28/06/2015

The Unseen March - exposing the tide of militarisation

An increasing military presence is entering schools across Britain. Even as the government slashed education maintenance allowance (EMA), disabled students allowance (DSA) and mental health services for young people, £45 million of new military programmes have been introduced since 2011. Help us start a public conversation about militarism in our society.
 
Any questions email ellisb@quaker.org.uk

Note from MH: as is often the case material comes from BYM that is about devolved issues and only deals with England. So please note Wales, Scotland & NI do not necessary have the same policies for education as they do in England. Meeting for Friends in Wales talked of this problem at the meeting on June 27th.
The template letter to your MP is clear that it is about England.
I will research the situation in Wales - Forces Watch do have some information and will make a new post when I have some information

A link to a previous post with information about FORCESWATCH's visit to Area Meeting

BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme 28th June has Paul Parker discussing this subject http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0606mdd



A related topic from Quaker Council for European Affairs
Militarism in the European Union
An update for the European Council 25-27 June

LINK to BACKGROUND PAPER
  

22/06/2015

Raif Badawi: censorship and freedom of speech

The treatment of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia is of particular concern to one of Cardigan Meeting's members. This post gives more information about his plight plus links to broader human rights issues in Saudi Arabia so that Friends might understand the situation better

Link to Amnesty International information and petition

Extract:
A decade in prison for supporting free speech
Raif’s sentence stems from his creation of the website ‘Saudi Arabian Liberials’, which he envisaged as a forum for political and social debate. He was subsequently charged for content he had posted to the site, including an article published on Valentine’s Day 2012 in which he was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s religious police, the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – as well as failing to remove ‘offensive’ posts by other contributors.
Raif was arrested in June 2012. In May 2014 he was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabia’s strict technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures by creating and managing an online forum.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (over a quarter of a million US dollars), and prevented from using any kind of media or travelling until 2034.
 
More from Amnesty International: 5 ways you can help Raif Badawi

Link to Freedom from Torture article on the medical implications of flogging

Link to a comment article in The Independent16th June 2015

extract:
Three years ago today, Saudi Arabian police arrested Raif Badawi for the crime of running a website “that propagates liberal thought”. His blog had put the case for secularism in observations such as this: “States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear.”

As if to prove his point, a Sharia court hauled Badawi back into the fearful circle, sentencing him to 600 lashes and seven years in jail for “going beyond the realm of obedience”. Last year, deciding that he had been let off too lightly, a judge upped the punishment to 1,000 lashes and 10 years’ imprisonment plus a fine of one million riyal (about £170,000).
 
What does our government think of this? Asked about the flogging and jailing of Badawi, the Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay said in the Lords last week: “We maintain our view that freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression are core rights that lead to long-term stability and good governance.”
But? Yes, of course there was a but, and one to take the breath away: “My Lords, I think we have to recognise that the actions of the Saudi government in these respects have the support of the vast majority of the Saudi population.”
Do they? Last Friday I asked the Foreign Office how the minister could be so sure. No answer has yet been forthcoming.
 
.......................................
 
You might like to read more about Saudi Arabia and human rights issues

14/06/2015

Quaker United Nations Office

South Wales Area Meeting in Milford Haven Rhiannon Redpath gave a talk on her experiences at the Geneva Quaker House of Quaker United Nations Office

QUNO maintains houses in Geneva and New York to serve as QUNO offices and meeting places close to the UN. For nearly fifty years, Quaker Houses have provided a place where UN diplomats, staff, and nongovernmental partners can work on difficult issues in a quiet, off-the-record atmosphere out of the public eye.
In addition to providing space for informal luncheons with diplomats and UN staff, Quaker Houses are a centre for seminars, workshops, committee meetings, and Quaker hospitality. Friends and Friends' organizations make use of Quaker House facilities as they learn about and participate in UN activities. 

for more information about QUNO  follow THIS LINK

It was an inspiring talk - and would have been good to record for people who couldn't get to Area Meeting

and yes on the website you will see a red DONATE button to click on!

Yearly Meeting 2015

information from Yearly Meeting 1-4 May 2015 LINK

some specific links you might like to go to:


The link to the Minutes can be found here [PDF].
 

Letter from Yearly Meeting to Evangelical Friends Mission in Nepal [Word document 60kb] link may be broken due to Quaker uk website remake

June charity

This month the charity we are supporting is The Dorothy Peace Centre named after Dorothy Crowther, a retired British GP. A member of Keswick Quaker Meeting, Dorothy’s voluntary work has included Quaker Social Action and the Retreat Psychiatric Hospital in York. Since meeting the African members of QPNWA, Dorothy has been impressed by their dedication and hard work. She feels that a solution to African problems must start with African people, and has given a lot of support and encouragement to us, from the beginning.
The Dorothy Peace Centre aims to relieve poverty and prevent violence in communities across West Africa. To achieve our aims, we will look at whole communities, work with local people to raise their living standards, and give hope by involving them in decision making.
Our first area of work is strategically located around Rokel, east of Freetown in Sierra Leone, an area chosen because it was notorious during the civil war. Our centre in Rokel will provide support for both monitoring and resolving emerging conflicts, and for providing psychological support to victims and vulnerable people. Last, but not least, it will provide adequate training to help unemployed people develop productive and fulfilling lives.
There are also people in Ghana and Liberia who are interested and asking us to work with them, but lack of funding has so far prevented this.

More information on The Dorothy Peace centre and the Ebola orphanage can be found VIA THIS LINK and there will be a collection box at Cardigan Meeting


The other charity we heard about [if you are interesting in also supporting them personally] is the Judy Trust LINK

The project was started following a request from the community around Rokel [the same region as the orphanage set up by The Dorothy Peace Centre] who, having no clinic in the area, had to take patients long distances to other areas for treatment – often by wheelbarrow! The building and equipping of the clinic was completed in 2013 with the help of Quaker meetings and Quaker Peace and Social Witness, who helped us with £6000.

04/06/2015

Minute 36: Living out our faith in the world – are we ready to meet the challenge? 2015


Yearly Meeting asked: “Can we transform the way the world is going and recognise that everyone and everything on the planet matters and can be thought of as a divine commonwealth, or kin-dom? Quakerism is all about putting our faith in a power which transforms us.”
 
Minute 36: Living out our faith in the world – are we ready to meet the challenge?

How are we led to live out our faith in a world where we see systemic injustice and increasing inequality?
We have been reminded that God’s work is where our deep gladness meets the deep suffering in the world, as in Psalm 85:
‘Mercy and truth are met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other,
truth shall spring out of the earth;
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.’

We are all activists and we are all worshippers. Our worship and action spring from the same spiritual source. The light not only illumines us but pushes us to seek change.

We recognise the problems in the world and the urgency of acting on them. Our current political and (especially) economic systems only recognise and encourage part of the human condition, the selfish, competitive, greedy part. So much of what is good and beautiful and true in the world is being trashed. The model of power as domination needs to be challenged and replaced with a model of power as service to the community; in doing this, we need to live our testimony and hold firm to its source in faith.

The damage of the present systems, like the benefits, are not shared equally. We need to recognise how many of us benefit through the possessions we hold and the houses we live in, and to consider when we are part of the problem. In living out our faith in the world, we may be called to give up our privileges, but if we do so our voice and our lives will be all the more authentic and powerful. We can be at our most powerful when we are vulnerable.

The damaged and damaging structures of the world are not the only influence on our lives: there is also the power of faith and the leadings of the Spirit, which if followed will lead us, will push us, towards a better world. That, then, may be the first action we need to take: to be more faithful.

What are the changes which are needed to the systemic injustice and inequality that we see in society? We need to go deeper to find the roots of our social ills, and how we might uproot the powers that maintain them. We should rethink what needs to grow in this world and what does not. Can we transform the way the world is going and recognise that everyone and everything on the planet matters and can be thought of as a divine commonwealth, or kin-dom? Quakerism is all about putting our faith in a power which transforms us.

Many of us have spoken of the anger we feel about the current injustices of the world, and sometimes our hearts are heavy with all the things we cannot do. Anger can be a spur to action, but we need Light and guidance to use it wisely and sparingly. We already have a way of finding this wisdom in our corporate discipline

and our testing in worship of leadings. Through these our righteous anger and passion can be transformed in order to tackle the root causes of injustice and inequality. Our action begins in worship, in seeking and reflecting before we act. Our practices of listening within and being open to what comes to us from without are rarer than we think, and are a precious gift that we should both use and share.

We are called to consider what we each can do and also make and build on connections in our communities and across the globe.
We are also called to be a community of Friends as a yearly meeting, pushed towards the important things we can only do together. We have a body of experience we can draw on and maintain. We are in this for the long haul. As a yearly meeting we are restless to take corporate action to change the unequal, unjust world in which we live.

We ask Friends and meetings to engage with the evil of social and economic injustice which creates a world in which the wrong things are valued. To do this requires owning and upholding the work that is already being done by Friends and in our name; helping to fund that work as generously as possible; and becoming involved in however small a way. For ourselves we need to find some action however simple to do now.

We ask Meeting for Sufferings to take the work on social and economic injustice forward, co-ordinating the work of local and area meetings who might wish to become more deeply involved, and encouraging the deep spiritual and intellectual searching that could underpin a ‘true social order’ for our age.

We ask Yearly Meeting Agenda Committee to align their work with that of Meeting for Sufferings and to keep this issue before the Yearly Meeting for further consideration over the next two years. Between Yearly Meetings we should all try to share our experience. We ask our Recording Clerk and staff to make our concern about social and economic inequality known as widely as possible and in particular to challenge the incoming UK government to adopt policies which decrease inequality and value equally the contribution which all can make to developing a more just and sustainable society.

We must remember that what makes the real difference is not adding further to the words in the world but being and living out the new social order, testing our leadings together and trusting to our Quaker processes, ‘opening ourselves to the Light to guide us in each small step.'

information from Quaker Peace and Social Witness


Take action on TTIP
Many Friends are concerned about the ongoing negotiations regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade deal between the EU and the US.
On 10 June the European Parliament will be considering a set of recommendations to the European Commission regarding TTIP, including on the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS). Both QPSW and QCEA are concerned about the implications of ISDS, which could give large corporations access to an exclusive form of justice, through which they could sue governments for billions of Euros for loss of profit due to implementation of legislation.

Despite a vigorous civil society campaign, and five European Parliament committees calling for ISDS to be excluded from TTIP, the resolution that the European Parliament will be voting on calls for a revised version of ISDS rather than its exclusion altogether. This is unlikely to solve the problems.
The Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) are encouraging Friends to write to their Members of European Parliament (MEPs), to raise concerns about ISDS. They have provided background information for Friends wishing to write to MEPs. Find this here www.qcea.org/2015/05/noisds/ or email office@qcea.org. The Trade Justice Movement are also running a campaign focussing on ISDS and you can find out more and sign-up here.

You can also read more about TTIP and ISDS in this article by Scarborough Friend David Malone, which was published in a recent edition of our Earth and Economy newsletter.

Climate lobby
17 June, Central London
For those of you that wish to come to the Climate Lobby in London on 17 June 17, this is a reminder that there is still time to sign up! The Lobby is an opportunity to meet with your newly elected MPs to call on them to take action on climate change and to challenge vested interests. Let us know you plan to come, and to receive more detailed information by
signing up online.

If you have signed up already then please let your MP know that you plan to be there, and ask that they meet with you on the day. To write to your MP you can use the ‘for the love of’ online tool. You may also want to add the following sentence into their template letter:

Quakers are calling for climate justice. We want justice for those who have been unequally impacted by climate change and a global climate commitment that stops this injustice continuing. We are working to build an energy and economic system which has equality, justice and sustainability at heart. 
For those planning to attend, QPSW has put together a pack containing a mini-briefing to give to your MP, plus some tips on lobbying, www.quaker.org.uk/day-climate-action.

We're hoping for a strong Quaker presence at the lobby, so please encourage others in your meeting to get involved. Remember there's lots you can do even if you can't come to the lobby.

A ground-breaking new film exposes the tide of militarisation
An increasing military presence is entering schools across Britain. Even as the government slashed education maintenance allowance (EMA), disabled students allowance (DSA) and mental health services for young people, £45 million of new military programmes have been introduced since 2011. Help us start a public conversation about militarism in our society.

Before the film goes live help us to record examples of militarisation in the world around us. Use hashtag #unseenmarch to record examples of militarisation. Any questions email ellisb@quaker.org.uk
Watch the film online at www.unseenmarch.org.uk Going live the week of 22 June
Share the film with friends, parents, teachers, school governors and young people.
Find out about actions you can take to challenge militarism at: www.unseenmarch.org.uk

If you are not able to watch the film online, we will have a limited number of DVD copies, available for meetings. Please email the Quaker Centre at quakercentre@quaker.org.uk or call 020 7663 1030 to request these.

Programme newsletters
Advocacy actions such as these, and other news, are included in our programme newsletters. Please do encourage Friends in your meeting to sign up if they are interested.
Earth and Economy (Economics, Sustainability and Peace Programme) www.quaker.org.uk/earth-economy-signup
Educate and Disarm (Peace and Disarmament Programme) – contact Sam Walton: samw@quaker.org.uk
EAPPI monthly E-update EAPPI update - sign up
Making Waves (Turning The Tide programme) – contact Steve Whiting: stevew@quaker.org.uk