of my brow
wilted laugh lines
shredded coils of hair
the scrunched petals of my nose
fistfuls of plump
shades of my skin
seeping out of the sides
until there was light, so much light
and I think…

6 July 2021 Penny Stone

Every story we hear, every idea, has the chance to sow a seed of change, of learning, of divergence from the dominant narrative.

In ancient Greece, Plato warned of the danger to the state of 'musical innovation'.

More recently, Leopold I of Belgium wrote to queen Victoria: 'Beware of artists, they mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous.'

It’s no secret that countless governments have tried to suppress the voices of artists for fear of the power they might have to sow seeds of questions and different ideas in the minds of all people.

3 March was Music Freedom Day,…

6 July 2021 Paula Osorio

Paula Osorio reviews an award-winning documentary

Skateboarding is a global language, over the years it has reached unimaginable places. It has allowed new generations, cultures, and traditions to resignify the environment in which they find themselves and to see in the skateboard a place to excel and express themselves with the freedom of athletes.

Although it is true that Afghan culture has been exposed to an insurmountable war, the most affected have been its population who, without opportunity and in extreme poverty, have had to…

6 July 2021 Cath

Our Leeds co-operator indulges in a spot of house-clearing

Photograph: my parents’ registry-office wedding in 1971, drinks with my dad’s family.

Photograph: my mother with all my dad’s female relatives, glamorous hair and flowing dresses and cigarettes, all laughing.

Photographs: one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old me with various other small children in various large gardens.

Odd/not odd – all white faces, well I suppose they would be. Even though they were living in a country with a white population around 20 percent.…

6 July 2021 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Rebecca Elson-Watkins celebrates Russell T Davies' new TV series It's a Sin

It’s not often a work of televised fiction comes along that I would call important.

Watching Russell T Davis’ new five-part miniseries, It’s A Sin, for me, ‘important’ was the only word to describe it. 

The series focuses on the lives of a group of young, gay men and their friends, in London during the height of the AIDS crisis in Britain. It’s A Sin is, unsurprisingly given the topic, tough viewing; I am not ashamed to admit I wept.

I was born in…

6 July 2021 Claire Poyner

Our columnist identifies the 'most oppressed, side-lined, discriminated-against, group in society today'

Last year, I reviewed Men who Hate Women by Laura Bates. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the issues raised there more frequently than I would normally like.

Of course, I am aware that there are extreme misogynists, there probably always have been, but they’re more obvious these days and they have the opportunities to spout their opinions (to which they are entitled, I guess) where I can read them.

It’s unfortunate that I am unable to bypass the comments page, or…

6 July 2021 PN staff

How many Housmans Peace Diaries do you still have?

Image

 

CND vice-president Bruce Kent recently had this photo taken to show off his unbroken run of Housmans Peace Diaries from 1980 to 2020. Do you have a longer sequence? Do you own more than Bruce’s record-breaking collection of 41 one-year-after-the-other Housmans Peace Diaries? If so, claim your prize by sending a photo to: editorial@peacenews.info

4 July 2021 Milan Rai

How can white anti-racists stay motivated for the long struggle ahead?

I hope that you found the Whiteness issue useful. I have one more thing to say to white readers, to folk who want to prioritise anti-racism.

If you are a white person who aims to be in this for the long haul, then you may need to dig deep and find some ways that you personally can benefit from the rooting out of racism.

White US philosopher Shannon Sullivan ends her thought-provoking book on White Privilege by pointing out that there are problems with white people…

4 July 2021 Penny Stone

Penny Stone celebrates a historic moment in the struggle against nuclear weapons

22 January saw a landmark moment for the global peace movement – the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons entered into force on 22 January 2021 after it reached its 50th ratification last October. 

When the treaty first came into being, thanks to the work of peace campaigners around the world (under the umbrella of ICAN), we were still able to gather together safely in large numbers. 

There was a great celebration at Faslane, the nuclear weapons base just outside of…

4 July 2021 Cath

Is living in desperately bad material circumstances a pre-requisite for a revolutionary society?, wonders our Leeds cooperator

Unlearning racism. Surely, Cath, you can’t be questioning such an obviously good thing to do? No, no, honest to god, I’m glad, I wanted to be part of a white caucus doing this stuff years ago, but, excuses, excuses, didn’t prioritise it. 

And the housing co-op is an excellent ready-made group of people who know each other well – it is clear that most of us want to be held accountable and want the skills to hold each other accountable. Fab!

But I do feel a bit defeated and glum…