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Canterbury calls for peace in Korea: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 7. May 14, 2013

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The Bishop of Brixworth with Korean and Japanese colleagues holding the communique of the 2nd Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has added its voice to the call for peace in Korea. In a message read to the Second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference held in Okinawa from 16 – 22 April 2013 Archbishop Welby lauded the work of the Korean and Japanese churches to foster peace in Northeast Asia.

“Your gathering has come at the most needful time,” Archbishop Welby wrote, in a statement read by his representative to the conference Bishop John Holbrook of Brixworth in the diocese of Peterborough.

“We stand with you in solidarity with the people of Korea at this time of heightened tension.  I applaud the commitment of the Anglican Communion to work with the Anglican Church of Korea in its dedicated mission towards peace in Korea.  May the initiatives you pursue contribute to the breaking down of enmities and to the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.  Recent developments have shown how urgent this remains.  I pray that the Lord may grant you the courage to keep faithful to this calling.”

Approximately 80 delegates attended the conference convened jointly by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai and the Anglican church committee. In his opening address Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of Japan said peace will come to the region by a call for relinquishing “our own rights … And trying to protect the rights of others, or those who lack even basic rights.”

In the closing communiqué the delegates said East Asia was “hounded by the alarming threat of military escalation, the proliferation of destructive nuclear weapons, and the deadly effects of nuclear power generation.”

“We noted the danger signs are governments moving toward a war footing, they said, adding they feared the “possible revision of Japan’s skis Constitution would undermine stability in the region.”

The conference declared its “unequivocal opposition to war as a means of resolving disputes” and pledged “never again to war!”

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Bishop questions defence cuts: The Church of England Newspaper, 10 June 2012, p 6. June 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords.
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Bishop Stephen Platten

The Bishop of Wakefield has questioned the wisdom of the government’s planned defence cuts in light of the coalition’s pledge to maintain an active foreign policy profile.

Speaking in the House of Lords on 17 May 2012 in response to the Queen’s Speech, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Platten stated the government had “not thus far made clear how they see the future role of Britain in international defence and security with the severe reductions in resources.”

Last month Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced the MoD would scale back spending and reduce troop levels eliminate a £38bn hole in its budget.  While the government had committed to spend £152bn over the next decade on new military equipment including two new aircraft carriers, six destroyers, and 14 Chinook helicopters, other programmes had been sharply scaled back or eliminated. The minister also said the government would also cut troop levels, with the Army falling from 102,000 to 82,000 and the RAF from 44,000 to 39,000.

“After two years’ work, the black hole in the defence budget has finally been eliminated and the budget is now in balance, with a small annual reserve built in as a prudent measure to make sure we are not blown off course by unforeseen events,” Mr. Hammond told Parliament.

Bishop Platten questioned the feasibility of the government’s plans in light of its foreign policy commitments.

“Not only is morale, especially in the Army, very low, following the reduction of resources and the planned future reduction, as well as the cut backs in manpower,” the bishop said, “there is also no real clarity about how the aims set out in the SDSR of a continuing high-profile role for Britain in international defence and security and how that is to be made into a reality.”

Bishop Platten spoke of the many pressing calls upon the military – including combating piracy in the Horn of Africa, peacekeeping in Afghanistan and nuclear proliferation, noting “we are living in unstable and unpredictable times.”

He stated he was encouraged by the government’s commitment “to support the Afghan national security force beyond 2014. It would press us beyond tragedy if the lives lost in Afghanistan in the past 10 years were seen to be of no avail by allowing that country to slide back into anarchy, civil war or fragmentation into provinces ruled by dangerous warlords.”

But peace would not come by force of arms alone, but through “effective engagement with the Taliban. The presence of US bases and Special Forces until 2014 seems to rule out the possibility of such engagement. Peace will come only with realism about this factor and not simply by force of arms. What is the Government’s response to this aspect of the peace process?” he asked.

“If we are to look toward a clear role for Britain in defence and security, we need a sharpening and filling out of the scenario with regard both to strategy and securing resources for the future,” the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishops’ plea to keep shipyard open: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 7. February 2, 2012

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Bishop Christopher Foster

The Bishops of Portsmouth have urged BAE Systems not to shutter their shipyard at the city’s naval dockyard and end 800 years of shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

In a joint statement released on 24 January 2012, the Anglican bishop, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Foster, and the Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt. Rev. Crispian Hollis, stated they were “concerned about the reports that suggest BAE Systems may be reviewing their presence in Portsmouth Dockyard. If BAE Systems were to pull out, the viability of the whole dockyard could be at stake.”

“The Dockyard has been at the heart of Portsmouth for centuries, and it would be a real blow to the city if this review threatened its future. It’s not just the 3,000 people who work there and their families who would be affected, but also those other local businesses who depend on the dockyard for their survival. At a time when so many are already facing economic stress, this is the last thing they needed to hear,” the bishops said.

Union and government leaders joined the bishops in calling for BAE Systems to keep the dockyard open.  However, a spokesman for the company said it was reviewing how to “retain the capability to deliver and support complex warships in the UK in the future” and would keep its employees and their union representatives “fully informed” of the progress.

The hull and stern of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth were built at the yard, while the flight deck was constructed in Birkenhead.  Work is currently being completed at the Rosyth dockyard.  Construction of a second 65,000 tonne carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales, is scheduled to begin shortly and will keep the yard open until 2016.

The company is in negotiations with the MoD over the a contract to construct a new fleet of Type 25 frigates, which would keep the dockyard busy for a decade and has prompted speculation from some union leaders the redundancy rumors are part of the company’s negotiating strategy with the government.

Church protests over Scottish base closings: The Church of England Newspaper, July 22, 2011 p 6. July 27, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has joined opposition leaders in criticizing the government’s decision to close the RAF base at Leuchars in Fife.

In a statement given to Parliament on July 18 Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the coalition was forced to close bases due to the fiscal irresponsibility of the previous government.

“This government inherited both a national economic disaster that represented a strategic threat, and a defence programme undermined by a £38bn black hole,” Dr. Fox said, adding that “without a fundamental review for 12 years, our Armed Forces were still largely configured for the 20th Century despite a decade of sustained operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“This failure to set out a coherent long-term strategy for defence and to effectively match commitments to resources is one of Labour’s worst legacies,” he said.

He announced that RAF Leuchars will be taken over by the army and the existing Typhoon Squadron will be redeployed to RAF Lossiemouth in 2013, while army barracks in Edinburgh will be closed and other operations consolidated across the Scotland.

While there would be fewer active bases in Scotland, Dr Fox said told Parliament the reorganization would give Scotland a larger “defence footprint” and would “increase by well over 2,000 posts” in the region..

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy responded sharply that “today’s announcement of a smaller army comes from a party that promised thousands of extra troops in opposition.

The SNP said the announcement confirmed the “massive and disproportionate defence cuts to the Royal Air Force and Royal Marines in Scotland that had been feared”.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the member for North East Fife, said he could not “support the decision not to retain Leuchars in my constituency as an RAF base because I believe it to be fundamentally wrong, strategically inept, and likely to increase the risk to our citizens.”

Bishop Chillingworth concurred with the sentiments of the opposition writing on July 18 the decision will bring “sadness and disappointment” to the people of Fife.

Although it is encouraging to hear that there will be a new future for Leuchars, yesterday’s announcement will bring to an end a long and proud tradition of service.  There will be a significant impact on the local economy – not just for business life but for schools and community infrastructure.  In the Scottish Episcopal Church, we have enjoyed warm relationships with Chaplains and the faith community at Leuchars.  We shall be sorry to lose those contacts.

“These are difficult and fast-changing times.  Economic circumstances are pressing – defence priorities are under constant review.  But our first thoughts are with the people of the Leuchars community – for them the issues are personal; for this announcement will bring disturbance and challenge in personal and family life.”

Crisis deepens in Libya and Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, March 18, 2011 p 7. March 19, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East.
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Christ the King, Tripoli

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican flag remains flying in Tripoli, the Bishop of Egypt reports, in the midst of the revolution to oust Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

On March 13, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt reported that the Rev. Hamdy Doud, the assistant rector of Christ the King Church remained in Tripoli, caring for the church.

Two of the three clergy have been evacuated from Libya as have the Western expatriate members of the congregation, Bishop Anis reported.  However, a number of Anglican Africans remained in the city, unable to flee.

“It is my responsibility to keep the Christian presence here,” Fr. Hamdy told Bishop Anis, adding that he and the city’s “Roman Catholic priests are having a good time of fellowship in spite of the crisis in Libya.”

The Assistant Bishop for North Africa, the Rt. Rev. Bill Musk reported on March 2 “a desperate situation is forming and getting worse by the day on the Tunisia/Libya border.”

“An overwhelming number of people (at the moment mostly Tunisian and poor Egyptians) are fleeing Libya and turning up hungry and cold and traumatised on the border with Tunisia.

“The Tunisian army is there, the Red Crescent is there, and ACT [Association for Cooperation in Tunisia – a small Christian charity] is there. More international aid bodies are getting mobilised, but – even when they get functioning – they need local people on the spot to deliver the aid they are providing.”

St George’s Anglican Church in Tunis had sent a team to assist ACT in providing aid for refugees, the bishop said and were “cooking for up to 10,000 people at the border, which includes brothers from our Arabic-speaking congregation. Please pray for them.”

Dating from the Fifteenth century, the former Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary was given to the Anglican Diocese of Egypt by Col. Gaddafi in 2008.  Following the Sept. 1, 1969 revolution that brought the then 27-year-old Col. Gaddafi to power, the Christian churches of Libya, including the Anglican Church in Tripoli were confiscated.

Overtime the mercurial Libyan strongman would return properties to the Roman Catholic Church and in 2008 refurbished St Mary’s in the old city or medina of Tripoli and gave it to the diocese.

Meanwhile, the situation in Egypt was equally grim, Bishop Mouneer reported, with anti-Christian riots breaking out for the first time in a generation.

Writing from Cairo, the bishop reported there had been an attack on a Coptic Church south of Cairo and clashes between Copts and Muslims in Mokattam.  Christians were fleeing for fear of their lives, he said.

“The whole crisis started because of a Christian man was dating a Muslim woman for some time and when this became known, the Christian community asked this man to leave the village.  A fight within the family of the Muslim woman resulted in the death of two members of her family.  This stirred the anger of many Muslims to go to the church and demolish it.  This also initiated the clashes in Mokattam where 8 people died: 1 Muslim and 7 Christians.”

The bishop said that after the attack “many Christians demonstrated in front of the television building near Tahrir Square requesting the rebuilding of the church and guarantees for human rights for Christians.  The Egyptian Army decided to rebuild the church in the same site, in spite of resistance from some Muslims in the village,” while the new government released priest from prison who had been jailed for converting a Muslim to Christianity.

“Egypt has never seen such severe violence between Christians and Muslims in many years,” Bishop Mouneer said.  Yet not all support the Islamist fringe groups as “many Muslims have demonstrated side-by-side Christians in support of their rights.”

Bishop Mouneer expressed concern, however, over the “growth of Muslim groups who are now planning to form political parties in order to participate in the Parliamentary Elections.  Many moderate Muslims and Christians call for a time to allow moderate parties to establish themselves before having such elections.  If elections are done in haste, the Parliament will be overwhelmed by Islamic parties.”

The financial situation was also dire, he said.  The economy was “going down-hill because of the many demonstrations and the cessation of work in many factories and companies.  The stock market is still closed.  This has resulted in severe unemployment and subsequent poverty.  Last week, the Diocese helped 870 poor families with food packages,” the bishop said.

Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, commented that Egypt’s Christians were “reeling from this barrage of assaults that are coming from all angles. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Egyptian revolution has made the country’s Christians even more vulnerable to attack,” he said.

Church call for appeasement of North Korea to prevent war: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 3, 2010 p 7. December 8, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Korea, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper.
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Kim Jong Il

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Korea have issued a statement condemning the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island by North Korea, but have warned the US and South Korean governments not to antagonize the unstable regime of Chairman Kim Jong Il and provoke a full scale war with the North.

On Nov 23, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island, located seven miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, and 50 miles from the city of Inchon.  Two civilians and two Korean marines were killed and a number of homes were destroyed.

Korea’s largest Protestant federation, representing the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Free Churches: the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), on Nov 26 said it “mourns with the surviving victims and the families of those whose lives were so senselessly taken.  It deplores the North Korean military for using powerful weapons against the civilian community in the most serious incident since the signing of the Armistice in 1953.”

However, the attack came amidst joint US-South Korean war games, the NCCK noted.  It challenged the “governments of South Korea, USA and Japan to refrain from upgrading these joint military exercises under an umbrella of the USA’s respective ‘security alliances’ because they appear to have provoked North Korea and led to its strong reaction.”

The NCCK said joint military exercises with the US and Japan “served no purpose other than to escalate tensions in Korea and to threaten the peace in the whole Northeast Asian region.  The presence of a great number of nuclear weapons on land and on the surrounding seas makes Korea a tinderbox that threatens the peace of the whole world.”

The way forward through the crisis was for the Christian “ecumenical family to pray for peace in our land and to urge all governments to exercise caution, to refrain from further inflaming the political atmosphere and to exercise the maximum restraint so that reason and diplomacy can prevail over narrow self-serving military, strategic or political interests.”

However, U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed last week to stage joint naval exercises as a first response and the aircraft carrier USS George Washington was dispatched to the Yellow Sea.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Pyongyang said the North had responded in “self-defense” and accused the South of “reckless military provocation” that was bringing the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war,” the official KCNA news agency said.

In March, a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean warship in the same area, killing 46 sailors, but last week’s attack was the first to involve civilian deaths since the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.  Conservative political leaders in Japan and South Korea have urged their governments to take a strong line in response to this latest attack, while China has been pressed to use its influence to rein in North Korea.

However, the Rev. YJ Kim, general secretary of the NCCK, argued that a military solution would not resolve the Korean conflict.  “Faith is the foundation of peace, not force,” he said.

Prince of Wales pays tribute to Australian and British war dead: The Church of England Newspaper, July 30, 2010 p 6 July 30, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Ninety four years after they were buried in a mass grave, 250 British and Australian soldiers were re-interred in a memorial service in the French village of Fromelles on July 19.

The Prince of Wales dedicated the new Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery for the British and Australian dead, whose bodies were discovered by an amateur historian on the edge of a small wood in 2008.

“I am profoundly humbled by the outstanding bravery of these men, who fought so valiantly,” Prince Charles said.

On July 19, 1916, a combined British and Australian force sought to retake a salient in the German lines north of the German-occupied village of Fromelles, 10 miles from Lille.  The night attack by the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was the first Australian action on the Western Front in the war, and was designed to draw German forces away from the Battle of the Somme taking place 50 miles to the south.  Following eleven hours of artillery bombardment the Australians went over the top at 6:00 pm.  While some units were able to reach their objectives, the attack failed to break through the German machine gun emplacements.

When the attack was called off the next day, 1,500 British and 5,533 Australian soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner in what the Australian War Memorial described as the “worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history.”

The Germans, among whose troops that day was a Corporal Adolf Hitler, buried the Allied dead on their side of the lines in a mass grave, which was only found in 2008 by an amateur historian exploring the battlefield area.  Forensic analysis have identified the remains of 96 of the soldiers by name, while 109 have been confirmed to have belonged to the Australian and 3 to the British army.  The remaining 42 have been classified as unknown, the organizers said.

Monday’s ceremony began when the coffin of the last soldier was borne from the grave site by the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The procession journeyed through the village of Fromelles, and was met by the Prince of Wales, the Governor-General of Australia Quentin Bryce, Chief of the General Staff General Sir David Richards, Australian Army Chief Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, and soldiers from the British and Australian Armies for a memorial service at the cemetery.

Weak nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty disappoints church leaders: The Church of England Newspaper, June 4, 2010 p 7. June 15, 2010

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The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in England and Wales have responded with disappointment to last week’s nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saying it fails to set a time table for eliminating nuclear weapons.

The 28-page declaration adopted on May 28 by 189 nations following a month long review at the United Nations calls for a summit in 2012 to work towards banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East and asks Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States to speed up the demobilization of their nuclear arsenals.  However the five nuclear powers have not agreed to a time line for disarmament.

The agreement has angered conservatives in the United States and the Israeli government for singling out the Jewish state for opprobrium while also calling for it to join the NPT, while making no mention of Iran; the only NPT member nation that has been found to be in noncompliance with its UN nuclear safeguards obligations.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading, who joined members of the ‘Now is the Time’ coalition in presenting a petition to the prime minister on May 26, stated “nuclear weapons are a legacy of the cold war era and have little relevance to the threats that we face today.”

“There is a growing recognition that having one set of rules for some nations, and a different set of rules for everyone else is unsustainable,” the bishop said, noting that “moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons is not only morally right but the best possible guarantee for our nation’s security.”

In a joint statement released on May 29, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan and the President of the Free Church Council of Wales, Rev Martin Spain, voiced their disappointment with the treaty.

“In failing to agree to a timeframe for further discussions, world leaders appear simply to be paying lip service to the concept of nuclear disarmament. We didn’t expect the conference to produce a detailed plan for banning nuclear weapons, but we were looking for a commitment to move forward on the issue,” they said.

“If the nuclear armed powers do not go further to demonstrate that they are prepared to relinquish nuclear weapons, then the existing international commitments on non-proliferation could unravel, leaving us all in a much more dangerous and insecure situation. The call to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons comes not only from the majority of the world’s governments but also overwhelmingly from people of all nations,” the Welsh clerics said.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the NPT agreement but also voiced his objections to its singling out Israel.  The new agreement “includes balanced and practical steps that will advance non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which are critical pillars of the global non-proliferation regime,” President Obama said.

However, “we strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security,” the president said, while his national security advisor General James Jones said the Obama administration “deplores the decision to single out Israel in the Middle East section of the NPT document.”

“The failure of the resolution to mention Iran, a nation in longstanding violation of the NPT and UN Security Council Resolutions which poses the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the region and to the integrity of the NPT, is also deplorable,” General Jones said.

Writing in the National Review, Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington think-tank said the president’s support for the “thin” NPT treaty will “incense Israel”, while his simultaneous support for Israel will “disappoint the Arabs who expect a 2012 conference.”

“With the possible exception of Iran, it is difficult to see how Obama or anyone got anything out of this exercise but regret,” Mr. Sokolski said.

Scottish Churches call for voters to back anti-Trident candidates: The Church of England Newspaper, April 9, 2010 p 6. April 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Scotland have released a joint Easter letter urging voters to support candidates who will oppose funding for a new generation of Trident nuclear missiles.

On April 1, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev William Hewitt, Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the leaders of five other denominations stated that funds allocated for Britain’s nuclear weapons systems would be better spent on the poor.

Britain’s nuclear force is based upon four Vanguard class submarines based at HMNB Clyde on the eastern shore of Gare Loch, 25 miles west of Glasgow.  Britain is believed to possess 200 nuclear weapons and each submarine is armed with 16 Trident II ballistic missiles.  In 2006 the Ministry of Defence released a White Paper recommending that Trident be upgraded through the purchase of four new submarines.  The estimated costs for the next generation of missiles and submarines were £20 billion, with an additional annual operating cost of £1.5 billion.

In 2007 Parliament backed the Government’s plans to renew the Trident nuclear submarine system, by a vote of 409 to 161—with 95 Labour MPs breaking ranks to vote against the proposal.

Before the vote Defence Minister Des Browne said in a speech at King’s College, London that nuclear weapons were not “inherently evil. In certain circumstances, they can play a positive role – as they have in the past.”

Concerns over the morality of nuclear weapons were misplaced and naïve, he said.  “Are we prepared to tolerate a world in which countries which care about morality lay down their nuclear weapons, leaving others to threaten the rest of the world or hold it to ransom?”

In their Easter letter the Scottish church leaders disputed Mr. Browne’s claims saying that national security would not come from “any human creation” but from “faith in the vulnerability of God in Christ.”

Nuclear weapons were immoral, they argued.  “The indiscriminate nature of nuclear weapons makes it impossible to justify them as weapons of war as their effect cannot be considered as either limited or proportionate.  Therefore, the very possession of nuclear weapons is unjust and thus wrong.”

“Nuclear weapons by their very existence undermine the security of the whole world and are inconsistent with the traditional theories of just war,” they argued, adding that “tackling injustice, poverty and inequality would lead to a safer world for all.”

The church leaders stated that Britain faced a “political choice in the next few weeks. We call upon all people of goodwill to make it clear to candidates of all parties that we should choose life over death and the alleviation of poverty over the replacement of Trident.”

Archbishops’ call to cancel fighter contract: The Church of England Newspaper, April 1, 2010 p 8. April 3, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Sweden.
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Gripen fighters flying over Table Mountain in Cape Town

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in South Africa and Sweden have called for an independent investigation of allegations of kickbacks and corruption in the wake of a multi-billion pound arms deal.

Archbishops Thabo Makgoba and Desmond Tutu have challenged the ANC government to suspend the deal, which they say will institutionalize a culture of corruption in South Africa that will derail the country’s transition to democracy.

The two governments are expected to sign a £3.8 billion arms agreement this month that will provide advanced military hardware to South Africa including the Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter-bomber.

However, Archbishops Makgoba and Tutu, the former Archbishop of Uppsala K.G. Hammar and the head of the Swedish Baptist Union Karin Wiborn have charged that the funds spent on arms by South Africa would be better spent on social development.

The four church leaders have also warned the arms deal would provide a further opportunity for graft and corruption in the scandal plagued ANC government in Pretoria.

The South African Air Force has already begun taking delivery of seven of the twenty-eight new generation fighters. The £1.9 billion deal for fighter aircraft had won the approval of South Africa’s parliament, which was told that 65,000 jobs would be created to support and equip the new fighters.

These claims of jobs were illusory and the moral consequences of the sale were troubling, the four church leaders wrote in letters published on March 28 in the Times of South Africa and in Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter.

“It is disgraceful how the armaments lobby abused the goodwill created out of the many years of solidarity against the racist apartheid government to sell the Gripen fighter aircraft,” they charged.

“The absurdity of these contracts is confirmed by the reality that South Africa now even seems to lack the capacity to properly maintain the procured jet fighters. We now call for the cancellation of the remaining contracts, and for a refund of expenditures already paid,” they said.

“Unfortunately the South African government succumbed to economically absurd arguments and pressure from European governments that the arms deal would create over 65000 jobs and thus stimulate the economy. These promises have so far turned out to be mainly empty words.”

They called upon the South African government to set up an independent judicial inquiry to investigate allegations of corruption and kickbacks in the arms deal, and asked Sweden to “co-operate fully in these inquiries” and “suspend the sale of arms to South Africa until the review process is complete.”

The four church leaders challenged their governments to “reveal how public resources have been misused. Errors must be corrected and, as modern democracies, our countries must have the courage to thoroughly investigate what really happened.”

Welsh church leaders back nuclear weapons ban: The Church of England Newspaper, March 10, 2010 March 24, 2010

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Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

For the sake of the “children,” the leaders of the Anglican, Catholic and Free churches of Wales are calling upon the Government to commit to a “world free of nuclear weapons.”

On March 5, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, Peter Smith, and the President of the Free Church Council of Wales, the Rev Martin Spain, released a statement supporting the “Now is the Time” campaign. Their concerns come in advance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference this May in New York, which they see as a key moment in dismantling the nuclear stockpile.

Held every five years, the NPT Review Conferences serve as a “barometer of the health of the nuclear nonproliferation regime,” the Carnegie Endowment said, and allow member states to maintain and strengthen the effectiveness of the NPT, which governs nuclear nonproliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and disarmament.

While Iran and North Korea will likely be at the top of the agenda for this meeting, peace advocates hope the change of administrations in Washington will see a greater willingness in the US for the adoption of an international treaty controlling nuclear weapons.

The “Now is the Time” campaign supported by the Church of England, the World Council of Churches and other UK church groups is pressing the government to sign up to a new Nuclear Weapons Convention that would put current stocks of bomb-grade uranium under international control and criminalize the state-possession of nuclear weapons.

“We believe that the use or threat of use of weapons of mass destruction is immoral,” the Welsh clerics said.

“We acknowledge the spread and increasing accessibility of nuclear technology and the threat that this poses to our security. We are encouraged by the prospect of significant reductions in US and Russian nuclear arsenals,” and “we call on nuclear weapons states to refrain from updating their nuclear arsenals and remind them of their “unequivocal undertaking” to meet their obligations to eliminate all nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The three church leaders said they owed it to the “children” to “seize the opportunity” of putting in place a “new legally binding verifiable and universal agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons.”

Sudan ‘on brink of civil war’: CEN 12.11.09 p 5. December 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Politics.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Sudan is on the brink of civil war, the Provincial Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) has warned in a statement released last week.

Sudan ‘on brink of civil war’

“With less than five months before National Elections and just over one year to the referendum on southern self-determination, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is on the brink of collapse due to contentions over the referendum law, the demarcation of the January 1, 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups,” the ECS Standing Committee said at the close of its Nov 23-27 meeting in Rumbek.

In a July briefing, the International Crisis Group (ICG) — a national security thinktank — reported the Islamist-backed National Congress Party (NCP) government in Khartoum had reneged on the terms of the peace treaty that ended 28 years of civil war.

The IGC stated the NCP government had “held back the key concessions required for the democratic transformation” of the Sudan set forth in the CPA, “including repeal of repressive laws and restoration of basic freedom of association and expression, and it has blocked the actions necessary for a peaceful referendum, such as a credible census, demarcation of the border, fuller wealth-sharing and de-escalation of local conflicts in the transitional areas of Abyei, South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.”

The Khartoum government “appears to have decided to allow neither the secession of South Sudan nor meaningful political reforms in the North,” the ICG said.

There is “no alternative” to the CPA, the church warned. “It must be fully implemented” by both the North and South, and “must be fully supported by those guarantor governments who promised to do so in 2005.”

Following a state visit to Nairobi on Oct 28 by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said “Kenya as the principle Guarantor to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement wants to see the implementation of the accord to the letter as the African Union and UN seeks amicable solution to the Darfur conflict.”

US Special Envoy Lt Gen Scott Gration has also vowed to make saving the CPA a top priority of the Obama administration. However, the “inter-ethnic violence currently witnessed across much of Southern Sudan, the ongoing violence against civilians in Darfur, and the violent attacks on civilians being perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south-west of the country,” was destabilizing the region, the church warned.

The escalation of violence “will make registration and voting in the elections and referendum very difficult,” the church warned. “The conclusion that is drawn is that this violence is intended to negatively affect the elections and referendum,” it concluded.

The ECS urged the national and southern governments “and the international guarantor nations of the CPA to uphold their promises of equality and freedom to the people of Sudan,” and act now to prevent the slide into war.

British Muslims told not to fight in Iraq: CEN 11.27.09 p 6. December 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Iran, Iraq.
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The Director of the Islamic Centre of England has called for British Muslims serving in the armed forces to quit the services, as it is ‘haram’, forbidden for them to fight fellow Muslims.

In an interview with the Times, Abdolhossein Moezi , who serves as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s Special Envoy to Britain said Muslims could not serve in Western armies when those armies were engaged in fighting Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Not only do I not accept it for Muslims to go there, I don’t accept non-Muslims to go there as well. We say that Muslims are not allowed to go and kill Muslims. Do you think Christians are allowed to go and kill Muslims?” Moezi told the Times last week.

Moezi explained that his role as leader of the Islamic Centre was to provide spiritual guidance to all British Muslims, encouraging them to become good British citizens. “My personal belief is that if Muslim migrants are better Muslims in this society, they can shape their individual lives in a better way and could be better members to this society,” Moezi said.

The Iranian cleric’s call is not likely to carry great weight in the British Muslim community, as the vast majority of British Muslims are Sunni and do not recognize the spiritual authority of Shia leaders such as Moezi.

Little hope for renewed deal to end Sudan strife: CEN 8.28.09 p 6. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The US-brokered deal signed last week to revive the stalled Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is being greeted with skepticism by Sudanese church leaders.

“To sign a piece of paper is not a sign to the people” that a lasting peace is at hand, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba told The Church of England Newspaper in an Aug 22 email.

Representatives of Southern Sudan’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum government’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Aug 19 endorsed an agreement resolving disputed issues arising from the 2005 CPA that ended twenty-two years of civil war between the Arab Muslim North and the African Christian South.

U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Maj. Gen. Scott Gration witnessed the initialing of the bilateral agreement in Juba that according to the US State Department “commits the NCP and SPLM to a series of timed benchmarks for implementing key aspects of the CPA, including border demarcation and election preparation.”

On July 22, an international tribunal in The Hague redefined the borders of the disputed oil-rich Abyei region, but other areas along the 2000km border remain in dispute.

The US State Department stated that “despite the significant progress made to date, the parties have been unable to reach agreement on several issues, namely a final determination on the use of census data,” noting that General Gration would return to Juba next month to continue the trilateral talks.

The London based Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, stated the dispute centers around the use of census data. The NCP has insisted that data from the 2008 census be used to determine election districts. The SPLM has dismissed the 2008 census as untrustworthy and has insisted that the pre-independence 1956 census be used.

The SPLM has charged the Khartoum-government of attempting to derail a 2011 independence referendum for Southern Sudan. On July 29 the Secretary General of the SPLM, Pagan Amum said the North had intentionally “delayed the demarcation of the north-south border.”

“Whether Sudan will become one peaceful and free country or separate into two countries peacefully co-existing shall be decided in large degree by how we, the two parties – SPLM and NCP – implement the CPA,” he said in a press statement.

However, “attempts to renege from the CPA shall lead to a catastrophic disaster of war again,” the SPLM leader warned.

Archbishop Deng told CEN that although the NCP and SPLM had signed many agreements, “nothing changed.”

“Since the CPA was signed four years ago the situation in the Sudan never changes. To sign a paper is not a sign to the people,” Archbishop Deng said.

“In the north [Khartoum government] has been doing this for more than fifty years,” he said, “warning the Western world to let them know dealing with Muslim [governments] is no simple matter.”

Scottish bishops oppose Trident: CEN 7.31.09 p 7. July 31, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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The Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) have written Prime Minister Gordon Brown urging the government to forgo its plans of replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Last week the College of Bishops also endorsed a letter prepared by the convener of the SEC’s church in society committee the Rev. Ian Barcroft that called upon the government to place the decommissioning of Trident “on the table” at next May’s meeting of the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

“It is very difficult to defend the possession of weapons of mass destruction with a conditional intent to use them in terms of traditional Christian teaching,” Mr. Barcroft stated, adding that that it was impossible for Christian pacifists to accept Trident. Christians who believe that nuclear arms have a legitimate place in the country’s arsenal “would only do so in the context of a firm commitment to moving towards disarmament and ending reliance on weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Scottish bishops oppose Trident

Sri Lanka Bishop pleads for Tamils to be treated with dignity: CEN 5.22.09 p 7. May 26, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Bishop of Colombo has called upon his government not to treat all Tamils as potential terrorists, but to affirm their “rights and dignity” as citizens of Sri Lanka.

In a statement published in Sri Lanka’s national newspapers, Bishop Duleep de Chickera has also urged the government to take swift action to address the address the humanitarian crisis in Northern and Eastern Ceylon left in the wake of the 26 year long civil war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers.

On May 18 the BBC reported the Sri Lankan army had killed the leader of the Tamil Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran. The government reported that over 200 Tamils, including Prabhakaran and seven other senior Tamil Tiger leaders, were killed in a “final battle” between rebels and government troops. The war was now over, the government’s information ministry said as the army had “liberated the entire country by completely liberating the north from the terrorists.”

On May 7, Bishop de Chickera urged the government to take the necessary steps to ensure that its military victory would be followed by a just and lasting peace. The hundreds of thousands of refugees “crushed and deprived for years” by war, should be treated humanely, he said.

“We require a visible shift from sympathy” for Tamil refugees from their status as the human flotsam of war towards their acceptance as fellow citizens, he said, which affirms “their rights and dignity as Sri Lankans.”

“If a lasting solution to our larger and more tragic conflict is ever to be reached we need to engage in two more crucial shifts,” Bishop de Chickera argued. The first is “to overcome the tendency to see ghosts of the LTTE in every Tamil. If not, an entire community will be held under surveillance for the rest of their lives, some of whom will inevitably be driven into the arms of the next Tamil militant resurgence.”

The second is for a “just and speedy political response to the grievances of the Tamil people,” the bishop said.

Mired in ethnic conflict since independence from Britain in 1948, the civil war began in 1983 and has led to the deaths of an estimated 70,000 civilians. According to a 2001 government survey, Sri Lanka’s main ethnic groups are the Sinhalese (82 percent), Tamil (9.4 percent), and Sri Lanka Moor (7.9 percent). In the wake of independence, the Sinhalese majority began to disenfranchise Tamils, who they charged had been favored by the British in the colonial era. In 1972 the country’s name was changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka, Sinhala made the official language and Buddhism declared the nation’s primary religion.

Formed in 1976, the LTTE under the leadership of the charismatic Velupillai Prabhakaran began a campaign for a Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where the majority of Tamils reside. In August 2005, the assassination of Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, intensified the conflict, and in 2008 a hard-line anti-LTTE government ended a Norwegian brokered ceasefire and began the military campaign that led to victory this week.

Military action in Niger Delta attacked: CEN 5.22.09 p 6. May 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Archbishop Peter Akinola has denounced the Nigerian military’s search and destroy campaign targeting militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Unless the military campaign that has included air strikes on villages suspected of harboring militants was halted, Nigeria’s democracy was headed for doom, Archbishop Akinola said according to a May 19 report in the Lagos Vanguard.

The Vanguard reported on May 18 that three villages were attacked by helicopter gunships on Friday and seven other villages attacked on Sunday, leaving 65 dead and over 100 wounded. Ijaw tribal leaders claimed more than 30,000 villagers in the region were taking shelter in the mangrove swamps to escape the fighting between government soldiers and militants.

The Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark released an open letter to Nigerian President Umara Yar’Adua pleading for him to “to stop your government’s decision to declare a full blown war against the Ijaws of the Niger Delta by using jets and helicopters in bombing towns and villages killing innocent children, women and old people who are not part of the militants.”

Chief Clark said the government had accomplished its objective of destroying the militants’ base camps, and appealed to the president to “cease fire and bring normalcy to the area.”

In a statement given to the Nigerian press, the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main guerilla group said the government claims of victory were hollow. “Considering that ours is a war of detachment and our camps are not meant to serve as permanent barracks, fighters from Camp 5 simply relocated to another camp with all their weapons and ammunition intact. This is normal in guerrilla warfare”.

The guerillas added that “if the army’s mission was to also rescue the hostages, then that again was a botched and ridiculous attempt because the hostages were not at any immediate risk to their lives except for their temporary freedom.” MEND stated that two western hostages had been killed in the air attacks, and that a third British hostage, Mathew Maguire “had been relocated to Delta state and will be a guest of one the camps there.”

In a report released last week, the International Crisis Group stated that civil unrest was rife across the Niger Delta. In the first nine months of 2008 over 1000 people had been killed and 300 kidnapped by criminal gangs and guerillas. The government also reported that attacks on oil pipe lines, theft and sabotage during the first nine months of 2008 had cost £15 billion in lost revenue.

While the Niger Delta produces most of Nigeria’s oil wealth, successive governments have not returned the oil income to the region. Nigeria produces one-fifth of the US’s energy needs, yet some parts of the region like the Bayelsa state are not linked to the national electricity grid.

In December a government committee recommended the appointment of a mediator to facilitate negotiations between militants and the government, the granting of amnesty to militant leaders not involved in crime, the disarmament and rehabilitation of guerillas, and channeling 25 percent of the country’s oil revenues back in to the region—up from the current 13 percent.

However, in February President Yar’Adua announced a new committee would be formed to study the old committee’s recommendations.

Archbishop Akinola told the Vanguard the government must act quickly to stem the violence in the Niger Delta and address the people’s economic, social and ecological needs. Corruption and favoritism in state and industry that favored outsiders over local residents must stop, he said.

Sudan ‘on brink of third civil war’: CEN 5.07.09 p 6. May 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Archbishop of the Sudan has issued a plea for international help to prevent the outbreak of a third Sudanese Civil War. Weapons have flooded the country, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba has warned in a May 4 letter to the international community and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War is in danger of collapse.

Signed in January 2005, the CPA or Naivasha Agreement ended the war between the Arab Islamist government in Khartoum and the predominantly Christian and African Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Almost 2 million people died from war-related famine, disease and violence from the conflict, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported, while four million people, an estimated 80 per cent of the population of Southern Sudan were forced into flight during the war.

Sudan’s first civil war lasted from independence in 1955 to 1972 and its second civil war was fought over the same ground and same issues from 1983 to 2005. A third civil war was on the horizon, Archbishop Deng warned, unless the US, UK, the Netherlands and other regional governments that had guaranteed the CPA took action.

“Peoples in Western and Central Equatoria are being attacked, murdered and displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), rumoured to be supplied by people within Sudan,” he said, while “a large number of civilians in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes and Jonglei states are armed.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sudan 'on brink of third civil war'

Euro Churches calls on Nato to give up nuclear arms: CEN 4.17.09 p 8. April 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, WCC.
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The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has joined three international church groups to call upon Nato not to enlarge its nuclear umbrella or antagonize Russia by expanding the alliance eastward.

A letter urging Nato to lay down its nuclear arms was sent to government leaders meeting April 3-4 in Strasbourg by the four church groups. Joining Archdeacon Colin Williams, the General Secretary of CEC were the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev Samuel Kobia; the General Secretary of the US’s National Council of Churches of Christ, the Rev Michael Kinnamon; and the Rev Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.

The church leaders urged NATO to undertake a “thorough reform of Nato’s Strategic Concept” and “end NATO’s reliance on nuclear weapons.”

The Western alliance should “engage with nuclear weapon states and other states outside of Nato in the serious pursuit of reciprocal disarmament,” the church leaders said. Such “collective action” would “reinforce the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Euro Churches calls on Nato to give up nuclear arms

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Blair to bring peace to the Philippines: CEN 3.26.09 March 26, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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Tony Blair has been tapped by the government of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to broker a peace deal between the Manila government and Muslim rebels. On March 24 Mr. Blair met with President Arroyo at the Malacañang Palace in Manila with Mrs. Arroyo to discuss ways of ending the 30 year old Muslim secessionist campaign on the southern island of Mindanao. 

A government spokesman told reporters Mr. Blair’s experience in Northern Ireland, as well as his current work as envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the “Quartet”: the US, UN, EU and Russia, made him an ideal choice.  

“The president is confident Tony Blair, with all his experience, can contribute a lot to resolving our peace and order problems in Mindanao,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo told reporters.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Blair to bring peace to Philippines


Church pressure on Tamil Tigers: CEN 2.06.09 p 6. February 10, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.
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Church leaders in Sri Lanka have called upon the Tamil Tigers stop using civilians as human shields against attacks by government forces. Last week the Sri Lankan military broke a decade long stalemate in that country’s civil war, and captured a number of strongholds held by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

Speaking on the 61st anniversary of Sri Lank’s independence last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa send the end of the war was in sight

He promised full civil rights to the Tamil minority of Northern Ceylon once law and order was restored. “I pledge to you today, that these people who share our motherland, will be liberated and given the equality and all rights that they are entitled to, under the Constitution,” the Sri Lankan President said.

The 25 year old civil war waged between the majority Sinhalese government and Tamil separatists in the north and east of Sri Lanka has left over 63,000 dead and tens of thousands displaced by the fighting. Both the Tamil Tigers and the government have come under criticism for their conduct towards civilians in the disputed regions.

“The LTTE claims to be fighting for the Tamil people, but it is responsible for much of the suffering of civilians” in the disputed territories, said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch on Dec 15. “As the LTTE loses ground to advancing government forces, their treatment of the very people they say they are fighting for is getting worse.”

Human Rights Watch accused the Tamil Tigers of forced recruitment of soldiers by requiring each family to supply two or more soldiers to its ranks. The Tamil Tigers have also instituted a pass system at road junctions and other strategic points—forbidding civilians to flee to government-held territory to escape the fighting.

With government forces closing in, the Tamil Tigers have blocked people from fleeing from the fighting. In a joint statement issued with the island’s Roman Catholic bishops, the Anglican Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, and the Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala, the Rt. Rev. Kumara Ilangasingha called for the rebels to leave civilians alone.

“There should be no restriction of the civilians’ right to life and movement,” they said.

Call for peace in on-going strife in Sri Lanka: CEN 11.21.08 p 5. November 24, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera has called upon the Sri Lanka government and the forces of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)—the Tamil Tigers—to end the civil war that has left over 65,000 dead since 1983. His remarks came as Tiger Tamils carried out a series of surprise air attacks on Colombo with light aircraft dropping bombs on an army base and on the city’s main power station in Kelanitissa.

Speaking to his diocesan synod on Oct 26, Bishop de Chickera said the church had a duty to speak out for peace, and to offer its support for the over 600,000 people driven from their homes by the fighting. Tamils fleeing the violence in Northern Ceylon were being “demonized” by the majority Sinhalese community, he said, and were regarded as potential traitors.

Many Tamils had become “trapped in the struggle for military supremacy and the divisive political agendas of the warring sides. Tamils are also treated with growing suspicion and are subject to harassment as the anti terrorist propaganda taints them all as threats to national security,” he said.

It was unjust, Bishop de Chickera argued for Tamil refugees to register with the police, while their Sinhalese neighbors were free to move about the country. This “sent out signals that Tamils particularly must be kept under surveillance. Little thought was given to the hostility that these equal citizens consequently encounter in their neighbourhoods,” he argued.

Bishop de Chickera called for Sri Lanka to adopt an “ethos of democratic pluralism in which dissent will be welcome, diversity respected and minorities treated as equals. Visionary and inclusive leaders and multi cultural schooling will be indispensable for this process. It is as we stop demonising the other and our children associate with each other that we will learn to co-exist,” he said.

Bishop de Chickera told his diocese that while states must possess the right to defend themselves, was “is never the answer.”

The Christian Church had a “part to play in this transformation” of Sri Lanka, and could bring the notion of “restorative justice” to the bargaining table. “This demanding but rewarding shift will enable forgiveness and reconciliation and bring healing to both victim and perpetrator. It breaks the cycle of revenge,” he said.

But whatever course the war took, Christians were “called to demonstrate both repentance and faithfulness in Christ. We must be converted and take on the role of servants, pastors and prophets. It is only then that we will become useful instruments of peace, justice and reconciliation in the Nation,” Bishop de Chickera said.

Bishop praises Northern Ireland effort: CEN 10.03.08 p 4. October 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Bishop of London has praised the soldiers of the British Army who served in Northern Ireland, saying their sacrifices kept the “forces of chaos at bay.”

On Sept 10, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres presided at a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral commemorating “Operation Banner,” the 38-year military campaign in Northern Ireland. Over 300,000 servicemen were deployed in “Operation Banner” from 1969 to 2007 and 763 were killed and 6,116 wounded. At its height in 1972-1973, 27,000 troops were stationed in Ulster to combat terrorism.

In his sermon to a congregation that included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Baroness Thatcher, Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Defence Secretary Des Browne and over 2000 veterans of the campaign and their families, Dr. Chartres said Britain’s soldiers had “helped create conditions for the peace Northern Ireland now enjoys and today we salute their courage.”

Dr. Chartres noted that “military intervention can hold the forces of chaos at bay while people learn again how communities with very different histories and aspirations can live together and do business with one another.”

The soldiers of “Operation Banner kept that vital part to which a more hopeful future for Ulster could enter.”

The torch now passes to the people of Ulster, he said. “The people of Northern Ireland and their community leaders have suffered much. They want to move on now and are at work building a new future.

“Much remains to be done, healing memories, embedding hope but the military phase, Operation Banner, has been brought to a conclusion and we can give thanks for it,” Dr. Chartres said.

At the close of the service 700 veterans marched through the city to the London Guildhall and the Prince of Wales took the salute outside the cathedral.

Burundi plea on arms shipments: CEN 7.14.08 July 15, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Burundi, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, WCC.
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The Archbishop of Burundi led a delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) last week to Berlin, to press the German government to curtail its shipments of weapons to the developing world.

“Does Germany have to be the EU arms sales champion?” Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi asked State Secretary Christian Schmidt at the Defence Ministry in Berlin on July 1.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Burundi plea on arms shipments

Patriarch warns of war in the Caucasus: CEN 5.7.08 May 7, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper.
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WAR could erupt in the Caucasus unless Russia and Georgia take affirmative steps to reduce tensions, the Patriarch of Georgia’s Orthodox Church warned last week.

In a statement released on April 20, the Catholicos of All Georgia, Patriarch Iliya II stated the border dispute between the two former Soviet republics was in danger of spiraling out of control. He asked his counterpart, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to join him in using “the role and authority of our churches to prevent the escalation of tensions and the normalisation of bilateral relations.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Patriarch warns of war in the Caucasus

Swedish row over investments: CEN 4.18.08 p 6. April 18, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Sweden.
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The Church of Sweden has come under attack for violating the spirit of its ethical investment policies for investing in the shares of alcohol distilleries, weapons manufacturers, and mining and oil companies with poor environmental records and dubious ties to the regimes of some of the world’s worst human rights violators.

The April 4 issue of the Church of Sweden’s newspaper, Kyrkans Tidning, stated that an internal report found the Church held shares in firms such as General Electric—manufacturer of engines for the American B-1B bomber, and Chevron, which has a joint venture with the Burmese military junta.

“Our church should not have shares of companies involved in the business of death,” said the Rev. Helle Klein, a pastor in the Stockholm suburb of Nacka. However the Church’s treasurer Helen Ottosson Loven told Stockholm’s TV4 “the Swedish church recognizes the right of states to defend themselves,” and its investment guidelines permit holdings in armaments manufactures.

The Church’s investment manager, Anders Thorendal explained to Kyrkans Tidning the Church’s ethical investment guidelines permit it to invest in weapon’s manufactures that follow the EU’s code of conduct for arms exports, and who do not sell “inhuman weapons and anti-personal mines.”

“But it’s a problem that weapons can end up in wrong hands and the lack of transparency in the arms trade can contribute to corruption,” he said, saying the Church must carefully examine the policies of potential stock picks.

In recent years the Church had reversed its stance on investing in oil and mining companies, and now has holdings in Chevron, Rio Tinto, Anglo American PLC, Schlumberger, Mitsui and other multinationals. “Our starting point is that we have to invest in companies who act responsibly, such as companies who focus on environmentally compatible technologies and who minimizes the negative effects” on the environment, Thorendal said.

Shares in distilleries are not forbidden, Thorendal said, as the Church does not reject the moderate use of alcohol. However for the Church to own the shares of a distillery, it must “behave responsibly” and not market its products to young people.

In the case of Chevron, which uses a gas government owned pipeline in Burma built by slave labour, the Church seeks to “dialogue” with it to change its policies. “It’s more responsible to try to influence a company to change” than to sell its shares he said.

However, clergy in the Swedish church have objected to its pragmatic investment policies. “The church must have different guidelines for shareholding from a private company. How should we as a church fight for peace, if we simultaneously invest in the weapons industry?”, the Rev. Yvonne Eriksson told Der Standard.

Sri Lanka call for peace: CEN 2.15.08 p 6. February 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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The intensification of the civil war in Sri Lanka has elicited renewed calls for peace from the Anglican Church of Ceylon. 

The Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera has condemned government air attacks on Tamil villages in northern Sri Lanka sheltering Tamil Tiger rebels, [LTTE] and the LTTE terror bombing campaign targeting Sinhalese civilian.

“The recent spate of calculated mayhem targeted against innocent civilians that collectively killed scores of civilians including school children, and injured many more,” he said on Feb 7, “must be condemned without reservation.”

The terrorist attacks demonstrated a “total disregard” for human life and were “counterproductive” to the cause of Tamil independence.  The LTTE attacks were stiffening the resolve of the government not to give in to terrorism and were leading “to the conversion of moderates to extremism,” he said.

He also noted his “great concern” about government air attacks on rebel-controlled bases.  Two church run orphanages were in rebel territory he said.  These children “live in fear and have nowhere to run except into their bunkers when the planes arrive. Please do everything possible to avoid harming these little ones,” he asked the government.

Bishop de Chickera urged Sri Lankans of all ethnic backgrounds “to remain calm under provocation and to do all we can to strengthen understanding and peaceful coexistence,” between the country’s ethnic communities.

Rebels enter Sudan: CEN 2.15.08 p 8. February 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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joseph-kony.jpgThe Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has moved into Kajo Keji county in Southern Sudan, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan reports, sparking an exodus of civilians and fears the Ugandan civil war will spread north into the Sudan.

(LRA leader Joseph Kony, pictured)

On Jan 30 a battalion of LRA soldiers raided villages 75 miles south of Southern Sudan’s capital of Juba abducting 40 people, and killing four, according to a report released by an assessment team from the Diocese of Kajo Keji, the Danish Refugee Council and the government of South Sudan.

“The entire population is filled with panic and helplessness,” the report said. “They have lost all basic possessions such as household utensils, beddings, and clothing. People congregate together for fear and lack of protection. Many express intentions to cross to neighbouring counties.”

Church and aid leaders have urged the South Sudanese army to repel the invaders, and asked the international community to pressure the LRA to sign a peace agreement with Uganda, ending the 22-year war.

The LRA has denied involvement in the attacks. “We do not have any forces in that area,” LRA chief negotiator David Matsanga said according to a report published by the IRIN news service.

US Military Policy Attacked: CEN 2.08.08 p 7. February 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
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gloria-arroyo.jpgChurch leaders from the Philippines and Japan have issued a joint statement denouncing US military policies in East Asia, and condemned plans for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

“We stand against the forces of war and militarism: we lament the sustained US military war exercises in Mindanao and their presence in the rest of the Philippines, and the expansion of its bases in Okinawa,” delegates from the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) said at the close of their joint Jan 21-25 meeting in Davao City.

Church leaders from the two countries noted that though the social and economic realities of their societies were very different, both nations were linked “are inextricably linked to the designs of the Empire especially its use of militarism as a tool for control and dominance.”

“We do not want our countries as launching pads for the US wars of aggression against the peoples of the world for its sole economic and political interests,” they said.

The church groups called the proposed Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, a free trade pact, “one sided, unequal and deceptive pact.” It would be “hugely beneficial” for Japan “but will surely aggravate the Filipino people’s misery.”

The conference also denounced “the continued political killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines whose targets are known critics of the policies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” (pictured)

In his conference address, the Rev. Rex Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of the NCCP accused the government of President Arroyo of having betrayed the people. The Anglican priest said the Arroyo presidency had led to “the repression and the militarization of the countryside.”

“The government’s counter-insurgency campaign, under the guise of war against terror,” had been implemented to enrich the government and its cronies through “the implementation of the economic policies of liberalization and privatization.”

The “repressive policies of the government” which had banned strikes and placed the country in a “state of emergency” were “meant to stifle principled dissent.”

“Peace and justice” remained an “enduring concern” for the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the NCCP he said. The churches sought not to replace one regime with another, but to foster a “theology and spirituality that affirms the sanctity of life and the gifts of grace and providence bestowed on us by the Creator,” he said, and lead to the transformation of Filipino society.

New surge of violence in Sri Lanka denounced: CEN 1.08.08 January 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.
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THE BISHOP of Colombo has denounced the escalation of violence in the decades-old civil war in Sri Lanka, which has seen two MPs murdered by terrorists in less than a week.

On Jan 8 the government’s Minister for National Building, DM Dassanayake was killed after his car hit a land mine on the highway heading north of Colombo to the country’s international airport. Last week a prominent Tamil parliamentarian was shot dead in a Hindu temple in the capital.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

New surge of violence in Sri Lanka denounced

Churches want to ban the bomb: CEN 12.14.07 p 6. December 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in the United States has joined a coalition of 30 church, environmental and political advocacy groups in calling upon Congress to block funding for a new generation of thermo-nuclear weapons.In a Nov 29 open letter to the chairman of the congressional committees with oversight of nuclear weapons funding, the church leaders urged Congress “delete all funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) from the upcoming omnibus appropriations bill.”

The US government’s RRW programme seeks to replace the military’s current stockpile of nuclear warheads with a new generation of bombs that require less maintenance and are safer to test, monitor and store. Congress has asked that up to 2200 new thermo-nuclear bombs be manufactured to replace the remaining Cold War stockpiles.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Army Air Corps Commemorated: CEN 12.07.07 p 3. December 5, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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prince-charles-at-salisbury-cathedral.jpg

Photo: Crown Copyright/MOD 2007

THE PRINCE of Wales has dedicated a stained glass window at Salisbury Cathedral to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Army Air Corps (AAC).

Prince Charles, the Colonel in Chief of the AAC along with the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Rev June Osborne (pictured), the Rev David Wilkes Chaplain-General to the Forces, and the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev David Stancliffe led the Nov 16 service for the men of the seven Regiments of the AAC.

The AAC window consists of two panels depicting the Archangel Michael and St Christopher with depictions of AAC military operations. At the base of the window lie the AAC prayer and a passage from Isaiah.

Anglican leaders hail Korean talks : CEN 11.20.07 November 20, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Korea, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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FORGIVENESS is the prerequisite for peace, Lord Eames told the Towards Peace in Korea (TOPIK) conference this week. Over 150 church leaders gathered in Paju, South Korea, at the invitation of the Anglican Church of Korea to lend the Church’s moral support to peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.

The conference host, Archbishop Francis Park told participants that included US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and bishops and church leaders from across the Communion that the church was “called to be apostles of peace in a world where discord and conflict are prevalent.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders hail Korean talks

Government is ‘failing Africa’: CEN 11.16.07 p 7. November 17, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of the Congo, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords, NGOs.
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bishop-of-winchester_p6_1_.jpgThe Bishop of Winchester has lambasted the government for backing away from its commitments toward Africa. Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt told the House of Lords on Nov 7 his ears were “cocked for one word in particular-Africa-but cocked in vain,” as he listened to the Queen’s speech.

Bishop Scott-Joynt urged the government to turn its attention towards the Congo and address the on-going instability in the Great Lakes Region of East Africa.

He asked the government what it was doing to ensure land reform, the demobilization of militias, and the support of nascent democratic institutions. Why would it not “funnel aid through church-based organisations? How [did] the Government view the contemporary scramble for Africa by China and a range of Islamic states?”, he asked.

He asked the government to tell Parliament who was funding the wars across the region, “because it would be good to get to the bottom of the matter.”

“Who is running the Great Lakes region,” Bishop Scott-Joynt demanded to know.

“Human rights abuses and impunity from them” were the rule in the Congo, he said. While there had been great strides in democratic reform, the “the place is very little better,” he said.

“There is a crying need for the accountability of the justice and police systems to be worked at and, if security sector reform is not given priority, there will be no peace and security within Congo or along and across its borders, no containing of pillage of mineral resources, and no working at good relationships with the countries of the Great Lakes region,” Bishop Scott-Joynt argued.

He asked the government where had “gone the front-line commitment-the concentration of the last Prime Minister and the present one when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the Commission for Africa?”

It had been fobbed off “to a thing called the Africa Partnership Forum, whose latest report the Government have not thought worth bringing to Parliament,” Bishop Scott-Joynt said.

Stability and nation-building in the Great Lakes Region was a matter “of deepest urgency” he said, urging the government to honor its commitments to the people of Africa.

Scottish leaders sign peace covenant: CEN 11.09.07 p 5. November 12, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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brian-smith-of-edinburgh.jpgThe Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt. Rev. Brian Smith has joined the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Sheilagh Kesting, at a public ceremony at the Scottish Parliament last week endorsing a “Peace Covenant for Scotland.”

 

The Peace Covenant declares, “We desire that Scotland should be known for its international contribution to peace and justice rather than for waging war.”

 

Part of a larger campaign led by Scotland for Peace, the Covenant is part of a larger campaign that seeks to block the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile programme, as well as establish a “Scottish Peace Day” and a “Scottish Centre for Peace and Justice.”

 

The campaign also seeks the creation of a government agency to retrain defence workers and place them in “peaceful” professions. The Nov 1 ceremony kicks off a national petition campaign that seeks to “articulate the popular opposition to aggressive war and promote Scotland as a force for peace.


Leading Philosopher says Christian Pacifism is the only road to peace: CEN 11.02.07 p 8. November 1, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper.
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rene-girard.jpgCivilization has entered into a period of continuous warfare philosopher Rene Girard said last week in an interview with a French magazine, which will only be ended by a conscious turn towards Christian pacifism.

“The era of wars is over: from now on war exists everywhere. Our era is one of universal action. There’s no longer any such thing as an intelligent policy. We’ve almost reached the end,” Girard said in an interview with Le Point magazine.

The bombing of the World Trade Towers on Sept 11, 2001 ushered in a new phase of history, he said. “Today’s terrorism still has to be thought through, because we haven’t yet grasped that a terrorist is ready to die in order to kill.”

What is new, he suggested “in relation to Western heroism is that suffering and death are called for, if necessary by experiencing them oneself. The Americans made the mistake of ‘declaring war’ on Al Qaeda, without knowing whether Al Qaeda exists at all.”

A member of the Académie française and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Girard is best known for his theories of mimetic desire: that man learns to desire by watching the desire of others: and of scapegoats, which he says found, preserve, and unify culture. In recent years Girard’s work has had a strong impact on theology. His work has taken an avowedly Christian turn and has been cited with approval by theologians including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

The present conflict with terrorism threatened civilization “with death,” he argued. Not because the terrorists might win, but because of the response they would elicit from the Christian West.

Violence would provide but a short term solution and leave the West “in the position of Louis XV: « Après moi, le déluge ».”

The message of Judeo-Christianity, Girard told Le Point was that “if we do not reconcile ourselves, there are no more sacrificial victims to save us the skin. The offer of the kingdom of God is reconciliation or nothing. Unfortunately, we are making the second choice by ignorance and idleness.”

The only hope for the future was to “refuse any violence, all reprisals. I am not sure that we are capable of it, but the Gospels say that it is the only way out.”

Archbishop: “Don’t bomb Iran”: CEN 10.12.07 p 8. October 10, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Iran.
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ahmadinejad-un.jpgThe Archbishop of Canterbury has denounced suggestions of a preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, saying it would upset the region’s security balance and bring misery to its peoples.

Speaking to the BBC after his return from Damascus, Dr. Williams said that “When people talk about further destabilisation of the region – and you read some American political advisers speaking of action against Syria and Iran – I can only say that I regard that as criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly.”

“We do hear talk from some quarters of action against Syria and Iran. I can’t understand what planet such persons are living on, when you see the conditions that are already there,” he said.

In a statement released upon his return from Syria, Dr. Williams described as ‘heartbreaking and harrowing’ a meeting he held in Syria with 200 Christian Iraqi refugees. He told the refugees he would share their plight with the West, and upon return to Britain said their situation required urgent attention.

“Security that will enable these people to return to Iraq depends on a settlement for the whole of that country guaranteeing the liberty and dignity of every minority.”

Lambeth Palace has also denied the veracity of accounts printed by the official Syrian news agency, SANA, of Dr. Williams’ trip to Damascus. SANA reported that in talks with the Archbishop, the Grand Mufti of Syria “pointed out the Israeli suppressive practices in the occupied Palestinian territories which violated all religious laws and international norms, reviewing what Iraq is witnessing of ordeals and catastrophes under the occupation.”

Dr. Williams’ office denied this took place, saying his talks with the Grand Mufti “concerned issues internal to Syria and focussed on the secular character of the Syrian constitution.”

Signs of an end to the Korean stalemate: CEN 8.31.07 August 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Korea, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper.
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THERE ARE signs that the 54-year old stalemate between North and South Korea may be coming to an end, the CMS’ Head of Communications John Martin stated following a visit to the peninsula.

Martin noted that there were ‘encouraging signs’ in the political relations between the two countries, officially still at war, including a scheduled visit by South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun to Pyongyang on Oct 2-4, and the July decision by the North in July to close its Yongbyon nuclear reactor project.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

Signs of an end to the Korean stalemate

Japanese Church opposes re-militarization: CEN 8.24.07 p 9. August 22, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
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THE DIOCESE of Chubu has urged voters to reject the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s [LDP] plans to amend Japan’s ‘Peace Constitution’, saying a remilitarised Japan could provoke a world war and would turn the country into an Asian Britain, making it a tool of American foreign policy interests.“If we don’t dissuade the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured) from changing Japan’s Peace Constitution, not only will the world be losing a powerful instrument for peace, but the change may also precipitate a war in Asia, in which China would almost certainly be involved, and to which the US would almost certainly respond,” the Central Japanese diocese’s international affairs commission said last week. Japanese church opposes remilitarisation

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

UK blocks Israel arms deals for fear of rights violations: JPost 8.14.07 August 13, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, British Foreign Policy, Diplomatic & Foreign Affairs, Israel, Jerusalem Post.
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The British government has blocked almost one third of British military exports to Israel this year, citing possible threats to regional stability and fears the equipment might facilitate human rights violations.

According to official figures, the value of UK military sales arms to Israel declined by one third last year, and has fallen by a drastic 75 percent since 2005.

“There is evidence that the British government’s export control policy to Israel may have been tightened up,” said Parliament’s new 2007 Strategic Export Controls report, issued by the Quadrapartite Commission, which comprises representatives from four ministries.

The change in policy, said the report, reflects a convergence of government attitudes with its own official guidelines.

The report comes amid a period of uncertainty in Anglo-Israeli relations.

Read it all in The Jerusalem Post

Russian Orthodox Back Putin Against US’s Euro-Missile Shield: CEN 6.15.07 p 6. June 16, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Russian Orthodox.
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The Russian Orthodox Church has backed President Vladimir Putin’s opposition to US plans to install a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe.

The head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad urged religious leaders last week to stand with the Russian Orthodox Church in opposing an American “arms race” in Europe.U.S. plans to install an anti-missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland were a threat to a “peaceful future” for Europe, Kyrill said to European church leaders in Cologne on June 5, according to a transcript published on the internet by the Moscow Patriarchate.

Russian Orthdodox Church backs Putin against US missile plans

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop Hits Out at Evil Cluster Bombs: CEN 5.25.07 p4. May 25, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, British Foreign Policy, Church of England, House of Lords.
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Leicester Bishop Tim Stevens has challenged the government’s decision to stockpile M85 cluster bombs, telling the House of Lords the weapons were an unconscionable evil.“

I speak as one deeply troubled that the United Kingdom military is using these M85 weapons in my name,” Bishop Stevens said on May 17, rejecting government claims that cluster bombs were a legitimate part of the military’s arsenal.

Bishop hits out at 'evil' cluster bombs

Read the full story at The Church of England Newspaper