— Quakers in Britain (@BritishQuakers) February 28, 2014
Quakers recently attended the annual Luton Peace Walk, a multi faith, multi community event highlighting how the vast majority of Luton's diverse cultures happily co-exist in peace. The walk started at the town hall and went on from there to the Sikh temple. After a while the walk moved onto The Holy Ghost Church for a presentation by St Joseph's Catholic School pupils and then onto the Mosque next door as our final destination. Here's an informal record of the event made by Luton Quakers. Subtitles for the hard of hearing and a full transcript are available optionally within the video and over on You Tube itself.
Our Clerk to Luton Quakers moved quickly to contact our local Members of Parliament ahead of yesterday's vote on military action in Syria.
Dear Kelvin and Gavin
We ask you – and the Labour Party – to oppose military intervention in Syria. In spite of claims emanating from the government that it would be legal in international law, that does not seem to be the case. Any such action would be legally justified only if agreed by the UN Security Council. This has been restated in terms of the "responsibility to protect", subsequently approved by UN security council resolution 1674.
Quakers nationally have made this statement:
“Quakers in Britain are appalled by the suffering and loss of life on all sides in Syria. We understand – and share – the wish of the international community to take some form of action to reduce the bloodshed, but we strongly urge those who are tempted to respond militarily to think again.
“Air strikes will kill people just as surely as chemical attacks. All weapons must seem equally abhorrent if it is your family that is being killed. Punishment for use of specific kinds of weapon is no justification for further acts of war or for supplying yet more weapons.
"New participants in a war will breed new hatreds. Experience of other conflicts shows that supposedly simple or 'surgical' military interventions usually become messy and hard to end. We are convinced that even when some kind of victory is claimed, the deep harm done by violence always outweighs the supposed benefits.
We beg those in power to work with diligence through the United Nations and all diplomatic channels to bring peace nearer. We challenge them to use their resources and imaginations creatively. Please don't fall into the old trap of thinking that taking any action is bound to be better than doing nothing."
It is as though the US, UK and France have learned nothing from the huge unintended consequences and terrible suffering wrought by military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, while claiming a moral high-ground that is not justified, if only given their own retention of nuclear weapons.
We understand that many MPs in all parties are deeply uneasy about or opposed to the action that the government seems likely to propose. Please act to save the people of Syria and in all likelihood other countries from this madness.With best wishes
Clerk to Luton Quakers