Between 1923-24, over 390,000 Welsh women signed a petition to the women of America asking them to influence the country in becoming a key part of the League of Nations – and to play its part in achieving a world without war. Later, in 1926, over 2,000 women from North Wales marched to demonstrate their opposition to the atrocities of the First World War as part of the Women’s Peace Pilgrimage to London’s Hyde Park.
These extraordinary acts of peace came to light through the work of Wales for Peace, a Heritage Lottery funded project that is part of the Welsh Centre on International Affairs. Now, a group of Gwynedd women – Ifanwy Williams from Porthmadog, Iona Price from Tanygrisiau, Anna Jane from Caernarfon and Awel Irene from Llanfrothen – have come together to form Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu, a 7 year long campaign with its main aim to continue the efforts of the women who worked hard in the name of peace. They have already created a brand new Peace Petition and gathered 1,000 signatures from all over Wales. The campaign will be officially launched at the beginning of March in the village of Croesor, alongside the opening of the celebrated ‘Women War & Peace’ exhibition.
Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu organiser, Iona Price says: “My initial reaction to hearing about this amazing petition was that of shock and disbelief that I had never heard about it before – that is the reaction of most people. So a group of us have come together to make sure that we will never forget the voices of these women and that the plea for peace and a world without war would never be silenced.”
On the evening before the launch, Wednesday, the 7th of March at 7.30pm, ‘Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu’ will be hosting a presentation by international photojournalist Lee Karen Stow, who will be discussing her experience of travelling the world photographing women who have been affected by war and their efforts for peace.
On the 8th of March, Lee Karen Stow will run a workshop for young people in the area. At 2.30p, ‘Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu’ will be officially launched. In the evening, the women will be gathering at CellB, Blaenau Ffestiniog where an open discussion is held to celebrate International Women’s Day, as well as a screening of the film, ‘Dolores’ – everybody welcome!
7th March, 7.30 pm, Caffi Croesor Gallery – Presentation by the photographer, Lee Karen Stow
8th March, 2.30pm, Caffi Croesor Gallery – Official Launch of ‘Heddwch Nain-Mam-gu’
8th March, 6pm, CellB, Blaenau Ffestiniog – An open discussion about Women’s International Day by Shan Jamil Ashton before showing the film ‘Dolores’.
Ysgol Maesydderwen in Ystradgynlais – working with the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) towards becoming one of Wales’ first ‘Peace Schools’, as a legacy of the WW1 centenary from 2014-18 – are hosting the ‘Belief and Action’ exhibition from May 14-31st 2018 – open to the local community between 4-5pm on school days. The Swansea Valley was one of the UK’s ‘hotspots’ of opposition to WW1 a century ago – and WCIA’s exhibition, supported by Cymru’n Cofio / Wales Remembers 1914-18, draws on this ‘Peace Heritage’ to explore questions around how people stood up for what they believed to be right, and how this remains relevant today.
Putting in the Footwork! Setting up ‘Belief and Action’ in Ystradgynlais
International Conscientious Objectors Day is marked on 15 May each year in remembrance of men and women who have refused to fight on grounds of conscience: for religious or political beliefs, or as a point of principle. From WW1 and WW2 to conflicts of today such as Iraq and Syria, objectors have often been imprisoned or shamed for taking a stand against their government, and often by wider society. Nearly 900 men were sentenced for opposing military conscription in Wales during the First World War – marked on a slate memorial stone in Wales’ National Garden of Peace at the Temple of Peace, Cardiff.
On learning that objectors were sometimes posted ‘white feathers’ as a symbol of cowardice, Maesydderwen students commented: “If you’re told you’ve got to go to war… When the government, and a lot of society are bullying you to go to war; to refuse to fight is perhapsthe most courageous thing you could do.”
The students discussed parallel issues of conflict in the world today, from the war in Syria, to suspected Russian cyberwarfare, to the importance of being critical about media balance and propaganda on social media. “Everyone should have their own opinion – and the choice to make their own decisions as to what is right and wrong.
‘Objection then and now’ is a new Learning Resource for Key Stages 3 and 4, developed by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Wales for Peace’ programme, which supports critical thinking and questioning around issues of conflict, resistance and expressing views. Although cross-curricular, it is likely to be of particular interest to teachers delivering History, Geography, Religious Studies, Politics and Global Citizenship; and contains a range of ideas for student projects that may suit the Welsh Baccalaureate, as well as GCSE coursework.
WCIA would like to pay a special thanks to Learning Volunteer, Jeffrey Mansfield, for his work in researching and drafting the ‘Objection Then & Now’.
Screenshot from WCIA’s Wales Peace Map
Pearce Register of Conscientious Objectors (NB – select fullscreen version)
The Conscientious Objectors Memorial Stone in Tavistock Square, London
Credit: Peace Pledge Union
Becoming a Peace School?
Ysgol Maesydderwen are working towards becoming one of Wales’ first Peace Schools. They recently participated in a major project around Jewish WW2 refugee and world famous artist Josef Herman, who fled Poland in 1938 and was welcomed and settled in Ystradgynlais. Teacher Melissa Davies highlighted the enthusiasm their students have shown for projects on ethical citizenship, and offering sanctuary to refugees with a particular focus on those fleeing the Syria conflict today. To find out more about the Peace Schools scheme, contact WCIA / Jane Harries on 029 2022 8549 or email Walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk.
Visiting the ‘Belief and Action’ Exhibition in Ystradgynlais
Visitors can view the ‘Belief and Action’ exhibition between 5-6pm on school days in Ysgol Maesydderwen, Ystradgynlais until 31st May; following which it will be displayed at Bridgend Quakers Meeting House from mid-June.
Visit the Flickr Gallery of Maesydderwen’s ‘Belief and Action’ Exhibition
June has seen the launch of WCIA’s final ‘Wales for Peace Exhibition Tour, in the Ucheldre Centre Holyhead from 6th June – 8th July 2018.
The Heritage Lottery Funded exhibition draws together work over the last 4 years by communities, schools and youth groups, to uncover Wales ‘peace heritage’ – exploring the question “how, in the 100 years since WW1, have the people of Wales contributed to the search for peace?”
Seven themes look at ‘actions for peace’ through the generations, and their relevance to issues world today, drawing on stories of ‘inspiring internationalists’ and how each sought to build a better world. Using the colours of the 1960s Peace Flag to guide the exhibition design and themes, has produced a very colourful display with a rich tapestry of volunteer generated stories on display, including digital touchscreen and a book of blogs.
WCIA are particularly delighted to have worked with Ysgol David Hughes in Menai Bridge, to display artistic responses from the recent ‘Young Peacemakers Awards’ – from which students have produced a fantastic booklet sharing the inspiration behind their works.
Several local organisations from Anglesey and Gwynedd are also celebrated in the exhibition for their contribution towards Welsh internationalism, including campaigning group UNA Menai (United Nations Association), Wales Lesotho Link Dolen Cymru, Gwerin y Coed / the Woodcraft Folk, and Cymdeithas y Cymod / the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Wales-wide Exhibition Tour
Following display in Holyhead, the exhibition will move on to
Swansea in September,
Merthyr Tydfil in October, and
Cardiff’s Temple of Peace through Nov-Dec 2018
Storiel in Bangor in March 2019.
Aberystwyth in May 2019
Smaller ‘community pop-up exhibitions’ are also being shown in:
Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre, Conwy / Denbighshire (March-May 2018)
Llangollen International Eisteddfod, July 2018
Machynlleth, Owain Glyndwr Centre, August 2018.
The Wales for Peace Exhibition in Ucheldre Arts Centre, Holyhead
Over the week of 2nd-8th July, Wales for Peace have been participating in the Llangollen International Eisteddfod – with a small ‘pop-up exhibition’ complementing the work of the Llangollen Archives Committee to capture the ‘Peace Heritage’ of this incredible festival of peace and reconciliation, borne out of the ashes of World War 2, that is now celebrating its 71st year.
WCIA’s contribution to Llangollen’s exhibition has focused on exploring the heritage of the Llangollen Youth Peace and Goodwill message, working with the Archives Committee and local partners. We are tremendously honoured to have been invited to present Wales’ Peace Heritage story, as the ‘Day Presidents Address’ for the 4th July.
WCIA would like to express our sincere gratitude to our ‘Peace Associates’ Awel Irene and Sarah Baylis for leading our work with the Llangollen local partners, and to Eisteddfod Chair Terry Waite CBE for their support for this ongoing peace heritage work.
Exploring Llangollen’s Stories Past
View 4 videos about Llangollen’s Peace and Goodwill Message (curated by Sarah Baylis and Awel Irene, edited by Llinos Griffin, Gwefus).
Sharing Llangollen’s Peace Heritage Today
The Archives Tent at the International Eisteddfod hosted an impressive exhibition drawing stories from across the decades from the start of the International Eisteddfod in 1947, to today – along with a Wales for Peace touch screen and pop-up exhibition.
100 years ago this week, at the Neath National Eisteddfod in August 1918, a soldier – returned from the trenches of WW1 – took to the stage to propose the creation of a ‘Welsh League of Nations Union’. David Davies of Llandinam, horrified by what he had witnessed in war, called for all at that Eisteddfod to pledge to the pursuit of peace – 3 months ahead of the Armistice that would end WW1 on 11.11.1918.
100 years later, as the crowds descend on Cardiff, Peace campaigners repeat this call from the Peace Tent at the 2018 National Eisteddfod – with a programme of events marking the week.
Neath Eisteddfod 100
Cardiff Peace Trail
Wales’ National Garden of Peace
Annual Peace Lecture
Peace Tent and Hiroshima Day event
Welsh Refugee Coalition Tent Programme
The Neath Eisteddfod of 1918 – a Call for Peace
“At the National Eisteddfod in Neath in August 1918, David Davies first suggested the formation of the Welsh League of Nations Union, saying that Wales had an important role to play in the campaign for world peace. As the Union was formed in 1918 it had 3,217 members, but by 1922 this had grown dramatically to over 200,000. In 1920, Davies donated £30,000 to set up an endowment fund to establish a Welsh National Council of the League of Nations Union. By 1922 it had 280 local branches, and by 1926 the number had grown to 652.”
The Welsh League of Nations Union borne out of the 1918 Neath Eisteddfod, grew to play an instrumental role in shaping national life in the 1920s and 30s, and much of the ‘psyche’ of Wales as we know it to today. Women, children, teachers, religious leaders, workers, artists, academics and philanthropists led the world in grassroots peace building initiatives.
Launch of City of Cardiff Peace Trail – Tuesday 7th, 2.45 / 3.30pm, Societies 3 (Senedd Building)
In 2013, a Temple75 Peace Trail was trialled around Cardiff as part of WCIA’s 75th Anniversary of the Temple of Peace. Between 2016-18, Cymdeithas y Cymod with funding from Annibynwyr (the Union of Welsh Independent Churches) have been working with journalist Jon Gower and ex-Eisteddfod President Dr. R Alun Evans to develop a new ‘City of Cardiff Peace Trail’ which will be launched at the Eisteddfod:
2.45 – Launch of Taith Heddwch Caerdydd / Cardiff Peace Trail. Join Jon Gower and R Alun Evans for the launch of the Cardiff Peace Journey booklet. A trip will follow at 15:30. (NB Please allow 15 minutes for passage through security) . A Cymdeithas y Cymod Session
3.30 – Cardiff Peace Tour. Join Jon Gower and R Alun Evans on a tour by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales, ending at Wales’ National Garden of Peace.
National Garden of Peace: #Garden30 and #Temple80
Wales National Garden of Peace was first dedicated on 23rd November 1988, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Temple of Peace. A time capsule was buried by 8-year old Cardiff school pupil Richard Mears with 93 year old Irene Chamberlain, one of the women representing WW1 war mothers who were asked to open the Temple of Peace. To date, over 40 memorials have been dedicated to peace movements and individuals.
For the launch of the Cardiff Peace Trail, WCIA’s Wales for Peace volunteers have produced a new leaflet offering a guide to these memorials, including stories of just some of the inspiring people commemorated in this national monument in the heart of Cardiff.
In November 2018, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs will be holding a month long programme of events to mark the 80th anniversary of the Temple of Peace – to include a 30th anniversary rededication of the Peace Garden with International Youth Service volunteers and peace groups on Sunday 25th November. WCIA’s #Temple80 programme will be available from early September at www.wcia.org.uk and www.WalesforPeace.org
Lifelong peace activist Jane Harries MBE, WCIA’s Wales for Peace Learning Coordinator, will be presenting the 2018 Quakers in Wales Annual Eisteddfod Lecture: “Our third lecture will be given by Jane Harries, on aspects of the legacy of peace and peace-making in Wales, as commemoration of World War I comes to a close.” Quakers
The Peace Tent (stalls 415-6), adjacent to the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay, will be open through Eisteddfod week supported by volunteers from Cymdeithas y Cymod and CND Cymru, with a week-long programme of events.
On Monday, a gathering was held at the Eisteddfod to mark Hiroshima Day – the 73rd anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing 297,684 people who are remembered worldwide. Jill Evans MEP spoke at this year’s Cardiff Eisteddfod Hiroshima Day event in support of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in particular supporting CND Cymru’s call for the UK to sign up to the UN Nuclear Prohibition Treaty.
Last year, in December 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – ICAN – were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their decades of work campaigning for the UN treaty. CND Cymru have been campaigning for nuclear disarmament since the 1960s.
Throughout the week, CND Cymru will be promoting and gathering signatures on the ‘Peace Train Petition’, to be taken from all over Wales to London on World Peace Day, September 21st 2018 calling for the UK Government to sign up to the UN Nuclear Prohibition Treaty.
Cymdeithas y Cymod will also be promoting and gathering signatures for the Heddwch Nain Mamgu petition, inspired by the 1920s Women’s Peace petition to America, calling for greater international cooperation towards peace through the United Nations.
WCIA (the Welsh Centre for International Affairs) are partners in the Welsh Refugee Coalition, whose stall (117-118) in Cardiff Bay will be supporting visitors to understand how we can all support refugees fleeing war as part of Wales’ commitment to becoming a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’.
Marking UN World Peace Day on Friday 21st September 2018, Wales’ Temple of Peace are delighted to host the Wales Peace History Conference 2018 – a gathering over two days of leading academics, students and peace activists exploring in depth understanding of Wales’ peace heritage.
The programme, organised by poet and Professor Mererid Hopwood of University of Wales Trinity St. David, will bring together people from all corners will come together to learn more about the peace-makers of Wales and the world.
The event will include sessions on conscientious objectors, the contribution of women to peace-making in the 20th century, the testimony of poets and writers and public art.
A number of eminent academics from Universities across Wales will also host sessions during the two-day event in Cardiff.
Organising Professor Mererid Hopwood said: “It’s a privilege to be able to welcome this conference to Wales. Alongside a range of interesting lectures, conference-goers will be able to enjoy an artistic programme that includes literature, music and the visual arts.”
The conference – which is being sponsored by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol – forms part of an annual series which has in the past been held in other cities, including Manchester, Leeds and London but this is the first time for Wales to host it.
The event will also offer a preview of event plans for the 80th Anniversary of Wales’ Temple of Peace, to be marked through November 2018.
In WW1, Wales took in over 4,500 Belgian Refugees fleeing the front in Flanders. 100 years later, WCIA Peace Programme Manager Craig Owen shared this story with researchers in Brussels at the ‘Belgian Refugees Symposium’ – but with a particular focus on exploring successive waves of sanctuary from WW1 to today, leading up to Wales’ current campaign to become the world’s first ‘Nation of Sanctuary’.
The symposium in Brussels followed on from a Belgian Refugees Symposium held in Cardiff in November 2017. The Brussels symposium brought together perspectives from across the whole UK, as well as Belgium itself; and laid the foundations for consolidation of the knowledge gathered, and for future research.
WCIA recently worked with the Global Learning Programme to develop a series of resources for schools teaching refugees and sanctuary, which should be available from Hwb in Autumn 2018.