The Broken Rifle

Broken Rifle Cover WRI100
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WRI commemorated their 100th anniversary in 2021. As part of this commemoration, alongside social media actions and some public online events that were held during the year, we decided to gather some articles into The Broken Rifle, our main publication. 

In this issue, you will find 6 articles that focus on WRI and its network's history, as well as a summary of the actions and events that were organised specially for WRI’s centenary.

We have included a collection of testimonies from past WRI staff members, filled with anecdotes and reflections about WRI and the impact it had in their lives; an interview with Michael Randle who was chairperson of WRI from 1966 to 1973; a brief reconstruction of the history of the WRI's Women's Working Group along with reflections from some of its members (an article we published in a previous Broken Rifle issue); an essay that reflects on the links of the Antimilitarist Network of Latin America and the Caribbean and WRI during the years; an article about The Insumisión campaign that ended with compulsory military service in the Spanish State; and finally an article about the birth and history of the Pan African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding network that highlight, among many other important facts, the involvement and support of WRI before and after its conformation. 

The centenary was a good opportunity to look into our history and reflect on the future of our network and the work it does and needs to do, to continue resisting war and all its causes. We hope this special edition of the Broken Rifle motivates the antimilitarism movement to bring from the past all the experiences and learnings into their present activism, to know what practices and approaches are worth continuing and what new ways it needs to create to strengthen their future campaigns and actions.

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In 2021, we commemorated the 100th year since WRI’s foundation. During the year we held events to mark the centennial to reflect on the past, review our present resistance and ask what the coming years hold for our network.

During the 100 years since WRI's foundation, many activists and groups have worked together and inside WRI's network, as executive and council members, affiliates, close allies and so on. On this occasion, we wanted to highlight the experiences of some of the previous staff members, who for several years worked at the WRI office, organising events, meetings and different actions, creating friendships, alliances and good memories. These are their testimonies!

The WRI Women's Working Group was formally established in 1985 at WRI Triennial Conference in India. From that moment on, a very important work continued, to which several anti-militarist and / or feminist women from WRI's network joined. The women's working group had an impact worth remembering, highlighting and continuing. This piece gathers the reflections of some of the women who were an active part of the working group, sharing their experiences and the impact they consider the group had on both WRI, and on their activism and personal life. Also, you can find at the end of this story a timeline assembled by Joanne Sheehan with help from Ellen, Dorie, Cynthia Cockburn, her files and memory, that briefly summarises WWG trajectory.

The Antimilitarist Network of Latinamerica and the Caribbean (RAMALC by its acronym in Spanish) is closely linked to War Resisters' International (WRI). This link is mutual and sustained: The history of both organizations shows this.

In December 2001, the last recruits abandoned military barracks across Spain after having completed the final nine months of obligatory military service. In many European states, the end of forced recruitment had been motivated almost exclusively by the military forces' evolution towards global intervention operations, whilst in Spain the system of forced recruitment had collapsed despite years of government efforts.

Last year WRI staff member Andrew Metheven interviewed Michael Randle, who was Chairperson of WRI from 1966 to 1973. The interview explored WRI's resistance to the Vietnam War, the organisational culture, and the impact of the organisation.

The Pan African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network (PANPEN) was born on 30th July 2012 and reorganized in June 2014. The PANPEN  connects and empowers African civil society and grassroots peace movements and activists to take nonviolent actions to transform conflicts and promote peace and democracy reforms. steering committee was developed at the side event of War Resisters' International (WRI) conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2014. Over the last couple of years, PANPEN has through its individual members and member organizations contributed to peace and political reforms in the region.