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Quakers mark Iraq anniversary

 In February 2003, Quakers joined more than a million people in demonstrating against UK government plans to go to war with Iraq. Quakers said that the war would be dangerous, immoral and unaccountable, and proposed alternative ways of approaching the problem. Five years on, over a million people are dead and some four million have been displaced from their homes. The war continues and violence has failed to bring peace. Now, as then, Quakers' experience is that violence generates the conditions for further violence. Kat Barton of Quaker Peace & Social Witness said: "The experience of Iraq has demonstrated that using war as a method of improving security is ineffective and causes extreme suffering. We feel strengthened in our commitment to work for peace." Quakers will mark the anniversary with renewed determination to seek a peaceful end to the conflict. On 19 March - the eve of the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war - Quakers will join the 'Christian Peace Witness for Iraq' initiative in remembering the suffering of the Iraqi people, in praying for forgiveness and healing and in committing to action for peace and justice for the people of Iraq and neighbouring countries. "Our peace testimony underpins all our work," said Kat Barton. "It leads Quakers to work together at the local, national and international levels to transform the structures and cultures that lead to violence. For example, we work in regions of conflict such as Northern Uganda where we work to reintegrate child soldiers back into their communities; and we work locally to stop violence in schools, and we campaign nationally for disarmament." For more information see: www.quaker.org.uk