Peace Almanac November

November

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November 1. On this day in 1961 the Women Strike for Peace demonstration in the United States was the largest women’s peace action to date. “We came into existence on November 1, 1961,” said a member, “as a protest against atmospheric nuclear tests by the U.S. and the Soviet Union which were poisoning the air and our children’s food.” That year, 100,000 women from 60 cities came out of kitchens and jobs to demand: END THE ARMS RACE – NOT THE HUMAN RACE, and WSP was born. The group encouraged disarmament by educating on the dangers of radiation and nuclear testing. Its members lobbied Congress, protested the nuclear testing site in Las Vegas, and took part in the UN Disarmament Conferences in Geneva. Despite 20 women from the group being subpoenaed in the 1960s by the House Un-American Activities Committee, they contributed to the passage of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. Their protest against the Vietnam War led 1,200 women from 14 NATO countries to join them at the Hague in a demonstration against the creation of a Multilateral Nuclear Fleet. They also began meeting with Vietnamese women to organize communication between POWs and their families. They protested U.S. intervention in Central America, as well as the militarization of space, and opposed new weapon plans. The Nuclear Freeze campaign of the 1980s was backed by the WPS, and they contacted the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands and Belgium, urging them to refuse all U.S. missile bases and included a description of President Regan’s “Defense Guidance Plan,” an outline for fighting, surviving, and supposedly winning a nuclear war.

November 2. On this day in 1982 a nuclear freeze referendum in eight U.S. states won the support of 25 percent of U.S. voters.

November 3. On this day in 1950 the UN Uniting for Peace Resolution was passed by the UN General Assembly at Flushing Meadows, NY.

November 4. On this day in 1946 UNESCO was established. Also on this day in 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected U.S. president after secretly and treasonously using George H.W. Bush and William Casey to persuade Iran not to release U.S. hostages while Jimmy Carter was still president.

November 5. On this day in 1855 Eugene V. Debs was born. Also on this day in 1968 Richard Nixon was elected U.S. president after secretly and treasonously sending Anna Chennault to sabotage Vietnam peace talks, campaigning on a nonexistent secret plan for peace, and actually planning to continue the war, as he did once elected. This is a good day to think about who our real leaders are.

November 6. This is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The United Nations General Assembly, in creating this day in 2001, attempted to focus the world’s attention on the crucial need for protection of the environment we all share from the devastation of war. Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War and war preparations damage the environment through the production and testing of nuclear weapons, the aerial and naval bombardment of terrain, the dispersal and persistence of land mines and buried ordnance, the use and storage of military despoliants, toxins, and waste, and enormous consumption of fossil fuels. Yet major environmental treaties have included exemptions for militarism. War and preparations for war are a major direct cause of environmental damage. They are also a pit into which trillions of dollars that could be used to prevent environmental damage are dumped. As the environmental crisis worsens, thinking of war as a tool with which to address it, treating refugees as military enemies, threatens us with the ultimate vicious cycle. Declaring that climate change causes war misses the reality that human beings cause war, and that unless we learn to address crises nonviolently we will only make them worse. A major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas. In fact, the launching of wars by wealthy nations in poor ones does not correlate with human rights violations or lack of democracy or threats of terrorism, but does strongly correlate with the presence of oil.

November 7. On this day in 1949, Costa Rica’s Constitution prohibited a national army. Costa Rica, now using entirely renewable energy, is home to the Inter-American Human Rights Court and the UN University of Peace. Following independence from Mexico under Spanish rule, Costa Rica declared its independence from the Central American Federation it shared with Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Following a brief civil war, the decision was made to abolish its army, and invest instead in its people. As an agricultural nation known for its coffee and cacao, Costa Rica is also known for its beauty, culture, music, stable infrastructure, technology, and eco-tourism. The country’s environmental policy encourages the use of solar energy, eliminating carbon from the atmosphere, and preserving up to 25 percent of its land as national parks. The United Nations University of Peace was established “to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.” In 1987, Costa Rican President Oscar Sanchez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his help in ending the civil war in Nicaragua. Costa Rica has accepted many refugees, while encouraging stability throughout Central America. By providing its citizens with free education, universal healthcare and social services, Costa Rica enjoys an impressive human longevity rate. In 2017, National Geographic also declared it the “Happiest Country in the World!”

November 8. On this day in 1897, Dorothy Day was born. As a writer, activist, and pacifist, Day is best known for initiating the Catholic Worker Movement, and promoting social justice. She left college in Illinois to move to Greenwich Village in 1916 where she lived a bohemian life, made many literary friends, and wrote for socialist and progressive newspapers. In 1917, she joined Alice Paul and the Women’s Suffrage movement as one of the “Silent Sentinels” lobbying the White House. This led to one of several arrests and imprisonments endured by Day, but also to the women’s right to vote. Her reputation as a “radical” continued after her conversion to Catholicism as Day pushed the church to support objectors to the draft and to the war. Her guidance challenged Catholic principles, which led to the church’s support for pacifists and the needy, specifically workers suffering low wages, and rampant homelessness. When she met Peter Maurin, a former Christian Brother, in 1932, they established a newspaper promoting Catholic teachings aligned with social justice. These writings led to the “Green Revolution” and to the church’s help in providing housing for the poor. Two hundred communities were finally established across the United States, and 28 in other countries. Day lived in one of these hospitality homes while encouraging support by writing books about her life and purpose. The Catholic Worker Movement protested WWII, and Day was arrested in 1973 for demonstrating against the war in Vietnam while supporting the United Farm Workers in California. Her life inspired many, including the Vatican. Day has been considered a candidate for canonization since 2000.

November 9. On this day in 1989 the Berlin Wall began to be demolished, symbolizing the ending of the Cold War. This is a good day to remember how fast change can come and how available peace is. In 1961, the wall splitting the city of Berlin was built to deter Western “fascists,” and to control mass defections by millions of young laborers and professionals from communist East Germany. Telephone and railroad lines were cut, and people were separated from their jobs, their families, and their loved ones. The wall became symbolic of the Cold War between Western Allies and the Soviet Union following WWII. As 5,000 people managed to escape the wall, there were as many failed attempts. The wall was rebuilt over ten years, and reinforced with a series of walls up to 15 ft. tall, intense lighting, electric fences, armed guards in watch towers, attack dogs, and minefields. East German guards were ordered to shoot on sight anyone protesting the wall, or attempting to escape. The Soviet Union suffered economic decline, revolutions in countries such as Poland and Hungary gained ground, and peaceful efforts to end the Cold War progressed. The growing civil unrest both in and surrounding Germany led to attempts to dismantle the wall from the west side. East German leader, Erich Honecker, finally resigned, and official Gunter Schabowski then accidentally announced “permanent relocations” from East Germany were possible. Stunned East Germans approached the wall as the guards stood by, confused as the rest. Thousands then flocked to the wall, celebrating their freedom and reconciliation. Many began chipping away at the wall with hammers, chisels, . . . and hope for no more walls.

November 10. On this day in 1936 the world’s first peace corps International Voluntary Service for Peace (IVSP) arrived in Bombay led by Pierre Cérésole.

November 11. This is Armistice Day. At 11:00 on this 11th day of the 11th month World War I ended in 1918 — a scheduled end to the war, with the killing and dying pointlessly continuing right up to that moment. This is a good day to ring bells and work for peace.

November 12. On this day in 1921 was “that inspired moment” at the Washington Naval Conference when Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes offered to scrap US battleships. Also on this 1984 the United Nations passed the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace.

November 13. On this day in 1891 the International Peace Bureau was founded in Rome by Fredrik Bajer. Also on this day in 1956 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation of buses in Montgomery and throughout Alabama was unconstitutional. Also on this day in 1974 U.S. anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood was killed.

November 14. On this day in 1944 Marie-Marthe Dortel-Claudot proposed the idea of Pax Christi.

November 15. On this day in 1920 the first permanent parliament of the world, the League of Nations Assembly met in Geneva.

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November 16. On this date in 1989, six priests and two other people were murdered by the Salvadoran military. The civil war in El Salvador, 1980-1992, killed more than 75,000 people, leaving 8,000 missing and a million displaced. A United Nations Truth Commission established in 1992 found that 95 percent of the human rights abuses recorded during the conflict were committed by the Salvadoran military against civilians living primarily in rural communities who were suspected of supporting leftist guerrillas. On the 16th of November 1989, Salvadoran Army soldiers killed Jesuits Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes, Amando López, Juan Ramón Moreno, and Joaquín López, as well as Elba Ramos and her teenage daughter Celina at their residence on the campus of Jose Simeon Canas Central American University in San Salvador. Elements of the notorious elite Atlacatl Battalion raided the campus with orders to kill its rector, Ignacio Ellacuría, and to leave no witnesses behind. The Jesuits were suspected of collaborating with rebel forces and had endorsed a negotiated end to the civil conflict with the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, (FMLN). The murders attracted international attention to the Jesuits’ efforts and increased international pressure for a cease-fire. This was one of the key turning points that led toward a negotiated settlement to the war. A peace agreement ended the war in 1992, but the presumed masterminds of the assassinations have never been brought to justice. Five of the six Jesuits slain were Spanish citizens. Spanish prosecutors have long sought the extradition from El Salvador of the key members of the military high command implicated in the deaths.

November 17. On this day in 1989 the Velvet Revolution, the peaceful liberation of Czechoslovakia, began with a student march. Czechoslovakia was claimed by the Soviets following WWII. By 1948, Marxist-Leninist policies were mandatory in all schools, the media had been strictly censored, and businesses were controlled by the Communist government. Any opposition was met with fierce police brutality against both protestors and their families until free speech was silenced. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies eased the political climate somewhat in the mid-1980s leading students to plan a memorial march supposedly in honor of a student who had died 50 years earlier in a march against Nazi occupation. Czechoslovakian activist, author, and playwright Vaclav Havel had also organized a Civic Forum to take back the country through a “Velvet Revolution” of peaceful protest. Havel utilized underground coordination through connections with playwrights and musicians resulting in a widespread group of activists. As the students set out on November 17th, they once again were met by brutal beatings from police. The Civic Forum then continued the march, calling on citizens along the way to back students in the fight for civil rights and free speech prohibited under Communist rule. The number of marchers grew from 200,000 to 500,000, and continued until there were too many for the police to contain. On November 27th, workers across the country went on strike, joining the marchers in calling for an end to the severe Communist suppression. This peaceful march led the entire communist regime to resign by December. Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1990, the first democratic election since 1946.

November 18. On this day in 1935 the first international sanctions against war went into effect against the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

November 19. On this day in 1915 Joe Hill was executed, but never died. Joe Hill was an organizer of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical union known as the Wobblies which lobbied against the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and its support of capitalism. Hill was also a talented cartoonist and prolific songwriter who encouraged weak and weary workers from all industries, including women and immigrants, to join together as one. He also composed many of the songs used during IWW protests including “The Preacher and the Slave,” and “There is Power in a Union.” Resistance to the IWW was harsh throughout the conservative west in the early 1900s, and its socialist members were considered enemies by the police and politicians. When a grocery store owner was killed during a robbery in Salt Lake City, Joe Hill had visited a nearby hospital on the same night with a gunshot wound. When Hill refused to disclose how he had been shot, the police charged him with the murder of the shop owner. It was later learned that Hill had been shot by a man who was courting the same woman as Hill. Despite the lack of evidence, and the rallying support of the IWW, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death. In a telegram to IWW founder Big Bill Hayward, Hill wrote: “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize!” These words became the union motto. Alfred Hayes wrote the poem “Joe Hill,” which was set to music in 1936 by Earl Robinson. The words “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night” still inspire workers.

November 20. On this day in 1815 the Peace Treaty of Paris ended the Napoleonic Wars. The work for this treaty began five months after Napoleon I’s first abdication and Napoleon Bonaparte’s second abdication in 1814. In February, 1815, Napoleon escaped from his exile on the island of Elba. He entered Paris on March 20th and began the Hundred Days of his restored rule. Four days after his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was persuaded to abdicate again, on June 22nd. King Louis XVIII, who had fled the country when Napoleon arrived in Paris, took the throne for a second time on July 8. The peace settlement was the most comprehensive one that Europe had ever seen. It had more punitive terms than the treaty of the previous year which had been negotiated by Maurice de Talleyrand. France was ordered to pay 700 million francs in indemnities. France’s borders were reduced to their 1790 status. In addition, France was to pay money to cover the cost of providing defensive fortifications to be built by the neighboring seven Coalition countries. Under the terms of the peace treaty, parts of France were to be occupied by up to 150,000 soldiers for five years, with France covering the cost; however, the Coalition occupation was only deemed necessary for three years. In addition to the definitive peace treaty between France and Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, there were four additional conventions and the act confirming the neutrality of Switzerland signed on the same day.

November 21. On this day in 1990 the Cold War ended with the Paris Charter of a New Europe between the U.S., USSR, Europe, and Canada.

November 22. On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was murdered. This is a good day on which to study what happened and perform a related play.

November 23.

It was on November 23, 1936, that Carl von Ossietzky, the well-known German journalist and pacifist, received the Nobel Peace Prize retroactively for the year 1935.

November 24. On this day in 1961 the UN prohibited nuclear weapons.

November 25. This date is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Also on this date in 1910, Andrew Carnegie established the Endowment for International Peace. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993. It defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” One-third of the women and girls in the world have experienced physical, sexual, or psychological violence in their lives. A major source of this violence is war, in which rape is sometimes a weapon, and in which the vast majority of victims are civilians including women and children. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a network of policy research centers. It was established in 1910 with the mission of abolishing war, after which it is to determine the second worst thing humanity does and work to eliminate that as well. In early decades of its existence, the Endowment focused on criminalizing war, building international friendship, and advancing disarmament. It worked, as required by its creator, toward the ultimate goal of complete abolition. But as Western culture has normalized war, the Endowment has prematurely moved on to working on all sorts of good causes, to the virtual elimination, not of war, but of its single original mission of antiwar advocacy.

November 26. On this day in 1830 Dr. Mary Walker was born.

November 27. On this day in 1945 CARE was founded to feed hungry survivors of World War II.

November 28. On this day in 1950 the Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic Development in South and South-East Asia was established.

November 29. This is International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

November 30. On this day in 1999, a wide coalition of activists nonviolently shut down the WTO meetings in Seattle, Washington. This is a good day for coalition building.

The fourth Thursday in November is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, violating the separation of church and state in order to retell genocide as benevolence.

 

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