Cymdeithas y Cymod service on Epynt,
25 June 2011
In December 1940 German soldiers walked into Norway, and at the same time soldiers of the British Army walked on to Eppynt Mountain. The Germans were forced to leave Norway by the end of the war, but British soldiers have kept holding the land of Eppynt to this day. The Army took 40,000 acres of the beautiful mountain and vales of Eppynt, but more importantly 200 Welsh speakers were thrown from their homes, destroying for ever a vibrant Welsh speaking community. Instead there is a firing range and barren training ground for soldiers.
This was not the first time that the British Government has thrown people from their homes, and this was not the last time. We remember the way people were cleared from the highland of Scotland in order to enable the sheep of the landowners to graze. We remember also how in 1968 the population of 1,500 of the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean were deported in the night by British soldiers to make room for a American air base. The air base was used to bomb Iraq. But on 3 November 2000 the people of the island won a High Court case against the Government to get their island back. Three months before the judgement in the High Court Peter Hain working then in the Foreign Office before he became Secretary of State for Wales said: "the outer islands of the territory have been uninhabited for 30 years so any resettlement would present serious problems both because of the practical feasibility and in relation to our treaty obligations". We don't have to say the Government appealed against the High Court judgement.
The British Army claim that the Falklands war was won through the training given to soldiers on Eppynt. A war that saw Welsh young people fighting against soldiers of Welsh heritage from Patagonia in the Argentine army.
The remains of buildings on the mountain remind us of the social life that was there. One of the most significant buildings is the ruin of the Babell Chapel and members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales have come on regular basis here to hold services of repentance for the fact that Welsh land has been used for the purpose of war and killing. Members have walked over the military range without asking the Army for permission in order to show our objection to military training for wars, including the illegal war in Iraq. Members of the Fellowship remember the injustice of the destruction of a Welsh speaking community and time does not lessen the basic injustice. We hope one day that Wales will regain the land for agricultural purposes even if we cannot re-establish the old Welsh speaking community. The islanders of Diego Garcia kept their dream alive and they are an example to us of persistence. That is the significance of our pilgrimage to Eppynt mountain to keep the memory and dream alive.
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