Open Letter to Wrexham Council about Armed Forces Day

North Wales Armed Forces Day is this year being held in Wrexham. We are being asked to 'celebrate' and 'thank' our Armed Forces without any critical analysis of the recent conflicts they have been involved in. The event will be used by the military as a recruitment exercise, and much of this will be aimed at children.

Over 100 people have signed an open letter to Wrexham County Borough Council protesting its promotion, sponsorship and funding of this event and the use of a picture of a toddler in military gear to advertise it. The council has yet to respond.

Open letter to Wrexham County Borough Council

We note that Wrexham Council is sponsoring and promoting North Wales Armed Forces Day 2014 on Saturday 21 June, and are horrified that a picture of a toddler dressed in military uniform is being used to advertise the event.

We question the use of public funds on such an event at any time, but especially when important public services such as rural public transport, leisure centres and community centres in Wrexham are being cut.

We strongly object to the targeting of children by the military. In 2007, members of Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum and many others protested against a military display in Queens square that included a war machine designed to fire multiple rockets and cluster bombs. The local children who were invited by soldiers to play on this war machine were clearly not being told about their less fortunate peers in other countries who have been killed and horribly maimed by its weapons. We appreciated the council's response at that time, which was to refuse the army permission to hold similar events involving war machines on Queens Square and to deny the army its request to lead a parade through town with a tank. It is therefore disappointing to find WCBC now sponsoring, funding and promoting Armed Forces Day as a 'military themed event for the whole family' describing it as 'family fun' and using a young child on its poster.

We would urge families to think long and hard before attending this event. Shamefully, Britain is the only EU country that still recruits children into its armed forces.[1] 'Family' events like this one are used by military recruiters to try to encourage more children aged 16 and 17 to enlist and younger children to join the cadets. The harsh reality of life in the military is very far from the rosy picture painted by Wrexham veteran James Wharton in the promotional video for the day in which he encourages children not yet old enough to vote to sign up.[2] Our long involvement in the futile war in Afghanistan and the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has left millions of civilians killed, injured, traumatised and displaced. The brutal reality of life in the military has also taken its toll on the soldiers sent to take part in this folly. We learned last month that from 2012 to 2013 there was a 57% increase in the number of British veterans of the Afghan war seeking mental health treatment[3] while in 2012 more serving British soldiers and veterans committed suicide than were killed in Afghanistan[4]. Also, the families of four young recruits who died at Deepcut barracks, including Cheryl James of Froncysyllte, are many years later still trying to uncover the truth about their untimely deaths.[5 & 6]

We contend that it is irresponsible and unacceptable for Wrexham Council to be presenting the military and warfare in the context of family entertainment.[7 & 8]

LLYTHYR AGORED AT GYNGOR BWRDEISTREF SIROL WRECSAM

Gwelwn fod Cyngor Wrecsam yn noddi ac yn hyrwyddo Diwrnod Lluoedd Arfog Gogledd Cymru 2014 Ddydd Sadwrn 21 Mehefin, ac yn arswydo fod llun o blentyn bach wedi’i wisgo mewn iwnifform milwrol yn cael ei ddefnyddio i hysbysebu’r digwyddiad.

Rydym yn cwestiynu’r defnydd o gyllid cyhoeddus ar gyfer digwyddiad o’r fath ar unrhyw adeg, ond yn enwedig pan fo gwasanaethau cyhoeddus pwysig megis cludiant cyhoeddus gwledig, canolfannau hamdden a chanolfannau cymunedol yn Wrecsam yn cael eu torri.

Rydym yn gwrthwynebu’n gryf i blant gael eu targedu gan y fyddin. Yn 2007, protestiodd aelodau o Fforwm Heddwch a Chyfiawnder Wrecsam a llawer o bobl eraill yn erbyn arddangosiad milwrol yn Sgwâr y Frenhines oedd yn cynnwys peiriant rhyfel a gynlluniwyd i danio amryfal rocedi a bomiau clwstwr. Yn amlwg, nid oedd y plant lleol a wahoddwyd gan y milwyr i chwarae ar y peiriant rhyfel yma yn cael gwybod am eu cyfoedion llai ffodus mewn gwledydd eraill sydd wedi cael eu lladd a’u clwyfo ofnadwy gan yr arfau hyn. Roeddem yn gwerthfawrogi ymateb y cyngor bryd hynny, sef gwrthod rhoi caniatâd i’r fyddin gynnal digwyddiadau cyffelyb yn ymwneud â pheiriannau rhyfel yn Sgwâr y Frenhines, a gwrthod cais y fyddin i arwain gorymdaith trwy’r dref gyda thanc. Gan hynny mae’n siomedig fod CBSW yn awr yn noddi, ariannu a hyrwyddo Diwrnod Lluoedd Arfog fel ‘digwyddiad â thema filwrol ar gyfer y teulu cyfan’ gan ei ddisgrifio fel ‘hwyl teuluol’ ac yn defnyddio plentyn ifanc ar y poster.

Rydym yn annog teuluoedd i feddwl yn hir a dwys cyn mynychu’r digwyddiad hwn. Mae’n warth mai Prydain yw’r unig wlad yn yr UE sy’n dal i recriwtio plant i’w lluoedd arfog. [1] Mae digwyddiadau 'teuluol' fel hyn yn cael eu defnyddio gan recriwtwyr milwrol er mwyn ceisio annog plant 16 ac 17 oed i ymuno, a phlant iau i ymuno â’r cadetiaid.

Mae realiti llym bywyd yn y fyddin yn wahanol iawn i’r darlun rhosliw a ddarlunir gan y cyn-filwr James Wharton o Wrecsam yn ei fideo hyrwyddol ar gyfer y diwrnod, ble mae’n annog plant nad ydynt eto’n ddigon hen i bleidleisio i ymrestru. [2] Yn sgil ein cysylltiad hir â’r rhyfel ofer yn Affganistan a’r goresgyniad a’r meddiant anghyfreithlon o Irac, mae miliynau o sifiliaid wedi cael eu lladd, eu hanafu, eu trawmateiddio a’u dadleoli. Mae realiti creulon bywyd yn y fyddin hefyd wedi gadael ei ôl ar y milwyr a anfonwyd i gymryd rhan yn yr ynfydrwydd yma. Cawsom wybod y mis diwethaf fod yna gynnydd o 57% yn y nifer o gyn-filwyr Prydeinig yn rhyfel Affganistan sy’n ceisio triniaeth iechyd meddwl o 2012 tan 2013 [3] tra yn 2012 roedd mwy o gyn-filwyr a milwyr Prydeinig ar wasanaeth wedi cyflawni hunanladdiad na’r nifer a gafodd eu lladd yn Affganistan [4]. Hefyd, mae teuluoedd pedwar adfilwr ifanc a fu farw ym maracs Deepcut, gan gynnwys Cheryl James o Froncysyllte, yn dal i geisio datgelu’r gwir am eu marwolaethau cynamserol flynyddoedd yn ddiweddarach.[5 a 6]

Yr ydym yn honni ei bod yn anghyfrifol ac yn annerbyniol i Gyngor Wrecsam fod yn cyflwyno’r fyddin a milwriaeth yng nghyd-destun adloniant teuluol.[7 a 8]

Notes/Nodiadau

1. Forces Watch: What's the problem/issues?
2. YouTube link to promotional video for Armed Forces Day
3. Huffington Post article about Afghan Veterans and mental health
4. BBC Report on suicide rates among serving soldiers and veterans
5. Guardian article about Geoff Gray, a recruit who died at Deepcut barracks
6. Daily Mail article about Cheryl James, a recruit who died at Deepcut Barracks
7. Armed Forces Day event listing
8. Armed Forces Day event listing [2]

SignedArwyddwyd

Karen Marie Andersen
Sue Andrew
Mabon Ap Gwynfor
Lester Bath, Cymdeithas y Cymod / Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales
Nahida Bint Miah
Birkenhead CND
Heather Bolton
Genny Bove, WPJF, WISE Up Action
Brenda Burrell
Rosemary Burslem
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases
Lucy Casson
Dean & Hannah Chadwick
Margaret Clarke
Rev'd. Melia Cope, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Nigel Day, Oxford Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Susan Dowell
Susan Dresner
Patrick Dymond
Angus Eickhoff
Anna Jane Evans, Cymdeithas y Cymod / Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales
Judy Evans
Helen Fernee
Ian Fidler
Liz Folta
Forces Watch
Jane Gilmore
Jill Gough, National Secretary CND Cymru
Michael Green, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Ben Griffin, Iraq War Veteran
Bedwyr Griffiths
Eleri & Robin Gwyndaf
Alyna Harbinson
Jane Harries, Cymdeithas y Cymod / Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales
Sigrid Haynes, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Alison Hill
Robat Idris, Cymdeithas y Cymod and People Against Wylfa B
Dafydd Iwan, past President, Plaid Cymru
Gabrielle Jacobsen
Sophie Jacobsen
Nick Jewitt
Brian & Jan Jones
Sue Jones-Davies
Hugh Jordan
Jess Kendrick
Bruce Kent
Ruth Laing
Celia & Graham Lang, Bro Emlyn for Peace and Justice
Janet Laycock
Oliver Campbell Leith
Beverley Lloyd, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Cheynie Lloyd
Philip Main
Brian Matthews
Jenny Maxwell, Secretary, Hereford Peace Council
Andrew McCoy
David McFarlane, WPJF
Sophie & Simon Meade
Joan Meredith, Trident Ploughshares
Merseyside Peace Network
Merseyside CND
George, Sue & Jessie Miller
Jen Miller, Food Not Bombs Leicester
Vicky Moller, Cilgwyn Community Group
Justin Morahan, Human Rights Activist, Dublin
Elin Llwyd Morgan
Elizabeth Morley
Michelle Murphy
Greg Ogden, WPJF
Cassie Ogden
Catherine Page
Lindis Percy
Bridie Przibram
Angharad Roberts, Cymdeithas y Cymod / Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales
Harry Rogers, Drone Campaign Network Cymru / Rhwydwaith Ymgyrch Dronau Cymru
Alan Rossiter
Steve Ryan
Emma Sangster, Forces Watch
Camilla Saunders, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Donald Saunders, Chair, Conwy County Peace Group
Katie Saxby
Robbie Sinnott, Manning Truthfest
Olga Solabarrieta
Michael & Helen Still, WPJF
Veterans for Peace UK
Rita Walker, Merseyside CND, Merseyside Peace Network
Wallasey CND
Marie Walsh, No to NATO Newport
Lynne Wheeler
Janta & Merav Wheelhouse, Karuna Insight Design
Mary Whelan, WPJF
Carol & Derek Williams, Oswestry Coalition for Peace
Glyn Williams
Gwyn Williams
Heledd Williams
Averil Wood
Efa Wulle
Tony Young, CND Cymru
Angie Zelter, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice

People who have asked to sign the letter since it has been sent to WCBC

Annie Bellinger
Allison Challen
Anne Mary Davies, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Michael Freeman, Treasurer and Membership Secretary, CND Cymru
Janette Harper, Liverpool Pax Christi
Chris Jones, Vice-chair, Conwy County Peace Group
Roberta Korner, Knighton Action for Peace & Justice
Nia Rhosier, Hon. President, Cymdeithas y Cymod (Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales)
Matt Rhys-Roberts, Growing Ruabon initiative
Linda Rogers, Bangor & Ynys Môn Peace & Justice
Phil Steele, Bangor & Ynys Môn Peace & Justice

Source: Indymedia

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