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This is write-up of the trip made by Hannah Brock (Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker) and Igor Seke (of the Right to Refuse to Kill committee), from 28th October – 8th November 2013. We were joined by Rachel Brett, of the Quaker United Nations Office [QUNO] (and member of the Right to Refuse to Kill committee), from 30th October – 3rd November.

Join us in Cape Town

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Small Actions, Big Movements: the Continuum of Nonviolence

We are extremely excited about WRI's next International Conference - the first in Africa - to be held in Cape Town, South Africa,

from 4th July - 8th July 2014. The conference is co-hosted by The Ceasefire Campaign.

The Broken Rifle, No 98, December 2013

A quick and cursory view of the history of War Resisters International (WRI) – an organization responsible for many wonderful small actions but rarely credited for its inspiration of big and effective movements – had hardly any connection to Africa at all. But that initial impression would be incorrect. Though often behind-the-scenes and without fanfare or spotlight, key members of WRI have played significant roles in significant aspects of the continents anti-colonial and anti-war moments over the past 90-plus years since WRI’s 1921 founding. The July 2014 international conference in Cape Town, South Africa is simply the most public – and perhaps the most ambitious – of these endeavors.

War Resisters' International joins the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela – a statesman and an activist, a lawyer and a political prisoner, an advocate of direct action and reconciliation. Mandela’s life symbolizes, as few others have ever done, the long road to freedom, peace, and justice which can nevertheless be won (at least in part) through determined commitment and struggle. He lived his convictions, spending 27 years behind bars without wavering from his core convictions, ready still to play a crucial role upon release to ensure a transition away from formal apartheid through compromise and negotiation. That the transition which ended white minority rule took place with a minimum of bloodshed is one of the great victories of modern times, a victory Mandela helped lead by example.

The Broken Rifle 98

The popular unarmed uprisings in the Arab World early in 2011 took the world by surprise, both because most observers did not expect demands for human rights and democratic choice to become central in Arab states, and because they did not expect mass protest to be predominantly unarmed. However, in retrospect there are many reasons why initially the 'Arab Spring' took the forms it did in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Libya and other states. Moreover, as scholars of nonviolent civil resistance pointed out, in the first months the most significant movements displayed some of the classic characteristics of such resistance. In the longer term, however, many of the movements have failed to fulfill their initial promise, overtaken by armed civil war (as happened quickly in Libya and more gradually in Syria), or failing to achieve their initial democratic promise - most notably in Egypt. The impressive protests at the 'Pearl Roundabout' in Bahrain were quite quickly crushed, and preemptive offers by rulers of Morocco and Jordan to make reforms to meet public demands have so far only diluted royal power. This article briefly elaborates on the points made above, and then raises some questions about the future.

The invisible prison after prison

Reading a newspaper recently, I came across the words of some young girls who left home: 'If I want to survive I should not trust people'. These are the exact words I repeatedly heard while I was in prison.

I didn't write after I got released. I wanted to, but it felt too hard. Although I sensed something simmering inside me, I was not able to figure out what it was. I felt helpless; I couldn't be bothered to do anything. I didn't want to meet people. Those were the times when I was obsessed with the thought of staying alone. I felt like I had forgotten how to have equal relationships. I was overwhelmed by the fear of how I would be accepted by others. I didn't do anything that might have caused loss to me either. I've asked myself if I am using the fact that I was in prison as an excuse to cover up who I really am. What if prison is not different from society at all, and I was just bewildered to be thrown out to the wild reality I had not recognised before?


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Countering the Militarisation of Youth is the theme of this issue of The Broken Rifle, just in time for our international study conference with the same title.

As I wrote in a guest editorial in Peace News back in 2002, to work effectively, we need to know our enemy, or what our enemy is doing, With enemy I mean the military, and I consciously call the military our enemy, knowing that within most nonviolent circles we are not supposed to have enemies.