All those who joined the Aldermaston march and rally found it an unforgettable experience, both sobering and inspirational. The AWE base at Aldermaston is huge and hideous, squatting amidst the beautiful Berkshire countryside with a grim malevolence which reminds us of the depths to which we as a society have sunk: the fact that Britain has an Atomic Weapons Establishment is perceived as perfectly normal and acceptable! For the thousands who work there it is just ‘a job’. For the politicians who ultimately take the decisions, nuclear weapons have acquired a symbolic and untouchable status as a guarantee of our ‘security’ in the face of an uncertain world. Nobody questions the fundamental flaw in their reasoning: you don’t fight terrorists with nuclear weapons. Billions of pounds are swallowed up on maintaining the Aldermaston monstrosity, money which could be used on health, education, international development — or even on better equipping the British army or security services if that is what is really called for.
WDC/CND involvement at Easter gained us valuable local press publicity, but we obviously have to work even harder to drive home the point that there is nothing nostalgic about the Aldermaston protests of the present generation. New contracts are being signed, new developments are being planned and ‘usable’ nuclear weapons are the latest dream from America. All previous decisions about Britain’s nuclear arsenal have been taken in total secrecy without even full Cabinet discussion, and have been largely accepted by a gullible public fed on a diet of propaganda about deterrence. CND has a vital rôle to play in exposing what is really going on at Aldermaston and with the events of this Easter we can feel that we made a very significant start.
Thank you to all who supported our coach on Easter Monday, either by travelling with us or by making a financial contribution. Especial mention must be made of Dave Esbester of Mitcham CND and Joanna Sprackett of WDC/CND who walked all the way to Aldermaston, and to Ruth Crabb who walked 40 out of the 50 miles before her knee gave out.
This powerful video — wars are not inevitable — we can take the steps needed to resolve conflict in other ways — is essential and inspirational viewing for everybody involved in the peace movement, while the high-profile contributors (Archbishop Tutu, Sir Joseph Rotblat, Bruce Kent, Martin Bell, Jon Snow etc.) and sheer professionalism of this production, make it the ideal tool for reaching out into the wider as-yet-not-engaged community. Thanks to the efforts of individual WDC/CND members there are now a dozen copies circulating in Merton, being viewed by audiences ranging from secondary school pupils to reading circles. Merton UNA has arranged four showings, and we are attempting to make contacts within the political parties and churches; for example, the Justice and Peace Group at St John Fisher arranged for showings of the video in their church hall after every Mass one Sunday (well done, Cathie). Please let us know if you would like to borrow or purchase a copy for use at your church, club or school, or if you have any further suggestions we could follow up. This video deserves to be seen.
Together with one or two friends from the Peace Vigil, Linda Murgatroyd has been considering the possibility of organising an evening of peace songs on September 11th this year. It would be a participatory event, to include a few religious songs from different traditions but the majority not religious, including some of the protest songs of the 1960s. Does this sound like you? Please get in touch if you could lead or accompany songs.
Media coverage of Mordechai Vanunu’s release on Wednesday April 21st meant that the absurdity of the Israeli position of ‘non-disclosure’ of its nuclear weapons was widely publicised. Vanunu’s steadfast courage, and maintenance of his personal dignity during his eighteen-year imprisonment is a wonderful feat of human endurance, and the London Regional meeting of May 5th offers an opportunity to hear a first-hand account of the events outside Ashkelon prison from David Polden, who took part in the international delegation of welcome (we sent a small donation from WDC/CND to help cover his travel expenses).
On 24th May, Christian CND will be organising the annual Pentecost Embassies Walk around the embassies of the Nuclear Weapons States, asking “How are you progressing with your promise under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to abandon your nuclear weapons?” The three NWS which have not signed up to the NPT (India, Pakistan and Israel) will be visited too and asked to sign, while the embassies of the New Agenda Coalition nations (Brazil, Egypt, New Zealand, Ireland etc.) will be visited to thank them for their work.
This is a sponsored walk; if you want to take part you can download a sponsorship form from the CCND website (http://ccnd.gn.apc.org/) or contact Joanna (8543-0362) for a copy of the information pack.
Barbara Bampton has sent us a copy of this poster, widely displayed in Portland, Maine after the 9/11 devastation in the USA — and still in windows Christmas 2003.