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    May 2017
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PACIFIST, NOT PASSIVE -
JOIN US ON 3 JUNE!

Pacifists from around Britain will gather in London on Saturday 3 June 2017 for the Peace Pledge Union annual conference.

The event is called Pacifist, Not Passive and it's a great opportunity to explore nonviolent resistance to war and militarism. Whether you want to take nonviolent direct action, challenge military visits to schools, campaign online or sell White Poppies in your local community, this is a chance to share, learn and plan for pacifist activism.

And if you're new to pacifism, not sure about it or wondering whether it's for you, this is a great opportunity to discover more about what it means in practice.

We're delighted to announce that speakers include Dan Woodhouse (below right), a pacifist from Leeds who is facing trial after attempting to disarm a warplane at BAE Warton (along with fellow PPU member Sam Walton).

"The quickest way for an activist to burn out is isolation, " says Dan. "So I’m really looking forward to PPU’s ‘Pacifist not Passive’ conference, as a chance to meet other passionate peacemakers - to chat, encourage and be encouraged."

Dan told us, "I’m honoured to be asked to talk at such an event and hope to inspire, but also to show how activism doesn’t take superheroes, just normal people who are willing."

In the morning we will hold the PPU's annual general meeting, when we take formal decisions and elect the PPU Council. This will be followed by lunch and then the conference: Pacifist, Not Passive.

Although only PPU members can vote in the AGM, the lunch and the conference are open to all (and, of course, you can become a member on the day!).

Read more and book here for Pacifist, Not Passive.

Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse prior to taking direct action, 2017

Dan Woodhouse (right) and Sam Walton, prior to their nonviolent direct action at BAE Warton in Lancashire in January 2017.

PPU members in Cardiff, 2017Members of Cor Cochion Caerdydd hand out PPU leaflets in the street in Cardiff.

TEACHERS BACK PPU CAMPAIGN

PPU members were delighted to receive a warm response at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Cardiff last month.

By the end of the weekend, 108 people had signed up to the PPU's new Teachers' Network, which will be a forum for sharing news, resources and camapign initiatives.

Shortly after the conference, the Newham Teachers' Association, a division of the NUT, voted to express its support for the PPU's concerns over the role of armed forces in schools.

At the conference, we met concerned teachers worried about government schemes that send military-like organisations into schools to deal with "disengaged" young people. Others expressed their alarm at the increase in school cadet forces, which have more than doubled in number since 2012.

Many thanks are due to Cor Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Red Choir) who not only sang about peace but handed out PPU leaflets on the streets of Cardiff while the conference was underway.

As we develop the PPU Teachers' Network, we'll be working not only with teachers but also young people and parents, as well as other campaigning groups who share our concerns. To join the new Teachers' Network, drop an email to coordinator@ppu.org.uk or tweet @PPUtoday.

A particularly exciting development has been the rise in the number of young people campaigning against militarism in their own schools and communities. The PPU has offered its backing to Scotland Against Militarism, a group set up by young people to resist armed forces in schools.




WANT TO JOIN THE PPU'S COUNCIL?

At every annual general meeting, the members of the Peace Pledge Union elect a Council to oversee the PPU’s strategy and decisions for the coming year.

To stand for election to Council, you must be a paid-up member of the PPU and have been a member for at least a year. If you wish to stand, please put yourself forward in writing before the AGM on 3 June 2017.

You can put yourself forward by emailing admin@ppu.org.uk.

If you would like an informal discussion about what serving on Council involves, you are welcome to contact the PPU Co-ordinator at coordinator@ppu.org.uk or on 020 7424 9444.

 

HELP NEEDED FOR PACIFISTS VISITING BRITAIN

The PPU is the British section of War Resisters' International (WRI), which unites pacifists from all over the world. This September, we will have the privilege of hosting the WRI Council in London.

The meeting has been timed to coincide with the London arms fair, known formally by the absurdly euphemistic name of Defence & Security Equipment International, or DSEi. DSEi is one of the world's largest arms fairs and takes places in London's Docklands every two years.

Members of WRI Council from as far apart as South Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela and Nepal will join with British peace activists to resist the arms fair.

A range of campaign groups are planning a week of protests and nonviolent direct action beginning on 4 September, the week before DSEi even begins, to impede attempts to set up the fair. WRI members will be joining a day of action on Saturday 9 September and a public event exploring international militarism and the arms trade on Sunday 10 September.

WRI are appealling for British pacifists to help in various ways, including by providing accommodation to WRI delegates. Read more about how you can help.

Militarism is international. So is pacifist resistance!

 

Anti-DSEi poster, 2017

 

STUDENTS CHALLENGE ARMS FIRMS

PPU member Simone Ramacci, a student at the University of Essex, is working with fellow students to call on the university to stop hosting arms companies at careers events. The campaign was begun by the university's Progressive Christians' society - who also sell White Poppies in the area - but is now backed by Muslim and secular socieities as well.

They have launched a petition to the university authorities. You can show your support by signing here.

Essex is far from being the only university to give a platform to arms companies. You can read more on the issue from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) Universities Network.

 

 

 

WELCOME, SOPHIE!

Some of you have already heard from Sophie Morrison, the PPU's new Development and Operations Manager. Sophie joined the staff team at the beginning of April and is already making a difference. She's begun overhauling our office systems and working on the future of the White Poppy project.

Sophie's role include liaising with PPU members and supporters as we review our work around remembrance and think about how to devlop our White Poppy project. If you would like to share your thoughts, experiences or suggestions regarding poppies, Sophie would be pleased to hear from you. You can reach her at development@ppu.org.uk.

You can also meet Sophie in person at the AGM and the Pacifist, Not Passive conference on 3 June (see above).

 

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS' DAY

International Conscientious Objectors' Day (CO Day) was marked around the world on 15 May. Thousands of people across national borders showed their solidarity with today's conscientious objectors and honoured those from the past.

There were large protests in South Korea, where around 700 conscientious objectors (COs) remain in prison. There were calls for the release of imprisoned COs in Israel, Turkey, Eritrea and elsewhere.

In the UK, we offered solidarity to COs around the world, celebrated those who resisted conscription in Britain and noted that we still need to object to war and militarism today.

BAFTA-winning actor Mark Rylance, a PPU member, spoke to the crowds at Tavistock Square in London before joining others to lay white flowers on the conscientious objectors' memorial stone.

Meanwhile, CO Day was marked in Sheffield by a procession through the city with giant White Poppies. Merseyside Peace Network organised a film showing, Norwich pacifists handed out leaflets in the city centre and peace campaigners in Leicester presented a charter against the militarisation of young people.

CO Day events were held in a host of other British towns and cities, including Cardiff, Edinburgh, Hull, Manchester, Oxford and Portsmouth.

CO Day in Edinburgh, 2017
The rain in Edinburgh fails to stop a ceremony for reading out the names of conscientious objectors past and present.

RESISTING HATE IN MANCHESTER

At the Peace Pledge Union, we were sickened by the news of the bombing in Manchester that has left 22 people dead and many others injured, bereaved and traumastised. Our thoughts are with those affected by this appalling act, and other acts of violence around the world.

The UK government has sadly responded by promising to put troops on British streets. There is no reason to believe this will make us safer. Rather, it will make people more afraid, which is of course what the terrorists are aiming for. We need instead to tackle the root causes of violence, whether carried out by terrorist groups, governments, armies or anyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



   

 




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