2014 – St. David's Day Parade and on!
Côr Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Reds Choir) sings almost every Saturday for a variety of causes. We also participate in all sorts of events involving community organisations, trade unions, and other sorts of campaigning.

One community event is the annual Saint David's Day parade, sponsored by Cardiff Council. The choir has participated for many years in this long, celebratory parade of all sorts of groups, toe celebate Wales in all its diversity. Below are a couple of pictures, with some of the newest members, from 1st March 2014.

On the 1st of March, Côr Cochion was proud to march in the annual St. David's Day Parade.
Protest Against Attack on Gaza, 26 July

It was a beautiful sight.

The largest protest march Cardiff has seen since the historic Miners Strike filled the streets with cries of "Stop the Killing in Gaza! Peace with Justice! End the Occupation!"

Welsh and Palestinian flags flew as 3500 people, according to police liaison estimates, joined together in a magnificent display of solidarity with the bereaved Gazans, who have suffered 1000 deaths and many thousand made homeless in the recent Israeli bombardments.

Earlier in the day I had two emails from Palestine. Dr Mona el Farra is head of the Childrens Hospital in Gaza, which was built from the donations of people from Cardiff and the Valleys. She wrote,

"The $600 which you sent last week, collected in Cardiff, bought lifesaving drugs for our hospital. But what is more important is the fact that the people of Wales share our grief. Every time someone gives a penny, it sends the message that we are not alone."

Although a few violent racist thugs threw beer and chairs at the march, nothing can take away from the overwhelming generous support for the beleaguered people of Gaza. £850 was collected as a bucket was passed as the march passed through Cardiff.

An email from a Palestinian friend declared that, "whatever the military occupation does to oppress us- the houses destroyed, the land taken, the lives lost, we will never give up our fight for freedom, no matter how long it takes."

Ray Davies
Vice Chair CND Cymru

The above show the big March for Gaza on the 26th of July, supported by Côr Cochion and many other groups.
No to Nato Campaign, August-September

As the day of the NATO summit drew near, the Household Cavalry, air force, police and special branch descended on Newport. It was to be a fun family day, with displays of NATO’s murderous weapons and machinery of death, a food fair with a NATO theme, and Red Devils fly by. But Côr Cochion, CND Cymru, Palestine Solidarity and the Stop NATO/No NatoNewport campaigns were there, calling for the money spent on endless wars, to be invested instead in our Health service, schools, and jobs.

We got off the bus near the Westgate Hotel, and noticed the huge police presence. Having lost each other in the market, our posters and badges caught the watchful eye of two police constables. They enquired whether we were going to the protest, what our plans were, and asked for ID. They followed us into the cafe where we met up with the choir.

We learned that the Welsh government and Newport Council were preparing to fete the warmongers with a ceremonial presentation of a NATO flag to the city, ironically on the very spot where the army had shot the Newport Chartists in 1831. The platform for the dignitaries in Westgate Street was readied; and so we took our place on it, holding a large CND banner and placards declaring-”No to NATO- Conflict Resolution, not MIlitarism’.

With the top brass and town worthies gathering around, Ray took over the podium, and declared that we were here to protest against the NATO war machine. We were moved to one side of the podium as the massed Household cavalry band passed by in full regalia, and we countered their military music with our peace songs- ‘Lay down your sword and shield’, “No to Nato in Wales”, cheered on by many in the crowd.

The military band passed by, and we followed them across to the Riverfront where the dignitaries were having a reception. There we were met by the grotesque sight of children being lifted on to army tanks and looking through machine gun sights. “If we don’t stop NATO wars, these kids will be the next war’s cannon fodder”, we said . We stood beside the tank with our posters, attached a peace sticker to its front, and continued to sing our songs of peace while the band played a bizarre mixture of Abba songs and marches. The police threatened to move us, but we stood our ground.

Inside the Riverside, we were met with a warm response from many people- including musicians who had refused to perform for NATO’s arms fair.

Across the main road, an enormous 100 foot long banner covered the building site hoardings, with slogans- “NATO has thousands of nuclear weapons that must never be used..” And that was the message that got through loud and clear today.

Ray Davies , Vice Chair CND Cymru
Wendy Lewis, Côr Cochion

No to NATO – Handing of Messages

Marie sent along this description of the NotoNATO campaign. “This is John Cox’s account of the handing of messages on the Thursday (first day of the summit),” she said:

Hi Marie,

Your N O 2 N A T O banners looked great and appeared on the BBC coverage of today’s events. I retrieved all 7 umbrellas afterwards so let me know if/when you want them back.

Due to obstruction by some young militants (I don’t know their precise political persuasion as their shouted slogans were crudely abusive but uninformative), our deputation had some difficulty getting though the barrier to hand in the letters - in fact I had to go back specially to rescue Jane (who was trapped outside) so that she could deliver the Long March messages. I have never seen Jane look so pleased to see me!

Inside the barrier was a mixture of farce, tragedy and uplift.

Way in the distance was a line of police and two uncomfortable-looking stuffed shirts who, on our arrival, introduced themselves as from the Home Office and the Foreign Office. Neither would give us his name although stuffed shirt number 2 did unbend to say “Call me Dave”. We all individually handed over the letters we were carrying - although Merel raised the stakes somewhat by conducting a “citizen’s arrest” on the stuffed shirts for their complicity in mass murder. Their faces were a delight to see.

I extracted a promise from stuffed shirt 2 that every letter would receive a personal reply (we shall see) and I will be very pleased to be told if this actually happens.

The uplifting part was that Katy, against a backdrop of the Celtic Manor and the police line, declaimed a poem she had written and, despite no press cameras having been allowed and us having been told “no filming”, Merel filmed the entire poem reading. I do hope this goes live (and viral) as it really was great.

We then returned through the noisy barrier where I failed and others were more successful in informing the marchers of what had transpired. I left as soon as possible afterwards to ensure I am well rested in time for the ‘Sharp End’ ITV programme tomorrow where I am the lone anti-NATO speaker in a panel of 4 commenting on such pro-NATO luminaries as Paul Flynn and other pro-NATO pundits who are to be interviewed separately.

Thanks again,

John

Choir demonstrating at the NATO conference in September. Note in the bottom picture the children in the background are being invited into the tanks.