Interfaith Ceremony of Rededication

On October 23rd, about 60 people gathered around the little cherry tree we planted 20 years ago in Cannizaro Park to commemorate the 200,000 victims of Hiroshima. The Deputy Mayor supplied a degree of civic dignity to the occasion, drawing the parallels between our local multicultural and multiethnic community and the international scene. He was followed by individual contributions from six different faith representatives: Amadiyya, Bahai, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Quaker. Despite the diversity of traditions, from Pope John Paul’s prayer at Hiroshima via the ancient Sanskrit and beautiful chanting of the Hindus and the story of a rabbi who planted trees, the clear message was how much these great religious traditions had in common. Joanna Small (who won the Mayor’s ‘Write a Poem for Peace’ poetry competition for young Londoners) read her prize-winning poem, Alison Williams quoted from the UN Charter, and then Eirwen Harbottle (who was present with her husband, UN peace-keeper Brigadier Michael Harbottle, at the planting ceremony 20 years ago) spoke with quiet intensity and conviction, reminding us of the mistakes of the past and the hopes for the future.
It is sobering, she said, to reflect on just how many people have died as the result of wars and violence in the past twenty years. She described the Peoples Summit for Departments of Peace (an international gathering of the key players involved in setting up Ministries of Peace/Departments of Peace around the world) which had taken place the previous week at the House of Commons and encouraged us to hope that ordinary people have the power to change government priorities and attitudes.
It was a moving and memorable event, perfectly rounded off by a tea party at Wilberforce House kindly hosted by Alison Williams. We are grateful to all who took part and hope that some of the links forged on this occasion will further develop in the years to come.
Report by Joanna Bazley

(Details of Ministry of Peace from Diana Basterfield <diana@me...>)


by Joanna Small

Everyone knew what day it was,
Everyone could see the world shutting down,
And although all the shops and banks were closed,
All were calm

Everyone knew what day it was,
And for the first time in centuries none cared about money
No one cared about debts and mortgages and wills and contracts
And all were calm

Everyone knew what day it was
And although no one knew what happened next
No one knew whether apocalypse waited for them behind the sunset
Or whether the pearly gates were waiting for them to grace their doors
Or if there was anything at all
Yet all were calm

Everyone knew what day it was
And although many knew they had not fulfilled their dreams
They were with their families, talking, laughing, sitting
And all were calm

Everyone knew what day it was
And as the sun began to finally climb down from its pedestal
And as the shadows lengthened on the pavements
People knew it was the end
Yet no one said "what if" and no one said "I wish..."
And all were calm

Everyone knew what day it was
And the children, this once, were allowed to stay up
And the adults, this once, allowed to be children again
And all were calm

Everyone knew what day it was
And as the darkness took over the skies
And the wind and the rain stopped
And the rivers and the seas ceased movement
All noise diminished
There was a light
And then there was peace

Disarmament Initiatives at the UN

In early October the exciting news emerged that Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden were sponsoring a Resolution at the UN General Assembly to set up four new sub-committees in an effort to break the long-standing deadlock at the UN Conference on Disarmament at Geneva. These would be committees to

The following letter was written to Tony Blair by the Mayor of London and the city leaders of Manchester and Glasgow:
Dear Prime Minister,
As community leaders in three of Britain’s greatest cities we are acutely aware of the many dangers faced by complex urban societies. We have a duty to promote the health and welfare of our citizens and the quality of their environment. No danger is more ever present or contains greater destructive potential than that posed by nuclear weapons. In modern warfare it is cities and innocent civilians that bear the consequences. That is why we support the vision of a nuclear weapon free world by 2020 promoted by International Mayors for Peace, — an organisation led tirelessly by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki since 1982, and now supported by more than 1,000 towns and cities in 110 countries.
We are gravely concerned at the breakdown in multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms. The failure of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May this year to agree a way forward to implement the many excellent initiatives proposed, and the failure of the Millennium Goals Summit to address these issues, compounds this breakdown.
We are appalled by the continuing blockage in the Conference on Disarmament that ensures it is unable to fulfil its remit thereby stalling all multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
The world faces a crisis, as identified by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, when he stated, after the Millennium Summit, that the UN members’ inability to adopt measures on disarmament and non-proliferation at the UN summit and elsewhere was a “real disgrace” and urged world leaders to see this “as a real signal to pick up the ashes and show leadership”.
We call for urgent action by the UN General Assembly and its First Committee to show this leadership.
We therefore urge you as our Prime Minister and Leader of our Government to support the resolution before the UNGA First Committee that seeks to break the logjam and establish four Ad Hoc Committees in Geneva to work in the four areas of nuclear disarmament: a treaty to prevent the weaponisation of space; a fissile material cut-off treaty; and negative security assurances.
Obstacles to multilateral nuclear disarmament must be removed. For the sake of all humanity we must take genuine and irreversible steps to Global nuclear disarmament.
Ken Livingstone   (London Mayor)
Richard Leese   (Manchester City Leader)
Steven Purcell   (Glasgow City Leader)

(We await the result of the vote in the UNGA First Committee at the beginning of November.)


Thanks to a generous donation, we are now in a position to fulfil a long-held ambition and launch ourselves onto the Internet. The fee has been paid (for an registration) and Harriet (who designs this Newsletter) is working on a website for us. All should be up and running by next month when we shall be able to give you full details.
It is very important that we should be able to add this dimension to our campaign if we are to extend our campaign to the wider public, and in particular to the younger generation. School pupils will now be able to gain access to our material, for example if they are researching coursework and projects.


Subs are now due (£4 waged £2 unwaged) and subscription forms are enclosed with this newsletter. Please make cheques payable to WDC/CND and send to Membership Secretary Muriel Wood, 53 Pepys Road SW20 8NL. (Muriel thanks those of you who have already paid and would like to put in a plea for all sums of money to be put into an envelope with your name and address on it — to aid in keeping the books straight!)
Concert for Peace, Tuesday November 22nd 8pm
Please come and support this wonderful event. Deborah Fink is a professional singer who is donating her services in a programme which will demonstrate the breadth of her talents, which extend from the serious classical repertory to witty political cabaret. There will be local talent on show too, with poetry read by readers from WDC/CND.
We need your help to enable us to sell as many tickets as possible!

‘Call the Shots’ — CAAT stall Thursday 3rd November

Volunteers are asked to help for an hour or so between 3·30pm and 7pm outside the Cutty Sark DLR station, Greenwich. CAAT explains that this is a UK-wide day of action to lock the “revolving door” between the government and arms industry, an “insidious phenomenon” which gives arms companies immense influence over government decision-making — well illustrated by the way that the Prime Minister dropped in on Saudi Arabia on 2nd July to show his support for a £40 billion deal to sell Eurofighter Typhoon planes made by BAE Systems despite (according to the Guardian) the misgivings of both the Foreign Office and the Serious Fraud Office, currently investigating bribes allegedly paid by BAE Systems to members of the Saudi Royal Family. (The Saudis are also said to be dictating UK policy by making the deal contingent on the UK Government’s granting political favours, including the deportation of dissident Saudi refugees and the dropping of the SFO investigation.)

Letterbox Library is a small co-operative and not-for-profit social enterprise specialising in supplying children's books which celebrate equality and diversity. Especially well-known for multicultural books, but also books on issues which are not often covered elsewhere, e.g. books dealing with bereavement, abuse, conflict, discrimination etc.
The autumn catalogue includes a special section on Peace & Conflict. Books for children of all ages on topics such as the bombing of Hiroshima, refugees, conscientious objectors, Peace One Day, child soldiers and more.
Letterbox Library, 71-73 Allen Road, London N16 8RY. 020 7503 4800

End of Cold War sees collapse in support for nuclear weapons

A new MORI poll released on Monday 24th October by Greenpeace revealed that more people oppose than support building a new nuclear weapons system to replace Trident. When presented with the estimated cost of Trident’s replacement, a majority (54%) of the British public oppose the development of a new nuclear weapons system. Only one in three (33%) support their development. Even when not informed about the cost, just over half, 46%, are opposed to replacing UK nuclear weapons (compared to 44% who say they would support replacement).
The poll also found that public support for nuclear weapons has declined markedly since the Cold War. MORI repeated a series of questions asked in an October 1955 Gallup poll about when UK nuclear weapons should be used. The results reveal that:

CND Return to Newsletter index