[JNV] New Briefings: Iran - Afghanistan / Afghan vigil 7 Oct / Gaza Freedom March / Events

Justice Not Vengeance info at j-n-v.org
Tue, 6 Oct 2009 13:31:02 +0100


1) Afghanistan anniversary vigil, London, 10am-6pm, Wednesday 7 October
2) Training for Gaza Freedom March, London 30 October - 1 November
3) Decommissioners' Solidarity week, Brighton, London
4) Target Brimar, Manchester, 17 October
5) Stop The War Afghanistan demonstration, London, 24 October - help JNV
6) JNV Anti-War Briefing 119 (2 October 2009) - Last Chance for Iran?
7) JNV Anti-War Briefing 120 (7 October 2009) - What Do Afghans Want?

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Dear friends

Please find below two new JNV briefings. One responds to the latest
dramatic developments on Iran, the other is to mark the eighth
anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

The briefings are available to download as double-sided A4 leaflets
(pdfs) from our website www.j-n-v.org

Top of the list of events is an eight-hour vigil JNV is helping to
organise tomorrow, 10am-6pm, on Wednesday 7 October, to mark the
eighth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

Best wishes

Maya Evans,
Emily Johns,
Milan Rai


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1) Afghanistan invasion anniversary vigil, London, 7 October

JNV and Oxford Catholic Worker will be holding a vigil, including
naming the Afghan war dead, opposite Downing Street, on Wednesday 7
October.

Please join us if you can for some period between 10am and 6pm.

Last year, JNV, Voices in the Wilderness and others held a seven-hour
vigil, with alternating hours of name-reading and silence.

If you are unable to be with us, please text us messages of support
during the vigil on 07980 748 555.

This is an unauthorised demonstration under the Serious Organised
Crime and Police Act (2005) and therefore there is a (low) risk of
arrest. We do not anticipate any arrests, and there will be a clear
police warning before any action is taken.


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2) Gaza Freedom March

UK briefing/training event
31 October =96 1 November London

To mark the first anniversary of Israel=92s bloody 22-day assault on
Gaza, hundreds of international activists will march nonviolently
alongside the
people of Gaza on 1 January 2010, breaching the illegal Israeli
blockade (www.gazafreedommarch.org) .

A UK training / briefing event for people thinking of taking part will
be taking place in Central London on 31 Oct and 1 Nov. Crash-pad
accommodation will be available on the Friday and Saturday evenings,
and there will also be a film-screening (probably a documentary about
Rachel
Corrie) at 9pm on the Friday (30 October).

Trainers / briefers will include Jenny Linnell =96 an ISM activist who
travelled to Gaza on the first Free Gaza boat in August 2008 and
remained
there during the Dec/Jan Israeli assault - and the excellent Seeds for
Change (www.seedsforchange.org.uk) training co-op.

In addition to practical workshops on topics such as media-work, rapid
decision-making in crisis situations etc=85this will also be an
opportunity
to meet others who are thinking of taking part in the March =96 with the
possibility of forming affinity groups for mutual support and to aid
decision-making during the trip.

If you would like to attend then please contact gazatraining@gmail.com
or 0845 458 2564 for further details.

This training is organized by Peace News (www.peacenews.info) as way
of supporting the March.


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3) Solidarity with the EDO Decommissioners

On 17 January, as bombs fell relentlessly on Gaza, a =91citizens'
decommissioning=92 took place at weapons manufacturer EDO/MBM/ITT in
Moulsecoomb, Brighton. Just after midnight Robert Stafford, aged 28,
Elija Smith, 41, Tom Woodman, 26, Ornella Silver, 40, Bob Nicholls,
53, entered EDO=92s premises with the aim in Elijah Smith=92s words to
=92smash it up to the best of our ability=92.

Machinery used to make bomb release mechanisms (these carry and eject
missiles from fighter planes and unmanned =91drones=92) and an assembly
area for the electronic components were put out of action. EDO make a
VER2 mechanism which is designed for the F16 fighter and used by the
Israeli Defence Force.

The six caused =A3300,000 of damage and were then peaceably arrested and
charged with criminal damage and conspiracy.

Elijah Smith has been held on remand in Lewes Prison, Brighton since
then. The others are under very strict bail conditions.

Their trial was due to have started on 26 October in Brighton Crown
Court, but has now been adjourned till next year, probably until May,
at the request of the defence due to the prosecution stalling in the
bringing forward of evidence.

A 'Support the Decommissoners' Week of Events will still go ahead. But
the campaign is stressing the need to write To Elijah Smith, locked up
now for nine months without trial. Letters of support please to:
Elijah Smith, XP7551, HMP Bristol, 19 cambridge Road, Horfield, BS7
8PS.

Events:

Saturday 17 October =96 Launch demo of Target Brimar, Manchester this
demo has been called in solidarity with the Decommissioners. (See
below for details.)

Monday 19 October - Rally outside Brighton Town Hall  calling on
Brighton and Hove Council to condemn EDO.

Thursday 22 October - Rally outside the Foreign Office, London
demanding an end of arms exports to Israel.We shall handing in the new
decommissioners petition on this day.

http://decommissioners.co.uk 0117 9426 904

The new Decommissioners petition can be signed here:
http://www.petitiononline.com/decom1/petition.html

The new EDO Decommissioners pamphlet can be downloaded from here:
http://www.smashedo.org.uk/resources/Decommissioners%20Pamphlet.pdf

T-shirts can be bought from here:
http://decommissioners.co.uk/resources/


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4) Target Brimar, Manchester, 17 October

A national demonstration against arms manufacturers Brimar, who
manufacture viewing screens for fighter planes, attack helicopters,
tanks, armoured vehicles and ground-based missile launchers.

Target Brimar is a new Manchester-based anti-militarist campaign.

Demonstration on Saturday 17 October at noon, starting on the grassy
traffic island by the Gardener=92s Arms pub, at the junction of the
B6393 (Lightbowne Rd) and the A6104 (Victoria Avenue East).

http://www.targetbrimar.org.uk/


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5) Stop The War Afghanistan demonstration, London, 24 October

If you would like to distribute JNV, Peace News and other anti-war
materials (including the briefing below) on the Stop The War
demonstration in London, please meet us on Saturday 24 October under
Marble Arch between 11.45am-12.15pm.

To contact us on the day, please call 07980 748 555.


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6) JNV Anti-War Briefing 119 (2 October 2009)


LAST CHANCE FOR IRAN?

The Site At Qom And The International Consortium Solution


IRAQ BACKS DOWN

On 1 Oct., Iran startled the world by making two dramatic concessions
in the long-standing crisis over its uranium enrichment programme,
'agreeing to admit inspectors to a newly revealed nuclear plant and to
surrender some of its enriched uranium to be processed abroad, a
concession which could delay or at least complicate its [suspected]
efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb.' (Independent, 2 Oct., p. 1)

	The concessions came at talks held in Geneva between Iran and the
P5+1 (the permanent five members of the UN Security Council - Britain,
China, France, Russia and the US - and Germany).

	Iran had been very belligerent before the meeting. Ali Akbar Salehi,
head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, said: 'We are not going to
discuss anything related to our nuclear rights'. (Telegraph, 30 Sept.,
p. 15) Iran also increased the political temperature by test-firing
missiles including the 1,240-mile-range Shahab-3 missile (which could
hit Israel and US bases in the Gulf), just days before the Geneva
talks. (FT, 29 Sept., p. 8) Two Iranian MPs, Mohammad Karamirad and
Hassan Ghafourifard warned Iran could leave the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). (Reuters, 30 Sept.,
<http://tinyurl.com/jnv255>)

	The Telegraph reported the day before the Geneva talks: 'Western
diplomats are pessimistic about the chances of any positive outcome.'
(30 Sept., p. 15) In mid-September, the US 'reluctantly accepted an
offer from Iran of face-to-face negotiations'. (Telegraph, 14 Sept.,
p. 20)

	This led to the 40-minute one-on-one meeting between Iran's chief
nuclear negotiator, Sayeed Jalili, and US diplomat, William Burns, in
Geneva on 1 Oct., 'the highest level diplomatic meeting between the
two countries in almost three decades', which cemented the Iranian
concessions. (Telegraph, 2 Oct., p. 20)

THE URANIUM

As part of this deal, Iran has agreed 'in principle' to hand over
1,200kg out of its stockpile of 1,500kg low-enriched uranium (LEU) for
further enrichment into fuel rods in Russia and France ('experts
believe it would require about 2,400kg to make a weapon'). 'The
material will then be exported back to a research reactor in Tehran to
meet an urgent Iranian need for isotopes for hospitals and medical
applications' (Independent, 2 Oct., p. 2)

	'People familiar with the issue said the process [of turning the 5LEU
into 20% enriched fuel rods] would make it extremely difficult for
Iran to use the uranium for bomb-making purposes', which requires 90%
enriched uranium. (Telegraph, 2 Oct., p. 20)

THE SECRET SITE

'Those involved [in the Geneva negotiations] said that last week's
public unveiling of the underground plant at Qom was the game-changer
- not just for Iran, but also for Russia, which made it clear that it
was unimpressed by being lied to.' (Times, 2 Oct., p. 49)

	The Qom site has been under satellite surveillance since 2006,
apparently. 'Working with their British and French counterparts, [US
intelligence] compiled a detailed picture of what was being built
there, with information from an Iranian nuclear scientist's smuggled
laptop, defectors and satellite imagery.' (Sunday Telegraph, 27 Sept.,
p. 23)

	'The intelligence was said to have been gained through compromising
Iran's computer network and seizing a journal containing detailed
notes.' (Telegraph, 26 Sept., p. 17)
=09
	'By late spring, US officials realised the Iranians knew security had
been breached. Obama ordered a detailed dossier that he could use in
negotiations or, if need be, in enlisting the co-operation of other
nations in sanctions against Iran.' Russia and China were not informed
until late September, however, after Iran had written a letter about
the site to the IAEA. (Sunday Times, 27 Sept., p. 23)

	President Obama has said that the 'size and configuration of this
facility is inconsistent with a peaceful programme'. (Telegraph, 26
Sept., p. 16) The Guardian comments: 'It is far too many [centrifuges]
for a pilot plant [normally 164 centrifuges], which is what Iran
claims it is building. On the other hand, 3,000 centrifuges are not
nearly enough for a civilian power programme.' 3,000 is the right
number to produce one warhead every year, however. (Guardian, 26
Sept., p. 4)

	'It is not clear how western intelligence came to the conclusion that
the Qom plant was big enough for 3,000 centrifuges.' (Guardian, 26
Sept., p. 4) The actual size of the Qom plant will be confirmed
shortly by an IAEA inspection.

	Even if the purpose of the Qom site is military, which is far from
proven, international monitoring can stop Iran from trying to acquire
a nuclear bomb without warning the international community.

THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LAW?

President Obama said, in relation to the fact that the Qom enrichment
facility had not been declared earlier: 'Iran is breaking rules that
all nations must follow.' (Telegraph, 26 Sept., p. 16) Wrong.

	Not 'all nations' are signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT). 'All nations' don't have to follow NPT rules. Secondly,
even all nations that have signed up to the NPT don't have to follow
the special 'modified Code 3.1' rules that require early disclosure.

	The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed
ElBaradei, said at the end of Sept., that Iran was 'on the wrong side
of the law' on the secret site because 'Iran was supposed to inform us
on the day it was decided to construct the facility.' (Times, 1 Oct.,
p. 40)

	It's true that Iran did sign up to the 'modified Code 3.1' disclosure
rules ElBaradei describes - on 26 Feb. 2003 - but it later withdrew
from this commitment (formally in a letter delivered to the IAEA on 13
April 2007).

	The IAEA says Iran is still bound by 'modified Code 3.1' rules,
because Tehran is not allowed to change the arrangements unilaterally.
But Iran might nevertheless be acting legally. Iran says it is
operating under the previous rules, and disclosing information about
nuclear facilities 180 days before nuclear materials enter them.

	The IAEA's own Legal Adviser has pointed out that the unmodified,
looser, rules were accepted for 22 years before being changed, so 'it
is difficult to conclude that providing information in accordance with
the earlier formulation in itself constitutes non-compliance' with the
NPT. (Document leaked to Dr Jeffrey Lewis, ArmsControlWonk blog, 13
March 2009 <tinyurl.com/jnv262>)

WHERE NOW?

One alternative to sanctions and war is uranium enrichment in Iran, in
facilities owned and managed by an international consortium. Former
British ambassador Sir John Thomson: 'it is the best that is
obtainable, and so long as it remains in force it precludes Iran from
making a nuclear weapon'. (Independent, 13 July 2008
<tinyurl.com/jnv266>)

	Thomas Pickering, former US Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs: consortium 'combined with upgraded international safeguards
and inspections will provide an unprecedented level of transparency
about Iran's production of nuclear fuel.' (New York Review of Books,
20 Mar. 2008 <tinyurl.com/jnv267>)

	The consortium has been public Iranian government policy since 18
Sept. 2005, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the UN General
Assembly Iran was 'prepared to engage in serious partnership with
private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of
uranium enrichment program in Iran'. (BBC, <tinyurl.com/jnv263>)

	In 2007, Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the UN, suggested: 'Iran
could agree that its nuclear facilities, including all of its
enrichment plants, could be jointly owned by an international
consortium. All countries with concerns, including the US, could
participate in that consortium. Their people and other foreign
nationals could come and go to work at the facilities, which would
allow for the best type of monitoring.' (Time, 14 Mar. 2007
<tinyurl.com/jnv264>)

	Iran's willingness was reiterated in a 13 May 2008 letter to the UN
secretary general Ban Ki-moon calling for enrichment consortia
'including in Iran'. (Guardian, 23 May 2008 <tinyurl.com/jnv265>)


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7) JNV Briefing 120 (7 October 2009)

WHAT DO AFGHANS WANT?


The Guiding Principle

In his major speech on Afghanistan on 4 Sept., British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown emphasized Britain's self interest in the Afghan war: 'We
are in Afghanistan as a result of a hard-headed assessment of the
terrorist threat facing Britain.' <tinyurl.com/jnv271> The Prime
Minister does not often speak of the wishes of the Afghan people. But
these wishes, so far as they can be known, ought to be at the centre
of British policy.

What we know is that the majority of people in Afghanistan (77%) want
an end to the airstrikes that have killed hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of Afghan civilians. We also know that the majority of Afghans (64%)
want a negotiated end to the conflict, and are willing to accept the
creation of a coalition government including the Taliban leadership.

We also know that a majority of Afghans oppose the idea of escalating
the war and increasing the number of foreign troops in the country.
73% of Afghans think that US-led forces in the country should either
be decreased in number (44%) or 'kept at the current level' (29%).
Only 18% of Afghans favour an increase.


Fear of the Taliban

These are the results of a nationwide poll commissioned by the BBC,
ABC News (USA) and ARD (Germany), in which 1,534 Afghans were
interviewed in all of the country's 34 provinces between 30 December
2008 and 12 January 2009. <tinyurl.com/jnv272>

The poll found enormous hostility to the Taliban. 82% of people said
they would prefer the present government; only 4% favoured a Taliban
government. 90% of people said they opposed Taliban fighters. The
Taliban were seen as the biggest danger to the country by 58% of
people; the United States was in fourth place with 8% (just ahead of
'local commanders' - a euphemism for US-backed warlords, we suspect).

'Who do you blame the most for the violence that is occurring in the
country?' The Taliban came top with 27%; al-Qa'eda/foreign jihadis
were next with 22%. In third place were 'US/American forces/Bush/US
government/America/NATO/ISAF forces' with 21%.

69% of people thought it was a good thing that the US-led forces had
come to Aghanistan to bring down the Taliban. (Down from 88% in 2006.)

64% of Afghans thought (in January 2009) that 'The Taliban are the
same as before', and had not grown more moderate.


Negotiate now

Despite all this, a solid 64% of Afghans thought 'the government in
Kabul should negotiate a settlement with Afghan Taliban in which they
are allowed to hold political offices if they agree to stop fighting'.
However, Afghans favoured preconditions to such talks: 71% said the
government should 'negotiate only if the Taliban stop fighting'.

64% of British people also think 'America and Britain be willing to
talk to the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to achieve a peace deal'.
(Sunday Times, 15 Mar. <tinyurl.com/jnv285>)

Talks are only meaningful if the other side is willing to play their
part. It seems, in the case of Afghanistan, that there is serious
interest in a national reconciliation process on the part of the
Taliban and the Karzai administration - but that these negotiations
are being blocked by the United States and Britain, who are determined
to achieve a military victory.


The Taliban position

The Taliban's current demands were set out in a New York Times article
on 20 May: 'The first demand was an immediate pullback of American and
other foreign forces to their bases, followed by a cease-fire and a
total withdrawal from the country over the next 18 months. Then the
current government would be replaced by a transitional government made
up of a range of Afghan leaders, including those of the Taliban and
other insurgents. Americans and other foreign soldiers would be
replaced with a peacekeeping force drawn from predominantly Muslim
nations, with a guarantee from the insurgent groups that they would
not attack such a force. Nationwide elections would follow after the
Western forces left.' <tinyurl.com/jnv280>

A negotiator said the Taliban leaders also added two more conditions:
an end to the drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas, and the
release of some Taliban prisoners.


Taliban softening?

On 2 Apr., the Independent reported that preliminary talks between
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban seemed to have 'yielded
a significant shift away from the Taliban's past obsession with
repressive rules and punishments governing personal behaviour.'

It was said that the Taliban were now prepared to commit themselves to
'refraining from banning girls' education, beating up taxi drivers for
listening to Bollywood music, or measuring the length of mens'
beards.'

Burqas would be 'strongly recommended' for women in public, but not be
compulsory. <tinyurl.com/jnv283>

The Taliban's wider political demands appear to have also softened
considerably since 2007, when they demanded 'control of 10 southern
provinces, a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops, and the
release of all Taliban prisoners within six months'. (Guardian, 15
Oct. 2007 <tinyurl.com/jnv284>)


Withdrawal

The Taliban 18-month withdrawal schedule fits in with Afghan opinion.
In the BBC poll, 21% of Afghans said US-led forces should leave
immediately; 16% said between 6 months and a year from now; and 14%
within two years. So 51% of Afghans want withdrawal within two years.

In May 2007, the upper house of the Afghan parliament voted for a
military ceasefire and negotiations with the Taliban, and for a date
to be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops. (AP, 10 May 2007
<tinyurl.com/jnv273>)

A staged withdrawal also fits in with British opinion. In a
Guardian/BBC Newsnight poll, published on 13 July, 42% of voters
wanted British troops withdrawn immediately; and a further 14% wanted
withdrawal "by the end of the year" (ie within five months). (36% of
people said they should "stay until they are no longer needed".)
<tinyurl.com/jnv268>

A Times poll published on 22 July showed that two-thirds of those
polled believed that British troops should be withdrawn either now
(34%) or (33%) 'within the next year or so' (ie within 12 months).
<tinyurl.com/jnv269>

So that's 56% wanting withdrawal within months, and 67% wanting
withdrawal within a year.

A staged withdrawal also fits in with US public opinion. In a New York
Times/CBS News poll, 55% of voters said US troops should be withdrawn
within two years (31% said within one year). (24 Sept.,
<tinyurl.com/jnv281>)


Replacement forces

The BBC/ABC/ARD poll showed that 63% of Afghans supported the presence
of US troops in Afghanistan (but 77% wanted an end to airstrikes).
Only 8% supported the presence of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
<tinyurl.com/jnv272>

It seems that Afghans want an international presence in the country to
prevent rule by the Taliban, who they fear and detest. That
international presence ought to be supplied by independent forces
uninvolved in the US-led invasion and occupation, and controlled by
the UN General Assembly (rather than the US-dominated Security
Council).


Conclusion

It is impossible to take the Taliban's position at face value -
particularly on social controls - but there seems to be no alternative
to a genuine negotiated solution to the Afghan conflict, in line with
Afghan public opinion, Afghan parliamentary opinion, and British
public opinion.

Britain and the US should halt their 'surge' into Afghanistan,
ceasefire, withdraw to their bases, draw down troops and allow a
national reconciliation process to take place. The future of the
Afghan people must be determined according to the wishes of the Afghan
people.


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ENDS (finally