One of the most significant calls for a withdrawal of British troops from
Afghanistan came during the last few days from Chapel Leaders meeting in Wales.
At their meeting in Carmarthen, whose Nott Square contains a statue to a British Army General who died in an earlier Afghan intervention, delegates from the Union of Welsh Independent Chapels warned that few today remembered that 4,500 troops were massacred in the Afghan war in the 19th century and that there was a danger of the lessons of history being ignored.
Dr Geraint Tudur, General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independent Chapels, said that hundreds of lives and billions of pounds were being wasted in a war that has tragic echoes of the past.
“In the centre of Carmarthen stands a statue of General William Nott, a local
soldier who fought in Afghanistan in 1842,” he said. “Over a century-and- a-half later soldiers from Carmarthen and all parts of Britain are once again fighting and dying in that country. The lessons of history have taught us nothing.
We don’t ever really talk about the massacre of so many men all those years ago in Afghanistan. Thousands of lives were lost and now, 168 years on, we are still fighting and sending young men to their deaths.”
The Chapel leaders were also critical of recruitment. Dr Tudur told delegates
that recruitment campaigns for the Army never acknowledged the prospect of death or danger. He said:
“These ad campaigns focus on the education soldiers will receive, they never
mention the death, the destruction and the lives that can be ruined by war”.
Another Union spokesman, Alun Lenny, said that money being spent on the war would be better used to support health services pointing out that:
“The conflict is costing the British taxpayer £2bn a year – money which would be better spent on enabling the NHS to buy drugs and medicines for patients who are currently unable to have treatment because of the high cost of such drugs”.
The annual conference represents 30,000 members from chapels across Wales. The gathering and other meetings in chapels across west Carmarthenshire attracted thousands of people.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information