Please note this is a short supplement with mainly time-limited or immediate information, not a full issue (the next one will appear at the start of February).
Launch of Downpatrick Declaration The Downpatrick Declaration was launched on 7th December at the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick. This is an important challenge to people and governments in both jurisdictions in Ireland to live up to their aspirations and expressed beliefs (as stated in the Good Friday Agreement and the Constitution of Ireland/Bunreacht na hÉireann) for the peaceful resolution of conflict, and also for avoiding militarisation and engagement in the arms trade. The Declaration was launched by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire. A short, 10 minute, video of the launch is available on the website at https://www.downpatrickdeclaration.com/ where you can read the Declaration, sign it, and request to receive further information in future. A full video recording of the launch will appear on the website soon. Emanating originally from Afri, and backed by INNATE, StoP, and a wide variety of figures from civil society and the arts, the Downpatrick Declaration will be the focus of campaigning around building peace and avoiding the increasing militarisation which is taking place North and South of the border. While named the ‘Downpatrick’ Declaration after the three Christian patrons of Ireland (Patrick, Brigid and Colmcille) associated with Downpatrick, it is not a specifically Christian document but recalling the commitment to peace of these three great figures and the wider history of Irish engagement in peacemaking. Afri: Desmond Tutu commemoration, Féile Bríde and other events Archbishop Desmond Tutu, along with his wife Leah, has been a long time patron of Afri and following his death on 26th December, Afri commemorated his life, and connections with issues in Ireland; this was through an online event which took place on 30th December. This ran for just over an hour and a half and the video can accessed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3x-iW1r0tmeKx9SAdgMOsw along with a shorter video of Desmond Tutu speaking about his links with Afri. In a statement Afri said “We in Afri join with the world in expressing our sadness at the passing of our hero and patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We also add our voice to the chorus of praise that has risen up since his death, not only for his unique contribution to the dismantling of apartheid but also for his stance on many important issues including freedom for the Palestinian people and the urgent need to tackle climate change. We are full of grief and gratitude and we express our sympathy especially to Desmond’s wife Leah and his family. Desmond Tutu identified war and the war industry as one of the great evils of our time, pointing to the immoral wastage of resources which it represents as well as the extent to which it destroys people and wreaks havoc on our precious planet. When it drives people from their homes in their millions, government representatives wring their hands but then slam the doors to refuge against them. On the occasion of the burial of such a great peacemaker, we ask: why is Ireland increasingly joining the war mongers club? Why are we increasing spending on weapons of death and why are we encouraging Irish businesses to get involved in producing weapons? Why are we encouraging our Universities and other educational institutes to get involved in military research? A recent conference sponsored by the government explicitly sought to link up companies and colleges with wider networks of military activity. This initiative, by a government led by Michael Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan, does not represent the will of the Irish people who have consistently expressed their support for Ireland to maintain its neutrality and to concentrate on promoting peace and disarmament, rather than joining military alliances or adding more weapons to a world already awash with the tools of war. In the name of our great patron, Desmond Tutu, we call on the government to reverse this decision and instead follow the Archbishop’s example of promoting peace and non-violent conflict resolution.” - A 10-minute video report on Afri’s work in 2021 can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAMgxwjhmww&t=491s - Meanwhile Afri’s programme for 2022 includes its Féile Bríde which takes place, online, on Saturday 5th February with the topic "Moving Towards the Light: Meeting the Challenges of Conflict and Climate"; further details on Afri’s website www.afri.ie in due course and in the February issue of Nonviolent News. Other dates during the year include the Doolough Famine Walk on 21st May and Hedge School in TU Dublin in November. Nonviolent Communication retreat in Ireland, February From 24th February until 5th March, there will be a 9-day International Intensive Training in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), the first in Ireland. The trainers will be Donal Gannon, John Kinyon, Dian Killian and Shona Cameron; the venue is the Lucan Spa Hotel, Co Dublin. It promises to “help you bring nonviolence and peace into all areas of your life. In this event, you can discover skills that will help you improve the quality of your relationships, deepen your inner peace, and increase your contribution to the world.” The purpose of this training is defined as giving people the opportunity to live the process of Nonviolent Communication in community over an extended period of time, in order to develop the mindsets and practical tools to help in three areas: personal and professional relationships, inner transformation, and contribution to others and social change. Further details at https://www.cnvc.org/2022-Ireland-IIT though the fee may be impossible to meet for many people. Peace groups listing INNATE has a draft document out for consultation listing peace groups in Ireland since the 19th century. This went out with the last e-mail edition of Nonviolent News and will be finalised at the end of January and go online then.. Additions and corrections are sought; if you need a copy of the draft please contact email@example.com IFOR: Call to mark first anniversary of nuclear ban IFOR/International Fellowship of Reconciliation has called on people to use a variety of means to mark the first anniversary, on 22nd January, of the coming into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). https://www.ifor.org/ INNATE’s mini-poster on this, for home printing, can be found under ‘Nuclear weapons illegal’ at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ UNAC: Call to free Julian Assange A statement from the United National Antiwar Coalition in the USA calls for freeing Julian Assange and points out that New York Times reporters who analysed confidential Pentagon documents on US airstrikes, following in Assange’s footsteps in reporting US war crimes, have not been charged. They included analysing “50,000 U.S. airstrikes on Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan conducted under the Obama and Trump administrations. The Times on-the-scene reporters subsequently confirmed tens of thousands of civilian casualties – collateral damage.“The [Pentagon] documents,” according to The Times, “identify children killed or injured in 27 percent of cases; in The Times’s ground-breaking reporting it was 62 percent.” “ You can read the UNAC statement and support the call to free Assange at https://unac.notowar.net/peace-and-justice-organizations-call-for-freedom-for-julian-assange/
– The next, full, issue of Nonviolent News is for February with a deadline of 1st February.