News in brief

Atenco asks for help

London Mexico Solidarity are calling for action in the UK against architect Norman Foster and engineering consultant ARUP, involved in plans to build a six-runway international airport near Mexico City.

This was last tried in 2001 – and successfully resisted by the indigenous common landholders of San Salvador Atenco. The Atenco farmers were then punished for their resistance in May 2006, with an extremely brutal police attack. Two young people were killed, and 26 women raped by the military police. Nine Atenco leaders were sentenced to over 30 years in prison, but freed in 2010, after an international campaign.

US drones acquittal

On 31 July, anti-drones protester Russell Brown was acquitted by a jury in New York state despite admitting lying in the road in front of Hancock air national guard base on 28 April 2013, as part of a protest by Upstate Drone Action. He had been charged with obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct.

Brown, who served in Vietnam as a US Marine, testified in court that ‘lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I’ve experienced since I left Vietnam’.

Devonport rush hour

On 25 July, 10 protesters against nuclear weapons blocked the entrance to Plymouth’s Devonport dockyard for four hours with a red Ford Focus.

Two members of the Trident Ploughshares group attached themselves to the car, which blocked the Camel’s Head main gate to the dockyard, to prevent the refitting of Trident nuclear missile submarines.

The pair were arrested and charged with aggravated trespass.

Hiroshima Day USA

Over 50 people were arrested in August in the US for protesting against nuclear weapons.

On Hiroshima Day, 6 August:

  •  30 people were arrested blockading Livermore nuclear weapons laboratory in California.
  • Three people were arrested at the Pentagon, for refusing to enter a police-designated protest zone.
  • Seven people were arrested for crossing a property line at Lockheed Martin, an arms manufacturer in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

On Nagasaki Day, 9 August:

  • Six people were arrested at the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington state, for carrying a 60-foot scarf onto the base. The scarf was made by people across the US as part of ‘Wool against Weapons’.
  • Five Catholic Workers were arrested at Vandenberg air force base in California, for trespassing while holding a banner saying: ‘Hiroshima Never Again’.


As PN went to press, the tortuous and tortured Nepali peace process was mired yet again in inter-party wrangling. The shadow of the decade-long civil war continues to fall across the political scene, including attempts to form a ‘high-level political committee’ to write a new constitution.

The operation of parliament was stalled as we went to press partly because of demands by the Unified Maoists for the legalisation of land seizures, purchases, sales and redistribution by Maoist forces during the insurgency.

A key aspect of the new federal constitution (supposed to be written by January 2015) is whether the provinces it creates will be ethnically-based (the position of the breakaway CPN-Maoists and many historically-excluded ethnic groups).

At the beginning of September, British journalist Thomas Bell published a book, Kathmandu, alleging that MI6 ran a four-year covert action programme in Nepal from 2002–2006. According to the high-level sources interviewed by Bell, MI6 assisted the Nepali national investigation department (NID) in penetrating Maoist networks and arresting suspected dissidents, some of whom were then tortured or killed. During ‘Operation Mustang’, MI6 apparently ran safe houses, provided surveillance equipment and created a secure communications network for the NID.

Western Sahara

Things may be about to heat up over Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. Later this year, a drillship will begin to search for oil off Western Sahara’s coast under a licence granted by Morocco to Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy and others.

According to a UN legal ruling in 2002, it is illegal to exploit Sahrawi resources ‘in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara’.

Morocco refuses to negotiate with the government of Western Sahara, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and ‘does not allow the Sahrawi to organise themselves politically’, as the author of the UN legal ruling, Hans Corell, told the Financial Times, making the oil drilling illegal.


The Turkish government is still committed to making peace with the Kurdish insurgent movement, the PKK. That was the message reportedly given by the head of Turkey’s national intelligence organisation, Hakan Fidan, in late August, when he met PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in his island prison.

On 8 September, Öcalan stepped up the pressure, saying ‘No discourse that is not transformed into concrete steps will represent a practical response [in] the dialogue process’. He called for the release of sick PKK-related prisoners.