Brent Stop the War has held meetings and demonstrations about the cost of war in terms of victims' deaths, infrastructure destruction, environmental disaster and creation of refugees as well as the financial cost to the economy. Last night's meeting was rather different as we heard first-hand from ex-soldiers whose experience of war has made them into peace activists.
Both speakers are members of Veterans for Peace (UK) but made it clear that they were not speaking on behalf of the organisation but as individual members. VfP (UK) are not a pacifist organisation although some members may be. They believe the country has to be defended but object to counter-productive, dehumanising foreign wars.
The first speaker is Julio Torres, a New Yorker who was in the US army for eleven years including a year in Iraq. Ben Griffin, the second speaker and founder of Veterans for Peace (UK) served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was released from the British army after refusing to serve under American command.
Both speakers were open and honest in a meeting which at times became very emotional creating a great bond between the speakers and the audience.