ARTHUR WEST's article about the work of the Scottish Peace Network appears in the Morning Star.
He looks at the current work of the peace movement in Scotland, from opposing NATO to making sure the issue of war is included in upcoming climate change protests at COP26
ONE of the networks which Scottish CND and local CND groups support is the Scottish Peace Network, a coalition of groups in which come from a variety of different traditions united in opposing militarism.
For a group to become part of the network they have to share a common vision of achieving a more peaceful world through co-operation, collective action and support for peaceful ways to resolve differences between nations.
The Scottish Peace Network organises opposition to nuclear weapons and military aggression. It also campaigns against economic dependence on the production and trade of weapons systems that might be used to commit human rights violations or kill innocent human beings.
Over the last five years the Scottish Peace Network has established a regular programme of activities which are focused on arguing the case for tensions between nations to be resolved through peaceful means rather than resorting to war and conflicts.
The network organises regular vigils in Glasgow city centre and other towns which have provided the network with the opportunity to distribute anti war leaflets and engage with members of the public .
The network has also raised concerns about the role of Nato and we try and organise information to highlight the threat to world peace that it represents — prior to the pandemic we organised a No to Nato Action Day. One of the main concerns of the Network is that Nato is a nuclear-armed military alliance comprising 30 member states, including Britain. Nato was founded in 1949 in the early years of the cold war — the Scottish Peace Network believes that it is now time to move away from Nato’s cold war ideology and for Britain to redirect resources to structures such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Recent online meetings of the network decided that we should have some focus on the issues of Palestine and the impact of war on forcing people to become refugees. In terms of Palestine, the network is consulting member groups on the production of a leaflet which will argue the case for Israel to end its cruel treatment of the Palestinians and enter meaningful peace talks. The leaflet will also make the case for an end to British arms sales to Israel as a contribution to making the Middle East a safer place.
The Scottish Peace Network is also very concerned about the very high number of refugees in our world today. Research from Amnesty International indicates that the global figure for refugees is currently 26 million.
Tragically, Amnesty figures also show that around half of these refugees are children and that almost 85 per cent of refugees are being hosted in developing countries. The current situation in Afghanistan and the wrong-headed efforts of the Tory government to make it more difficult for people to seek asylum in Britain have again drawn attention to asylum and refugee issues.
The Scottish Peace Network considers that one of the main reasons for the high numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers in our world today is the conflicts and wars which are raging in so many parts of the world.
Wikipedia lists around 40 ongoing wars and conflicts, so it is little wonder we have such a high number of refugees as people flee for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones.
As we enter the latter part of the year, the Scottish Peace Network will be engaging in public work around the Cop26 conference which will be taking place in November. The network will be organising two vigils which will be focused on highlighting the links between military spending and climate change as well as supporting activities organised by Scottish CND and other peace movement groups.
In the run-up to Remembrance Day in November the Scottish Peace Network will be distributing white poppies to ensure that all victims of war are remembered at this sad time.
As the Peace Pledge Union says, the white poppy stands for three things — they represent remembrance for all victims of war as well as a commitment to peace and a challenge to any attempts to glamorise or celebrate war.
An opinion poll conducted by Populus indicates that 85 per cent agreed that Remembrance Sunday should primarily have a message of peace. The Scottish Peace Network will be doing its bit this year, as we have in previous years, to ensure that there will be a clear message of peace from our activities in the run-up to Remembrance Day.
Arthur West is a former chair of Scottish CND and current secretary of Ayrshire CND and a member of the Scottish Peace Network.