Saturday 6 April 2013
Friends House, Euston
AM: VFP UK Annual General Meeting
PM: Modern Warfare Exposed
An afternoon of talks and short films exposing the true nature of modern warfare with an emphasis on Drones and Special Forces.
Julian Assange, Editor of Wikileaks.
Ian Cobain, Guardian Journalist.
Chris Cole, Editor of Drone Wars UK.
Michael Lyons, former Royal Navy Medic and Afghan war resister.
Adnan Sarwar, former Royal Engineer, Iraq War veteran and writer.
Ben Griffin, former SAS soldier and Iraq war veteran/resister.
Allen Jasson of VFP London submitted the following report covering the afternoon’s event
Last Saturday 6th April, thanks to an introduction to Ben Griffin by StandFast
I had the great pleasure to attend a very productive and informative gathering and presentation organised by Veterans For Peace UK at Friends Meeting House, Euston, London. This excellent venue has long been used by the Stop The War Coalition and a variety of other organisations wishing to change our society and world for the better. It was a very appropriate context.
The day’s agenda began with a meeting with other members of VFP in which I was assumed “unofficially” to represent StandFast. In my impromptu brief about StandFast I neglected to mention, among many other important things, some of the significant actions attributable to StandFast such as the action taken by the late Bryan Law and Graeme Dunstan
; however, I’m pleased to note that Ben was aware of this and made mention of it later. Nevertheless, I managed to highlight the resources made available for information and inspiration on the StandFast website.
First up was an excellent presentation by Chris Cole regarding drones and the use of them by the US and others. In limited time he gave an excellent spread of information about the technology and types of drones, their use and impact (emphasizing civilian deaths and the myth about “precision strikes”) and the reasons why they represent such a bad turn for the worse in the “world at war”, principally due to the fact of lowering the political cost and ease of waging war in foreign theatres increasing the likelihood of war. Just as I thought to ask if I could obtain some of this material he seemed to have stored on his laptop for the presentation Chris referred to the website Drone Wars UK (http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/
), which is a fantastic resource. At question-time I commented on the implications of setting precedents for others in regard to the abuse of international law and corruption of the institutions intended to uphold it.
Next up was Ian Cobain
, a senior journalist from The Guardian (they’re not all kow-towing, sycophantic low-life). He gave an interesting insight to the trail by which he discovered the fact and manner of British involvement
in the rendition for torture program managed and operated by Psychopaths R US. I intended to ask how he thought it comes to pass that he was recounting all this to us and not to the High Court but there wasn’t an opportunity.
Adnan Sarwar, a former British Soldier who had served in Iraq and stumbled into a unique set of insights because his commanding officer assumed he spoke Arabic (something to do with his appearance, perhaps) and consigned him as an interpreter, read a passage from his book You Don’t Want to Die a Virgin. He poignantly strikes a chord with those who understand how it is that governments run by older and more experienced men who should know better, come to be sending brash, impassioned and less experienced younger men off to foreign lands to kill people they don’t know and without any clear reason why.
In a pre-recorded video address exclusively for VFP by Julian Assange
the “Information Freedom Fighter” discussed the rapidly changing nature of (endless) war. The talk was highly abstract, conceptually rich and very relevant, Assange’s key message was to the younger generation to continue the task of liberating information into the future with an oblique suggestion to get themselves into roles where they can infiltrate, access and expose. MI5 Beware!!
, a former Royal Navy medic who had served some of his time on the stolen island of Diego Garcia gave an account of his refusal when called upon to serve in Afghanistan. With his own uniquely entertaining mix of candid truthfulness, dry humour and emotional sincerity he recounted how he came to his decision to refuse as a conscientious objector and follow it through to wherever it led. Of particular amusement was his account of the shameful role of the military chaplaincy and the presumption that anyone who is not a Christian cannot object on the grounds of conscience. (How can a Christian of any conscience serve as a military chaplain?) What was particularly evident from Michael’s talk was the importance of the role played by veterans’ and other anti-war organisations in providing information and support to men like Michael who see the light but are not sure of themselves in how to act on it – a role that is the particular focus of VFP in the UK. Well done Michael, you provide an excellent example and role model!
It was a great honour to meet personally with Joe Glenton
and discuss his forthcoming book about his experience (the perils of publishing) and also a number of other anti-war activists who have shown great dedication and commitment to the anti-war cause.
An informative and inspirational experience all round.
Thank you StandFast for the introduction and to Veterans for Peace for the invitation.