Posts Tagged ‘Anti-militarism’

At the beginning of April NATO meets in Strasbourg to celebrate its 60th Anniversary. This is no time to celebrate. This is a time to take action. The movement against militarism in the UK is building. Collective actions in response to the recent attacks on Gaza have shown the potential of the antimilitarist movement to mobilise and effect both the public consciousness and those directly complicit in the murder of innocent people. Dozens of Universities were occupied, arms manufacturers were blockaded across the country, police failed to control angry demonstrators from attacking companies with links to Israel, EDO in Brighton had a
quarter of a million pounds worth of damage inflicted on its factory
during a decommissioning action and Carmel-Agrexco which sells products from illegal Israeli settlements was targeted during one of its busiest times of the year. We call on all those who took part in action for Gaza in the last few months, along with those who didn’t, to take action against militarism.
The Anti-Militarist network calls on all those across the UK who oppose the military to take action against the armed forces and the arms trade on the weekend of the Strasbourg NATO summit. Its time to move from anti-war protest to anti-war resistance.
The Anti-Militarist Network was created on November the 30th during an anti-militarist gathering in Edinburgh. It aims to provide support across the network between campaigns and groups across the UK, and organise to resist the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, November 2009. The network has the following principles.

• The AMN organises along the principles of autonomy and non-heirarchy
• We embrace a diversity of tactics
• We will not condemn other peoples actions
The network makes decisions at gatherings. If you would like to be part of the growing network and you agree to our principles then you should come to the next gathering which will take place in Brighton on the 2-3rd of May, the weekend before the Smash EDO street party on the 4th of May


What’s wrong with NATO?

Saturday April 4th is the 60th anniversary of NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance.  The NATO summit in Strasbourg will be attended by mass demonstration and resistance, and there will be local protests throughout NATO member countries.  So what’s wrong with NATO?

  • NATO is militarising the world. NATO promotes the idea that militarism guarantees peace, and its members currently account for 70% of the world’s military spending.  From its origins as an ostensibly defensive alliance, NATO has developed a strategy of military intervention in order to expand its sphere of influence, as tested in 1999’s unjustified and tragic high-altitude bombing campaign against Serbia.
  • NATO threatens nuclear war. As part of NATO’s arsenal, hundreds of US nuclear weapons are sited across Europe, in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. NATO rejects a “no first use” policy, meaning that it reserves the option of a pre-emptive nuclear strike.  Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons are assigned to NATO, and could be used against any country perceived to be threatening a NATO member.
  • NATO sponsored terrorism. From the 1950s to the 1980s NATO operated a network of clandestine army forces across Western Europe, codenamed Operation Gladio.  These secret NATO paramilitaries carried out terrorist attacks for which they framed communist groups in order to frighten populations into voting for right-wing governments.
  • NATO is a tool of the “War on Terror”. The September 11 attacks provided the casus belli that NATO’s masters were waiting for.  Under the banner of a Global War on Terrorism, NATO immediately militarised the Mediterranean and went to war in Afghanistan.  Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed already and NATO forces are killing more every week in this expensive, bloody and unwinnable war.
  • NATO is provoking a new Cold War. NATO was established to oppose expansion of the Communist Bloc.  However, far from dissolving after the Cold War ended, NATO expanded to the East, adding many former Warsaw Pact countries. Now NATO’s plans to place missile defence systems near Russia’s border have provoked Russia to aim its own missiles back at Europe.

NATO is not a benign force for peace, security and democratic values; it is an engine of war working to expand the domination of Western interests through military means.  It is an obstacle to global nuclear disarmament and world peace.

NATO’s expansion must be halted, its foreign interventions brought to an end and its military bases and nuclear weapons decommissioned.  NATO should be dismantled and its resources used to achieve a nuclear-free, less militarised and therefore more secure world.




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COSATU Solidarity

The Congress of South African Trade Union is pleased to announce that its members, dock workers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) achieved a victory last night when they stood firm by their decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship that was carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. This, despite threats to COSATU members from sections of the pro-Israeli lobby, and despite severe provocation. The Johanna Russ, flying an Antigua flag, is owned by M. Dizengoff and Co., an established “pioneer of the modern era of shipping business in the Middle East” and shipping agent for the ironically named Zim Israel Navigation Company. (Ironic because, last year, the same SATAWU members refused to offload the Chinese ship An Yue Jiang, which was carrying arms and ammunition destined for Robert Mugabe’s army.) The worker action last night took place despite attempted subterfuge on the part of the owners of the shipping company. There was an attempt to confound the plan by arriving earlier than originally scheduled, which was 8 February. Dates for the berthing of the Johanna Russ were changed constantly. Yesterday morning, SATAWU members were told that the ship would dock this morning (Friday) at 02:00. Thanks to the vigilance of the dock workers, SATAWU discovered that the ship had docked on Wednesday morning and was due to be offloaded last night at 21:00. But the vigilant workers were on guard and immediately they realised that it had docked, they then refused to handle it, despite pressures from management. SATAWU members maintained their refusal to offload the ship and also attempted to ensure that scab labour would not be used. A few hours after berthing, at 23:00, the Johanna Russ sneaked out of the Durban Harbour. From the beginning of this action, COSATU workers remained resolute about their position and were convinced that, following the recent Israeli massacres in Gaza, they will take determined action against Israel. Israel’s terror included flagrant breaches of international law, the bombing of densely populated neighbourhoods, the illegal deployment of chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities and places of worship. COSATU has now decided to intensify its efforts in support of the struggles of the Palestinian people. The worker victory in Durban yesterday spurs COSATU members on to more determined action in order to isolate the Apartheid state of Israel. Other Cosatu unions are currently in discussion about how they might also give effect to Cosatu resolutions on boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, including a refusal to handle Israeli goods, and continuing pressure on our government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel. The momentum against apartheid Israel has become an irresistible force. We are proud to stand with the millions around the world who say ‘Enough is enough’. They are doing what we asked them to do when we faced the apartheid regime in our own country. COSATU and the PSC call on all people of conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli products and institutions until a just, democratic state, with equal rights for all comes into existence in Palestine. This is just the beginning of a solidarity campaign which will continue until the demands of the Palestinian people have been won.

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In light of the BBC’s continued refusal to air the Disasters Emergency Committee aid appeal members of the UK section of the International Solidarity Movement, have decided to utilise the BBC’s Portland Place Broadcasting House building as the backdrop for a public projection of the appeal.




Israeli and international corporations are directly involved in the occupation: in the construction of Israeli colonies and infrastructure in the occupied territories, in the settlements’ economy, in building walls and checkpoints, in the supply of specific equipment used in the control and repression of the civilian population under occupation.


See who profits:



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Students across the country are holding occupations and sit ins in solidarity with Gaza. SOAS shut down a MOD exhibition on their campus whilst students at LSE declared victory after seven days when the university agreed to all of their demands.

They are followed by others at King’s College,Essex, Warwick, Sussex , Birmingham and over 80 Oxford University students have occupied the historic Bodleian building to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and cancel the lecture series at Balliol College inaugurated by Israeli war criminal Shimon Peres. There are also early reports of occupations at Manchester Met, Newcastle, Leeds and Cambridge universities.

In Yorkshire, students have occupied a building at Leeds University whilst the Bradford AGM voted to give the university the weekend to comply with demands to support the Palestinians, or expect action on Monday.

The students say they “are enraged and horrified by the unspeakable atrocities that have been committed by the Israeli military on the people of Palestine, and … will not tolerate the complicity of … institutions of education in this violence.”

The Birmingham occupation was ended after just 12 hours when the university and police besieged the occupation. They attempted to cut off water supplies, succeeded in preventing food from being brought in and forced the students to blockade themselves in. The occupiers decided to accept a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor to discuss their demands in exchange for leaving the building.

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Ground Zero


Earlier this week, following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from
the Gaza Strip, residents returned to some of the areas which had
become no-go zones during the attacks, such as Jabalia just outside Gaza City . On Tuesday 20th January, ISM Gaza Strip volunteers joined a university professor as he visited his house in the east of Jabalia. We were shown from room to room around the bombed-out shell of what had once been a beautiful home. When asked if he and his family would continue to live there, he replied calmly that it was their right to and that they would never leave their land.
As we made our way up the hill through the orange grove beyond the
professor’s house, we encountered evidence of where tanks had been positioned – churned up ground, tank tracks, uprooted olive trees.  At the top of the hill, from where the Green Line was clearly
visible, we began to see homes which had been totally destroyed,
several stories concertinaed. Families sat together on the rubble of
their homes. Children collected firewood from the dismembered limbs of fruit trees.
At first it seemed as though it was ‘just’ a cluster of ten or
fifteen destroyed houses, which would have been bad enough in its
own right. However, as we continued walking it became apparent that the devastation extended into the next street and the next, more and more destroyed and damaged homes following one another. This entire neighbourhood on this easternmost edge of Jabalia had been virtually wiped off the face of the earth. It resembled the site of some massive natural disaster. However this ground zero was entirely man-made.
The gouged-out windows of some of the homes still standing were
filled with dark green sand bags. This was a sign these houses had
been used by the Israelis as sniper positions. One could barely
imagine how the situation must have been in this neighbourhood when it was under attack.
We met a blind woman who had been held prisoner for 11 days in one room of her home, along with a paralysed man, whilst Israeli
soldiers used it as a base. Terrified and expecting to be killed at
any time, they were given water twice during their ordeal. When the
Red Crescent evacuated them, the woman said she could finally
breathe for the first time since the soldiers arrived. The walls had
been daubed with Hebrew graffiti, empty plastic food trays were
strewn around and the stairway stank of urine.
In the wake of a Gazan holocaust, thousands of people are finding
themselves in truly desperate situations. A traumatized but
resilient population is somehow beginning to pick up the pieces.

Merely continuing to exist is a form of resistance.

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Saturday January 17th 2009
By Ewa Jasiewicz


The roads of Beit Lahiya were lit up with phosphoric flaming
ordinance. 6am on Saturday morning and hundreds of smoking burning darts were raining down onto the deserted streets. We were driving down Beit Lahiya main street in our ambulance responding to calls from terrified residents and the elderly suffering from chemical inhalation and reports of burns. The roof of the Salim Mosque was on fire. Flames were licking upward from the flat rooftops of homes, from down alleyways, atop kerbs, and all along
Beit Lahiya Street itself.
Families were beginning to flee their homes, both the young and the
infirm, scarves and rags up to their mouths to prevent choking on
the thick chemical mist. We were picking them up, packing our
ambulance full of them, 20 people at a time, with oxygen for the
elderly, encourgament and kindness, and /elf salamaats/ (a thousand blessings) for everyone . Some were carrying plastic knotted bags of full of clothes, blankets over shoulders, belongings scrambled together in terrified hands. An imminent invasion was expected, the white fog a cover for troops to advance and take up new positions, occupy new homes and install fresh snipers. People had heard of the blasting and bombing and crushing of homes in Atartura, North Beit Lahiya.. The bulldozing of arable land, lemon groves, greenhouses and graveyards. The use of Beit Lahiya High School as a prison for most of the area’s men aged 16 to 40.
We took the families, trip after round trip, from the Beit Lahiya
roundabout to Kamal Odwan hospital. At around 6.30am we got the call – Beit Lahiya UNRWA elementary school had been bombed.
When we arrived at the school, panic reigned, people were screaming, some were holding onto one another under metal shelters in the playground, terrified of another strike, others had their heads in their hands, sobbing. Arms were pointing here and there to mystery wounded. A UN car was on fire. Suddenly there was another hit,everyone ran for cover. Where were the casualties? ‘Cover’ didn’t
exist, even the flimsy metal shelters or the brick buildings could
be no match for 2 foot long tank shells that could pierce them like
a hot rock through butter.
Phosphoric flares continued to fall down around us.. Wearing
surgical masks, we searched for casualties, running to and fro
to avoid the burning darts around us. A man carried a lifeless, limp
boy into our ambulance. He had a deep, round shrapnel wound to his thigh. /’Lets Go’/ – we had to move, we reversed out, another flare exploding above us raining more poisonous darts down onto the playground. ‘He’s a shaheed’, said one of the volunteers with the
ambulance, ‘a martyr’. ‘He’ was Bilal Mohammad Ashkar, aged seven from Beit Lahiya.
Both he and his brother Mohammad Ashkar, aged five, died from
multiple explosive injuries, and major traumatic injuries to the
head when a two-foot long tank shell smashed into the classroom they were had been living in. Blood and flesh were stuck to the walls and ceiling of the room. 35 people had been sheltering inside. Two
people were killed and 36 people injured including 14 children and
three cases requiring amputation of limbs.
The boys’ mother, Anjoud Al Ashkar, 29, was lying on a rickety bed
at Kamal Odwan Hospital when we came in. Her bandaged head was seeping blood – her skull fractured by flying shrapnel. ‘My sons, My sons’, she was groaning and moving her part amputated hand up and down. Days later, at the men’s grieving house in Beit Lahiya, I
would learn that she had been transferred to Egypt for brain
surgery, had had her whole right hand amputated and that ‘She
doesn’t know that her two sons have died, she could die if she knew’.
Salah Shehde Al Ashkar, 35, was in a room below when the attack
happened. His 18-year old daughter Mona was seriously injured. ‘We were drinking tea at the time and then we heard a great smash. I thought it had happened outside the school, I said don’t worry to
everyone, don’t worry, its outside, and went downstairs to see what
was happening. Then I saw my daughter, Mona, her leg was all gone, just shredded, I took her to the ambulance and we went to Shifa directly’. Mona’s leg could not be saved, and was amputated from the thigh down.
Both Salah and other relatives had deliberately avoided sheltering
in Government schools, fearing they could be attacked. ‘We came here for shelter and never imagined that they would hit and then they hit the women and the children on the third floor’.
I came across Sahar Askar, 42, the boys’ aunt along with their
sister Madleen Ashkar, 7, in the parking lot of the Al Awda Hospital
a few hours later. They were both dusty and shocked; Madleen
barefoot with shrapnel injuries to her face and Sahar dazed and
walking gingerly due to shrapnel wounds to her thigh. Sahar
explained to me. ‘A missile hit our room on the third floor. Missile
and rock pieces fell on top of us’. I asked what they were doing
immediately before the hit. She said they hadn’t been sleeping,
there had been too much noise. ‘We were putting out our mattress to
dry, on the balcony, because Mohammad had wet the bed in the night, he was so scared of the bombing. The building behind us had been hit with phosphorous, then after 15 minutes, they hit us. There was one bomb that hit the roof, and then another as we were coming down the stairs. We couldn’t see anything, everything was black smoke, from the dust or the phosphorous, I don’t know’.
After evacuating Bilal, we had returned to the school and picked up
Nour Basoura, five years old, suffering shrapnel injuries to the
back, She had dry hair, stiff hair and a small stiff body. Her eyes
were huge with shock and she couldn’t speak.
According to Shelter manager Ashraf Madhoum, two tank shells –
around two feet long – and four phosphoric bombs had been fired onto the area – the tank shells and one phosphoric bomb hitting the
school directly. He confirmed that there were no fighters or armed
men in the area at the time.
When we returned again to the school a room was on fire on the third floor. We kicked the door in and tried to gain entry but thick black acrid smoke smothered our sight. UNRWA Co-Ordinator at the shelter Raouf Asfour explained that 40 people had been staying in the second classroom that was hit. Thankfully they had evacuated after the first shelling. Inspecting the blacked shell of a room, we saw
charred discs of white bread mangled with plastic bags of belongings and foam mattresses, broken glass, torched nappies and burnt blankets.
‘If the international community is talking about war crimes, then
this is one’, said Raouf Asfour, Shelter co-ordinator. He’s a
resilient, welcoming, can-do man who says he hasn’t seen his own
family for weeks. Asking how sustainable the shelter is he explains,
‘As long as we are here, we will keep going’. Yet he recognises that
no-one can be kept safe. ‘Most are asking are we safe here? This is
a question we can’t answer’.
The Market round the corner from the school had been bombed four
days before the school attack. An F16 had struck at 1.30am. Raouf
explains, ‘Much of the glass of the windows was smashed, it
shattered onto people, many needed hospital treatment, they were
terrified’. The night before the tank shell attack, 13-year-old
Palestine Tamboura was sleeping in her bed. An Apache fired bullet
entered through the window and struck her in the leg as she slept.
She had to have one of her legs amputated at the knee.
Families are still living in the UNRWA School . Many came from the
Atartura and Sheyma areas, now in ruins following Israel’s three
weeks of intensive bombing, home demolitions and killing. Many have no homes to return to. An estimated 40,000 people have been made homeless through Israel ’s onslaught and wilful property
destruction, in violation of the fourth Geneva Convention of the
protection of civilian and state property. Israeli authorities
justify each demolition with the charge of
‘Military Necessity’.
The Israeli military justifies the crushing of homes as a means to
knock out possible fighter posts, vantage points and any structure
or foliage or trees which obscure Israeli occupation forces’ lines
of sight and movement. All must be razed and crushed in the name of advancing and cutting deep into Palestinian territory in an endless
‘war on terror’.
This physical bulldozing over land and international human rights
law matches a political advancement of a colonial project of
long-term occupation, spearheading these repeated incursions and
assaults, backing them up and pushing them forward and leaving
churned deserts in the heart of communities, scorched earth and
fresh graves for those who ‘got in the way’ deliberately or not,
armed or not.
Israel also openly practices illegal collective punishment in the
form of targeting the homes of wanted fighters and their families,
political activists and suicide operation martyrs. Thousands of
homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been levelled under this policy.
But more sinisterly and more acutely felt by people here, is that a
historic, obvious and long-term campaign of terror is being waged
against the Palestinian people, with the aim of forcing a mass
transfer, an eviction and an expulsion of a people from their land
which an occupying power seeks to control. Every attack in this
context, is seen as systematic and pre-meditated, the terror
exacerbated by the fact there is no shelter and no protection by or
through any state, international organisation, political faction,
Hamas authority or personal relationships. As Shadi Yassin Ashkar,
60, the grandfather of Mohammad and Bilial, explained to me, ‘I told
them, we shouldn’t all stay in one place, what if they hit us like
they hit families in Fakhoura? We could all be wiped out, better to
keep apart, spread apart, so we cannot all be killed at once’.
The vast majority of the people here don’t feel the Hamas authority
has been the sole target of Israeli F16s, apaches, white phosphorous bombs, surveillance drones, snipers, tanks and bulldozers – they think it’s them and their homes and their children. It ordinary Gazans that bear the scars on their bodies, who have lost their homes and limbs and members of their families, bearing this loss and ruin and constant insecurity in the dark tents and shelters they now live in.
Israeli forces continue to attack despite the ‘ceasefire’ –
according to Kamal Odwan Hospital authorities, farmer Nasser Salah Nasser, 20, was shot in the head yesterday in Eastern Jabaliya, and tank fire injured a woman and her child in Beit Hanoun two days ago.

Gun ships have continued to shell the coast, military bulldozers
have continued to shred land north of Beit Lahiya, F16s kept soaring
low over the population and spy drones keep menacing the skies above us – all reminding us that the threat of open war upon Gaza remains ranging over our heads.

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