PBI-Canada endorses #NoWar2020: Divest, Disarm, Demilitarize gathering in Ottawa

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Murray Thomson, who helped to found Peace Brigades International in 1981, was a regular presence at protests against CANSEC, including the one above in May 2018. He passed away in May 2019 at 96 years of age.

Peace Brigades International-Canada has endorsed the #NoWar2020: Divest, Disarm, Demilitarize gathering that will take place in Ottawa on May 26-31, 2020. The event supports “conversion for a peaceful, green & just future.”

The #NoWar2020 website also highlights, “An international coalition of individuals and organizations will be converging on Ottawa to say No to CANSEC, Canada’s biggest annual weapons expo.”

The CANSEC website notes that in 2019 it brought together 306 “defence & security exhibitors” and 55 international delegations.

CANSEC has been held annually in Ottawa since 1998. Prior to that, it was known as ARMX. Matthew Behrens recalls that in 1989 more than 3,000 people rallied against ARMX and over 200 people were arrested for blockading the entrance to the fair. ARMX was scheduled to take place again in 1991, but that didn’t happen until 1993.

The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) has noted, “When ARMX returned in 1993—under the clever PR guise of a ‘Peacekeeping’ exhibition – Marion Dewar was active on COAT’s steering committee and hosted PEACEX, our three-hour program of speeches, music and poetry, which included information tables from 60 organizations.”

Minutes from a January 24, 1993 PBI-Canada National Coordinating Council meeting state: “Alan Dixon reported that a weapons trade show under the title ‘Peacekeeping ‘93’ is being planned for March 16-17th in Ottawa. Dis-ARMX will be held March 16, 5-9 pm. Alan proposed PBI have a booth. He’ll do the groundwork. Toronto Office will supply materials for display, pamphlets, T-shirts to sell, etc.”

The #NoWar2020 conference will focus on a range of key issues including: “weapons divestment & disarmament, war tax resistance, the negative impacts of war/militarism (e.g. erosion of civil liberties and human rights, militarization of the police, the environmental footprint of militarism, and much more), curbing military spending, and the reallocation of military funds to human and environmental needs.”

Keynote speakers will include Medea Benjamin from CODEPINK and Tamara Lorincz, a co-founder of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network.

In terms of “war tax resistance”, Murray was also a founder of the Peacefund Canada Foundation, a campaign that was aimed at allowing conscientious objectors to have their tax payments spent only for non-military purposes.

It is also important to remember that the arms trade undermines the full realization of human rights in numerous ways.

Arms are used to repress social protests and deny human rights, they infringe on the right to be free from disappearance, arbitrary arrest and torture, they represent a massive redirection away from spending on human rights (including the right to housing and the right to clean drinking water), and the military’s carbon emissions worsen climate change that violates the human right to a healthy environment.

Along with PBI-Canada, #NoWar2020 has been endorsed by groups including Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, the Ottawa Quakers Peace & Social Concerns committee, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Winnipeg Quakers, and Rights Action.

For more on the gathering, please click here.

To support the work of PBI-Canada with a donation, please click here.

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