News in brief

Bil’in celebrates!

For seven years the villagers of Bil’in in the Palestinian West Bank have resisted the separation wall that has cut them off from a large part of their lands, in particular holding a weekly march to the wall after Friday prayers .

On 1 July, the villagers marched in celebration. Two days earlier they had regained access to more of their land through the completion of the wall rerouting ordered in 2007 by the Israeli high court which had pronounced that it was “not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bil’in’s lands.”

Tripod trial

In July, Camilla Berens was fined £200 and Michelle Jackson £95 after pleading guilty to obstructing the highway. In April they blockaded all four lanes of the A302 outside the HQ of EDF energy company and alongside the grounds of Buckingham palace for six hours, using tripods, in protest at EDF’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. The demo was organised by the “EDF Boycott Campaign”.
For brilliant video of event, see:

Bears bait boss base

On 17 July, Greenpeace activists, many dressed as polar bears, staged a sit-in at the Edinburgh HQ of Cairn Energy, and demanded a copy of the company's plan to deal with potential oil spills in the Arctic where they are drilling for oil and gas. Cairn Energy got an injunction the following day preventing Greenpeace publishing pictures of the protest. The injunction backfired against Cairn when hundreds of people broke the court order on behalf of the environment group by posting the photos.


Since 2010, al-Araqib, a Bedouin village, has been destroyed 12 times by the Israeli army, and rebuilt 12 times by the villagers. Grounds for eviction were that the 300 villagers could not produce title deeds to land they have lived on for generations. In a further turn of the screw, Israel sued 34 al-Araqib villagers on 26 July for over £300,000 to pay for their evictions. Bedouin are being herded off their traditional lands into state “recognised” villages; still half remain in “unrecognised” villages, subject to eviction at any time.

Nepal crisis

The long-running and crisis-prone Nepali peace process was lurching into a new danger phase as PN went to press, with plans for the election of a new prime minister – in parliament, not through a general election, on 28 August. Jhalanath Khanal resigned on 15 August, after only six months in office, three weeks before the constituent assembly (which doubles as a parliament) was due to wind up.

According to the November 2006 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA), the constituent assembly was meant to have written a new constitution for the country by May 2010, and the government was meant to have integrated former Maoist guerrillas into the security forces, permanently ending the 10-year civil war.

The fate of 19,000 former guerrillas, still living in government camps, is still uncertain. At the time of going to press, it was reported that the Maoist leadership were demanding that 7,000-8,000 of the former combatants be integrated into the army, with combat missions or on border patrol. One of the other two main parties, Congress, was insisting on far fewer soldiers (4,000-6,000) with non-combat roles.

40 former Maoist child soldiers were arrested on 8 August after a protest demanding better government training to help them reintegrate into civilian life. A five-day “relay sit-in” started in front of the constituent assembly on 25 August, aiming to put pressure on political parties for lasting peace and a new democratic constitution.

Western Sahara

During August, young unemployed people from Western Sahara continued their protests against the Moroccan government, which has illegally occupied the territory since 1975. On 23 August, jobless Sahrawi graduates and other unemployed young people gathered in front of the governor’s office in Bojador, demanding a share of the earnings from the natural resources of Western Sahara, and protesting against the brutality of the Moroccan security forces, who broke up a demonstration at the end of July.

At the same time, unemployed Sahrawi youth in Smara protested outside ANAPEC, Morocco’s “national agency for promoting employment and skills”, after the regional governor refused once again to meet a their dialogue and coordination committee.

Meanwhile, London-listed San Leon Energy announced at the beginning of August that the remote location of Morocco’s oil-shale deposits, and its lax tax regime make it the “ideal” place to develop this “unconventional” oil. The deposits at Tarfaya lie on the border with Western Sahara, and stretch south into the illegally-occupied territory.

NEAT action

On 26 July, 170 peace activists from 17 countries entered the “North European Aerospace Test Range” (NEAT) in north Sweden in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Some 28 activists were arrested or detained, among them activists from Venezuela, the UK, Spain, Germany and Finland. The action started at midday with a pink carnival which involved people marking the test range and the road leading to it with pink arrows and the slogan “War starts here, let’s stop it here!”. The airspace was marked by a release of pink balloons after a die-in outside the area.
The aim of the action was to expose the role of the massive test range in preparing for wars. Military drones used against Gaza and missile systems used against Iraq, Aghanistan and Libya have all been tested at NEAT. The action, and accompanying peace camp, were organised by the Swedish anti-militarist network Ofog. More info, photos and video:

Listen up!

On 21 September, there will be a seventh Global Day of Listening for the entire 24 hours (GMT). Anyone can book a slot to speak to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and their friends via Skype, the free internet telephone system. To book a call, check the schedule on the website to see when a slot is available, then email the team (with your Skype ID) to request a call-in time. Anyone can listen on the internet on 21 September without needing to install Skype. Full details, and live broadcasting on the day:

$114m nonviolence

The “Martin Luther King Jr National Memorial”, a statue and park in Washington DC budgeted at $120m (of which $114m has been raised) was scheduled to be officially opened on 28 August. The ceremony, which US president Barack Obama was to have attended, has been deferred for weeks, possibly months, because of the approach of Hurricane Irene. The 30-foot-high pale granite statue of King, carved by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin in China, accompanies a 450-foot-long granite wall engraved with quotations from the civil rights leader. 159 huge blocks of granite were shipped from China to the United States. King’s family demanded a licensing fee for the right to use his image and words at the national memorial, and were reportedly paid $761,160 in 2007. An earlier “management” fee of $71,700 was paid to the family estate in 2003.


The 20 climate activists convicted of conspiring to shut down Ratcliffe coal power station had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal in July, following the revelation earlier this year that the CPS had not disclosed evidence gathered by undercover cop Mark Kennedy which could have been useful to their defence. The ruling described Kennedy as “arguably an agent provocateur.”


17-18 September, campaigners will pitch near Blackpool for Camp Frack, a climate camp-style effort to burst the bubble of hydraulic gas fracking in the UK. Two activists scaled Blackpool Tower in August to drop a banner announcing a new anti-fracking website, Fracking is a dangerous and highly polluting form of gas extraction which is banned in France.

Hunt’s off

The Huntington Lane camp in Shropshire has been evicted after more than 18 amazing months of disrupting UK Coal’s construction of an open-cast coal mine on the site. $1.8m action In the US, activist Tim DeChristopher was jailed for two years in late July following his fake $1.8m bids for oil and gas drilling licences in the final days of the Bush administration. The judge stated that DeChristopher’s sentence had been increased because he had spent the trial process encouraging mass civil disobedience. Many of the drilling licences were subsequently ruled illegal by the Obama Administration.

Keystone pipes


In Ireland, the Rossport Solidarity Camp has had a busy summer, with regular blockades of Shell’s efforts to complete the next section of their Corrib Gas Project. During a week of action in July, Shell managed to complete just 40 truck movements – as opposed to the expected 159 every day. The project is already a decade late and three times over budget.


The clerks of the Houses of Parliament have taken the unusual step of publishing online a letter to Lord Monckton, UKIP climate sceptic, asking him to desist from claiming to be, or to have ever been, a member of the House of Lords.

Maikel hunger strike

On 23 August, Maikel Nabil Sanad, the pacifist blogger sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the new Egyptian government for “insulting the military” (see PN 2533), began a hunger strike in protest against his sentence. As we went to press, the hunger strike was continuing. On 18 August, similar charges were dropped against Asmaa Mahfouz and Louie Nagati.