Hide Articles List

3 articles on this Page




WITHOUT THE SCALES. The Farce of the Merthyr Tribunal. The Military Tribunals, by their prostitution of all pretence of justice; bv their farcical travesty or a. "fair and impartial hea.l'mg," are sowing Dragon's Teeth, the crop from which, we fear, they have not paused to consider. And 11erthyr-the Merthyr which but a few years ajro wass, by its association with Hardie, the Mecca of British Democracy, is still, in the van. We have lived to see the horrible specta- cle of Justice dragged nailed, hound, bruised, and tortured at the axle of the militarist, cha- riot. Her scales have been stampel flat the bandage torn from her eyes and flung into the reekin44 mire by a handful of imitation men who have spat in her face, that they might pay homage to the Moloch in khaki. They have taught the people the doctrine that no- thing matters but might, and there must oea, rebound swing of the scale before the equilib- rium that is the basis of collective life can be restored. Teach the people that nothing mat- ters hut force, and. they might use it. After the chariot may come the tumbril. It did in France. Something like 100 young men in Merthyr considered that they had a. conscience that prohibited their engagement in wai they have lived to learn better. They know now that the Military Tribunal was but set up to ape j llstiec; to mock them with impertin- ences. and to disclaim to the whole world that eoBscienoe is not. Did a. young man under the Excitement of facing unsympathetic inquisitors stumble into the simple error of a. double ne- gative, his grammatical slip was pounced upon and held up to ridicule by i4. cliaiiiiia-ii. who thr;<>> 4-aid Yttu have an objection to blood- I1(.d h,,)ing shed." We had to tolera.te the blas- -Phemy of the statement that it was a pity "Testis Ohrist could not "top bloodshed from a. InH1) .rW"ii:iod belief in the Gospels; and sneers »--a*t eaffire.st.•«.;»( *riv- tl» oonseier.ee of a khaki-ehtd major who has .not, so far as we cmt ascertain, heiid a shot fired in the deadly earnest of oarbarous war. Theology was expounded bf a renegade Labour man and we were treated to impertinent sup- positions that were ridiculous. But we sung the "Red Fkg." and sung it with a. fervour that meant more than the escape of momentary pent-up passion's. We live in strange times. None who sat through the long: hours of that court on Monday will ever forget, aud many will never forgive. Were it not so tragjc, the whole thing would be screamingly M,,rcic,,vl something more worthv of TCarno t-han of real life But it was real, and now the iron is stamped mto the >oul of some who migllt have quailed. Long live the Vpopl., 1 One conclusion arises out of the proceedings. A widowed mother counts more than all the oonscienewn that ever were; and a business rea- son iw worth a number of widowed mothers. The Chairman was Mr: W. Grriffitftis (Pencae- mawr). Before the hearing ot the eases, a ses- sion was held in private. John live bard Hughes, employed in scaveng- ing work at Treharrisf was pui back to July 1. D. B. Theophilus was the first conscientious objector. A pupil teacher in the employ of the based h is reasons 011 the actu- ality of the commandment. Thou shalt not kiU"" and the reality of Christ's utterances to the same effect. Mr .Roberts, representing the applicant, said that he was there for a number of conscientious objectors. He did not knew whether the Tri- bunal, was going to hoar a statement, but, if so he would make it there and then. The Chairman: How many doyeu represent? —About 40. Mr. Roberts, proceeding. pointed out that oonacnentioufi objections were admitted by Act of Parliament. If they were to take the questions given in various Tribunals through- out the country, be desired to say that con- ssienoe could not be decided by a. hypothetical question. Consciences had never been docideu bv these means. These conscientious objectors had ma.de up their minds, they had appealed to the in* own consciences, and those cofnscienees had decided that they could not take up com- batant or any other form of military service. Mr. Roberts was asked to deal with this case. The Chairman: You would rather be a, con- scientious objector than a patriot? Applicant: I consider myself to be a. better pati-I ot thin many who are not conscientious obj ectors. Chairman: How Jong have you taken up tltis doetl-lne of conscientious objection ?—Ever since I was old enough to think. Before this war?—Yes. You meaill that you are loyal to your obj ec- tioo ?-Yes I That means you are not loval w your king and country? Mr. Roberts: I do not think that is a fair It ii. Chairman It. is. Applicant: I WIn loyal to my principles and my fellow-man. 1 Chairman: But suppose a ruffian like the German Emperor came over and dethroned our King, what would you say? Mr. Roberts: That is a purely hypothetical quk-stion. The Chairman: What do you say to that? Applicant: I do not see that it would make much difference to my principles. Coun. Da vies: Do you belong to a religious body?—I have not attended Church since soon ,after the outbreak of war. Coun. Davies: You disagree with the part ministers are playing in the war?—Yes. Coun. Davies Have you any objection to saving lifer—I would not serve under military Major Janiees (military representative); You are obviousty prepared that your fellow coun- trymen should light to preserve you, but you are not prepared to fight for yourself?—I am not asking them to fight. Are you a member of the N.C.F. ?—Yes. How long?—A few weeks. Did Mr. Roberts prepare your- statement? Mr. Roberts: No! Major. James: I do not congratulate Mr. Roberts on it. but all the conscientious ob- jectors sent in the same form dealing with ethical principles. i~ Do you know what ethical principles" means;?—-Yes. I suggest to you that the N.C.F. is a con- spiracy against the Military Act? Mr. Roberts: How ciaii he answer legal questions? • The Mili tary Representatiev I consider it is a conspiracy against the Act and the country .Mr. Roberts persisted that this was a legal ouesi ion. to which a, lannan member of the Tribunal demurred, because the applicant was a member of the Mr. Roberts: I am prepared to answer legal questions. The Act says these men are en- titled to put forward legal objections and to put them forward on these grounds. Rut iliel question that has been a.sked is a. legal onei entirely. The Military Representative: I am not gomg I to a,rue. i-ii l l'n-ll '111 this c?a,e )t'w<? sn?'estetl that the ruling in this case should be binding on a.U the conscientious ob- jectors who had used the same form of appeal, but it was pointed out that each case must be separ»i fc<.#y. >. Aid. 'Thomas' thought they eoûla have the whole 40 and then consider their verdict, but eventually the Tribunal retired, and returnedi to say that the applicant would not be ex- empted. The Applicant: T do not abide by the deci- sion I require an appeal form. Mr. Roberts: Will you state the grounds on which you have come to your decision?—No. Richard Henry Davies (grocers' assistant) also appea.led oecause he held human life too sacred to take. The ( iia.ii iuan Vou heard the other ob- jector. Are your grounds the same?—I hold life sacred. The Chairman If an enemy came on these shores—Mr. Roberts will tell you that it is a hypothetical question—but it is not; what would. you do then ?-I should not know until that moment what I should do. Chairman :• What is the lImit then to your holding life sacred? Mr. Roberts: Can you place a limit to con- science P C hairman: I think so. Mr. Owen The Hindoo places it at between 60 when he drowns his father. Applicant stated that he was also a partial supporter of a sister and' widowed mother. The Chairman: You would get a separation allowance!—Applicant: That would not be en- ough to keep the home going. A !(,t. Thoma: tie says ho holds human life sacred ?-What would he do to save human life? Applicant: I would assist to a certain ex- tent but I would not kill. Aid. 1 hoinas You would not even be a good Samaritan and pick up a fallen brother. You have no conscience at all. Major James: Are YOUft member of this wonderful Anti-Ckmscriptiwn Fellowship ?—No. sir. When did this conscientious objection to join- ing the army come to you ?—During the last few months. Not Messrs. 1). Jones Dickinson and Co. "applied that a 19-year-old chauffer of theirs should be relieved. Four out of ft. Ve men had already gone, and this one was the only one who un- derstood motor mechanism. They had advertis- ed, and had no replies .—Granted a month, James Dalies. Aberfan, asked for a certifi- cate of absolute exemption, because he was in charge of a numbr of farms which would have to be given up if he was taken. Mr. Rees Edmunds (for the applicant) said there were 438 acres, with 550 sheep, 7 horses and ;{3 cattle, and about 11 acres under oats and 3 under potatoes. They were two men short.—Not exempted. Benjamin Hamilton, a Jew, articled solici- tor's pupil, appealed on the grounds of chro- nic ill-health and conscientious grounds. Mr. Simons produced certificates from doc- tors who had attended him for years. Mr. Simons said the conscientious grounds were not such as had been presented that morning. His grounds were based on the Jewish religion, in which he had been brought up. To show that the case was not one of newly-found conscieence, Mr. Simons stated that the applicant's father, who was the son of a Russian business man. had left the coun- try rather than undertake service in the army. He had come to England not knowing the language, and without a friend here. His mother's brother and father also left the co-tntry rather than undertake military ser- vice. The-boy belonged to the orthodox Jews. Military Authority: You don't suggest the Jews are not fighting?—Applicant: The Jews are in sections; some fighting, some not. Military Authority (Major James): You are one of a iarge army of foreigners who get into this country and wanr, clearing out. He was referred to the Medical Board at Cardiff on the id-health ground, the conscienti- ous objection being rejected. R. Morgan, a widow's son, was put back a month. Harry Att-weil (19), a conscientious objector was asked the usual question about a German invasion, and was also asked whether he thought it was fair that he should be here whilst his friends were fighting for him. I hold no brief for other men's consciences," o ii t)r was his reply. He was not a member of the N .C.F.—Exemption refused. Simon Haines, was put back to May 1 on the rocou¡meJlldation of the Advisory Com- mittee. Oswald Thomas was, said the Town Clerk, in appe.aling for him, indispensable to the Town Hall staff, and he was gi len a month's extension.—Aid. Thomas did not think the Town Hall staff should be treated differently to others. M. Cohen, tailor and cutter, appealed for exemption because lie and his brother were .carrying on business, which supported his fa- ther and mother. If he was taken he would have to close the business, and would throw out of work nine non-eligible employees. .Mr. Lewis, solicitor" said that applicant was, when not wearing glasses, quite, blind, he suffered irom myopia in a high degree and stigmatisan. He is to go before the Medical Board. Henry Thomas, student at Cardiff Universi- ty, appealed.on conscientious grounds, and also on the ground that the completion of his! education was of more utility to the nation than his engagement in war.—He stated that was a Socialist, and. was asked, "Are no So- cialists fighting?" — "They have to please their own consciences; I have to please mine." The Cbaiiniau; Vou cannot be a patriot and a conscientious objector.—Applicant: I claim I can. Major James: You are sitting down eating and drinking, proteci"d by the Army and Navy, and that is your definition of patriotism. Application refused. Geo. Ben Evans (20), grocer, would under no circumstances undertake military service. He was against war 'before the war. but could not say what he would do if someonee three- tened to strike him. He was not a member of the N.C.F.—5iot exempted. W. Windburg, a. Jew, travelling salesman for a credit draper, appealed on conscientious grounds.—Mr. Roberts explained that applic- ed -4 a ic- ant was one of the d irect descendants of Aar- on —one of the Jewish sects higher than the Lev-ites, and his Rabbi had told him that mor- ning that this section were not allowed to see a dead body by the ordinances of their faith.— He was asked whether he thought it would be right if the Germans took possession of his home and murdered his brothers and sisters?— He refused to answer suppositions.—N ot ex- empted. An objector on the ground that he had promised lis father on his death bed that he would protect his mother was given » month's extension. Alfred Husbands (21) objected to war be- cause he had been taught that, war was wrong in the school.- -Chairman: I thought they taught patriotism there.Applioant did not belong to the N.C.F.—Application rejected. Thomas William Williams, a Socialist and a believerm the Brotherhood of Man, and who would • resist to > the extremist lerngths the im- position of this upon mo. His objection was based on the truth of the injunction, Thou shalt not- kill. J-011,es: You take up one portion of Scripture and tiramp on anoihft It says, Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. It holy. You disregard the Sabbath by hold- mg meetings at the Rink, Applicant: The Lord said it could be used for the good of humanity. (Applause.) He aJso pointed out that he did not necessarily take the commandment from the Bible, since it belonged to systems Sar older than the Bible. —in reply to Major James, he said he was a member of the N.C.F.. which met at Bentley's Hall Aid. Thomas: I understand there is a simi- lar institution held at the Y.M.C.A., of which a prominent Councillor is chairman. Application refused. John Lewis, a greengrocer, appealed on grounds of ill-health. He had fallen m a tub of boiling water 13 years ago, as a result of which he was unable to do any manual wo:^k.—- Adjourned for attendance before the medical board. A student at the Manchester University was given ten weeks so that lie might sit for his fmal examinations. C. Davies, whose application was based on exceptional domestic difficulties, arising from the support of a delicate widowed mother, was granted a month's extension. If A. E. Essery were taken, his creditor* would suffer, and it would mean exceptional financial loss to himself.—Exempted. Frederick Wm. England (wholesale and re- tail fruiterer) appealed on Christian grounds, and was refused exemption. Charles Bowles, a member of a starred trade, and of the N.C.F., appealed on personal conscientious grounds, and was told he was wasting the time of the Tribunal. since he belonged to a (I starred" trade.—Exemption re- fused. George Bynan Lewis, another conscientious objector, told the Court that he would not violate his convictions for this or anv other country. He would be ashamed of any young man who believed in war. If war was wrong for Quakers and clerics, it was wrong for the great body of the people. (Applause.) The Chairman: If there are any demonstrations, I shall have to ask the police to clear the court. Exemption refused. Griffith J ones, hairdresser. Troedyrhiw. was given a. week's extension on account of business difficulties and the support of his widowed mother. Two more conscientious objectors were quick. ly turned down, and Mr. Roberts said: In the last case you rejected him without asking a single question. I should like to ask if you think it is a case of conscience ? The Chairman: He told me he could not answer questions. He went altogether away from my question, and said he could not make a statement. Mr. Roberts: That was the last case but one. Mr. Owen: Is it your intention to appeal for all these men? Mr. Roberts: That is for each man to decide. A Member of the Tribunal: Is that your programme ? Mr. Roberts: I have no programme. Thomas Richards (Treharris) was granted a month's extension. Charles Thomas Chambers, railway clerk, ap- pealed on conscientious grounds. and also as the supporter of his widowed mother. The Chairman: You are, ah-eadv in a "star- red" employment. Applicant: The 'staz- is not a sure thing. That may come up for revision. The Assistant Town Clerk said the Tribunal had no right to deal with the application from the employers' point of view. Mr. Owen: I should like to hear him on the ground of Ms support ot his widowed i-iiotltex.-Applica,iit: I should like to be heard on the first ground—that of conscientious ob- jection. The Chairman How long have you had this conscience ?—I have had it from my birth and have been able to use it .since I have been able to think for myself. You are not vdlling I-,o tako up arms or to kill anybody?—Tu-.i "Sjgtit; •• But you are willing that a foreigner should take up arms and kill your friends ?—That is a supposition. No they are doing it every day? — Every man must follow his own conscience. I am convinced that the attitude I have taken is right. T lii;t I S. you are quite agreeable to have your friends killed. Do you believe m nationality ?—No. You Joift believe in being a Britisher?—No, the world is my country. Coun. Owen: On the grounds of supporting his mother, I should like to give him a. month. Applicant: I should like the decision on both grounds. —Exemption refused. John Alfred Lewis, trained certificated tea- cher. appealed on conscientious grounds. The Chairman: You would stand by and do nothing if an enemy came on our shores and killed phetty well half the population, and destroyed property? Sir. Asquith said that that is an impossible thing to happen. (Ap- plause.) That is all supposition, and you can't ask hypothetical questions. Ald. Thonlas was asked what school he taught in, and on replying Pentrebach, the Alderman remarked that he understood now where the applicant got his views. The Applicant: I held these views before I went to Pentrebach. Aid Thomas: Well, that is my conscientious opinion. Mliitary Representative: Are you a member- of this Fellowship?—I am. Military Representative: Your view is that other people can go and fight while you sit down and do nothing.—Applicant: That is the view you say I take up, but it is not. Military Representative: That is the abso- lute view. The hope was expressed that applicant was not instilling these views into the children of Pentrebach.—Applicant: What must a man do to prove his conscience ? A Member Go to Germany.—Applicant: Men of military age are not allowed to leave this country. Coun. Davies: Are you prepared to help anyone in need?—Applicant: What does that infer. You have not beaten me yet. (Laughter.) No exemption. J. O. Williams, a conscientious objector, was also refused exemption. Ll. Rees, grocer and provision dealer, was granted a month, and Ed. Jenkins, grocer and provision dealer, one week. W. Wootton, indispensable to the scaveng- ing at Treharris, was refused exemption or extension. Ed. Thomas Jones, boot and shoe store as- sistant, whose widowed mother and two sisters he sUf1>orted, stated that one invalid sister re- quil-?,faom 8/- to 9/- worth of medicine pe> week .-Oue month. Another coinscientious objector was told by the chairman that Conscience makes cow- ards of us all," to which he replied that con- science made heroes in this case. On being told that applicant was a member of the N.C..F.. Major James said, "Same old story. You prefer to let others fight for you; ) to let others' skins be peeled to save your own "-Exemption refused. Richard and Edward Toomey, wholesale and retail fishmongers, fruiterers, game dealers and; fish curere, were both granted total exemption.; John Jones, Aberfan, a, tuberculosis patient, w hotse five brothers are in the army, was OIl the advice of Major James granted exemption. Thomas Davies. conscientious objector and applicant on the ground that he supported his widowed mother and two sis tear, and would suller finanioally through his business, was granted one month. I 1'" Herbert A. Davies, M.A. (Honours Ox on), joo English Master at the Pontypridd County School for Boys, applied on conscientious grounds. j In reply to questions, Air. Davits said he thought the young men who were staying behind were defending their country. The Chairman: Do you think it right that you should stay at home and hold these peculiar views while your friends fight for you Applicant: My views are mot peculiar. Ware Christ's views peculiar? Christ lived in Plake- tine at a time when Palestine was far wVi?? than Belgium is to-day, but He did not &a?t- The Chairman: How do you know ? Applicant: Don't you believe the GospekF The Chairman: Of course. I do. This was the occasion for loud and pro- longed cheering, and the Chairman ordered the Court to be cleared. Applicant (jumping to his feet): I demand a public hearing, gentlemen. The Chairman: You mind your own business. You can't get it. Applicant: I protest. This is a farcical tra- vesty of the principles of justice. We, the men who are staying behind to defend our liber- ties are quite as patriotic and as good as the men who are sending young men to destruction This called forth a tremenrous outburst of cheering, and applicant whose application was refused, left the Court. As the public was slow- lv leaving the room the 'Red Flag" was staai- ed and one teacher, as he left the building, oaS- ed out, Britons never shall be slaves." Major James: That is a nice beauty to teach our boys in school. Whether this applied to Mr. Davies or the teacher who called out we do not know. At a later stage Mr. Roberts appealed that the public should be re-admitted, and this was acceded to. On the public re-assembling, the Chairman said that Mr. Williams, the Presid- ent of the Trades Council, had given an wn der- takmg that their emotions should he suppressed. Mr. Williams said he could not give any siieh undertaking, but he would do his b*si to Anothei- appli(.,ant on coxi,clentious grounds on conscientious grounds was asked by Major James Are you a mem- ber of this modern Fellowship?" M4 Roberts: Its principles are very ancient. Major James: I know nothing about your principles. I should be very sorry to hold them. Coun. Owen wanted to know why applicant, who was a railway worker, had not resigned his position since the railways were used for tiitf purposes of the war.—Applicant: I was on the railway before they were used for military purposes, and they are still needed for the transportation of food and goods for the wel- fare of the people. No exemption. Coun. Davies protested against the decision, because lie thought the applicant was honest in his views—a course he had followed several times previously. Another conscientious obj ector was asked by the Chairman whether he would answer simi- lar questions put to the other applicants in the way they have.—Applicant: I would not have answered half of them. You think it right that hundreds and thou- sands should be killed whilst you s-it down en- tertaining these peculiar ideas"?—Yes, I do. You think it fair?--I do. Rejected. David Lewis (29), certificated teacher, ap- pealed on conscientious grounds, and included a thesis lie had written in College in 1914 on "Time and change, to deraonstratee that he had long held his conscientious views. The Chairman: You were holding tbess peculiar principles before the war?—Yes, prin- einples are everlasting. The Chairman: There are some very wicked principles. Our friend, the Devil I am afraid, is still with us, and has been for some time. He has principles, you know. Major James: Are you a member of the iN,.C.F. ?-I am, is there any objection? Major James: I don't want any of your im- pertineenc. The Chairman What is the matter with you ?—Applicant: You think that in a few mi- ni) tes you can completely analyse my mind and, probe my soul ?-No exemption. Another Toomey, who was a fish, game and poultry dealer and a fish curer at Dowlais, wam granted a week's extension. David Lewis, worker in a stared occupation and who had a conscientious objection. Coun. Owen said he could not understand a conscientious objector who provided meana for the soldiers to carry on the war. They took the advantages, and then came before the Tri- bunal and pleaded conscience. Major James: Are you a member of the N.u.F, ?—Yes, hut I should have taken the same action if it had not been in existence. Rejected. David Williams, a jobbing mason conscien- tious objector, was asked if he would do no- thing to prevent the Germans coming and taking his job, and stranding him on the top of Morlais Castle.—Applicant: There is no- thing I could do. Chairman: It is suggested you could go to the front P—I am not prepared to do anything under military service. Why?-It is detrimental to humanity. Is it not human to seek to save your friends from all sorts of atrocities?—I will do what I can to save anyone in civil life, but not under militarism.—Refused. (Continued on Plage 8.)