Report of BWD activities
The main aim of the BWD is to make people aware that as taxpayers they co-operate and participate in the upkeep of the Netherlands army and therefore in the ongoing arms production and arms trade and the military violence all over the world.
The amount of Netherlands citizens who are conscientiously objecting and take a personal stand - in whatever way - against militarism, seems to decrease steadily. This decrease is not so strange, as the active stand against militarism seems to have little or no effect. Moreover, the army is doing its best - not without success - to gain the image of peacekeepers. The fact that the so called peacekeeping operations so far have been without much success and surely do not contribute to a situation in which people are done justice, does not seem to lead to one's conclusion that the road of militarism is a dead end street. It rather leads to question those who oppose militarism what they intend to do to stop the violence in a conflict area. This question even causes a division in the peace movement between those who think the use of violence is acceptable, sometimes even necessary, and those who keep rejecting the use of violence. We advise to leave this question as it is and to focus our energy on the realisation of the civil peace teams, and the ideas developed within the National Council of Peace Organisations (LBVO). This new aim, that will take years of intensive labour of many, offers a hopeful perspective for the peace movement.
Viewing the field of the peace movement - with its many small and bigger organisations - one can conclude that every year sees a multitude of campaigns, the result of which is mostly disappointing, even with the supporting members.
Our movement did not escape this trend in the last years. Despite all efforts to prepare them well and to give much publicity, campaigns had a very low response. Still there is a necessity for new campaigns, "as every pin-prick is one that shall in the end be felt". It was decided to concentrate our limited energy on two campaigns: the V-biljet (Peace Tax Form) and the new campaign "Een GoudGulden Vrede" (A GoldGulden Peace).
From the start the V-biljet campaign has been a yearly event, just like the yearly repetitive tax forms. We continued the campaign in 1995, but, due to a low response in last years, we only distributed the Peace Tax Forms to our own members. We asked other peace magazines to write about the campaign.
The V-biljet provides the taxpayer an easy and little time consuming way to point out to the tax collector one's objections to the assignment of the tax money to the army. It is frustrating to see so few using this possibility.
'Een GoudGulden Vrede'
On war tax resisting day 1993 the BWD offered the mint-master of the Royal Mint a design for a peace coin. The mint-master, being quite enthusiastic about Trix van Vugt's design, forwarded it to the Minister of Finance, who - unsurprisingly - was not prepared to consider to have the coin as an official means of payment. Finally, in 1995 the BWD decided to have 1000 peace coins, called 'GoudGulden Vrede' made by the Mint. A new campaign was developed and presented to our members in March. We only received positive replies. The GoudGulden Vrede Campaign offers participants three opportunities:
1. To write letters to the ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs to pressure them to financially support the formation of civil peace teams.
2. To contribute financially to the work of civil peace teams by either donate 9 guilders (or a multitude of it) to the Peace Fund or to buy the peace coin (9 guilders each, of which half is a donation to the civil peace teams).
3. To refuse to pay 9% of your taxes and direct them to the Peace Fund.
The GoldGulden Peace Campaign was launched by selling the peace coin at a civil peace teams conference of the National Council of Peace Organisations (LBVO) on November 11. The results are encouraging. All peace magazines presented the coin in an article. Halfway 1996 the first 1000 coins had been sold and a new 1000 were ordered. In September 1996 the coin was presented to all members of parliament, asking them to give support to the idea of the civil peace teams.
The BWD-Newsletter was distributed three times in 1995 and in 1996. In 1995 the layout was improved; in 1996 the Newsletter was turned into a Newspaper for financial reasons. The Newsletter covered many aspects, not only the defence budget, our campaigns and the work of the Peace Fund, but also the developments inside the peace movement. We feel that also the backgrounds of our fiscal objections should be covered. The co-operation in the National Council of Peace Organisations means that we also have to focus on questions other peace organisations deal with.
Also in 1995 we updated two of our brochures, 'How to refuse motor vehicle taxes' and 'How to refuse VAT on the energy-bill'. In 1996 we updated our principle brochure 'Voorschot op Vrede' (Advance Money on Peace).
In 1995 little was heard from the international movement. Only at the end of 1995 we received message that the Conscience and Peace Tax Association was formed, as was decided in Hondarribia, September 1994. Also we were invited to participate in organising the 6th International Conference in Hoddesdon.
BWD is represented in the National Council of Peace Organisations (LBVO) by Wijnand Thoomes, who runs the LBVO-secretariat. In 1996 Bart Horeman became treasurer of LBVO.
The main activity of the LBVO was the civil peace teams conference, November 1995. During 1995 LBVO discussions lead to a paper "Agenda for Peace Operations, the start of an alternative".
The representation of BWD in the Netherlands Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Arms (NKC) had ceased when Hans Horeman died in 1993. Wijnand Thoomes and Trix van Vugt offered to attend NKC-meetings. NKC strived after pressing Netherlands government to vote in favour of the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Trix van Vugt stayed as a representative in the Anti-Intervention Committee, organiser of the yearly Easter March for disarmament and other anti-war manifestations.
In September 1995 Rene Rikkelman decided not to prolong his contract as second secretary. Instead, Bart Horeman was appointed in January 1996.
Henk Eisma had to end his board membership, as a representative of Kerk en Vrede, due to the decrease of his labour contract at Kerk en Vrede.
At the end of 1996 the board of BWD, being the support group (SG) and the smaller core group (KG) consisted of:
Wijnand Thoomes, chairperson (KG)
Hans Mulder, treasurer (KG)
Trix van Vugt, 1st secretary (KG)
Bart Horeman, 2nd secretary (KG)
Dies Heitmeijer, board member (KG)
Jan Maartens, board member (SG)
Maarten Schaafsma, board member (SG)