The Movement for the Abolition of War – http://www.abolishwar.org.uk, of which QCA is an affiliate, is organising a discussion on The Limits to Military Obedience at the ImperialWarMuseum on Friday June 26, on the eve of Armed Forces Day. Chaired by Kat Barton of Quaker Peace & Social Witness. One of the speakers is Bruce Kent, of Pax Christi.
Tel: 01908 511948
Northern Friends’ Peace Board writes:
…that each person is uniquely valuable. International relations will always bring tensions, but our response to this should not be one of constantly upgrading weapons and training in readiness for war. Rather, we should put our energies and resources into developing and training for non-military ways of solving conflicts and averting wars.
Modern weapons have given human beings the power to destroy all life on this planet. It is a great and terrible power to have at our disposal.
War and the use of lethal force is something to lament, not celebrate.
We believe that we always have the choice to work for war or to work for peace; to add to the distrust and hostility in the world or try patiently to undo and lessen it. The responsibility lies with each one
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is
only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
~ M.K. Gandhi
Further information about Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends in
Britain) and Quaker approaches to peacemaking can be obtained from:
Northern Friends Peace Board
Victoria Hall, Knowsley Street, Bolton BL1 2AS
Tel: 01204 382330 http://nfpb.gn.apc.org
QCA’s current concern is to highlight the link between the suffering of human and non-human animals in war and military activity. Historically, the majority of human participants have been conscripts and our fellow beings are always such.
They have no choice.
The following is the statement made by our committee member Ann Johnson which appears in the current issue of Abolish War.
Quaker Concern for Animals believes that the concept and practice of non-violence towards human animals should be extended to all animals. As well as a spiritual approach to animal welfare and animal rights, QCA takes a practical approach through writing letters to organisations and governments, helping generate awareness of abuse, and providing support for many small organisations in the UK and abroad. We hope our link with MAW will further highlight animals, the forgotten victims of warfare.
Some history: in 1914 the head of the Belgian Pigeon Service burned alive 2,500 carrier pigeons rather than risk their capture by the ‘enemy’. During World War 1, working mules had their vocal cords severed to silence their cries on the battlefield. After World War 1, cavalry horses overseas were abandoned or sold to be worked to death as ‘beasts of burden’. In 1930 in Cairo, many were discovered near death by Dorothea Brooke who founded The Brooke Hospital for Animals.
Of 5000 working dogs used by American troops in Vietnam, just 150 returned home. Of the rest, those who weren’t killed were abandoned when troops pulled out. Today, dolphins are ‘trained’ by the US navy to perform tasks such as mine detection. These intelligent animals are transported around the world in cramped conditions where they are unable follow any of their natural behaviour.
Like human civilians, animals are ‘collateral’ casualties of warfare. Zoo animals usually suffer. In 2003, Kuwait zoo animals were shot, turned loose and incinerated in their cages. In Bagdad, abandoned zoo animals died of hunger and thirst. In Kabul zoo, animals were used for target practice.
Beyond the battlefields, animals are used in warfare experimentation. In it’s excellent booklet ‘Animals: the hidden victims of war’, Animal Aid describes how, in 2005, over 21,000 animals were subjected to experiments at the biological and chemical research centre Porton Down. Millions of animals including monkeys, ferrets, pigs, guineas pigs, goats mice, rats, dogs and cats have been used at the facility since it opened in 1916.
In 2006, BUAV exposed the factory farming in Asia of monkeys for research labs in the UK. In 2007 QCA wrote to Porton Down saying we had been informed that primates were being imported from China to Porton Down to undergo experiments. QCA received no useful response.
The UK Government’s disregard for non-human animals was demonstrated during the 2006 war in Lebanon. Evacuating UK nationals were forbidden to take their companion animals home with them. Many were abandoned, injured and killed. Some were saved by Lebanese nationals working for Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA) who subsequently arranged for 300 cats and dogs to be flown to the US sanctuary Best Friends.
Animals continue to provide companionship for soldiers serving in war zones. Strays are adopted and their injuries tended. These acts of compassion not only save animals, they help nourish and keep alive the vital human qualities of nurture, empathy and kindness. In late 2006, a group of Royal Marines stationed in the rural market town of Now Zad began caring for stray dogs and arranging for them to be transported to a safer area. Today, Nowzad Dogs, is a registered charity. On the website is the following quote: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” Mahatma Gandhi.
In November 2009 a Remembrance Day service to commemorate animal victims of war will take place at the Animals War Memorial Brooke Gate, Park Lane, London. Purple poppies and wreaths will be available from Animal Aid.