Thursday, 31 January 2008

Saving lives and making a difference

posted by Kathy

Sometimes it doesn't seem possible to make a difference. However, last weekend I read on Craig Murray's blog that Jahongir Sidikov, the young Uzbek dissident who was nearly deported, had been granted asylum by the Home Office. This reversal, which may have saved his life, was probably helped by all the letter-writing and blogging on Jahongir's behalf. Somtimes it is possible to make a difference.

Today the Independent is asking readers to sign a petition on behalf of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a student who has been sentenced to death by the Afghan courts for reading and circulating and internet report in Farsi which suggested argued that the oppression of women was based on a misrepresentation of the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. The death sentence on Sayed Pervez Kambkash, who is 23 years old, was confirmed yesterday by a motion in the Afghan senate.

I don't know any more details than are given here in the Independent. It seems strange from a Quaker perspective to sentence a young man to death just because he tries to provoke a debate. Quakers have a long history of opposing the death penalty. Quakers have also, in the past, suffered for questioning mainstream religious views, political norms and social customs. (They seem to have gone much further than this young man in disrupting and questioning accepted views.) Quakers have a history of dialogue with Muslims, which has been marked by courtesy, if not always by mutual understanding.

You can sign the petition HERE.

Monday, 7 January 2008

The army, children and the glamour of war

posted by kathy

The army is busy recruiting children - marketing the glamour of war to children as young as 7 - according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Certainly children from Beeston Quaker Meeting have been subjected to Ministry of Defence marketing in their primary and secondary schools.

The Ministry of Defence denies that they glamorise war or target children under 16. I disagree.

You can find more pictures of army recruitment activities in Nottingham HERE and HERE. These pictures were taken at half-term in May 2007. The children look younger than 16.

The children of Beeston Meeting were much younger than 16 when army recruiters arrived, unannounced, in their schools. They were expected to listen to recruiters as part of their state education.

Quaker children have, at least, heard alternative points of view.

There's an on-line petition (from school students) opposing military recruitment in schools and colleges. If you wish to sign it, click HERE.

If you are thinking of joining the armed forces - or are in the armed forces - and would like more information based on the Joseph Rowntree report, click HERE for the small, new website called Before you sign up. There are some excellent links which may interest other readers too.