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Diggers dug out

After a three-year occupation of disused woodland in Surrey, Runnymede Eco-Village was evicted over three days in mid-September. Some people had dug themselves into the ground, while others were in the trees with water and non-perishable food.

Five people were arrested during the eviction.

When they took the land in May 2012, the Diggers announced: ‘Inspired by Gerald Winstanley and the 1649 diggers, we hope to nurture and develop the skills to live independently of the dangeously unsustainable consumer mainstream.’

Since then, they have created a 25-dwelling community, and held several festivals. They lost their appeal in the high court on 11 September.

Charges thrown out

Two anti-Trident activists were acquitted at Plymouth magistrates court on 8 September despite admitting that they had chained themselves to a car outside the entrance to Devonport naval base, where Trident nuclear missile submarines receive maintenance.

Nikki Clarke and Theo Simon blocked the road for several hours, causing widespread traffic disruption last July, but were found ‘not guilty’ of aggravated trespass.

Judge Kevin Grey ruled it was not possible to trespass on a highway, and awarded the Trident Two their costs. (Nikki and Theo also presented their argument that Trident and its maintenance is illegal under international law.)

Whistle-blower I

On 18 September, US military whistle-blower Chelsea Manning revealed that the US military authorities were refusing her permission to grow her hair long, despite this being recognised as part of her treatment plan for gender dysphoria.

On 18 August, Manning was punished by prison authorities for possessing magazines: Vanity Fair (with another famous trans woman on the cover, Caitlyn Jenner) and Cosmopolitan (containing an interview with... Chelsea Manning). Also, she had a used-up tube of toothpaste.

Chelsea Manning was punished with three weeks of recreational restrictions at the Kansas military prison where she’s serving a 35-year sentence.

Whistle-blower II

On 11 September, Jerusalem district court refused an appeal by Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu aimed at overturning his recent house arrest.

His crime was giving an interview to Israeli broadcaster Channel 2 – which his lawyers say had been given prior approval by an Israeli military censor.

Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement, for revealing secrets about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme.

Waddington 4

On 19 October, four British drone protesters, Chris Cole, Katha Karcher, Eagle Spits and Penny Walker will go on trial at Lincoln magistrates court (358 High St LN5 7QA) accused of criminal damage to the perimeter fence of RAF Waddington.

The four entered RAF Waddington on 5 January, the first working day of the year, with the intention of disrupting British drone operations in Iraq and Syria.

Instead of half a day, the trial has been given at least a day in court, so that more time is available for expert witnesses. The trial may go on until the following day.

The four are calling for court support – which starts with a music/poetry ‘Shindig’ on 18 October at the Tap & Spile pub (21 Hungate, LN1 1ES).

Tokyo 45,000

On 14 September, there was a large peace demonstration in front of parliament in Tokyo as the government of prime minister Shinzo Abe prepared to pass legislation ‘re-interpreting’ the Japanese constitution. Abe wants to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since the Second World War. Organisers claimed 45,000 people attended the march.

An earlier demonstration on 30 August drew about 120,000 protesters, according to organisers. At one point during the 30 August event, hundreds of demonstrators chanted the key phrases of anti-war Article 9 of the constitution; the ‘peace clause’.

On 19 September, the upper house of parliament passed Abe’s laws, despite polls showing 60 percent of people in Japan oppose changes in the constitution.

Run/bike for your life

There is to be a 4,000km relay race to promote climate justice and a sustainable future, from the Arctic north of Sweden to the Paris negotiations, from 9 – 30 November, coordinated by Riksteatern (the Swedish National Touring Theatre).

Each leg is 4.2km (2.6 miles). Registration is open until 2 October: www.runforyourlife.nu

Alternatively, there are two bike rides from London to Paris for the COP21 climate negotiations.

TimeToCycle! are organising a five-day ride with lots of time for afternoon activities, leaving on 6 December, and arriving 10 December.

Registration opens in October: www.timetocycle.org

#ClimateKilometre are minimising time off work with a harder three-day ride (60–80 miles a day), leaving on 9 December, arriving on 11 December.
www.climatekilometre.com

Either way, there will be a mass cycle ride in Paris itself as part of the D12 day of action (12 December).

For more D12 info: www.d12.paris

Nepal constitution

On 20 September, after seven years of deadlock, Nepal’s main political parties finally agreed a new constitution to cement its status as a secular republic, as the country tries to overcome its history of absolute royal rule, Hindu supremacy, and civil war.

Over 40 people died in protests leading up to 20 September, including a four-year-old boy and three adults killed when the police fired rubber bullets on a crowd in Rupandehi, west of Kathmandu.

The new constitution was rejected most angrily by ethnic minority groups in the low-lying plains areas, especially the eastern Madhes.

Leaders of Madhesi parties boycotted the vote and the promulgation. Over a dozen leading Madhesi figures in the main Maoist party rejected the party’s decision to celebrate the introduction of the new constitution.

The initial plan had been for Nepal to be a federation of six states, each with its own legislature and chief minister. After protests in Karnali, a mountain area in western Nepal, this was increased to seven states.

Kanak Mani Dixit, editor of Himal magazine, says the plains people ‘felt absolutely cheated and bereft because the Kathmandu-based politicians did not show sensitivity to them while showing sensitivity to the hill people.’

Western Sahara

This November marks 40 years since Morocco invaded and illegally occupied Western Sahara. The people of the territory continue to resist – nonviolently.

The 40th anniversary is being marked by a series of events in in the UK, organised by a coalition of solidarity groups.

The title for some of the London events is: ‘Africa’s last colony: 40 years not forgotten’.

More info:

www.sandblast-arts.org

www.wsahara.org.uk

Turkish Kurdistan

As Turkey teetered on the edge of civil war, on 19 September, the PKK Kurdish guerrillas reaffirmed that they were ‘ready to commit to a bilateral ceasefire leading towards a permanent solution through negotiations.’

The PKK called for the European Union to take on a ‘third party delegation’ role, to observe both sides during the negotiation process.

The PKK called a ceasefire in March 2013, but said it was effectively over in July, after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan resumed airstrikes on PKK positions in northern Iraq.

The renewed fighting takes place just before a re-run of parliamentary elections on 1 November. Elections in June saw the pro-Kurdish HDP break into parliament and rob Erdogan’s AKP of its majority.