Anti-war action

1 March 2009Feature

The nine activists who decommissioned the EDO arms factory in Brighton in January, in protest against the supply of British arms to Israel and the assault on Gaza, are now facing the much vaguer charge of “conspiracy to cause criminal damage” as well as the charge of criminal damage itself, following a court hearing on 16 February.

The charge of burglary was dropped against all nine. Because of this change, the three activists who were arrested outside the factory, and who caused…

1 March 2009News

Parliament Square peace protestor Maria Gallastegui fasted for 30 days to protest against the escalating military assault and in solidarity with the people of Gaza .
Her liquid-only hunger strike, which began on 12 January, ended after 30 days when friends and family became concerned about Maria’s health. She has had no lasting health effects.

How do you make yourself heard in the political climate we are in? “People just don’t take any notice,” Gallastegui said. “You want to…

1 March 2009Review

2009; 32pp; £1.50 where sold – available from Housmans, Freedom Bookshop, the Cowley Club and Kebele; or download free from www.smashedo.org.uk

On 18 January 2009, as Israeli bombs – many of them containing British-made components – rained down on the people of Gaza, six people entered the EDO arms factory in Brighton, and proceeded to carry out a people’s decommissioning. Equipment used to make weapons’ components was smashed, and computers and filing cabinets were thrown out of windows. EDO claimed they had suffered £300,000 of damage – no mention, of course, of the damage being caused by their weapons in Gaza. All six were…

1 February 2009News

Two of the nine activists arrested for “decommissioning” hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment at the EDO/MBM arms manufacturer in Brighton on 17 January were still being held by police at the time of going to press.

The remaining seven are out on bail, but on strict conditions: they are not allowed to return to their homes in Bristol and Brighton until their trial dates, they cannot communicate with one another and they cannot protest at EDO/MBM.

Though only…

3 December 2008Comment

Afghanistan has now become a big concern for me. The situation in the country is even more complicated than that in Iraq, the schedule for withdrawal has been timed for several decades away, and the death toll of Afghans is unknown and impossible to log. I have a feeling of fear and dread as to what is going to happen next for the Afghans after years of control by the Taliban and now foreign occupation.

Last week I listened to a Radio 4 discussion about whether the UK should pull its…

1 December 2008News

On 7 November, I was due to appear, with others, at Newbury magistrates’ court for “obstruction of the highway” at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment on 27 October.
First hearings are always just for “plea and directions”. It is only if you plead “guilty” that the case is dealt with at the first hearing. If you plead “not guilty”, the court adjourns hearing the case.
I wrote to the court asking for a plea of “not guilty” to be entered on my behalf. For the first time,…

16 November 2008Feature

On 27 October, Britain’s nuclear bomb factory at Aldermaston was blockaded by hundreds of peace activists in the largest nonviolent direct action at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for a decade. Over 30 activists from Trident Ploughshares and CND were arrested by police.

Roads around Aldermaston began to be blocked before dawn as activists from Scotland, Switzerland, Norway and elsewhere converged on the site where Britain’s nuclear weapons are constructed and maintained.…

1 November 2008News

After withholding 10% of my income tax for the last five years because I refuse to pay for war, I received a letter from Caernarfon County Court, saying there would be a case to decide whether £2,333.52 should be taken from my bank account, at 11.20am on the 7 October (the anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan).

Along with 20 supporters, including Robin Brookes, another member of the Peace Tax Seven, who’d travelled all the way from Devizes, I stood around outside the court for…

1 November 2008News

On 4 October, in terrible weather, demonstrators arrived at Menwith Hill spy station, Yorkshire, for the annual “Keep Space for Peace” demo, part of an international protest against Star Wars “missile defence”.
After a public meeting, with live music and speeches from Rebecca Johnson and local Labour MP Colin Challen, the demonstration circled the base as planned.
The police, expecting a walk, had served “Section 12” notices under the Public Order Act (1986), prohibiting any…

1 November 2008News

On 16 October, five Swedish activists (pictured above) broke into factories owned by arms manufacturers BAE Systems and Saab and used household hammer to protest against the Swedish arms trade.
Cattis Laska, 24, and Pelle Strinlund, 37, hammered on components for the BAE Systems Howitzer 77 in a factory in Karlskoga in western Sweden.
Anna Andersson, 26, and Martin Smedjeback, 35, entered a Saab Bofors Dynamics plant in Eskilstuna, and disarmed 20 Carl Gustav grenade…

1 October 2008Feature

This summer, I was one of nine walkers to complete a gruelling 84-day, 1000+ mile International Walk towards a Nuclear-Free Future from London to Geneva, through France.

The other eight walkers were: co-organisers Kerrie-Ann Garlick and Marcus Atkinson, and June, from Australia; Jill Saunderson from Fife; Steve Gwynne from Birmingham; Lena Bladh from Sweden; and Albert Monti and Aristide from France.

The walk was jointly organized by the Australian-American group “…

1 October 2008Feature

In early 2008, Voices for Creative Nonviolence began organising “Witness Against War,” a 500-mile walk from Chicago Illinois, to St Paul Minnesota, timed to arrive just before the US Republican party’s National Convention.

Generally, three to five local participants would join our core group of nine to walk, on average, fifteen miles each day. Our signs called for an end to war in Iraq, for health care, not warfare, and for rebuilding both Iraq and the US. “We Hold Both Parties…

1 October 2008News

On 3 September, the last of the four days of the US Republican National Convention (RNC) in St Paul, Minnesota, demonstrators attempting to march on the convention centre after 5pm (when the permit to demonstrate expired) were met by police in riot gear using snow-ploughs, horses and dump trucks to stop the march.
At about midnight, police in riot gear encircled people leaving a Rage Against the Machine gig and made some 150 arrests including four distinctively attired “Peace Team”…

1 September 2008Review

Thank you Greenham, Laughing Moon Press; 2008;ISBN 978-0956006103; 100pp; £7. A Very Short Introduction to Nuclear Weapons, Oxford, 2008; ISBN 978-0199229543, 144pp; £6.99

Kate Evans’ Thank you Greenham (Laughing Moon Press; 2008;ISBN 978-0956006103; 100pp; £7) is an account of her visits to Greenham in the early ’80s, with a particular stress on “how difficult it was to be a part-time activist”.

Interesting, it’s often hard to read: it’s a very honest account, brutally so at times. The experience seems to have damaged the author emotionally, yet she still manages to make the book a positive read, looking at Greenham as part of a wider struggle against…

3 July 2008News

Young Czech activists Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar, who started a hunger strike on 13 May in protest against a US-Czech agreement siting a “Star Wars” base in their country, suspended their action on 2 June after three weeks on strike and in deteriorating health.

They opened up the protest into a “chain hunger strike,” with people in the Czech Republic and around the world fasting for 24 hours at a time. An international day of solidarity was called on 22 June, for which the CND organised…