Naming The Dead Of Afghanistan
On 7 October 2008, Voices in the Wilderness
and Justice Not Vengeance held a remembrance ceremony opposite
Downing Street for the dead of Afghanistan. For seven hours we
stood near the Cenotaph, reading the names of British soldiers
who had died in the war, and the names of some of the Afghan civilians
who have died in the war.
We used a loudhailer, in order to be heard
in Downing Street, and a Tibetan bell. Before reading each name
we rang the bell once. We read one Afghan name every minute, followed
thirty seconds later by the name of a British soldier. We had
an hour of name-reading followed by an hour of silent vigil, meaning
that we had four hours of naming the dead. (We had a separate
space for people to speak to each other.)
Despite the fact that the ceremony was unauthorised
(we had notified the police in advance, but not sought their permission
to hold the ceremony), and the use of loudhailers in Whitehall
is prohibited, no one was arrested, though the police did take
one organizer's name and address. An attempted prosecution under
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005) collapsed. See
for some photographs of the event.
If you would like to carry out the ceremony,
JNV has created printable lists of names: 219 British soldiers'
names (as of 1 October 2009) and all the Afghan civilians' names
available from Professor Marc Herold's Afghan
Victims' Memorial Project.
If you use these lists for an event, please
do notify us. You may also
wish to thank Professor
Marc Herold for compiling the Afghan Victims' Memorial site.