2013 has been a year of growth for Veterans For Peace UK. We started the year with 28 members and an average of 4 turning up to monthly meetings. We end 2013 with 101 members across the UK and on average 15 members turning up to monthly meetings in London. Chase Sydnor, Ben Wright, Aly Renwick, Joe Lidster and John Boulton have been writing articles for the website. John Bourton gave a talk to amnesty in Leeds and is now working on our schools project. Our aim is to further grow our organisation in the coming year and to become more effective in working towards World Peace. I have put together a few of the highlights of 2013. Click on the pictures for links to longer articles and related websites. Ben Griffin
Our vigils for Chelsea Manning continued outside the US Embassy every time she was in court. We managed to drag the mobile amp down there to bounce the Collateral Murder audio off the embassy as we stood in silence. Our efforts culminated in a Rally for Manning in June, Mike Lyons and I spoke alongside activists from a broad spectrum.
In February I was invited to The Oxford Union to take part in the “I Will Not Fight For Queen and Country” debate. Adnan Sarwar accompanied me and was great support. Click the picture above for video footage.
In March Barry Ladendorf (San Diego), Gene Marx (Bellingham) and I traveled to Shannon Airport to join the monthly protest there. The USA has been using the airport throughout the “War on Terror” to transit troops to Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of Irish Neutrality. The airport has also been visited by planes used in the rendition of detainees. We were hosted bu Ed Horgan of Veterans For Peace Ireland and it was a good opportunity to catch up with him and the other VFP Ireland members.
In April we hosted our annual conference. This year it was called Modern Warfare Exposed. It was well attended by VFP members and the public. Julian Assange gave an oversight as to the current direction of warfare in the digital age. Ian Cobain spoke about UK involvement in the torture and murder of detainees in Iraq. Chris Cole gave us a briefing on drones. Mike Lyons and Adnan Sarwar both gave accounts of there own experience.
In August Mike Lyons Les Gibbons and I headed out to the Mid West of the USA for the VFP National convention in Madison. Mike and I then went on a speaking tour taking in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri. The hospitality of the people we met and stayed with was second to none. Click the picture above for a full report.
On the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks we started our Fast on Friday campaign. Every Friday since we have fasted from 0600 to 1800 in solidarity with the men still held in Guantanamo Bay. On 3 Jan 2014 VFP members in the USA will start fasting every Friday. To join in click the picture above.
In September John Boulton, Ben Wright, Mike Lyons and Joe Glenton headed to the Excel Centre in East London to join the Occupy the Arms Fair protest. Click the picture above for a report.
In 2014 we will be joining several protests including the GITMO protest (Trafalgar Sq) in January and the NATO protest (Newport) in November.
Also in October Folk Singer and Anti War activist Ryan Harvey flew over from Baltimore for a European tour. Ryan is a long time collaborator with IVAW and set up the CivSol alliance. We put on a gig at Housmans Books in which Ryan sang and introduced veterans to speak about there experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. The evening finished with the band RAAST. It was fantastic to see John Boulton and Dan Taylor speak for the first time in public. Click the picture above for video.
In October I travelled up to Edinburgh to speak on a platform with Jo Metson-Scott about the unreported side of war. We had spoke together in March at The Frontline Club to launch her book “The Grey Line”. It is a beautiful photographic study of soldiers who resisted the war in Iraq. Click the picture above to buy a copy.
In October we publicly supported artist Darren Cullen and his work (Don’t) Join The Army. Joe Glenton and I attended the launch of the artwork and spoke to people there about how our own experiences related to the work. Click the picture above to visit Darren’s site.
In November David Buck appeared in a film about Army Recruitment and the negative effects of Army Service. The film was released to coincide with a report in Mental Health outcomes called The Last Ambush by David Gee of Forces Watch. Click the picture above to see the film.
On Remembrance Sunday 18 VFP UK members gathered at the top of Whitehall. We were joined by around 80 supporters. We the walked to The Cenotaph and held ceremony in memory of all those killed in war. Our aim was to carry out an act of remembrance without the militarism of the official parade. Joe Glenton and Dan Taylor carried the banner NEVER AGAIN, Jim Radford sang 1916, John Boulton recited Suicide in the Trenches and John Bouton laid the wreath. Special thanks goes to Mick Haggerty for playing a pitch perfect Last Post. After taking part Glenn Fitzpatrick was inspired to make the painting above. To see a video click the picture above.
For the start of 2014 we are launching a New Logo for VFP UK. We have used the outline of a WW1 British helmet. Please click the picture above for more information (link live from 1st Jan) .