News in brief

Johns 1, CPS 0

As PN went to press, co-editor Emily Johns was about to complete her trial for ‘aggravated trespass’ for an anti-roads/anti-secrecy protest at the department for transport in April (see PN 2557).

During the first part of the trial, on 11 October, Emily managed to get one charge of aggravated trespass thrown out by the judge.

Chelsea 1, IPB 1

On 7 October, US whistleblower Chelsea Manning stated publicly that she does not consider herself a pacifist, anti-war ‘or (especially) a “conscientious objector”.’

Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking US military and diplomatic files, wrote: ‘it’s not terribly clear to me that my actions were explicitly done for “peace”.’

Manning was responding to the award to her of the International Peace Bureau’s 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award.

Protest 1, Caudrilla 0

The peaceful anti-fracking protests at Balcombe in West Sussex this summer helped to reverse steadily-growing public acceptance of shale gas extraction, according to a Nottingham University report published in October:

ALC 3, Pentagon 405

On 4 October, three members of the Atlantic Life Community and War Resisters’ International were convicted of ‘disobeying a lawful order’ and each sentenced to a $100 fine with $35 costs, for refusing to return to a designated protest area outside the Pentagon in Washington DC, USA, during a protest on Hiroshima Day, 6 August.

TNP 30? Thapar ?

The Transform Now Plowshares support group is calling for letters to help lower prison sentences for Megan Rice (83), Michael Walli (64) and Greg Boertje-Obed (57).

The peace activists are facing 30-year sentences for breaking into a US nuclear bomb-making factory in Oak Ridge, California in July 2012, and ‘transforming’ it with blood, spraypaint and hammers.

The support group asks for letters touching on three points: 

  • This was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience intended to awaken the conscience of the nation, not an act of terrorism meant to harm anyone.
  • It was the intent of the defendants to uphold higher laws.
  • Encourage the judge to consider a ‘downward departure’ from the pre-sentencing report’s guidelines.

Sentencing is expected on 28 January 2014.

Send letters to: US district judge Amul R Thapar, c/o professor Bill Quigley, Loyola law clinic and centre for social justice, 7214 St. Charles Avenue,Campus Box 902, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA. More info:

Nepal elections

Tensions were rising in the run-up to the Nepali constituent assembly elections on 19 November.

The ministry of home affairs issued a circular to security agencies warning of possible attacks by the breakaway CPN-Maoist party on the country’s telecommunication infrastructure and of alleged CPN-M plans to seize police weapons.

The CPN-Maoists accused the major parties and the establishment of trying to provoke a civil war by mobilising the army in election security operations. CPN-M party leader Mohan Baidya Kiran criticised the other major parties at the end of October, saying: ‘Their one-point strategy is to invite another round of violent conflict in the country.’

The party is officially committed to unarmed resistance to the elections.

Members of the CPN-M have been arrested by police for anti-election activities including leafleting (in Katari), flyposting (in Ramechhap), burning electoral publicity and training materials (in Ilam) and vandalising vehicles belonging to another party (in Dang).

On 26 October, the CPN-Maoist’s Panchthar district secretary, Laxmi Neupane, was arrested by two dozen police, apparently for carrying out ‘anti-election activities’.

The CPN-Maoists have also been accused of planting ‘socket bombs’ at the venue for a rally held by the rival UCPN-Maoists.

Police have also been arresting members of ‘Sanghiya Limbuwan Rajya Parishad’ ( the federal Limbuwan state council), a campaigning body for the Limbu people, for anti-election activities.

Western Sahara

At the beginning of October, the Western Sahara Campaign urged British shoppers to seek out and report tomatoes grown in Western Sahara but labelled as ‘produce of Morocco’. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, and the tomato industry benefits the king of Morocco himself or French-Moroccan transnationals, rather than local people.

In late October, Moroccan police attacked dozens of pro-independence demonstrators in the Western Sahara cities of Laayoune and Smara, during a three-day visit by Christopher Ross, UN envoy for Western Sahara.

At the beginning of October, the US think tank, the Carnegie endowment for international peace, issued its latest report on Western Sahara, Western Sahara: Beyond Complacency, which noted that Morocco’s investments have not fostered sustainable development in the territory: ‘Instead, they have contributed to consolidate a traditional spoils system, whereby local tribal leaders, notables, influential Sahrawi refugees who deserted the Polisario, and elected officials scoop up most of the economic and political opportunities.’