Members of the embryonic Veterans for Peace UK chapter have been actively supporting Bradley Manning this past year. On Easter Sunday, the chapter met officially for the first time, followed by a public launch on Easter Monday.
This report is taken from the Veterans for Peace UK website.
Veterans for Peace UK held its inaugural meeting on Easter Sunday. 11 veterans attended the meeting. The meeting was started with the reading of The Statement of Purpose. We then had an extended check in where there was a good exchange of experiences.
The aims of VFP UK were laid out;
1) To resist war through non-violent action.
2) To support war resisters.
3) To counter militarism and educate on the true nature of war.
A clarification of our committment to acting non-violently was made, Gerry Condon (VFP USA) explained that even though there are many pacifists within VFP it is not a pacifist organisation. Bruce Kent enlightened us with some stories of resistance from within the British Army that are not well known.
The public launch was well attended. Barry Ladendorf who served in Vietnam with the US Navy talked about the true costs of war. Jim Radford who was at D-Day and served in the Royal Navy spoke about his long history within the peace movement and also performed two songs.Gerry Condon who refused to deploy to Vietnam after training as a Special Forces Medic spoke about the work of VFP and the plight of Bradley Manning.
Mike Lyons who served as a medic on submarines in the Royal Navy spoke about being a conscientious objector and being jailed for refusing to serve in Afghanistan. Matthew Horne who served in Iraq with the Scots Guards spoke about his experiences at Occupy London. Scot Albrecht who served in the US Air Force during the cold war spoke about his work with refugees and his history of resistance to war. Danny Martin who served in with the Royal Signals in Iraq read us two of his poems, one of which is already published on the VFP UK website. John McClean sang us some very powerful songs.
Rob Green a former Royal Navy Commander who served at Northwood HQ during the Falklands war spoke about how important it was for veterans to organise themselves for peace. Also present were Adnan Sarwar who served in Iraq with a bomb disposal unit and was also attached to the USMC and John Lyons who was conscripted into the British Army in 1946 and has a long history within the peace movement.
Thanks to Roland, Sue, Alan and Ross for preparing the food. Thanks to London Catholic Worker for hosting the event. Thanks to John McClean for his music. Thanks to Jason Gleeson for filming. Thanks to Barry, Gerry and Helen from VfP in the USA and thank you to the VfP UK members.
More photos here.
Interview with Veterans for Peace UK founder Ben Griffin (audio: 10 min) here.