100 issues of The Broken Rifle! In March 1986 WRI published the first ever The Broken Rifle (see number one here). This issues says: "This is a pilot edition of a new publication from War Resisters' International. We plan to produce it every two months". This newsletter started first as a news-sheet of no more than two A4 sides, covering stories from the WRI network, and through the years it has developed into WRI's main regular publication.
This hundredth issue of the Broken Rifle reprints articles that relate to the strategies affiliates of WRI are using and and issues they are dealing with. There are articles on direct nonviolent actions and on civil disobedience, articles discussing gender, conscientious objection, land grabbing, peace-building and antimilitarist trends in various regions. They reflect discussions we have had in WRI over the last 20 years.
War Resisters' International is horrified by the massacre of unarmed Chinese people around Tienanmen square and condemns it utterly. Only a leadership without the support and confidence of the people can order soldiers "by any means" to suppress nonviolent demonstrations for democratic rights and freedoms.
US and Australian military personnel are refusign to go to the Gulf. US Marine Jeff Paterson is now on hunger strike in Hawaii. He declares:
I cannot and will not be a pawn in the US's power play for profits and oil in the Middle East. I will resist my scheduled departure by immediately filing for conscientious objector status, and physically refusing to board the plane. And if I am dragged out into the Saudi dessert, I will refuse to fight.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 30, December 1994 as part of the Prisoners for Peace issue.
In 1971, Pepe Beunza made history as the first modern Spanish conscientious objector; today he visits prisons to support young objectors who refuse the alternative service which Pepe demanded. With more objectors than conscripts in parts of the state, and with alternative service in administrative chaos, is the Spanish model of massive disobedience to conscription now on the verge of success? TOMAS SANCHO of the Movimiento de Objecion de Conciencia (MOC) Zaragoza explains how the strategy of total resistance has continued to adapt.
Otvorene Oči — "Open Eyes", the Balkan Peace Team in Croatia — is setting up base in Split as well as Zagreb. At the conclusion of their initial two-month exploration, the team proposed to base a team in Split because of the need for independent international human rights monitors there, in order to support the struggling local human rights activists, and with a view to a later expansion of Balkan Peace Team projects into Bosnia-Herzegovina. During its exploratory period, one of the team's actions in Split was to observe preliminary hearings of the Dalmatia Action trial, where members of the opposition Dalmatia Action stand accused of bombing their own office. The team produced the only reliable impartial report on the trial.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 47, February 2001, on the model of organising against the WTO in Seattle in 1999 and published in the special Nonviolence & Empowerment issue.
This basic organising structure was used for both the WTO protests in Seattle last November (N30), and the IMF/World Bank demonstrations in Washington DC on April 16 and 17 (A16). It aims to be empowering, democratic, flexible and inclusive.
In the months leading up to the demonstrations, an Organising Collective made up of rotating spokespeople representing each Working Group made decisions by consensus about the structure, budget and logistics of the events, and ensured that Working Groups were co-ordinating effectively and not duplicating each other's work. The meetings were open to all, but decision-making was limited to Working Group spokespeople. At the beginning of each meeting, the facilitator outlined the decision-making process for people unfamiliar with the idea of consensus. For the A16 action, minutes from general and working group meetings were posted the next day to list serves, and the web site (www.A16.org) was kept well updated as plans progressed. (In this regard it was way better organised and more efficient than the preparations for N30.)
Article in The Broken Rifle No 49, May 2001 as part of the International CO Day: focus on Angola issue.
"The Angolan people want a lasting peace, social justice, good governance and the right of citizenship, and mutual respect for the diversity of people and cultures, which form the Angolan Nation project. these are the fundamental principles for the setting of a common ground among the Angolan people. In essence, these principles are the foundation for in-depth revision of the Nation's concept and valorisation of the Angolan citizenry.
As well as the consensual definition of a vision for Angola and its course towards the future.
Unfortunately, the war is still being used against the Angolan People.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 53, November 2003 as part of the South Korean Prisoners for Peace issue.
Only early in 2001 the concept of "objection to military service" became known to the Korean public. A current affairs magazine reported on a forum on the military service system, including the right to conscientious objection. It especially reported on the history of Jehovah's Witnesses CO. Since the formation of the Korean army, over 10,000 objectors (mostly Jehovah's Witnesses) have spent time behind bars. The public has treeted them as nonexistent.
In The Broken Rifle March 2004, No. 60 which focused on dealing with the past.
WRI had already visited Sri Lanka and had been in Batticaloa in March 2003. As a follow up of this we decided to accompany the process of dealing with the past with war affected women. Rajan Iruthayanathan organised the workshop with local organisers and activists who know well the people, history and politics of the area. The women came from two villages, where almost each family has lost somebody during the war.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 69, February 2006 as part of the special issue for the Globalising Nonviolence international conference.
We live in a historical time of social change. While the economy, state regimes and wars are being globalised, the social forces of people's movements are as well. At least 15 million demonstrated worldwide against the war in Iraq 2003. The gathering of "the global movement of movements" at the World Social Forum continues to grow, the latest in Brasil with 150000 participants. This global peace & justice movement has drawn the conclusions of earlier strategies of reform through national parties and elections and revolution through armed rebellion, and is searching for a nonviolent strategy of social change.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 69, February 2006 as part of the special issue for the 2006 Globalising Nonviolence international conference.
Jochen Stay, who was active in civil disobedience campaigns against the deployment of Pershing-II nuclear missiles in Mutlangen in Germany in the 1980s, and later in the campaigns against nuclear waste shipments in the 1990s and early 2000s, reflects on his experience with mass civil disobedience. In the present situation, it is clear that courageous action is again necessary, but he asks: Is civil disobedience with the participation of thousands of people an appropriate perspective for the peace movement today?
Article in The Broken Rifle No 71, September 2006 as part of an issue on war profiteering.
Joanne Sheehan and Javier Gárate
War profiteers depend mainly on government contracts. Imagine what Lockheed Martin would be without their Pentagon contracts! At the same time governments need an excuse for spending such huge sums of money e.g. "war against terror", "national security", "peace forces", etc. Since war profiteers depend on government contracts they need to be in the position to influence them. Through the years they have positioned themselves to have an immense political power within governments, and they enjoy privileged access to decision-makers that the general public can only dream of.
In order to sell their products, the war profiteers need access to information, and access to the different decision bodies. How do they do it? By the so-called revolving door factor, and heavy lobbying.
In recent years many European countries abolished conscription, or suspended conscription in times of peace. Presently, out of the 27 European Union member states only 10 maintain conscription, and it is expected that of those ten some more will abolish conscription in the near future – Poland is expected to abolish conscription in 2010–2012, and Sweden is just now in the process of abolishing conscription. But even in countries that maintain conscription, “voluntary” professional soldiers generally have a more important role, i.e. within NATO or other foreign operations or the European Union battle groups. The reasons for maintaining conscription are often more ideological than military.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 75, September 2007, it also featured in the 1st edition of the Handbook for Nonviolents Campaigns.
A campaign is a connected series of activities and actions done over a period of time to achieve specific, stated goals. Campaigns are started by a group of people with a common understanding and vision, who identify the goals and begin the process of research, education and training that strengthens and increases the number of participants who engage in the activities and action.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 80, December 2008. This article is the result of material published in the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns and a session on gender and nonviolence at WRI's International Nonviolence Training Exchange, in Bilbao in October 2008.
It may seem simple and obvious that we want both men and women involved in our struggles against war and injustice. However, if we want to fully utilise people's talents, energy, and insights, we need to apply gender awareness to how we organise ourselves, how we design our campaigns, and how we conduct our trainings for action.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 81, February 2009 as part of the Shut Down NATO issue.
Women have a multitude of relationships to the military: they command regiments, enlist as soldiers, work in the arms industry, clean the kitchens and toilets of military bases… or oppose the military in protests and peace camps. Some women have little choice about their relationship with the military: they are killed, injured, forced from their homes, and bereaved by armed conflict. Others are recruited, sometimes ‘voluntarily’, but very often forcibly, to provide sexual services to male military personnel. Many of these are women and girls trafficked for the purposes of forced prostitution.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 84, November 2009 as part of a special edition for the 2010 international conference on Nonviolent Livelihood Struggle and Global Militarism: Links & Strategies.
President Obama smiled at Manmohan Singh (India's Prime Minister), Secretary of State Hilary Clinton invited him over for lunch, the World Bank President certified his economic vision, and the IMF chief patted his back for leading his country on the path of sustained growth. That's India's arrival on the world stage.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 87, December 2010 as part of the a Latin America special issue.
By Adriana Castaño
The journey of women in the depths of left-wing political movements and mixed social organisations has had to endure a long struggle. The story of the presence of women with ideas for the transformation of the patriarchal culture, has for a long time been subjected to the achievement of “more wide and important ideals”, and arguments that these “particular” claims should wait, otherwise it would imply the division of the struggle that was forging towards “social and political revolution” which required the unity of the popular movement. Those proposals and revolutions have been and are “Revolutions of men that believe that everything can be revolutionised except the life of women. They are the revolutions in which the revolutionaries annul and create constitutions, but they continue subduing half of humanity, women, just as feminist, anarchist, Chilean women workers said at the beginning of the 20th century”.1
Article in The Broken Rifle No 87, December 2010 as part of a Latin America special issue.
The military uniform hides under its camouflage – olive green, pale kaki, dark blue or snowy white – yet another uniform deployed over the very body which sustains the warrior clothing. Over there, taking the form of skin and hairs, you will find the sexual uniform: that act of faith that turns men into men and women into women, regardless our identity, wishes or actual actions. For the military (and the various kinds of militarisms), sex is the ultimate certainty and the ultimate order. Provided this remains in place, the space for this hierarchical, conservative, aggressive, militarized society will be secured. Because in spite of it all, in spite of existing desire, identity and sexual intercourse and all of the analyses around gender, over there, somewhere between the legs, there exists the order that sustains it all: you are a man, or else… a woman. There is no other option. One or the other. That is Order, that is Reality, that is Truth.
Article in The Broken Rifle No 91, April 2012 on Land-grabbing and militarism
From the men of property the order came: They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers' claim. "Tear down their cottages. Destroy their corn!" They were dispersed but still the vision carries on.
- Lines from Leon Rosselson's song celebrating the Diggers and their struggle for land in 17th century England
Fear is something that every social movement has to deal with, whether in situations of severe repression or in relatively open societies. Discussing fear under the Pinochet dictatorship, the Chilean social commentator Manuel Antonio Garretón referred to two archetypal childhood fears: the fear of the dog that bites, and the fear of the darkened room. The specific threat that we can see, assess and work out how to handle, and the generalised threat of an unknown - a room where something bad might be waiting for you. In a dictatorship or under an occupation, the presence of fear is tangible - yet there are always episodes where somehow people overcome that fear and take action. In relatively open societies, the fears may not be so obvious - yet they are there, somehow always a factor in maintaining obedience and conformity, in inhibiting people from questioning authority or sometimes simply from being who we want to be.
Each year on 1st December War Resisters' International and its member mark Prisoners for Peace Day, when we publicise the names and stories of those imprisoned for actions for peace. Many are conscientious objectors, in gaol for refusing to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent actions to disrupt preparation for war. This day is a chance for you to demonstrate your support for them.
Applications are open for the positions of Nonviolence Programme Worker and Countering the Militarisation of Youth Programme Worker.
Information for both positions can be found on our website:
Nonviolence Programme Worker
Countering the Militarisation of Youth Programme Worker
We look forward to receiving applications from people committed to nonviolence, with fundraising skills (or willingness to learn) and experience of nonviolent campaigning. Applicants should have knowledge of English and another language, and be willing to travel. All applicants should feel able to sign the WRI declaration: 'War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war'. Full job descriptions and application forms can be found on the respective adverts.
The closing date for applications for both roles is 2 November, midnight (UTC).
Please share the job adverts with your contacts, and write to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.