COMMENT by Jim McCluskey

Mass Slaughter of Civilians

It is illegal to incinerate countless numbers of civilians by using weapons of mass destruction. It is also, of course, immoral. This is the case with all forms of mass killing of civilians and nuclear weapons are not exempted; in fact they are particularly appalling since they kill all forms of life and also mean death to future generations. But it is this hideous mass killing which states with nuclear weapons are planning ‘if their vital interests are threatened’ as one-time Prime Minister Blair put it.

The British government is spending billions of its citizens’ wealth in building nuclear submarines and refurbishing its stockpile of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Is that what their citizens want their earnings to be spent on? I doubt it. Who do our militarist fantasisers imagine will attack us with nuclear weapons? The irrational arguments of the nuclear militarists are not confined to paranoia. We are told that nuclear submarine construction is ‘good for jobs’. Jobs for the mass destruction of other human beings. They seem to imply that the highly skilled workers used to build their killing machines would not be capable of turning their skills towards the creation of life enhancing endeavours rather ones for mass destruction. It is high time that citizens’ wealth is withdrawn from the killing machines industry and invested in creative endeavours; the search for ways to mitigate world poverty, the search for dependable substitutes for plastic, finding solutions to global warming, halting the catastrophic loss of species. The list of urgent tasks is too long to record here. A new mind set is urgently required.

Hiroshima Commemoration

On Monday 6th August 2018 Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND organised its annual gathering to remember the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who were killed and maimed by the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. We met at Rushmere Pond on Wimbledon Common on a beautiful evening. The Rev Alison Judge, Team Vicar for the Merton Priory Team, gave a short talk, including moving testimony from a survivor, and two poems were read. Zulema read I Come and Stand at Every Door by Nizam Hikmet, a poet of Turkish origin, and Astrid read August 6th by Toge Sankichi who was in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped and survived the blast. It was almost unbearable to hear of the suffering innocent civilians endured. Then candles were floated across the pond in origami paper boats as we remembered not only the victims of the nuclear bombs but all those currently caught up in war zones. It is a yearly reminder of the continuing importance of fighting for a world without nuclear weapons.

Ruth Crabb

Letter from Japan

We have the worst ever prime minister and the cabinet: you might know from the media. They are not only the war-mongers but also salesmen travelling frequently to sell nuke-plants to Jordan (nuke-power facilities in the desert!!) and other countries. Within the country, they have been successful to make laws to control our freedom of speech and so on which have been guaranteed by the Constitution — formed with an expectation for a peace-loving country just after the war.

The military budget is enormous, increasing year after year by making small southern islands as strongholds with the newest missile systems. Especially Okinawa, the island, which had the worst war-disaster among the Japanese islands during the war and the U.S. army controls the large part of the island now, is going to be the largest U.S. military base in Asia if it’ll go as it is now.

So many of us (mostly retired people) fly to Okinawa to help the islanders hold protest campaign. Japan government have been mobilising huge number of policemen across the country to go control the protesters’ power.

Last evening we had a big concert up in the central Tokyo in the late evening inviting prominent activists, ex-mayor who fought against the air-base construction, & a singer-dancer who often visits the crowd of the protesters sitting or standing in front of the sites being under forcible construction.

Before that we went to join ‘Stop the flights of Osprey helicopter, Abolish the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty’ protests and demonstration to the U.S. Air-Base, one hour by train away from the city we live.

We feel we’re in the U.S. colony, or one of the U.S.’s states.

Kazuko Furuhata

Annual Report 2017/18

A lot has been achieved in the past year. Twelve months ago we launched a beautiful fleet of coloured paper lanterns on Rushmere at a memorable Hiroshima Day ceremony, full of the optimism of the Ban Treaty agreed at the UN in July. We have taken every opportunity to publicise this Treaty over the past year and we created a special display for our stall to celebrate the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN in Oslo at the beginning of December.

CND’s International conference in October was a stimulating occasion and it was pleasing that it coincided with a visit from our fellow-activist Kazuko from Japan. Kazuko brought DVDs of two Japanese films which inspired our public showings in the spring.

We completed the requirements of the CND Group Challenge by collecting about 600 signatures on the national petition, and part of our prize was a workshop on a subject of our own choosing. We agreed that a ‘back to basics’ workshop would be the most useful and were pleased to welcome CND Chair Professor Dave Webb when this was eventually arranged for June 24th.

Last autumn marked 12 months since the sudden death of our stalwart supporter Rev. Andrew Wakefield, and we joined with the congregation of St Andrew’s to mark the occasion with a sold-out Barn Dance which raised £1500 for Médécins Sans Frontières and brought together a wide range of particpants. St Andrew’s church provided an ideal venue, the Wandle Ceilidh Band and their caller Crys Rothen donated their services free and members of St Andrew’s congregation organised a lavish ploughman’s supper to which we contributed desserts. As a celebration of Andrew’s life it was perfect.

January saw our traditional New Year party at 43 Wilton Grove and the London Region AGM and Conference at SOAS, once again addressing a wide range of international issues from Yemen to the Far East. CND’s 60th birthday celebrations this year commenced with an Easter gathering at Aldermaston where speakers ranged from the nostalgic (original Aldermaston marchers) to Rebecca Johnson’s rousing speech on the significance of the new International Ban Treaty. We were shocked to discover that initially no group transport from London had been planned, and offered to underwrite the costs of a London Region coach. Eventually not one but two coaches were filled (with Wimbledon well represented) so we felt triumphantly vindicated.

In the early months of the year we made arrangements to show Kazuko’s DVDs, of which the most successful was film of Brian Haw’s Parliament Square protest; very interesting to see events through Japanese eyes. (This spawned an additional event in Wandsworth which we gather was well attended.) A future showing will be Raymond Briggs’ classic “While the Wind Blows”.

On 9th March we held a rehearsed reading of Jill Truman’s Greenham play “Common Women” in the William Morris Halls, which was very successful in attracting participation from local amateur (and one professional!) performers.

Preparations for the Fete of the Earth on May 19th were hampered by my increasing ill-health but the rest of the Steering Committee put an enormous amount of effort into ensuring that this year’s Fete was as successful as ever, raising in the region of £2000 of which £1500 was donated to National CND. I am particularly grateful to the team who took over the plant stall, but we shall have to face the fact that a plant stall on this scale will not be possible next year.

A further mini-plant sale took place on Sunday 22nd July, where we served tea and cakes in the garden at 43 Wilton Grove and raised a total of £260.

Despite everything, the WDC/CND Newsletter has continued to appear regularly (ten issues a year) and is distributed on stalls, on the Vigil and at events as well as to subscribers. The WDC/CND website and Facebook pages are maintained by Sue and Harriet and we continue our modest presence on Twitter. The monthly Peace Table outside Wimbledon Library took a break during the coldest weather but the Friday Vigil has continued notwithstanding (sometimes with very small numbers) largely due to the loyalty of Edwin.

WDC/CND member and Wandsworth Quaker Linda Murgatroyd’s Collateral Damage initiative has gone from strength to strength since its inception at Art the Arms Fair last autumn, with sponsorship from Lush and workshops and exhibitions in both Wimbledon and Morden libraries this summer. Linda has discovered that the gentle and creative art of making white poppies starts conversations and draws in people who would never count themselves as political activists.

Joanna Bazley

Alan Bickerstaff

Our deepest condolences go to Christine, whose husband Alan died in July. He was a valued supporter at the Fête and travelled with us to Aldermaston on the coach at Easter.

Around 100 family and friends filled the crematorium chapel on the afternoon of 6th August to celebrate Alan’s full life. The simple service was very moving, with Poems, Tributes and Final Commendation all read by his close family members.

At the sumptuous cricket tea which followed in the local Labour hall, Christine passed round postcard photos of Glencoe, which Alan loved.

Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition AGM 19th August 2018

The meeting at Alison Williams’ house was attended by eleven members and chaired by Maisie Carter. There were apologies from Kate Wood, Liz Sippy and David Carrier, Gill Leigh, Dave Esbester and Joanna Bazley.

Edwin, as Treasurer, reported a bank balance of £5130, up from £2648 last year. The Fête took £2101 before costs. A donation of £1000 has been sent to CND head office; it was also agreed to donate £100 to Medical Aid for Palestinians and £20 towards a CND advertisement to appear in the Guardian later in the year.

A general discussion was held about the future of the group (currently 120 members) but any decisions are to be made by the Steering Committee. All members are welcome to attend meetings of the Committee.

It was felt that the Fête will not be able to continue in its current format without Joanna; it was suggested that we run a joint fair with other organisations or stalls at other fairs, and the possibility of involving allotment associations was raised.

The meeting also felt that we should look for ways of getting younger people involved and focus on enjoyable campaigning.

The Officers were elected as follows:

ChairpersonMaisie Carter
Vice Chair/Minutes SecretaryRuth Crabb
TreasurerEdwin Cluer
Membership SecretaryAlison Williams
Contact PersonJoanna Bazley
Publicity & Social MediaSue Jones

Hiroshima Day in Sidmouth 2018

People gathering in the sunshine close to the sea in Sidmouth on 6th August for the annual “Remember Hiroshima”, were reminded of the words of the Mayor of Hiroshima, speaking at a similar ceremony in Japan. He began, “It’s 73 years ago and a Monday morning, just like today. With the midsummer sun already blazing, Hiroshima starts another day. Please listen to what I say if you or your loved ones were there. At 8·15 there comes a blinding flash. A fireball more than a million degrees Celsius releases intense radiation, heat, and then, a tremendous blast. Below the rolling mushroom cloud, innocent lives are snuffed out as the city is obliterated. From under collapsed houses, children scream for their mothers, victims wander around like ghosts, their flesh peeled and red. Black rain fell all around. The scenes of hell burnt into their memories and the radiation eating away at their minds and bodies are even now sources of pain for hibakusha who survive.” The Mayor’s message, sombre and urgent, was followed by a plea to the governments of the world to support the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted last year by the United Nations. It is a message that we must take on board by continuing to publicise the treaty, petition widely, and build the campaign to persuade the government that Britain must sign up to this treaty.

We were reminded that the work of the peace movement has achieved much, including the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the banning of chemical weapons, landmines and cluster bombs, and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN in 2017. Of course, much remains to be done but events such as these when we all come together to say “Never Again”, must inspire us to continue our work for peace.

We paid tribute to CND which celebrates its 60th birthday this year and renewed our pledge, in poetry, songs and music, to work for a world free of nuclear weapons and war.

Maisie Carter

Joanna Bazley

Many members will already be aware that Joanna is seriously ill with cancer. She has had to step back from her active rôle in WDC/CND and I’m sure that we should all like to express our gratitude for all her hard work over the years and send her our love and very best wishes.

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