News in brief

Question drones!

The positive glow (in the mainstream media) surrounding Ukraine’s military resistance to Russian aggression has also spread to its use of armed drones.

In mid-April, Drone Wars UK director Chris Cole (see the Ziegler supplement in this issue) published some thoughts on this. He argued that armed drones remain ‘intrinsically problematic in that they lower the threshold of the use of force, transfer the risk of armed combat away from combatants on to civilians, and distance populations from the consequences of the use of armed force’:

Celebrate treasures!

On 10 May, Swedish Ploughshares activist Per Herngren was awarded the Gothenburg Peace Prize 2022 for his international nonviolence training work, including in Iran and Iraq (2010 and 2011) and Kyrgyzstan (2015).

Per has put his book, Path of Resistance: The Practice of Civil Disobedience, online:

On 19 May, British human rights activist Peter Tatchell was honoured with the annual Sheila McKechnie Long-Term Achievement Award.

It’s given to an exceptional person who has made great campaigning a lifetime’s work.

Engage unions!

For groups campaigning against aviation, the global Stay Grounded coalition recently published A guide to engaging aviation workers and trade unions.

They say: ‘Jobs are one of the main industry arguments for airport expansion and aviation growth. Having a good answer, making the case for workers’ rights, and building solidarity will be key for the success of any campaign.

‘Building trust will take time and energy... Lead on jobs: Unemployment is not an option. Campaigns should promote an alternative economic vision that prioritises job security and quality.’

Good guidelines for an anti-militarist Just Transition!

Exit the ECT!

In May, Global Justice Now and local XR groups held a ‘climate bandit’ march to the offices of Rockhopper Exploration in Salisbury.

Rockhopper is using a corporate court based on the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) to sue the Italian government for $275mn over its ban on offshore oil drilling.

Fossil fuel companies are using these courts to sue governments for over $18bn for passing environmental protection laws and reducing the companies’ future profits. The sum involved could rise to over $9 trillion.

A Global Justice Now petition calling on the UK government to leave the ECT is here:

Sultana Khaya

In April, a group of Sahrawi women in the town of Boujdour were beaten by the Moroccan police and placed under house arrest according to Middle East Eye (MEE).

They had dared to visit local human rights activist Sultana Khaya, who has been under effective house arrest since November 2020.

In November 2021, Moroccan security forces broke into Sultana’s house and raped her and sexually abused her sisters and her 80-year-old mother. This prompted an Amnesty International call for urgent action.

Videos and pictures sent to MEE showed Zainabu Babi, one of the women who visited Sultana, in a wheelchair with broken hands.

Fatima Mohamed al-Hafiz was beaten on her hands and feet until she passed out, then was beaten again after she’d been taken home.

The women thought it was safe to visit Sultana because of the Western solidarity activists who have been staying with her since 16 March. One of the internationals started a hunger strike on 9 May.

The last colony

On 11 May, the Netherlands joined the US and Spain in betraying the people of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

‘We are being told by the West to simply accept our reality – the reality of occupation,’ Sahrawi journalist Nazha El Khalidi told Tribune in April. ‘Why don’t we have the same right to self-determination as the Ukrainians? This hypocrisy shows you the real face of Europe and Spain, who are more interested in our land and resources than in the people of Western Sahara.’

Before the invasion of Ukraine in February, US president Joe Biden warned Russia that, if it invaded, ‘they’ll pay a stiff price – immediately, near term, medium term, and long term.’

This is the same Joe Biden who decided last year to maintain the Donald Trump policy of recognising Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara.

Morocco has gained stiff benefits, near term, medium term and long term, from its 1975 invasion. These include profits from selling phosphate stolen from Sahrawi land and fish stolen from Sahrawi waters.

Under Trump, in December 2020, the US became the first Western country to accept the legitimacy of Morocco’s occupation. (Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has illegally occupied 80 percent of its territory ever since.)

On 18 March, the Spanish government also accepted Morocco’s phony ‘autonomy’ plan for Western Sahara within Morocco. They were joined by the Netherlands on 11 May.

The plan brushes aside the UN-monitored referendum of the people of Western Sahara that Morocco agreed to in 1991 as part of its ceasefire deal with the Sahrawi national liberation movement, Polisario.


A Universal Basic Income could cut poverty in the UK to its lowest level for decades, according to Compass, the left-wing think tank.

The scheme involves no net increase in taxation and focuses its gains among the poorest.

There’d be guaranteed payments to every adult (£63 a week) and child (£41): a guaranteed payment of nearly £11,000 a year for a family of four.

To pay for this, they’d cut personal tax allowances, add three percent to tax rates, and change NI contributions.

More info:


On 13 May, four US coal train blockaders were ordered to pay restitution to PanAm Railways ($6,215 in total) and fines/court costs (averaging $1,400 each). They also received suspended sentences of four to six months in prison.

Dana Dwinell-Yardley, Daniel Flynn, Jonathan O’Hara and Johnny Sanchez were part of a ‘No Coal No Gas’ demo on the railroad tracks in Hooksett, New Hampshire, on 28 September 2019.

They were to trying to stop a train delivering coal to the nearby Merrimack Station power plant.

For three to five years, they must be of ‘good behaviour’, including no convictions anywhere in the US.


On 12 April, British peace activist Maria Gallastegui was only fined £100 after being convicted of criminal damage at the DSEI arms fair in East London in 2021, writes David Polden.

Maria, who had spread red paint at the entrance of the arms fair, defended herself at Stratford magistrates’ court.

The maximum sentence for criminal damage valued up to £5,000 is six months imprisonment – and the court can also order you to repay the cost of the damage.

Maria was also told to pay legal costs of £240 at the rate of £5 a week.


On 4 May, two US Veterans for Peace were fined €5,000 each for an anti-war and pro-Irish-neutrality protest at Shannon airport in south-west Ireland. Shannon is used for refuelling US troop planes bound for the Middle East and for other US military flights.

On 17 March 2019, St Patrick’s Day, Tarak Kauff (80) and Ken Mayers (85) had cut through a fence and walked into the runway area, trying to inspect the three US military aircraft then at Shannon (PN 2630 – 2631).

A jury acquitted them of criminal damage and of trespass, but found them guilty of interfering with the operation, management or safety of the airport, which shut down for 40 minutes. More info:

Freedom at the Hilton

The luxury Hilton hotel chain’s East London branch opened last October with a café called Freedom Café, which it said was ‘named after Freedom Press Publishing House in Whitechapel High Street’, publisher of the anarchist paper Freedom, now mostly online.

The Freedom Café menu was designed to look like Freedom, with the headline: ‘Anarchy, coffee, drinks and comfort food.’ It listed a £14 ‘Freedom’ cocktail and a non-alcoholic £11 ‘Why work?’ drink.

Freedom Bookshop only discovered this rip-off in April. It has forced the hotel (rooms start at £249) to strip out most traces of the Freedom name.


On 16 May, the Jubilee Debt Campaign sort of... didn’t exactly... mark the queen’s imminent platinum jubilee by... changing its name to ‘Debt Justice’!

This the group’s second name change: the Jubilee Debt Campaign was founded in 1996 as ‘Jubilee 2000’ to campaign for debt cancellation for 52 countries to celebrate the millennium. It took inspiration from the biblical concept of a ‘jubilee’, a periodic time when debts were cancelled.

Since 2018, the group has been working on personal debt in the UK as well as international debt. Debt Justice says that 54 countries around the world are now in debt crisis.

Colston vs Ziegler?

The acquittal of the Colston Four, after admitting to tipping the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston into the River Avon, was met with fury by the right-wing press and many Tory MPs (see PN 2658).

In response, in a highly unusual move, one of the acquittals has been referred to the court of appeal by the attorney general.

Suella Braverman says she wants a ‘clarification’ as to whether defendants can use the supreme court’s Ziegler decision (see the Ziegler section in this issue) to use human rights as a defence against charges of criminal damage. (The acquittal will not be affected.)

Peaceful schools

‘We have seen young people grow in wellbeing and confidence, demonstrate leadership, and take critically conscious perspectives on their world. Young mediators have become community workers and peacebuilders, former gang members have become youth coaches, teachers have witnessed their relationships with students transformed.’

Those are some of the benefits of peace education focused on ‘the presence of relationships that work well’, according to a new report from Quakers in Britain.

Peace at the heart: A relational approach to education in British schools was published in May: