Europe for Peace - International Seminar in Milton Keynes, 12/13 February 2010


From 12 to 13 February 2010, War Resisters' International organised an international seminar titled "Europe for Peace" at the Buddhist Temple in Milton Keynes. The main theme of the seminar was opposition to military bases, and the mapping of military infrastructure.

The seminar began with a talk by feminist antimilitarist researcher Cynthia Cockburn on the need for feminist resistance to military bases. Cynthia stressed the long history of women's resistance, and pointed out three main reasons for women only organising:

  • The first is that women have an experience of militarism and war that is specific to their gender. Birthing infants with radiation defects, like the Pacific women, is just one of these experiences. Rape of women on an epidemic scale, as in the Bosnian war and in the Congo and Sudan now – that is another. Then again, women do the majority of care work in our societies, paid and unpaid. They often feel a special anger about military expenditure because it reduces the budget available for the public and social services that support that work, and on which they depend. And so on. Women organize as women to make their particular experiences visible and understood.
  • The second reason behind “women-only” antiwar activism is simply to empower themselves, to be able to make decisions and exercise choice. Often in mixed groups it is men who take a lead. They may not mean to dominate, but somehow male voices carry more weight. This does not happen in all groups – and I am well aware I am speaking here to women and men from activist groups that are very careful to be inclusive in how they work and respectful in the way they relate to each other. But not all are like you. And women in not-so-wonderful groups sometimes get to think: “I can’t waste my time with this ‘double militancy’ - having to struggle in the group in order to struggle out there in the world. Let’s do it on our own.”
  • Women say the antiwar movement needs to address, yes, capitalist exploitation, and, yes, racist, nationalist impulses, but also systemic male power. All three, nothing less. And in our very own antiwar movement – just as we try not to behave like little capitalists, and just as we do not tolerate racism, so we should not tolerate sexism either. Our activism has to reflect the world we want to create - totally. Prefigurative struggle, it’s called. Coherencia entre fines y medios.

Sian Jones from Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp(aign) followed up with a presentation on AWE Aldermaston.

Hans Lammerant from Vredesactie closed the first day with a presentation on nuclear weapon bases in Europe, including US, UK, and French nuclear weapons.

On the second day of the seminar Tobias Pflüger from DFG-VK talked about the military infrastructure used for the war in Afghanistan. He pointed out that all German troops and supplies for the NATO operation in Afghanistan go via the German military base of Termez in Uzbekistan, which is also used by other NATO partners. All German troops are trained for their tour in Afghanistan at the Battlefield training centre Colbitz-Letzlinger Heide near Magdeburg. Other countries have similar infrastructures that are indispensible for the war in Afghanistan.
Hans Lammerant followed with a presentation on the project to map the deployment of troops to Afghanistan.

The seminar closed with an exchange of resources on how to find out about troop movements and deployments.

The seminar was part of the Grundtvig project Europe for Peace, in which War Resisters' International co-operates with Vredesactie, ofog, Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft-Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen, the Transnational Institute, and Associació per la defensa de l'objecció de consciència del país Valencià. Although funded by the European Union, the European Union or the European Commission are not responsible for the content of the seminar, or any publication related to Europe for Peace.


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