From the office

Standing up to Repression

The Broken Rifle, No 94, December 2012

Fear is something that every social movement has to deal with, whether in situations of severe repression or in relatively open societies. Discussing fear under the Pinochet dictatorship, the Chilean social commentator Manuel Antonio Garretón referred to two archetypal childhood fears: the fear of the dog that bites, and the fear of the darkened room. The specific threat that we can see, assess and work out how to handle, and the generalised threat of an unknown - a room where something bad might be waiting for you. In a dictatorship or under an occupation, the presence of fear is tangible - yet there are always episodes where somehow people overcome that fear and take action. In relatively open societies, the fears may not be so obvious - yet they are there, somehow always a factor in maintaining obedience and conformity, in inhibiting people from questioning authority or sometimes simply from being who we want to be.

Bon voyage, Andreas

After 11 years in the WRI office - and a period before that in which he was WRI treasurer and principal organiser of the 2001 study conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment - Andreas Speck is leaving the WRI office. From 1 January onwards, he will be cycling from Buenos Aires northwards.

One of the best compliments for an anarchist - or indeed any nonviolent activist - is to describe them as a practical visionary, and Andreas has been the epitome of a practical visionary. As the main architect of WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme, he has worked for the rights of objectors yet keeping firmly in mind that the point of war resistance is to prevent war and build a better future. Through this programme, WRI has effectively interceded with international institutions while keeping our character as a mutual support network trying to change the world, rather than becoming yet another "NGO". All over the world - from Turkey and Egypt to Russia, South Korea and Latin America - there are objector groups who have benefited from his understanding of their context and support in making them more effective.

Solidarity: a barrier between you and fear

Dear friends,

My name is Hülya Üçpınar, I am a human rights lawyer in Turkey. I write on returning from an exchange on nonviolence training co-hosted by War Resisters' International. The event reminded me of the distinctive contribution that WRI makes to movements for peace and antimilitarism.

Fundamentally, WRI is a network -- a collective of like-minded groups, each struggling against militarism and warmongering in our own contexts. With the support of two staff in the WRI office in London, we lend each other vital solidarity and encouragement.

Antimilitarism South Korean Style

Javier Gárate

During the first two weeks of October (2012), I visited South Korea, invited by the group World Without War to give a training for trainers in nonviolent action and to visit Gangjeong village, on Jeju Island, where people are resisting the construction of a naval base.

It is well known that South Korea is a militarised country, with the protracted conflict with North Korea being a permanent reminder of this militarisation.

For a decade WRI has been cooperating with South Korean antimilitarists. This began in 2001 when South Korean activists asked WRI for support in their work on conscientious objection. At that time there were hundreds of Jehovah's Witness COs in prison for their refusal to military service. In early 2002 political COs started to organise themselves, and WRI played an important role in supporting their work. Initially their CO work came more from a Human Rights perspective but rapidly it took a more antimilitarist approach, with nonviolence being an important identity for them. As nonviolence and antimilitarism took a more prominent role in their work, they started expanding their work beyond CO support. That is how World Without War (2003) came to existence as a group resisting war by nonviolent means.

Resistance and Nonviolence to the coup d'etat in Paraguay

Statement of War Resisters' International

War Resisters’ International, a network of 83 organisations from 42 countries, maintain our founding declaration of 1921 that “War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.” At our 2012 Council meeting in the city of Bilbao, Basque Country, we make the following statement:

Say No to NATO - Report of the 2012 Chicago NATO Summit

Andrea Pettersson & Anna Sanne Göransson

We were sent to represent the European NVDA network at the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice in Chicago, which ran in parallel with NATO’s 2012 summit. We went to the Counter-Summit to network, build relations and strengthen the movement on both sides of the ocean by making contacts and sharing experiences. We gave a workshop on our NVDA-actions against NATO in Europe and talked about the European Antimilitaristic Network (EAN). We were honored and happy to do so and hope that hearing about our experiences is useful for you all.

Office and Executive Report - July 2011 - August 2012

This report has been prepared by the staff and Executive Committee

1. Introduction

Since July 2011 WRI has had a very impressive calendar of events - perhaps the highlights were the War Profiteering seminar in Barcelona in October, the Countering the Militarisation of Youth seminar in Germany in June, the African Nonviolence Training Exchange in Johannesburg in July, as well as the vital work of mobilising support for Maikel Nabil Sanad, an anti-militarist imprisoned by the post-'revolutionary' regime in Egypt.

War Resisters' International Executive statement on the harassment of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)

War Resisters' International (WRI), the international network of pacifist organisations with more than 80 affiliates in more than 40 countries, calls for an end to the harassment of our affiliate Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and to the physical attacks on members of GALZ. Furthermore, WRI strongly condemns the violation of basic human rights of the members of GALZ, such as freedom of association, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and freedom from torture and degrading treatment.

WRI announces Hannah Brock as new staff person

As you may already know, Andreas Speck, who has been the Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker at the WRI office since 2001, has decided to move on, and will be leaving the post at the end of this year. In his time in the WRI office, Andreas has shaped the programme, and to a great extent - WRI as a whole, and has done an outstanding job. But we'll have the opportunity to thank Andreas for all that he's done properly at a later occasion. For now we would like to introduce to you the new Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker, who will join the WRI office staff in September.

After we advertised the vacancy earlier in the year, we received an unprecedented number of applications - over 80 - many of them from excellent candidates. However, one candidate impressed us more than all the others, with her intelligence, personality and deep understanding of the many complex issues that are at stake in WRI's work. Her name is Hannah Brock, and let her now briefly present herself to you.

Harare police launch manhunt for members of WRI's affiliate GALZ

GALZ Alert 17 August 2012

Harare police have launched a manhunt of the 44 GALZ members who were beaten and detained before being released without charges last week. From last night the police have visited the homes of about ten members. It is not clear what they want from the members, so far three of them who were detained, interrogated and their personal details recorded have been released.

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