Event Photos & Reports — Europe
Brussels — Mouvement Chrétien pour la Paix
The SIPRI report was released on GDAMS at the European Parliament as activists and press asked questions.
Helsinki — Committee of 100 in Finland / Peace Union of Finland / Finnish Reserve Officers’ Federation
“To mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, we organized a discussion panel on the Finnish military budget with representatives of most major political parties present. In this way, the theme of the day was linked to the upcoming parliamentary elections. The event, open for all, took place at a central location in Helsinki and attracted some tens of people. The main themes discussed were: 1) Universal conscription in Finland 2) The national defense budget and 3) The issue of national defense vs. international missions. The party representatives were asked to present their views on a number of questions relating to these themes. As to whether Finland should abandon universal conscription for either selective military service or a professional army, most parties still stood behind universal conscription, with only one party representative in favor of a selective system. Regarding future cuts in the defense budget, most representatives acknowledged the need for reductions in national spending. Other issues, such as the contents of military training, women’s role in the army, new military threats and Finland’s role in international military/humanitarian operations were also brought to the fore. In addition, the audience was given the opportunity to present questions in writing to the representatives. During the coming years, changes in the Finnish military system are likely to occur due to a number of issues, e.g. budjet restrictions, population decline and a growing degree of impopularity of the armed service. It is clear that the new parliament will play an important part in these changes and their contents. The Committee of 100 continues to follow up on decisions and developments concerning the military sector in Finland, in line with it’s work for peace and demilitarization.
Calvados — Mouvement de la Paix
Volunteers distributed leaflets, showed a film, and hosted a small march.
Givors — Mouvement de la Paix
A small public gathering was held.
Paris — Mouvement de la Paix
Organizers distributed over 3000 leaflets at local markets and universities. In the evening, they held a “coffee debate” on military spending, complete with rich discussion and a slideshow.
Rennes — Mouvement de la Paix
At the town square, organizers polled passersby on which they would prefer — new investments in various military technologies, or new investments in social security, social programs, international diplomacy, or cultural affairs.
Seine-Saint-Denis — Mouvement de la Paix
Volunteers showed a short film and distributed leaflets about military spending, encouraging visitors to contact their members of parliament about the issue.
Vénissieux — Mouvement de la Paix
Organizers showed a short film, held a public discussion, and distributed leaflets.
Berlin — International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility
INES also held a short press conference, resulting in coverage here. Another press clipping is
Athens — European Bureau for Conscientious Objection
“Our action took place on the Parliament Square in the heart of Athens where the central metro station is. We opened a big banner writing on its first half THE MONEY IS THERE (for military tank, airplane, submarine and bombs) and on its second half THE MONEY IS NOT THERE (for schools, hospitals, public transportation and peace). We also opened a banner with the IPB poster and a banner with the graph Military Spending vs. Millennium Development Goals (after translation in greek and calculation in Euros). We took textiles of different colours and we opened them in scale to show the proportional length of the costs. The coloured textiles are the MDGs and the black one is the military spending. On the military spending textile we put military helmets with the peace sign on them asking for social spending instead of military spending. We were reading our press release and we were asking people passing by to write on the black textile of the military spending where they would like this money to go instead (education, health, environment etc). People were very positive and we gave 800 press releases and some GDAMS follow-up fliers.” More info and photos available from http://exoplismoi.wordpress.com/.
Budapest — African Hungarian Union
We had a great meeting and arranged a round table in African Hungarian Union’s office yesterday at 12:00. Some representatives of the African embassies and human rights organizations were our guests to discuss military spending. You can see it at the link in our newspaper: http://www.afriport.hu/hirek/6964-fegyverkezes-helyett-fejlesztes.html.”
Florence — Nonviolence Forge / Italian Nonviolent Movement
“On April 12, we chose a persuasive and symbolic action to draw the attention of passers-by, raising their awareness by unexpectedly shaking the indifference of their daily routine.
“The action consisted of a slow, silent walk. The walkers had message-banners hanging around their necks, and were handing out informative leaflets as well. One of them, with a megaphone, repeatedly explained why we were in the street, so as to enable the people we met to understand the action, or to stop and ask further questions.
“Most of the participants were organized in small groups of about five people, one of which had the role of the ‘undertaker’ and the rest the role of the ‘dead.’ Three times, along the way, they scattered among the people on the road/square. The remaining few kept handing out the leaflets, explaining the rationale of the action with the megaphone, so disseminating information. Three more participants were to play the ‘heartbroken women.’ At their sudden cry, symbolizing the pain caused by weapons, the ‘dead’ suddenly fell to the ground, laying then still as if lifeless. Then the undertakers slowly covered the bodies on the ground with the rainbow flag of Peace. After a few minutes, at the scream of ‘Do Hope do not Shoot,’ the dead slowly raised and we started walking again.
“Covering the dead with the Peace flag, same gesture used to honor dead warriors, on the one hand we wanted to highlight the pain that war causes, on the other we wanted to propose an alternative and a hope: Nonviolence as a means and at the same time an end, for the sake of a world safer without weapons.”
Oslo — Norwegian Fredsråd / Norwegian Peace Association / Changemaker
“On the occasion of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, we held a seminar on military spending. It was an evening with several interesting features. The program began with Anne Marte Skaland from ICAN Norway, part of the international campaign to ban nuclear weapons, who spoke about the cost of nuclear weapons. Alexander Harang then launched his report “Arms Race in the South.” The report is the result of collaboration between the Norwegian Peace Association, SLUG, LAG and the Norwegian Council for Africa. Last on the agenda was a debate about Norwegian military spending and purchases of U.S. combat aircraft. The panel was made up of Cecilie Schatvet of the International Commission, Eric Power from Tekna, independent defense analyst John Berg and Parliament Politician for SV Hall Geir H. Langeland. Chair Halvor F. Tretvoll from Dagsavisen wanted answers on whether we actually need fighter aircraft in Norway, and if so whether Lockheed Martin is a sensible partner and not least the consequences of such a purchase. All in all it was a great accomplishment and celebration of this day. Attendance was good, and the audience engaged.”
National — Fundació per la Pau
“As a first action, the 5th April, Fundació per la Pau launched an animated video comparing the figures of the MDG with the military expenditure…
“The 12th, the Day of Action, together with another NGO, we launched a Manifesto that had the support of 15 organizations and 50 personalities of the Catalan and Spanish civil society, peace movement, and cultural world.
“Together with the Manifesto we launched a cyber action to ask people to send a letter to the Spanish president, Mr. Zapatero, to ask him to reduce military expenditure.”
Algeciras, Andalucía — R.A.N.A. (Red Antimilitarista y Noviolenta Andalusian)
Gothenburg — Cattis and Antimilitaristic Network Ofog
“On April 12 we handed out leaflets in central Gothenburg about Sweden’s military spending (43 billion Swedish Kronor, about 43 million Euro), and made this video asking people what they would do with that money instead, answers are about paying back the west/north’s debt to the global south, to put into health care, child care, etc.”
Swedish news clip available here.
Geneva — International Peace Bureau / Swiss-Burmese Association / GSSA
“Here you can see the two famous disarmament symbols in front of the UN: the twisted cannon and the ‘landmines’ chair with its broken leg. What better place for a public statement about disarmament? We [also] made up 160 boxes to symbolize the $1630 billion spent on the military last year – and just 30 to symbolize what is needed to attain the MDGs. All the media and passers-by were very impressed!”
Also see Colin Archer’s interview on Leman Bleu TV, which joins coverage of the Geneva event at around 11 minutes in.
Istanbul — Global Peace and Justice Coalition
“We had a meeting in İstanbul’s Bilgi University with 50 people. Our speakers were the lecturers Murat Belge and Nurhan Yentürk, university student Nisan Ak, and our member Sengul Cifci.
“Murat Belge, talked about his coming book The Military in Germany, Turkey and Japan. He explained why we have such a strong military tradition in Turkey. He said that the military hegemony was not from the military but from whole society. So fighting against it should be civil society’s responsibility. He finished saying that change for military could from below, from people.
“Nurhan Yenturk explained her report on Turkish state military spending. She prepared a report of military and other sectors and compare them. She said that unfortunately our spending is still higher than even the European Union average. She suggested that our military expenditure should be used for poor people, if this happens there will be less poverty in Turkey. Her report in Turkish is available here and here.
“Nisan Ak talked about the military hegemony of Turkey and why students should do something against it. She explain their student association activities for non-violent protests.
“Sengul Cifci, talked about general situation of the world. That each day wars and military spending is growing.”
London — Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
“London CAAT took part in the Global Day of Action on Military Spending with a protest outside the Treasury. Placards contrasted the UK’s military expenditure in 2010 (£38.954bn) with the number of nurses that could fund (1.5 million) or the cuts the Ministry of Defence was facing (8%) compared to the cut of the school buildings budget (67%). A die in took place on the steps of the Treasury
and this gained the attention of a number of passersby. Inventive chants such as Welfare not Warfare, A&E not BAE (Systems, one of the world’s largest arms companies) and Sure Start not War Start also caught the attention of the public.”
London — Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW)
“The Movement for the Abolition of War held a 2 hour public meeting entitled ‘Welfare or Warfare’ featuring five speakers: Husna Ahmed, Faith Regen Foundation; John Hilary, War on Want; Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Vijay Mehta, Uniting for Peace; and Stuart Parkinson, Scientists for Global Responsibility. Check out Stuart’s brilliant PowerPoint Presentation!”
Manchester — Greater Manchester & District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament / Manchester Against Militarism
“GMDCND in collaboration with the newly formed group Manchester Against Militarism held a stall in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester on April 12 , with a focus on cutting Trident versus public service jobs. For two hours in a rather cold and windy city centre, activists from both groups handed out both Trident and GDAMS leaflets to the public. 3 photos were taken of the stall. On Sat. 16th, CND had another stall, this time at the Big Green Festival in Chorlton, South Manchester.”
Yorkshire — Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
“Yorkshire CND held a public meeting in Leeds on the 12th April entitled “The True Cost of War” as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. There was a lively and interesting debate which raised issues such as the psychology of fear that drives military spending, the £76 billion+ cost of the proposed Trident nuclear replacement system in the UK, and the real alternatives and possibilities of decommissioning. One suggestion to highlight the amount of money being invested in the military-industrial complex in the UK was the production of a video highlighting expenditure in real terms and contrasting this with the local public services that are currently being cut.”