The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award was this year awarded to Godric Bader and the Scott Bader Commonwealth, for the alternative business model created by him and his family. The establishment of the Scott Bader Commonwealth provides an alternative economic model of trustee-in-common, with a structure that has an emphasis on cooperation, equitable wealth distribution, charity giving, protection of natural resources and an opposition to taking part in re-armament. Thank you to all who attended on 30th October 2014.
William (Bill) Peters, co founder of Jubilee 2000 and joint recipient of the Gandhi Foundation Peace Award in 2000
It is with sadness that the Gandhi Foundation has heard of the death of Bill Peters recently. He received the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award in 2000 along with Martin Dent, co-founder of Jubilee 2000. He received the Cross of St Michael and St George (awarded for non military service in a foreign country) and the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (awarded for service to the Queen and is a personal award by her). He was a former diplomat who devoted his life to public service and was the co-founder of the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign.
Bill Peters who died peacefully in the early hours of Saturday March 29th was born at Morpeth, Northumberland, on September 28th 1923. The son of a cabinet maker and a light opera singer, he followed a distinguished career in the Foreign Office with a very active retirement devoted to public service. The highlight of his career after retirement was his co-founding, with Martin Dent of Keele University, of the hugely influential Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt coalition, which went on to become the Make Poverty History movement with Jubilee 2000 itself then becoming the Jubilee Debt campaign.
Bill proved himself a formidable scholar in his time at King Edward IV Grammar School and secured a place at Oxford to study Greats at the age of 17, but as with so many young men at the time, his studies were interrupted by World War II. At this time of uncertainty, he married his first wife, Catherine Bailey, known as Kit, in 1944 before deployment to Burma where he saw active service with the 9th Ghurkha rifles. His time with his regiment, which on his arrival in Burma turned out to include a number of Tibetans, made a deep impression on Bill and saw the beginning of a lifelong association both with the Ghurkhas and with the Tibet Foundation, to which he was passionately committed for the rest of his life, meeting with the Dalai Lama several times on the latter’s visits to London.
After the war, Bill returned to the UK to take up his place at Balliol College Oxford, completing his studies in 1948, and going on to do an M.Lit. at the LSE and languages at SOAS. Bill then joined the Colonial Service with a posting in 1950 to what was then the Gold Coast where he worked to prepare for the transition to independence and was asked by the head of state for the new Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, to remain in an advisory capacity. After some thought, Bill decided his career must continue to lie with the Diplomatic service and the Foreign Office and went on to postings in Cyprus, Bangladesh, Australia, India, Zambia and Malawi as well as other appointments further detailed in Who’s Who. During his time in Ghana, Bill was invited to speak to local school children and gave a speech stressing that they could achieve anything they set out to do. In the audience was a young Kofi Annan, who went on to become Secretary General of the United Nations. When they met many years later, Annan told Bill that he still remembered Bill’s inspiring speech.
In 1977, Bill was offered the post of British Ambassador to Uruguay, an exciting role but a dangerous posting, as a recent former incumbent had been kidnapped and held to ransom for several months. After some deliberation, Bill accepted and his time in Uruguay passed without serious incident. Notably Bill made a point of asking to visit political prisoners, a request which was surprisingly granted. During a prison visit Bill met a concert pianist desperate to practice in the hope of eventual release and was subsequently allowed to deliver a silent keyboard to enable him to do so. Afterwards, Bill was informed that his life might be in danger as a result of his actions and took the step of making it clear to anyone who might be interested that he carried a pistol with him at all times.
Bill went on to work as High Commissioner in Malawi before retiring from the Foreign Office in 1983. On retirement, Bill and Kit moved to Deal in Kent. There they took an active part in community life, with Bill spending 18 years as a Governor of Walmer school as well as twice becoming president of the local Rotary Club and being an active member of the Royal British Legion as well as numerous national organisations and charities including U.S.P.G., the Churches Refugee Network and the Tibet Foundation.
A few years after retirement Bill met Martin Dent of Keele University and realised that Martin shared Bill’s long-held concern at what they both considered to be unsustainable levels of third world debt. This shared concern crystallised into a campaign, which Bill and Martin co-founded, to write off third-world debt in time for the Millennium. They called the campaign Jubilee 2000 in reference to the Old Testament Jubilee requirement to cancel debts every seven years. Bill’s diplomatic skills were invaluable in launching Jubilee 2000 and helping steer it through early hurdles as it gathered momentum. It was supported by the Anglican Church, with Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, addressing a rally in Trafalgar Square with Bill and Martin and making Jubilee 2000 the subject of his New Year’s Day Millennium address on BBC 1. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, also spoke at a rally in St Paul’s Cathedral, strongly supporting the campaign and confirming the cancellation of debts to the UK.
During this time, Bill’s wife Kit, who was several years older than Bill, passed away in 1998 after a brief illness. Bill continued to play an active role in the Drop the Debt campaign in the lead up to the Millennium, seeing it grow into a series of large- scale demonstrations and twice enter the Guinness book of records, once for the largest petition and once for the most international petition. The campaign launched major demonstrations at every G8 summit from 1998 in Birmingham to Cologne and Genoa with a few people even travelling to Okinawa in Japan, where Bill was able to speak with the Japanese Prime Minister.
Bill received the Gandhi International Peace Award from the Gandhi Foundation in recognition of his efforts and of the success of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which ‘made possible the provision of basic education and health-care to thousands of people.’
In his later years, Bill retained his keen interest in politics and continued to be an active supporter of the now Jubilee Debt Campaign and of other charities. In 2004 he married his second wife, Gillian Casebourne, whom he met through his charity work. Bill is survived by Gill and her two daughters, as well as by his nieces and nephews.
William Peters, born September 28 1923, died March 29 2014
The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award for 2013 was awarded to Jeremy Corbyn, MP Islington North on 26th November 2013 at Portcullis House.
Thank you to all who attended
You can read Jeremy Corbyn’s speech by clicking here
You can also view photographs of the event by scrolling down the right hand column of our homepage to reach the Photo Gallery
The Trustees of The Gandhi Foundation agreed to offer him our International Peace Award in recognition of his consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence. Besides being a popular and hard‐working constituency MP he has made time to speak and write extensively in support of human rights at home and world‐wide. His committed opposition to neocolonial wars and to nuclear weapons has repeatedly shown the lack of truth in the arguments of those who have opposed him.
Sadly Father Alec Reid, who received The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award in 2008 along with Rev. Harold Good, died on 22nd November 2013 aged 82 years. His role in the disarmament process in Northern Ireland, the victory of non-violence over violence, and the bringing together of the Catholic and Protestant communities with Rev. Harold Good were significant milestones on the road to peace. You can read an account of the 2008 award and speeches by clicking:
The Daily Telegraph obituary can be read here:
The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2012
has been awarded to
The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group
For their humanitarian work in very difficult circumstances and for bringing people together through that work for the betterment of all.
In a letter to Philip Hardaker, Peace Award Committee Convenor Omar Hayat wrote that, “The Trustees felt that the Eye Hospital has been guided by one of the highest forms of humanitarian ideals, that of bringing medical care to an impoverished and politically unstable area.”
After acknowledging the cost of preventable blindness to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and the poverty-relieving nature of the work that they do, Omar Hayat continued, “The charity in performing this work has engaged all communities in that area and in doing so, we believe, is helping to find common ground between the different people of that region.”
The Joint Teaching Programmes with the Hadassah and Shaare Zedek Medical Centres in Israeli West Jerusalem have not only permitted the local Palestinian Residents to benefit from outstanding educational opportunities, but have brought them into direct and intimate contact with their Israeli neighbours for over ten years now.
In response to news of the award, Mr Hardaker said, “We have always hoped that – in some small way – this project was helping to facilitate trust and understanding. The Hospital Group is both delighted and humbled to have been awarded this symbolic honour.”
“India in Chronic Famine, Funded From London”
By John Rowley
The Gandhi International Peace Award was established by Lord Richard Attenborough, Surur Hoda, Diana Schumacher and Martin Polden in 1998 “to honour unsung heroes and heroines for their advocacy and practise of Non-Violence”. The Gandhi Foundation’s Vice-President, Lord Bhikhu Parekh presented the much delayed 2011 Award jointly to Dr Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam, the cultural activist, ‘for their humanitarian work’ amongst the tribal peoples of India, the Adivasis, on 12th June in The House of Lords.
Dr Binayak Sen is a highly respected expert on children’s health and has become a very effective human rights campaigner. He was made an Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience in 2007 and is still on bail despite being released twice by the Indian Supreme Court. He is currently under charge for Sedition. One reason for his oppression by the Chhattisgarh State is his criticism of their health care system. In his speech, he argued from his Government’s own statistics that India has been, and remains, in a state of chronic famine and that the hardest hit are, yet again, the impoverished and the dispossessed. He showed how the Indian Government has enacted increasingly draconian laws designed to eliminate dissent and implemented them through the Courts, the police and the Army. He said that all of this is being done in collusion with multi-national corporations under the banner of neo-liberal capitalism and so they are jointly responsible for both the famine and the widespread abuses of human rights. Dr Felix Padel told us that global mining strategy and much of the funding for its implementation is decided in the City of London and that, therefore, the Coalition must demand the same transparency in the mining and construction industries as they are now demanding of the banks. Bulu Imam, joint Recipient of the Award, said that only a ‘New Consciousness’ would allow humankind to survive. This meant greater understanding and insight into what is really happening around us, learning from peoples like the Adivasis, who are directly in touch with the elements of life, and for us to behave less selfishly and more for the benefit of others.
Dr Sen’s speech was entitled “Hunger, Dispossession and the Legitimacy of Dissent”. He produced figures from The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau whose latest survey show that between 45% to 47% of children under 5, 37% of the whole adult population and an astonishing 60% of Minorities and Scheduled Castes are malnourished by weight-for-age criteria, that is, Body Mass Index. The World Health Organisation declares a famine when more than 40% of a nation’s peoples have a BMI less than 18.5.
The Adivasis, with whom he has worked for 30 years, have been able to survive the famine only because their traditions dictate that all have equal access to their common property – land, water, shelter and crops. Since Rajiv Gandhi opened India to foreign investment, the State has increasingly “acted as the Guarantor to the expropriation of common property resources, handing them over to corporate interests under the doctrine of Eminent Domain, through which the State is the ultimate owner of all the resources in the country”. And so, for decades, the vast resources of minerals, from bauxite to coal, under Adivasi land – never paid for at anything like the true ‘capitalist market rate’ – has been mined at an increasing rate, their valleys dammed for power, factories built and top flight transport systems to serve them. PM Manmohan Singh is celebrated as a key figure in India’s spectacular economic development but he and his Government brook no opposition. He called the Naxalite insurgency in the so-called Red Corridor [from Jharkand to Andra Pradesh] ‘the greatest threat to India’s security’ and in 2009 launched Operation Greenhunt deploying a huge array of the armed service to target the so-called Naxalites – actually The Communist Party of India [Maoist]. As usual, this is having its most devastating impact on the people caught in between – the Adivasis.
As more and more mines, factories, dams and roads are built on their land, 70 million Adivasis and many other Minorities have been purposively starved, dispossessed, impoverished, physically violated with impunity, falsely imprisoned and barred from fair judicial process or suffered all six. Dr Sen pointed out that, quite obviously, resistance had to be organised if they were to survive these onslaughts. “But they and others right across India are now faced with a panoply of laws, old and new, that severely restrict free speech and any form of protest. However peaceful and non-violent these protests are, they are branded as ‘sedition’, ‘rebelliousness’ or ‘insurgency’. Too often protests are met with violence by police, army and corporate goondas. There are thousands of people in jail right now, just like me, who have been convicted under false charges. I am one of the very few lucky ones. I have been granted bail twice by The Supreme Court who stated ‘that no evidence had been produced by the Chhattisgarh Government’, but I still await a final judgement.”
How can peace be achieved when both sides resort to violence? Dr Felix Padel suggested that India needs its own model of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The UK Coalition and The City would have to appear. The Foreign Office and the Departments for Business and International Development all share a current duty of care to show us the effects of their actions with our money and also to demand that all corporate communications and financial transactions in the UK are made transparent. For here in The City, Dr Padel pointed out, is: “The global centre for coordinating corporate investment in mining and now hosts the vast majority of the corporate headquarters, their Banks and their financiers. It is imperative that we can all see the link between decisions made here and the actual impact they have on real people and environments. There should be an Independent Commission into the Mining Industry, stronger even than the Vickers Commission on Banking, as equivalent scandals wait to be revealed there too”.
Dr Padel said that there is colossal ignorance here in the UK about what many call India’s Civil or Hidden War. Too often this can be labelled ‘wilful ignorance’, that is, not knowing what you should know. One professor in statistics at the prestigious Indian Institute of Statistics in Kolkata estimated that the professionals involved in designing, building and managing an Aluminium factory or dam were aware of only 2% of the effects their projects have on local communities and ecosystems. But there is what could be called ‘purposeful ignorance’ – hiding facts intentionally, not telling the Whole Truth, lying by omission. There has also been a noticeable lack of press coverage in the UK of the War and its causes. This has ensured that few people have any understanding of the violence and corruption which we, as a people, are indirectly causing – ‘innocent ignorance’? “Many, including Arundhati Roy, have unpicked and exposed the links between the elites of corporate elites, politicians, armed services, bankers, big philanthropists and media owners and are not surprised at our collective ignorance. She and many others contradicting the image of India as a model of democracy and economic success have been vilified, spied upon, attacked and falsely accused. ”
Joint Recipient Bulu Imam called for “A New Consciousness”. We need Satyagrahas for the 21st Century, in other words, Citizens who take responsibility for understanding their society, act solely for the welfare of others and who are prepared to offer their lives in the pursuit of justice. He said that “industrial civilization is an aberrant civilization. It has strayed from the path of Nature. It has made war, brutality and profit a path without compassion or hope. It heralds planetary catastrophe from causing global warming. India with its older order of ancient spiritual values, non-violence toward man and nature, tolerance and psychological fulfillment still stands ready, even now, to show the way. The culture of the Adivasis, developed centuries before we arrived, offers us that very model. From them we can all learn, we can each learn how to become non-violent within, towards each other and to the planet. All of us here must act now to stop all these self-centred forces destroying these fragile and exemplary communities and their priceless eco-systems. Once you see the links between your life and theirs, you will understand that their struggle is our struggle and you will foresee that only profound mutual aid between all the planet’s communities can save some of us from the apocalypse rushing towards us.”
An hour’s lively debate ensued. From the 90 distinguished guests packed into Committee Room 4a, the Panel could respond to only a few of the comments and questions clamouring to be heard. Those chosen were Martin Horwood MP [LibDem & Chair, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Tribal Peoples], Bianca Jagger, Aruna Roy, Professors John Gilbert and Narinder Kapur, C B Patel, Colin Bex, Antony Copley, Martin Polden and Jennifer Wallace. Whilst all admired our two Recipients, there was little consensus on the way forward. The Gandhi Foundation would like to facilitate discussion and so will shortly publish here on our website, an edited transcription of the key points raised.
The question now facing The Gandhi Foundation is “What are we going to do about this?”
If you are still unconvinced that Non-violent Direct Action against the violence being perpetrated by the Indian Government is required urgently, read Cathy Scott-Clark’s article about Kashmir. She heads it with a quote “We Need Protection” [www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/09/mass-graves-of-kashmir]. She reveals the atrocities – extra-judicial murder, torture and other illegal human rights abuses – that the Indian Army has committed in Kashmir. We now know that they behave no differently under “Operation Greenhunt”.
If you would like to see one example of how The Gandhi Foundation can be effective, albeit indirectly and in a very small way, then read Decca Aitkenhead’s article on Clive Stafford Smith which she also heads with a quote: “The jury system in this country is utter insanity” [www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/jul/08/clive-stafford-smith-jury-system-insanity]. You will notice that Clive has included “The Gandhi International Peace Award 2005” as the only other point worth mentioning in his CV.
Finally, why don’t you compare the laws against Terrorism and other forms of Dissent in India with our own?
John Rowley is a Trustee of The Gandhi Foundation and Project Manager for The Gandhi International Peace Award 2011.
To view Bulu Imam’s speech: The Need For A New Consciousness by Bulu Imam
To view Dr Binayak Sen’s speech: Click Here
This year the Gandhi Foundation’s Annual Lecture and Peace Award took place on the 3rd November in the House of Lords, in a session chaired by Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Vice President of The Gandhi Foundation. Lord Parekh welcomed the guests and introduced Omar Hayat, a Trustee of The Gandhi Foundation who then explained why the Parents Circle Family Forum (PCFF) had been chosen as recipients of the 2010 International Peace Award. Omar described how when researching the PCFF after they had been nominated he began to feel both hope and sorrow: hope in that such initiatives were taking place, and sorrow that there is need for such an organisation.
The PCFF is a grassroots organization of bereaved Palestinians and Israelis, families who have lost loved ones to violence in the conflict. It promotes reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge. Each year they arrange hundreds of dialogue encounters between Israelis and Palestinians, to promote mutual understanding.
In 2009 the Peace Award had been received by the Children’s Legal Centre (CLC) in recognition of their work representing young and vulnerable children worldwide. In that ceremony Denis Halliday had presented the award to Professor Carolyn Regan, the Director of the CLC. Professor Regan gave an outline of some of the work that the CLC does: providing individual legal advice, telephone helplines and upholding children’s rights in many countries across the world, including some of the poorest. Then Professor Carolyn presented this year’s award jointly to Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad, who are Public Relations officer and Programme manager of PCFF respectively.
Both Robi and Ali each gave a short acceptance speech. Robi mentioned that she had a family connection to Gandhi in that one of her relatives was Hermann Kallenbach who gave Gandhi the land for the ashram known as Tolstoy Farm in South Africa and was one of Gandhi’s closest friends. Robi said that for her joining the PCFF was a way of making a difference by understanding the shared pain that Israelis and Palestinians both experience, and that she chooses to prevent other families from experiencing this pain.
Ali talked about some of his history as a prisoner of the Israelis, and reading about Gandhi on hunger strike. He said that the next generation will be the evidence for our movement today. Ali said he hoped that our vision will be shared and joined in a structure of making peace in the Middle East and everywhere.
Following on from the Peace Award, the Annual Lecture took the form of a panel discussion, looking at the Middle East conflict from the point of view of non-violence. The members of the panel were: Robi Damelin, Israeli representative from the PCFF; Ali Abu Awwad, Palestinian representative from the PCFF; Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, and Patron of the Gandhi Foundation; Huw Irranca-Davies, MP and Patron of the PCFF. Lord Parekh asked the members of the panel to each speak for a few minutes before the session would be opened to speakers from the floor.
Robi started by stating that the long-term goal of the PCFF was to create a framework for a reconciliation process to be in place for when political agreements are signed. She outlined various initiatives that the PCFF is currently engaged in, including lobbying of politicians.
Ali posed the question – what could lead to freedom as a nation. His answer was that there were two ways: one to work on themselves, to create this structure, the other is reconciliation. To leave the occupation and the memories of the occupation behind. Ali expressed his belief that they would one day be free. Perhaps not in his lifetime, but it would happen.
Denis Halliday started by saying he was concerned firstly by the violations of human rights in respect of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem, on the West Bank, and in Gaza. His second concern is with the people of Israel itself: while Israel persists in aggressive military occupation, sets aside the human rights of the Palestinians, and until she shows respect for her neighbours and all of her own people and understands the importance of living together in dignity without humiliation then the future of Israeli wellbeing is in doubt.
Denis cast doubt on the role of the United States as a broker of peace in the region, and called for the other nations of the region such as Turkey and Egypt to become more involved in finding solutions to the conflict. He referred to the US and Israel as rogue states. Having mentioned that the United States channels billions of dollars annually to Israel, which is mostly used for military purposes, Denis called for a massive injection of cash to help the Palestinians. He also said he wanted to encourage the Palestinians and the Israelis to imbue in their children love and understanding for peace.
Huw Irranca-Davies spoke next, referring to himself as a hopeless naïve. Huw said he had first come across the PCFF in Palestine when he was visiting there with the Labour Friends of Israel and the Labour Middle East Council. In the back room of a bar they listened to stories where individuals were faced with tragedy and bereavement but chose not to hurtle towards anger but to go in the other direction, and indeed to encourage others to go along with them. Huw said he is a Patron of the PCFF because there is something transformative about the idea that summer camps, telephone lines between the different sides, and working in schools can make a difference.
Lord Parekh then invited contributions from the floor. The first speaker expressed the view that peace and security are two sides of the same coin: there can be no peace without security and there can be no security without peace. The second said that he felt that ‘the Irish gentleman’ (Denis Halliday) made a diatribe against Israel and that it was unhelpful in the situation, and it made it difficult to move forward.
Following the next two speakers from the floor, Robi spoke and said that they all had made statements, not questions. She asked that if you care about the Israelis and the Palestinians, then help us to find a way to reconcile, do not create another conflict by making people be on the defensive – it doesn’t help. Robi said that she would appreciate questions that have to do with the human side, not politics.
Ali appealed for people not to be part of the problem, but to be part of the solution. He also said that the Palestinians cannot live like they do forever – something has to change.
There were some further contributions from the floor, commented upon by the panellists, before Lord Parekh summed up by referring back to the conflicts that Gandhi was concerned with: between Muslims and Hindus; the British rulers and the Indian people; the orthodox Hindus and the untouchables. Gandhi did not face anything quite like the current conflict in the Middle East, but the principles by which he lived are relevant today.
- Executive committee member of The Gandhi Foundation
If you would like to read the introduction to The Gandhi Foundation Award by Omar Hayat and why the Parents Circle Family Forum was chosen please click on the Link below:
If you would like to read the presentation speech by Professor Carolyn Regan, Director of the Children’s Legal Centre – last years peace award recipient, please click on the link below: