As we get ready for another WRI get-together - with WRI's Council meeting taking place in Luleå, as part of the activities of War Starts Here, organised by Swedish antimilitarist group Ofog – here we have an issue of The Broken Rifle focusing on what we do best at WRI: mutual support and international solidarity. WRI is a network of groups committed to antimilitarism and nonviolence, the network depends on the work and support of its members - as many of you know WRI has a
very small office run by two staff.
During the month of July 2011 almost 200 antimilitarists, from different parts of the world, took part in the activities of “War Starts Here” – The war starts here in a peace camp in Lulea in the north of Sweden. The ten days of activities included the WRI council meeting, a seminar under the same title, trainings in direct non violent action, and a series of actions against NEAT, the North European Aerospace Training base.
The global war machine each year, kills directly and indirectly, millions of people, destroying entire communities, and destroing nature. Contrary to the popular image of Sweden, both at home and abroad, Sweden plays a major role in the war industry. Sweden is the world's largest arms exporter per capita, Sweden participates in NATO's war in Afghanistan, and Sweden has the largest practice area for war within its borders.
A military exercise area for war in northern Sweden, a commercially independent but politically very hot area where the US and NATO countries are testing their weapon systems on previously neutral, but now only “alliance-used” land. The exercises also disturb the residents in neighbouring areas, and occur without regard to the UN Indigenous Rights Declaration.
The illegal blockade of Gaza has been condemned by most major international actors. The horrible consequences of this brutal violation of humanitarian law are unacceptable from every point of view. One and a half million people interned on the small strip (45 square km) between Israel, the Mediterranean, and Egypt. The blockade has reduced the transport of goods to and from Gaza by 80%.
From 11 to
15 May we – Andreas Speck, WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme
worker, and Igor Seke, conscientious objector from Serbia – visited
Egypt, originally to act as facilitators and resource persons in two
workshops on conscientious objection, pacifism, and military service,
which were planned with Maikel Nabil Sanad before his arrest on 28
Opinions are polarised on Venezuela. The western establishment argues that there is a socialist dictatorship while many on the left believe that a true socialist revolution is taking place. Chavez's denunciation of Western military intervention, his rhetorical opposition to capitalist globalisation, and the fact that he has survived an attempted coup make most of the world's anti-war movements likely to sympathise. But there is also disquiet – about the personality cult, about Chavez's own authoritarianism and affinity with other authoritarian rulers, about an economic policy which in reality is based on partnerships with western oil corporations, and for us in WRI the sheer militarism – the creation of uniformed militia, the presence of military officers at the head of “civilian” organisations, the continuing inculcation of a war mentality. At the invitation of PROVEA (an internationally respected human rights education organisation) and the anarchist magazine El Libertario, in May a three-person WRI delegation went to Caracas and also visited the state of Lara.
Devi Prasad, WRI's General Secretary from 1962-1972 and chairperson 1973-1975, died on 1 June in Delhi. An artist and potter, Devi graduated from Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan before moving to Sevagram where he worked with Gandhi from 1942 to 1947. Post-India's independence, he remained active in the Gandhian movement, especially in the field of education.
John Hyatt, secretary of War Resisters' International from 1980-84, has died of cancer at the age of 62 in Turkey. Michael Randle who served with John on the WRI Executive in the 1970s and during John's period as secretary pays tribute to him here:
I share the sense of shock and sadness which others have expressed over the death of John Hyatt. I first met him as a young man representing the Youth Section of the Peace Pledge Union at the WRI Council meeting in Vienna in August 1968.