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News in Brief

News from Colombia

On 14 May 14, Francisco Puerta, a leader of the Colombian “peace community” of San Jose de Apartado, was assassinated by paramilitaries in the town of Apartado.
Puerta was humanitarian coordinator for the hamlet of Miramar, one of the outlying communities in the hills around of San Jose de Apartado, the village which has refused to collaborate with any armed actors in Colombia's civil war.
Most peace community supporters have been driven out of San Jose over the past two years, and have set up a small settlement outside the village.

CO Day Colombia

On another track, 15 May was International Conscientious Objectors' Day, and this year the focus was on Colombia (see the WRI supplement to May's PN). On 15 May, War Resisters International brought activists from all over Latin America and from Spain to meet in Medellin. Colombian men face forced conscription by the military, by paramilitary forces and by guerillas.
WRI staffer Andreas Speck writes from Medellin: “A much more difficult problem is the so-called libreta militar, which is issued to those who served in the military.”
Without this “military card”, it's impossible to graduate from university, get a proper job or a driving licence--or a passport.


As PN went to press, jubilant supporters rang to say that at 4.10 pm, a Bristol jury had found the B52 Two, Phil Pritchard and Toby Olditch (see picture right, outside the courtroom with supporters - Phil has a rose and Toby's on his right) not guilty of conspiring to cause criminal damage.
After coming out of court, Toby told PN, “We'd remained convinced that what we did was the right thing. We're absolutely overjoyed to have this confirmed by the jury.”
Phil and Toby entered USAF Fairford on 18 March 2003 with the intent of disarming B52 bombers bound for Iraq. They carried paint, nuts and bolts to stop the engines, and fencing pliers to damage the aiming mechanisms on the bombers.
After their arrest they were held on remand in HMP Gloucester for three months. Their first trial ended in a hung jury on 11 October 2006. Earlier on 22 May, the judge had delivered what supporters described as a “fairly even-handed” summing up of the law and of the evidence.

For the latest information, write to B52 Two Support Group, c/o 16b Cherwell Street, Oxford OX4 1BG, or visit http://www.b52two.org

Catholic Worker in prison

On 1 May Fr Martin Newell of the London Catholic Worker was sentenced to 14 days in prison in relation to an anti-war Christian service, wall-writing and symbolic grave-digging at the Ministry of Defence on 28 December 2004.
Martin had refused to pay compensation of £660 to the MoD, after he was found guilty of criminal damage at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court.
Before sentencing Martin said: “I work with refugees. I see the effects of wars daily. Jesus said `whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me,' and the war in Iraq is killing our brothers and sisters.”


In 2000-2001, Martin served over six months in prison for disarming a convoy truck being prepared to carry Trident nuclear warheads - an action he carried out with Susan van der Hijden of the Amsterdam Catholic Worker - at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire. Due to the vagaries of the prison system, this time Martin was released from Brixton after only two and a half days.

Topics: Prison

Vanunu faces prison again

On 25 July, Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed the true extent of Israel's nuclear arsenal to the world 20 years ago, faces a possible prison sentence -- simply for talking to foreigners, not for revealing any Israeli secrets.
Since his release in April 2004, Mordechai has been under severe restrictions on his freedom of movement (he can't leave Israel), speech and association under emergency military orders dating back to the British Mandate.
Mordechai has continued to talk openly to foreigners and foreign news media, including about nuclear weapons, and so, on 30 April, he was found guilty of 21 counts of talking to foreign news media. Sentencing is due on 25 July, when Mordechai may be sent back to prison for, as his lawyer, Michel Sfard put it, “the very act of talking to foreigners, not for the content of those conversations”.
Meanwhile the Sunday Times, who Mordechai made his revelations to, seems to have stopped paying Mordechai's rent until he abides by the restrictions that Israel has placed upon him!

Mordechai Vanunu's website: http://www.vanunu.com

Activists launch Parliament peace camp and Heathrow climate camp

“War is still the issue”

Voices in the Wilderness UK and others behind last October's No More Fallujahs camp are organising an unauthorised peace camp in Parliament Square (23-28 June) to mark Tony Blair's departure from office.
The organisers say: “Unless we step up our resistance it will be business as usual with Tweedlebrown after Tweedleblair: more war, more terror, more nukes and more restrictions on civil liberties. Celebrate Blair's departure and demand the withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; the scrapping of Trident; and a firm public commitment that the UK will not support any future attack on Iran.
Attending the peace camp carries a risk of prosecution under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, with a maximum penalty of a £1000 fine.

Contact 0845 458 2564 or visit http://www.voicesuk.org

After Drax: Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has just been announced as the location for this year's Camp for Climate Action (14-21 August).
Last summer, the Camp for Climate Action set up a fully functioning temporary eco-village in the shadow of the UK's largest single CO 2 emitter, Drax coal-fired power station.
The camp demonstrated sustainable living and was run on a participatory neighbourhood model. Hundreds of workshops were held and a succession of nonviolent direct actions aimed at the root causes of the climate catastrophe took place including blockades of a nearby nuclear power station.
This year's camp will shift the spotlight onto the aviation industry. Climatologists predict that aviation's emissions alone will exceed government's targets for the country's entire output of greenhouse gases by 2050. Links have been formed with local residents' struggles against the proposed third runway.

See: http://www.climatecamp.org.uk