Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Request for support for Global Network

Preparing to head to India for the Space Law conference.  Concerned about the colonization of the planetary bodies for 'profit, exploitation, and militarization'.  I will post reports while on the trip.

Dear Friends,

I write to ask for your support as I prepare to leave on a month-long organizing journey on behalf of the Global Network. This will be my schedule.

  •   Oct 11-14 Visakhapatnam, India
  •   Oct 15-17 Kathmandu, Nepal
  •   Oct 18-23 Moscow, Russia
  •   Oct 24-30 Train to Lugansk People Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border
  •   Nov 1-Nov 13 Simferopol & Yalta, Crimea

India:  Our board member Aruna Kammila is a professor at the Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University in Visakhapatnam and has organized an International Space Law Conference on the theme "Explore but don't exploit." We will focus on building an international consciousness and support to demand that United Nations space law treaties (Moon & Outer Space Treaties) be respected and followed rather than ignored by creating the mad rush to privatize space on behalf of the aerospace industry and the rich. 

Just like the US withdrawal from other treaties in recent years (ABM, Iran Nuclear Deal, and INF) there is growing concern that Washington’s number one agenda for space is to turn it toward privatized domination and exploitation.  We’ve had enough of that. Aruna’s hard work to organize this conference will allow for deep learning. GN board members Lindis Percy (UK) and Subrata Ghoshroy (Boston) will also be there.

Nepal:  I’ve been invited to return to Kathmandu where I will meet with GN chapter leaders and speak at several colleges across the city about our work.  During our previous visit to Nepal in 2016 (see the reports from that India-Nepal trip here) a group of local college professors asked if they could create a chapter of the Global Network in Kathmandu.  We of course said yes. Since then, delegates from Nepal tried to attend our annual conferences in Alabama and England but their Visa applications were rejected.  Thankfully this past spring they were allowed to join us in Moscow during our Russia study tour. Their persistence inspires us all.

Moscow:  Here I will meet with a number of political activists, including our newest board member, Leonid Ilderkin from Ukraine who now lives as a political refugee in Russia. Among the topics of discussion will be their perspectives on the 2014 US-orchestrated coup d’état in Ukraine which put into power many fascists backed by Nazi death squads primarily from western Ukraine. Few westerners know that tens of thousands of people in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, were killed and arrested by the new regime in Kiev, the capitol of Ukraine. More than one million other Ukrainians escaped to Russia because of the constant shelling of the Donbass (the part of Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine near the Russian border).  The US-NATO have been key players in arming, training and directing these attacks in the Donbass.  A good article for background information on these events is here.

Lugansk & Donetsk: Leonid will take me via overnight train to Lugansk in the Donbass at the invitation of a labor leader there.  A few months ago this gentle labor man, whom I met at a conference in Moscow one year ago, asked me to create an Online petition calling on the US & Canada to stop arms sales/grants to Ukraine.  He was so grateful for the support that he invited me to visit, and is planning to have me speak at a conference in nearby Donetsk. We will spend several days meeting with people there who are trying to get the world to understand their current struggle for survival as they are daily under attack by the Ukrainian Army and the Nazi death squads that still operate with impunity.

The west claims that Russia invaded Ukraine, but there is no evidence of that.  Following the 2014 coup, and the indiscriminate killing of citizens in the Donbass by the Ukrainian government, a self-defense force was created in the region – primarily in the region of Lugansk and Donetsk.  Coal miners, musicians, teachers, electricians, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers joined the self-defense forces to protect their communities and families.

The Pentagon established a base in western Ukraine and rotates in US Army Special Forces troops from Ft. Carson, Colorado who are sent to train the Ukrainian Army.  The Ukrainian fascist “godfather” was Stephan Bandera who donned a Nazi uniform during Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union during WW II and helped Hitler kill Jews, Communists, Poles and more.  Today the Ukrainian Nazi death squads have been brought into the newly formed ‘National Guard’ and are being trained at this US-run base.  See a video of Obama’s ambassador visiting the base in early 2016 here.

Crimea: Last spring during our Russia Study Tour we visited Crimea where local citizens reported on their successful 2014 citizen referendum to re-join Russia rather than wait for Ukraine to bring its violent repression to their peninsula. We were able to participate in the May Day parade in Simferopol which celebrated working people around the world.  That same day local leaders hosted a conference and invited all our 24 tour members to attend.  They spoke to us and asked us to speak to them in return.  Four from our group expressed that we were ordinary people who had come in the spirit of peace.  We told them we worry about war, about US-NATO expansion now encircling Russia and China, and wish to build peaceful bridges among our peoples.  They received us with deep respect and generosity.

I was asked by one of the leaders of the Black Sea Association for International Cooperation in Simferopol to bring some US veterans back to Crimea for further conferences in early November.  So Simferopol will be my last stop on this month-long journey. 

Needless to say this trip is costing the Global Network some funds.  Only a small part of my expenses will be reimbursed by my hosts.  Most of the places I will be visiting are living in hard circumstances.  It is my hope that you can make a special donation to the Global Network’s travel fund to help with this trip.

Some years ago the GN board asked me to work harder to build better relationships with peaceful people and groups in Russia and Eastern Europe.  It has not been easy, but since 2016 we’ve made major steps forward in that direction.  Clearly it takes traveling and establishing personal relationships to make that happen.  It also costs money.

This trip will offer a profound privilege and opportunity to the GN to deepen our solidarity with friends in India, Nepal, Russia and eastern Ukraine.  We need each other now more than ever.

I wish you the best as we approach the fall season and the end of the year festivities.  Always let’s keep in mind our earnest work to bring a loving spirit to this beautiful Mother Earth that we all have the good fortune to live on.

In peace,

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator

PS  You can donate by sending a tax-deductible check to the GN at PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011 or by going to our web site www.space4peace.org and clicking on the secure Green Donate Now button.  Thank you very much.  

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