News from the frontline – with thanks to Jonathan Russell, Chair Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Both the Scrap Trident Demonstration and the Blockade were a great success. The atmosphere at both events was terrific.
The courage shown by the 47 people mostly women some in their 70’s who decided to be arrested by sitting in front of the entrances of the Faslane Nuclear base was an example to us all.
One of the people arrested was a man from the North-East who has been charged with breach of the peace and resisting arrest. It is hoped that the charges will be dropped.
The actions and in particular the blockade received considerable positive press coverage however there was for whatever reason a noticeable gap in TV coverage.
There was a large contingent of people from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire involved in both events with representation at both the South and North Gates of Faslane as part of the blockade.
A coalition of groups opposed to Trident known as Scrap Trident has been formed both at Scottish level and in Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire – see: http://scraptrident.org/
A weekend of Action will be taking place this coming weekend 13th/15th April as part of the Scrap Trident Campaign.
This will include:
A National demonstration against Trident in Glasgow this Saturday 13th of April
Mass workshops on non violent direct action training in Glasgow on Sunday 14th April
Finally next Monday 15th there will be a mass blockade of Faslane and supporting demonstration
Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament stated:
“There are many reasons to get involved in particular abhorrence of Nuclear weapons and their potential for mass slaughter and ultimately their ability destroy our planet. At a time of massive cuts in public spending the one obvious cut is that of the replacement for Trident, estimated by Greenpeace at £97 billion
“Whether you are for, against or undecided on the question of independence, the actions will foreground the question on whether we should have nuclear weapons in Scotland, the UK or, indeed, anywhere in the world. These actions will be the largest anti-nuclear demonstration in Scotland and blockade of Faslane since the 1980’s”
Coaches will be going to the demonstration in Glasgow from Aberdeen on Saturday 13th April.
A special event will take place on Saturday 30th March at 2 p.m. in St Nicholas Square, to raise awareness of the ‘Scrap Trident’ Weekend of Action coming up on the 13th to the 15th of April.
A coalition of groups opposed to Trident, known as Scrap Trident, has been formed, both at Scottish level and in Aberdeen and shire. Find out more at http://scraptrident.org/
The Weekend of Action will be taking place as part of this campaign. It will include:
A national demonstration against Trident in Glasgow on the 13th of April; and
workshops on non-violent direct action training in Glasgow, on Sunday 14th of April.
Finally on Monday the 15th, there will be a mass blockade of Faslane and a supporting demonstration.
To raise awareness of these actions, there will be a gathering in St Nicholas Square Aberdeen, outside Marks and Spencer on Saturday 30th March at 2 p.m. The gathering will include music and speakers from trade unions, student bodies and a variety of political and pressure groups opposed to Trident.
The speakers will include Leonna O’Neill from Scrap Trident, who will also be running a workshop on non-violent direct action on Sunday 31st March, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Belmont Cinema. Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament says
“There are many reasons to get involved in the particular abhorrence of nuclear weapons, and their potential for mass slaughter and ultimately the destruction of our planet. At a time of massive cuts in public spending, the one obvious cut is that of the replacement for Trident, at a cost estimated by Greenpeace at £97 billion.
“Whether you are for, against or undecided on the question of independence, the debate will foreground the question of whether we should have nuclear weapons in Scotland, the UK or, indeed, anywhere in the world.”
Coaches will be going to the demonstration in Glasgow from Aberdeen on Saturday 13th April.
A coach will leave for Glasgow from behind His Majesty’s Theatre at 7.30 a.m. on the 13th April and leave for Aberdeen on the return journey at 4 p.m. It will cost £12 for waged and £8 for unwaged people. If you want to book a place on the coach, or need further information, please contact Jonathan Russell on 01224-586435, mobile 0758-245-6233 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament invite you to a weekend of action from 13th to 15th April to scrap the Trident nuclear missile system. With thanks to Jonathan Russell.
There are many reasons to get involved:
The abhorrence of Nuclear weapons and their potential for mass slaughter and ultimately to destroy our planet.
At a time of massive cuts in public spending the one obvious cut is that of the replacement for Trident, estimated by Greenpeace at £97 billion
Whether you are for, against or undecided on the question of independence, the debate will foreground the question on whether we should have nuclear weapons in Scotland, the UK or, indeed, anywhere in the world.
A coalition of groups opposed to Trident has been formed both at Scottish level and locally – see: http://scraptrident.org/ - as a result of which there will be joint action by a number of local groups over the coming weeks which will include:
Weekly stalls/leafleting outside Marks and Spencer’s on every Saturday: 23rd, 30th March and 6thApril from 2-4pm
On March 30th at 2pm there will be a gathering outside Marks and Spencer with speakers opposed to Trident
On Sunday 31st March there will be non-violent direct action training from 2-6pm at the Belmont Cinema
On Saturday 13th April there will be a coach going to the demonstration in Glasgow leaving from Spa Street (at the back of His Majesty’s Theatre) at 7.30am. The coach will leave from Glasgow at 4pm and return to Aberdeen for around 7.30pm. Cost of tickets will be £12 waged / £8 unwaged.
If you wish to travel on the coach please let Jonathan know either by phone leaving a message at 01224 586435 or via email:email@example.com
Aberdeen Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be running a Song and Poetry Night on Friday 21st September at 7.30 at the Quaker Meeting House to mark the International Day of Peace.
Special activities will be taking place across the world. To inaugurate the day the Peace Bell is rung at the United Nations. The 21st September is the opening day of regular sessions of the United Nations.
The idea of an International Day of Peace came from one man James Gilley who hounded world leaders to make it happen.
It was put forward at the United Nations in 1981 by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica (the only country in the world not to have a standing army)
The day is dedicated to Peace and the Absence of War.
Jeremy Gilley along with the film star Jude Law have organised a concert this year at the Wembley Arena to be headlined by Elton John.
If you want to be part of the celebration in Aberdeen please come along to the Quaker Meeting House at 7.30pm on 21st September. Those performing include Kirsty Potts, Dave Davies and Hilda Meers- you can bring along your own peace related songs/music or poetry if you so wish.
At the next meeting of Aberdeen CND on Monday 10th April, Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen CND and also a member of Campaign Against the Arms Trade, will be leading a discussion on the Arms Trade. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm on the Top Floor of the Belmont Cinema, Belmont Street, Aberdeen.
The arms trade is a deadly, corrupt business. It supports conflicts and human rights abusing regimes while squandering valuable resources which could be used to deal with the many social and environmental challenges we face here on Planet Earth. It does this with the full support of governments around the world, in particular the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom.
These are the very countries which are meant to be our global custodians, but are in fact the very countries which are feeding global insecurity and conflict.
While very few countries sell large volumes of weaponry, the buyers are spread across the world. Other than to the five permanent UN Security Council members, the largest buyers are in the Middle East and South East Asia. The arms themselves range from fighter aircraft, helicopters and warships with guided missiles, radar and electronic warfare systems, tanks, armoured vehicles, machine guns and rifles.
The common misconception is that it is the illegal trade that is damaging, while the legal trade is tightly controlled and acceptable. However, the vast majority of arms sold around the world including those to human rights abusing governments or into areas of conflict are legal and are supported by governments. In 2007 the value of legal arms around the world amounted to 60 billion dollars. The illegal market is estimated at 5 billion dollars: many illegal weapons end up as legal weapons.
The arms trade exists to provide weapons to those who can pay for them. What the buyers do with the arms, what political approval the sales signify, and how money could be better spent appears irrelevant to the arms companies and our governments. The UK Government’s 2010 Human Rights Annual Report identified 26 countries of concern. In that year the UK approved arms licences to 16 of these.
There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.
David Cameron was in the Middle East on a high-profile mission to sell arms when the democracy movement started in the Middle East. Selling arms to a country in conflict whether internal or external makes the conflict more deadly and longer lasting.
If there is tension between countries or within a country, then arms purchases are likely to increase this tension and make actual conflict more likely.
Even when conflict has ended, arms, particularly small arms, may remain in large numbers (as in Libya at present), fuelling further conflicts and/or criminal activity.
Every year the UK Government authorises the sale of arms to well over 100 countries. This is hardly surprising given that it is Government policy to vigorously support arms exports. Peter Luff, Minister of Defence Exports in the present UK Government, has stated that:
“There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.”
Arms companies and Government are inseparable when it comes to selling arms. The Government’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) department is a vital element of UK’s arms dealing. In 2008 the Government opened the Defence and Security Organisation which promotes weaponry on behalf of arms companies. There are 158 civil servants in the Defence and Security Organisation while other non-arms sectors have137 staff. This is despite arms accounting for less than 1.5 Percent of UK exports.
• Arms export jobs as a percentage of total employment: 0.2%
• Arms as a percentage of exports: 1.5 %
• UK Government Research Expenditure Spent on Arms: 27%
• UK trade and investment staff committed to selling arms: 54%
Research carried out for Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) by the Stockholm International Peace Institute assesses the level of subsidy by Government to the arms trade in the UK to be around £700 million a year. In 2010 the UK Government issued 10,850 arms export licences, refused 230, and revoked 14.
Half of the refusals related to proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, with a maximum of 76 being revoked on the grounds that they contributed to internal repression, internal conflict or regional instability. Foreign office embassies also promote the arms sales, as do the Ministry of Defence armed services. Arms fairs are common in the UK and around the world. The governments of host countries provides support for their arms firms.
Arms sales from the UK seem to vary from year to year:
• 2007 9651 million (particularly high because of sales of Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia)
• 2008 4367 million
• 2009 7261 million also high as included Typhoon support services to Saudi Arabia)
• 2010 5819 million
Of the 16 countries identified by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as locations of major conflict in 2009, the UK sold arms to 12.
Columnist Will Self - “War, the arms trade and the abuse of language”
BAE arms are the UK’s main arms company and has military customers in over 100 countries. BAE’s focus over the past few years has been on increasing sales to the US, specifically targeting equipment for conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and supplying Euro fighters and other arms to Saudi Arabia. BAE routinely supplies countries which the UK Foreign Office considers as having ‘the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns’.
The casualties of conflict are now overwhelmingly civilian, increasing from 50% of war related deaths in the first half of the twentieth century to 90% near the end of the century.
The arms trade affects development both through the money wasted on arms purchased and through the conflicts fuelled by arms.
A study in 2007 by Oxfam of the economic cost of armed conflict to Africa estimated that Africa loses around 18 billion dollars a year due to wars and that armed conflict shrinks an African nations economy by 15%.
As well as the direct effects of military spending, medical costs and the destruction of infrastructure, there are indirect costs on the economy and employment suffers ( this does not take into account the countless human misery caused by loss of life and sustained injuries effecting families and friends as well as the individuals concerned).
The study estimated that the cost of conflicts in Africa since 1990 was equivalent to the aid provided to them by major donors.
Even when conflict is not taking place money diverted to arms is a drain on government resources and takes away from vital spending on health education and infrastructure. The massive 1998 South African arms deals for aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines cost the country over £8billion. Yet most of the population live in shanty towns and other poor housing and South Africans with HIV/AIDS were told that the country could not afford ant-retroviral medication.
Despite desperate poverty and its recent appalling history of armed struggle, the UK government is actively promoting arms struggle to Angola. The UK government not only approved arms exports to Angola it actively organised an “industry day’’ when HMS Liverpool docked in Angola waters and hosted Angolan political and military officials.
The arms trade causes countless misery in our world; it is a poor use of limited resources which should be used to make this world a better place. We need to question the thinking in the world that believes you only get what you want by force. The five members of the Security Council should start taking on their responsibilities and use conflict resolution rather than warfare to sort the many conflicts that take place both between and within countries.
The Council has taken a bit of a pasting recently, probably in Voice as much as anywhere. That’s what happens when we invite citizens to pen articles for us. One of Aberdeen Voice’s founders, Ross Cunningham, makes a welcome return by musing on some of the things that councils responsible for the city actually got right over the years.
Let’s face it, our city council is pretty woeful.
Hundreds of millions in debt, essential services cut, hair-brained schemes to revamp the city centre and deafness to those who wish to voice their opinions on the city itself.
But, was it always like this? Surely our great city’s leaders must have been competent once upon a time?
I’m sure there are many more fantastic schemes the council has facilitated over the years that I’ve left out, so please feel free to add to the list. But first try these…..
1. Raising Union Street to street level from Union Terrace to Castlegate
What a superb plan. It almost bankrupted the city when it was built in the 19th century but that was the problem of Aberdonians back then and not ours. Can you imagine having to go downhill and back up again to get from KFC to Poundland? No thank you!
2. Putting the Canal Street signpost on top of a pole instead of at street level
Brilliant! We were all tired of seeing people scoring out the C and S to formulate a crude and badly-spelled statement. To hell with delivery drivers unfamiliar to the area who may not have a TomTom to guide them. Someone needs to treat these things anally!
3. Britain In Bloom champions umpteen times
Being an ex-gardener, the floral displays in the city have always delighted me. Considering we are surrounded by grey, the colour and vibrancy the flowers provided were always a welcome sight. It looks like we may have a new place to show off our horticultural nous very soon. I’d rather we just did up the old one.
4. Revamping Marischal College
It’s amazing what you can do with a pressure washer nowadays. The granite sparkles with a freshness not seen for at least half a century – apart from the old church on the side – and it sits across the road from the recently-evacuated monstrosity. Still, the view from the never-ending queue to wait to discuss inaccuracies on your council tax bill is better than it ever has been.
5. Rebranding the city arms logo
Does anyone remember when the leopards on the city logo looked a bit too fierce and menacing? Surely not the sort of image the city would wish to portray? The answer? Make them look more like a cartoon drawn by an infant, with their tongues sticking out. Sorted.
This is my third article on Libya over the seven month period of the ‘revolution’.
The reason that I have written these articles is the general silence and passive acceptance that has taken place on developments in Libya as they have unfolded, and my wish to raise awareness.
I am also greatly concerned in a period when we should have learnt from world wars and numerous conflicts across the world that war is not the solution and leads to untold misery.
Yet war has become our most favoured form of foreign intervention. My intention had been to leave writing a further article until a new government was formed however the atrocities that have taken place at the end revolution have led me to writing the present article. I realise much of what I report goes against what many people have come to believe, but feel it essential to report on what I have read.
My previous arguments have been that rather than relying solely on military intervention, negotiations should have taken place with the prerequisite that elections were held under the auspices of the United Nations. Everyone could have had a say regarding the future of Libya: including those who supported Qaddafi’s green movement who have been effectively disenfranchised.
The African Union and Venezuela offered to broker negotiations and Qaddafi and the then Libyan government on frequent occasions wanted to have a cease fire and negotiations. I also argued that all those responsible for torture and war crimes whether Qaddafi’s regime, NATO or the revolutionary militias should be put before an international court for their crimes.
On the 4th February following International pressure the International Criminal Court have stated that they will be investigating war crimes perpetuated by Qaddafi Loyalists, the National Transitional Government and NATO. Interestingly this has not been reported in the British media but is whatever a significant step forward in terms of justice
If you do nothing else please watch the following video.
Journalist Lizzie Phelan was in Tripoli before during and after its fall. She explains the support for Qaddafi including a 1.7 million demonstration in Tripoli in support of Qaddafi in July, of an entire population of around five million in Libya.
She also reports on how the media was falsely reporting, the democratic nature of Qaddafi’s regime, how many women took up arms and of mass murder by NATO. Have a look on You Tube and compare footage of the numbers demonstrating for Qaddafi and those for the revolutionary fighters.
Seamus Milne in the Guardian has argued that intervention by the West rather than saving public lives has in fact increased deaths at least tenfold. Off course we can never know what might have happened if the then Libyan Government tanks had reached Benghazi. What we do know is that in towns that Qaddafi’s troops did retake, reprisals if any were minimal.
We also know that that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that there have been considerable reprisals by the Revolutionary militias as well as the deaths inflicted by NATO bombing. Estimates of those killed range from 10,000 to 50,00 with many more injured in a population of around five million.
Amnesty International has evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities carried out by the revolutionary militias. Human rights watch have identified a number of mass graves and discovered 53 bodies with hands tied of Qaddafi fighter’s, some who had clearly been in hospital, near to the hotel used by Qaddafi loyalists just before he was he was murdered. In Sirte over 500 fighters and civilians were killed in the last ten days
There was knowledge by the revolutionary militia and NATO, as evidenced by militia fighters speaking on the BBC that Qaddafi was in Sirte in the last few days of fighting.
Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.
The statement by NATO that they did not now that Gaddafi was in the 80 strong convoy that was bombed while trying to escape Sirte was almost certainly untrue, as was the assertion that the bombings and drone attacks was done to protect civilians as they were fleeing not attacking anyone.
A reporter on the BBC said the carnage was horrific.
What I believe has happened has been a concerted attempt by the revolutionary militias and NATO to destroy Qaddafi’s Green movement supporters in Libya so that they cannot become a force in a future Libya. Mustafa Abdel Jalil the National Transitional Council Chairman and previously Qaddafi’s Justice Minister tried to put the blame of Qaddafi’s death onto Qaddafi’s own snipers despite the horrendous mobile footage that was published on the net all over the world.
Peter Boukaret the head of Human Rights Watch in Libya has seen revolutionary militias burning homes in Tawerga where the majority of people were black Libyans who were seen as supporters of the Qaddafi regime, so that they can never return to their home town.
Under International law combatants should be released at the end of a civil war but the Washington Post has reported that 1,000 Qaddafi loyalists are packed in dingy jails and have faced abuse and even torture. Amnesty International have criticised the EU for leaving 5,000 Sub-Saharan refugees camped in appalling conditions on Libya’s border
Will Self on the BBC has pointed out that arms are still being sold to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco who have equally poor human rights records. He also pointed out that arms on both sides of the Libyan conflict were supplied by Britain. Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.
It could be suggested that it was in the interests of Western Leaders for Qaddafi not to live as at any court hearing he could have informed the world of the arms and human rights deals brokered with the likes of Sarkozy and Blair.
The future of Libya is most certainly in the balance. Abel Hakim Belhaj kidnapped by MI6 and tortured in Libya is threatening legal action against the UK Government, and who is the leader of the militias in Tripoli, has already warned that they will not be taking orders from the National Transitional Council.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil Chairperson of the National Transitional council’s attempts to mollify the Islamic militias is to say that a future state will be based in Shariah law and that polygamy not allowed previously in Libya would be allowed.
The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians.
This in itself would suggest that women’s role in Libya will take a considerable backward step. Kevin Rudd the Australian Foreign minister has warned that Libya could become another Iraq. There could well be further conflict before any elections take place.
What I would conjecture is that though there will be on-going violence, it is more likely that what will happen is that elections will eventually take place and the winners will be those that are sympathetic to the west. However as corruption increases as in Afghanistan and many people’s living standards fall, that within ten years the Islamic parties as the only alternative will gain electoral or even military victory.
One factor not reported in our media is that Qaddafi through the African Union and with other Middle Eastern states had been pushing for a new currency – the Gold Dinar. This would have been a threat to the Euro and the Dollar. This would have soon come into effect and would have enriched African countries and had a negative effect on western countries. This in itself was a major reason as to why they wanted to get rid of Qaddafi as he had large stocks of gold.
Britain’s new defence secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC:
”I would expect British Companies to be packing their suitcases for Libya”
UK trade and Investment a British Government body has estimated that oil, gas and reconstruction works will be worth over 320 billion dollars over the next ten years.
Daniel Kaczynski a conservative MP and Chair of the parliamentary Libyan committee who has written extensively on Qaddafi and who has been a major influence on British Policy on Libya has suggested that Libya pay back the costs of British military intervention. Previous to the revolution the majority of contracts were going to Russia and China.
There are already significant land and property claims being made by Libyans who lost their property under Qaddafi this will have a significant knock on effect pushing those who have lived in the property and land into poverty
The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians. It has been about regime change and a grab for lucrative resources and ending Qaddafi’s nearly met aim of creating a Gold Dinar as an alternative currency to threaten the Euro and the Dollar.
In carrying out this policy the revolutionary militias aided extensively by NATO have carried out and continue to carry out genocide of ideological nature against those many Libyans who continued to support Qaddafi.