Diana Toynbee will be one of the speakers
The sound of bagpipes played by kilted Scotsman Murdo White rang out at Leominster Station on 24 October as Mayor Jenny Bartlett joined local well-wishers to welcome “the Peace Train.”
Members of Hereford Peace Council rode the train along the Welsh borders collecting letters and petitions at each station demanding the UK joins international moves to ban nuclear weapons.
Last year 122 countries called for nuclear weapons to be made illegal and for a diplomatic process to begin to universally eradicate them.
ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in getting this overwhelming majority of United Nations countries to agree to The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
However, the UK did not and does not intend to sign this treaty.
On the train, as the carriage doors opened at Leominster, leading UK peace campaigner Rebecca Johnson (pictured) held up the Nobel peace medal she received. It was a perfect day – Wednesday, October 24 – United Nations Day, part of Disarmament Week. The clear message of the letters and petitions being taken on to London, to the House of Commons, was “It’s time to get peace back on track.”
Said Jenny Bartlett: “It was all too brief but Leominster gave the Peace Train a great welcome – thanks to Leominster’s own piper Murdo White and all those who turned out including rector Rev Mike Kneen and town crier Richard Brookman.”
Betty Hunter, Honorary President of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, spoke at April’s Big Green Conversation about Palestine and particularly how Palestinian children are treated by the Israeli justice system, police and military.
She said Israel signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, but effectively treats Palestinian children as terrorists.
Children suffer trauma, mental illness, and disrupted education – as a result of interrogation, detention and physical and mental abuse.
Most children who are detained are alleged to have been seen stone-throwing. They are protesting about land grabs and (for example) wanton destruction of olive trees. Their treatment by the Israeli justice system is akin to apartheid – the law enshrines discrimination against Palestinians, eg:
- the maximum period of detention without charge is 40 days for Israelis, but 188 for Palestinians
- the maximum period of detention without access to a lawyer is 48 hours for Israelis, but 90 days for Palestinians
After being arrested, Palestinian children are commonly held in solitary confinement – the average period in recent years is 13 days, the longest on record is 45 days. And nearly all children are interrogated without a parent or lawyer present. Almost all confess, because they know the chances of proving their innocence are so slim.
Betty went on to outline how her organisation works to support the Palestinian cause. PSC started in 2001 with a call to boycott Israeli goods. As well as generally raising awareness, they also now encourage divestment and argue for sanctions. “Companies that support the Israeli State are the targets, not British based ‘Jewish’ companies like Marks and Spencer”. Israeli football is also a target – campaigners argue that it is racist and should not be allowed to play within Europe.
Support among Israelis for their government’s treatment of Palestinians is far from universal. A group of ex Israeli conscript soldiers known as ‘Breaking the Silence‘ bravely report on what they experienced. Palestine support is growing in the USA – a group called Jewish Voice for Peace is promoting divestment.
Betty gave a short interview after the meeting – video here
Presentation by Betty Hunter (Hon. President of Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
7 for 7.30 @ de Koffie Pot, Left Bank, Hereford, HR4 9DG
Israel is denying the children of Palestine a future through military occupation and imprisonment. The international community must defend their rights.
Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children in military courts – between 500 and 700 each year. The Israel Prison Service revealed that an average of 204 Palestinian children have been held in custody every month since 2012.
Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalised throughout the process”. These were the conclusions of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report ‘Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations‘.
Palestinian children as young as 12 are routinely:
- Taken from their homes at gunpoint in night-time raids by soldiers.
- Blindfolded, bound and shackled.
- Interrogated without a lawyer or relative being present and with no audio-visual recording.
- Put into solitary confinement.
- Forced to sign confessions (often in Hebrew – a language they do not understand).
Ahed Tamimi – pictured above when much younger – is a 16 year-old Palestinian child potentially facing over a decade in an Israeli prison because of an aggressive political campaign against her family and her village.
Hereford Palestine Support Group are showing the film: “The Occupation of the American Mind” on Mon 27th March 2017 at St. John’s Methodist Church, St.Owen’s Street, Hereford HR1 2PR. The film starts at 7.30pm and refreshments are available from 7.15. Betty Hunter, Honorary President of PSC, having recently returned from Palestine, will introduce the film & lead Q & A afterwards.
The film looks at Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States and is narrated by Roger Waters. It features leading observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. media culture.
Israel’s on-going military occupation of Palestinian territory & repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies in many parts of the world – but not in the United States. The Occupation of the American Mind takes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S.
Free entry but donations welcome.
Hosted by Hereford Palestine Support Group – firstname.lastname@example.org
If we cancelled Trident, imagine what we could spend on home insulation, reducing energy bills for struggling households. A safer world, reducing climate changing emissions, warmer homes and wealthier families – what’s not to like?
As part of the Global Days of Action Against Military Spending, Hereford Peace Council will be having a stall in High Town, Hereford, from 10.00-14.00 on Saturday, 22nd April.
More information on huge military spending in a time of austerity can be found here.
REBECCA Johnson, prominent global peace campaigner, was in Hereford on Tuesday last week to talk on ‘peace-building through non-violent action and treaty-making’ for the Millichap Peace Fund. Her visit came just days before the United Nations was due to vote on whether to start negotiations next year to prohibit nuclear weapons.
She said ‘I’m delighted to be back in beautiful Hereford, and to discuss peace at such a crucial time in history. I’ve come straight here from the discussions at the UN in New York. Sadly the UK, and in particular this government, is out of step with the rest of the world on this, and is pressurising other countries to vote no, but I’m optimistic’.