As many of you already know, every year at noon on the 15th of May we come together in Tavistock Square at the Conscientious Objectors’ Stone to remember all those who established and maintain the right to refuse to kill. The hour-long ceremony will consist of some short speeches, songs written and lead by Sue Gilmurray, a minutes’ silence and the laying of flowers.
We are incredibly excited to announce our speakers for this year. Vietnam War draft resister Nick Jeffery and the marvellous actor Mark Rylance will both contribute to the ceremony. Nick will be relating his own experiences resisting the draft to Vietnam, while Mark will be performing two pieces; first of all, from a specially commissioned play about Siegfried Sassoon, which will include two poetry readings. He will also be re-enacting the court statement from Roger Baldwin, a Vietnam CO, who later went on to perform the Civil Liberties Union.
Mark felt it was important to use his prominence to commemorate and celebrate conscientious objectors, past and present, because:
‘I believe that no society should force any of its citizens into a state of bad conscience. Surely conscience is the most precious and necessary characteristic of any citizen in a healthy democracy. To force a citizen into a state of bad conscience is to breed illness and corruption in society.’
|Mark Rylance gave his ‘Statement of Conscience’ earlier this year|
The non-religious ceremony takes about one hour. Bring your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. There will be a picnic afterwards so please bring along your nibbles and blankets.
Emma Thompson – Hollywood actress and human rights activist – joins the Conscience campaign
We are delighted to announce that Emma Thompson has chosen to join the Conscience campaign! The BAFTA, Emmy, Golden Globe and Oscar award-winning actress, activist, children’s author, comedienne, and screenwriter is undoubtedly multi-talented, and we feel very lucky to have her on board.
Emma has a long history of activism and campaigning, particularly in human rights. As well as her support for Conscience, she is an ambassador for Action Aid, chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and a patron of the Refugee Council and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. She is also a passionate environmentalist, working with both Greenpeace and the Galapagos Conservation Trust.
Emma, we look forward to working with you!
This snap election has come as a surprise to the entire country. But we are very pleased to see Conscience supporters on the ticket. Before being voted to the front benches, both John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were some of our biggest supporters in the House of Commons.
Jeremy has proposed to create a Ministry for Peace and Development and has already appointed Fabian Hamilton as Minister within his shadow cabinet. He has described his approach to foreign policy as being lead by peace, justice and human rights.
We would never presume to tell you how to vote; it’s simply not our place to do so. However, we will urge you to register to vote (you have until the 22nd of May to do so, and all you need is your National Insurance number) and use your vote as your conscience guides you to.
Our mailing address is:
conscience: taxes for peace not war
London, NW11 7AD