We had our annual meeting at Rushmere Pond to commemorate the atrocities of the nuclear bombing of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the USA on 6th & 9th August 1945.
We set up our Peace Table near the water, and began making origami boats with attendees and passers-by. This activity created a lot of interest, many people in their 30s and 40s not realising quite how devastating these two explosions were — both in their immediate impact and in the long term, late effects, which are still being experienced today, by way of a higher incidence of cancers in people who were exposed (and survived) the explosion and in their offspring, ongoing and horrendous birth deformities, and traumatised survivors.
We had a lovely programme, with some opening words from Ruth Crabb, Haiku poems read by Ann Pugh, songs from the choir Southfield Sings, led by Louise Raven-Tiemele, and some traditional folk-singing, accompanied by Karl Schneider on guitar.
In spite of a pretty fierce wind that had sprung up, we did manage to float many of our small origami boats, as symbols of the souls that perished; even without the tiny flames, these were poignant moments.
Amongst the 50+ people who joined us, some of the special memories for me were a frail Japanese woman, her daughter and granddaughter, who stood silently with us throughout, and then joined in the singing by adding their own incantations; a man who stood on the edge of the crowd, looking on: when I spoke to him, he told me that his relative (who lives in New Zealand) is married to a sole survivor of the Bombs, and who was close to tears as he recounted the suffering and trauma in that family, and how he watches us each year, appreciating what we do; Antonio from Italy, who joined in making a boat, stayed for the ceremony and then played his mandolin along with Karl Schneider, and then thanked us for making him feel so welcome; and a group of young adults who doubted they could manage to make the origami boats, were successful and were then moved to write their own messages of Peace on their boats. See http://www.wdc-cnd.org.uk/Photos/Hiro2019/index.html
Since Helen Jones and I started the Remember Hiroshima commemoration in Sidmouth, Devon nearly forty years ago, it has become a regular part of the annual International Folk Festival. This year was no exception, with the date announced in the official programme, which was seen by hundreds of people attending the festival, as well as being featured in the local press.
The Sidmouth Herald began its article “A peace campaigning nonagenarian will lead an annual memorial to remember those affected by the dropping of atomic bombs during World War II. Maisie Carter, who will turn 92 during this year’s Folk Festival, will travel from London to the event and speak about the need for peace in an ‘increasingly dangerous and unstable world’. She added, ‘I think about young people today with their lives ahead of them and I feel the need to carry on the protests for as long as I can.’”
This publicity, together with the leaflets distributed and local networking by the local group of peace activists, helped to attract around 150 people who gathered together on 6th August for a short but memorable ceremony on the Hub, near the sea front. Among those attending was Sandra Kerr, well known folk singer and lecturer, who has a leading role in the festival, but who manages to take time to be associated with the Hiroshima event every year, bringing members of her choir to lead the singing.
In spite of uncertain weather, the sun shone for the duration of the ceremony, which included songs, poems, quiet reflection for two minutes and a renewed pledge to redouble our campaigning for peace, never more important than now.
Naseem and Christine invite you to AMNESTEA at 3pm, Saturday, 7th September, at 20 Midmoor Road, SW19 4JD.
Please come to tea and cakes and to discuss what we can do to help those suffering persecution and imprisonment — including Nazanin in prison in Iran (Nazanin Zagari Ratcliffe https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/help-get-nazanin-zaghari-ratcliffe-home). Children and people of all ages welcome!
RSVP appreciated: firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07717 009552
For many years, WDC/CND held a picnic near our commemorative cherry tree in Cannizaro Park on the Sunday following Hiroshima Day. We did this to bring together members, supporters, family and friends, to celebrate peace and rededicate ourselves to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. My granddaughter, now twenty three, was not quite a year old when I took her along and other members brought their families over the years. Sadly, this was one of the activities that we had to give up, as we felt the need to concentrate more on campaigning. But this year we decided that, as part of our tribute to Joanna we would begin again, hoping that members and friends would come together to share food, conversation and general company.
So on 11th August, some of us braved the winds and threat of rain and assembled at the cherry tree to enjoy our picnic. Attendance was quite small but we enjoyed the company of Ruth’s family, including her two delightful grandsons, Harriet, and also Daphne Hussein and her husband, as well as members of the steering group. I would like to think we are going to continue to revive this tradition, so hopefully next year we can repeat the experience on a larger scale. See http://www.wdc-cnd.org.uk/Photos/photo17.html
Two weeks of activities at the ExCeL Centre, (Royal Victoria stop on DLR) https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/, with many opportunities to explore all the issues around the DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) Arms Fair: Arms to Renewables, Art, Austerity, Borders, Environment, Faith, Gender, International Solidarity, LGQBT+, Legal, Nuclear, Palestine, Policing and Racism. Come when you can & help raise awareness of the Arms Fair itself. Two early dates are on the diary page.
“Art the Arms Fair” (3 to 13 September) will be back with a new exhibition and a range of events and workshops. See their website for venues & further details: https://artthearms fair.com/.
“Roots of Resistance” are a grassroots Quaker network against the Arms Fair. If you’re up for some radical action, see their website: https://rootsofresistance.org.uk/.
The main message of the conference, on 29 June, was “War causes Climate Change” and “Climate Change causes War”. The three speakers — a historian, a scientist and a politician — each approached the subject in a broad context. The first speaker was Peter van den Dungen who reminded delegates of the reasons why the 1899 Hague Appeal for Peace conference was called by Tsar Nicholas II: the manifesto for that conference summarised 3,000 pages of research into industrial warfare. He entitled his talk “Abolishing War: hopeful lessons from history” and commended the persistence and resilience of the peace pioneers.
Stuart Parkinson spoke on “The Carbon Footprint of the Military”, underlining the need to understand the difference between a measurement of carbon emissions and the carbon footprint: the footprint includes not only war fighting but the impacts of war and the carbon cost of simply keeping the sector going. The British and American military are concerned less with the climate than with cost-saving for their sector: “more fight, less fuel”. There is a huge imbalance between spending for the military and the climate.
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for Southwest England, was the final speaker, saying the “maelstrom of interconnected crises” we now face across the world must be confronted with a radically different approach to politics and economics. If human beings make the right choices, nature can repair damage done, e.g the recovery of tree cover in Vietnam destroyed by Agent Orange.
Molly knows well the frustration of campaigning for radical change. The “multilateral disarmament hypocrites” defeated efforts to get rid of Trident and people continue to drown in the Mediterranean because there is no definition of a climate refugee. But the ICAN process exists and Extinction Rebellion keeps the climate emergency in the headlines. We need to Rebel for Life.
The day concluded with two significant presentations: first to two young winners of MAW’s essay competition, the other to Bruce Kent who was inspired to found MAW after the centenary Hague Appeal for Peace conference in 1999. He received a bottle, a card and a cheque for £3,000 in honour of his 90th birthday.
Are you a member of National CND in addition to WDC/CND? We know that many of our local group members have dual membership, but there’s no easy way for us to cross-check, so please forgive this request if you are already a national member. If you’re not currently a member of National CND, would you consider joining? The demands on CND’s campaigning funds are increasing every day, due to renewed international tensions, and the following message from the CND head office presents compelling reasons for joining national CND at this critical time in our history.
“For 60 years CND has worked to rid the UK, and the world, of nuclear weapons. Without CND and its supporters, the debate on nuclear disarmament might never have taken place, and treaties such as the Partial Test Ban Treaty, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) might never have been signed. But the threat of nuclear war seems to loom larger every day. US President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and the INF. Closer to home, the UK government is still committed to replacing Trident, at a cost of at least £205bn. And all nuclear powers are currently upgrading their arsenals.
“We need to keep the pressure on, together. You can join (there are several rates of membership, e.g. Waged min. £30 p.a. Concessionary min. £12 p.a.), you can make a regular donation, and help CND plan future campaigns, or make a one-off donation to support our on-going work. Join or donate on-line at http://www.cnduk.org/join, by email to email@example.com,by calling the CND office on 020 7700 2393, or by post to CND, Mordechai Vanunu House, 162 Holloway Road, N7 8DQ.”
Thank you for your continuing support of WDC/CND.
On 7th July, thanks to the efforts of Ruth, Maise, Christine, and Alison, we were able to have a stall at the community funday ‘Raynes Lark in the Park’, in the beautiful surroundings of Holland Garden. This event marked the end of 10 days of the successful MyRaynesPark Festival. Our bubble-making machine was a quite a hit, as were our paper ‘bubbles’ on which children were encouraged to write their peace-related messages. These were then hung up on the stall.
On the 20th September 2017, the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), was opened for signature. Over the past two years, towns and cities around the world have been signing up to support the Treaty, and becoming Nuclear Ban Communities.
World-wide, numerous cities in Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway, Japan, Spain and the US have signed and, on 6 August, the 74th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Bolivia became the 25th nation to ratify the Treaty. Once 50 nations have ratified the Treaty, it will enter into force. So far, the UK government has refused to sign, but if communities get together and demonstrate their support, we can put pressure on the government to engage with the treaty. This has happened in Manchester (https://cnduk.org/manchester-becomes-first-european-city-to-support-global-nuclear-ban/) and Renfrewshire where, thanks to lobbying by CND activists, motions of support for the nuclear ban have been passed by local councils.
Here in Merton, Maisie Carter, our Chair, is in the process of writing to the Leader of the Council, asking that Merton becomes a Nuclear Ban Community, by signing up to support the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We will let you know the result.