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"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

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Outwards

On 21 October, an Israeli-owned Kent arms company was refused permission to expand by Thanet district council, which rejected Instro Precision’s application to take over more of the former Manston airport. This decision, overruling officers’ advice, was partly the result of local campaigning to re-open the airport, and partly due to local anti-arms trade efforts.

Instro, which manufactures ‘electro-optic surveillance, and tactical support equipment’, is owned by Elbit Systems, the Israeli drones firm.

Earlier in the day, East Kent Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) occupied the roof of the former control tower at the airport, directly above offices rented by Instro Precision – no arrests.

Upwards

At the end of September, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sparked a political storm by confirming that he would not authorise the use of nuclear weapons if elected prime minister.

In October, Corbyn joined a select handful of people to become a vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). (The only president CND ever had was Bertrand Russell.)

In November, Corbyn’s effort to overturn Labour policy on nuclear weapons was boosted by the Scottish Labour party, which voted not to replace the Trident nuclear submarine system (and to ‘diversify’ while guaranteeing the jobs of workers currently engaged in the submarine industry).

Sideways

On 5 December, Huddersfield Quaker Meeting House hosts the launch of the West Yorkshire Nonviolence Network, with Lisa Cumming of Bradford university’s department of peace studies and Rachel Julian of Leeds Beckett university.

The new network aims to meet across Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield, creating a space where people will work together to build their knowledge and understanding of how nonviolence, power, protest and peace link together and affect the way we live.

Downwards

At the end of October, a surprising collection of groups launched ‘Defend Free Speech’, out of concern at government moves to take action against nonviolent ‘extremists’.

The Defend Free Speech coalition includes the Christian Institute and the National Secular Society; ex-chief constable lord Dear and human rights defender Peter Tatchell.

The coalition is particularly concerned about plans for ‘extremism disruption orders’ (EDOs) to restrict the movement and activities of people who haven’t broken any laws, but are engaged in ‘extreme activities’. EDOs may also apply to ‘venues and facilitators’.
www.defendfreespeech.org.uk

I shall be released

On 30 October, Britain’s last Guantánamo detainee, Shaker Aamer, was finally returned to the UK, 13 years after being taken to the prison on Cuba, and eight years after being cleared for release.

Shaker is a permanent UK resident, married to a British woman, with four British children living in London – one of them born the day he was taken to Guantánamo Bay. www.saveshaker.org

I shall be released II

On 7 October, anti-war activist Chris Coverdale was jailed for 42 days (in Lewes prison) by Hastings magistrates for refusing to pay over £1,800 council tax arrears to Rother district council (RDC).

When Chris moved to Rye in 2013, he told RDC that he believed paying council tax would be a criminal offence under the UK Terrorism Act 2000, because the government would use the money in illegal foreign warfare.

An attempted appeal and an application for judicial review were both turned down.

www.makewarshistory.co.uk

They shall not pass

On 16 October, around 300 migrants rights activists disrupted the Eurostar terminal in St Pancras, London, for several hours, causing delays. Several people glued their hands to ticket barriers or to pillars in the concourse; others poured fake blood.

The activists, mostly young and perhaps a quarter people of colour, also formed a human barrier blocking passengers from easily getting to Eurostar trains to Paris. They chanted: ‘This is what a border feels like.’

Organising/participating groups included the London Latinxs, Black Dissidents, Sisters Uncut, Brick Lane Debates and Calais Migrant Solidarity. There were no arrests.

A similar ‘No Borders’ action was held by Calais Migrant Solidarity on 24 October, with hundreds scuffling with police. Inside, 30 women from Global Women’s Strike and the All African Women’s Group held banners and chanted ‘No human is illegal’.

A hard rain

On 2 November, six British peace activists were tear-gassed after entering a prohibited military area where a NATO military exercise was taking place.

‘Trident Juncture 2015’ was the biggest NATO military exercise for a decade, with more than 36,000 troops and personnel from all 28 NATO members, plus partner countries Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Sweden and Ukraine.

The exercise, which took place in Spain, Italy and Portugal, simulated NATO intervention in Africa, and included two B-52 bombers and seven C-17 troop transport aircraft flying directly from the USA.

‘No war, no NATO’ protests included a 2,000-strong march in the city of Marsala, and a blockade of tanks at the port of Sagunto.

War on Kurdistan

After closing down the peace process in July, the Turkish government is now conducting a war against its Kurdish population.

During October and November, government military operations included tank and artillery bombardment, sniper fire, curfews and house demolition in Kurdish towns including Cizre, Dargecit, Silopi and Silvan.

The PKK Kurdish guerrilla army formally ended its unilateral ceasefire on 5 November. This was the day after Turkish president Recep Tayypi Erdogan said he would ‘liquidate’ every single PKK fighter.

Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the council of Europe, said on 18 November that Turkey’s ‘frequent and widespread’ use of curfews was disproportionate and unnecessary.

The co-chairwoman of the pro-Kurdish party, the HDP, Figen Yuksekdag said on 22 November: ‘We need to resume the peace process, it’s the only way to solve the problem.’

Western Sahara

On 7 November, solidarity campaigners in London marked 40 years of illegal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara by demonstrating in front of the Moroccan embassy.

This was one of many events in the UK and elsewhere commemorating the anniversary.

The British government is unlawfully allowing products from Western Saraha to be imported into the UK under a trade agreement with Morocco, say campaigners.

This argument will now be heard in the court of justice of the European Union, due to a legal victory for the Western Sahara Campaign in the British high court on 19 October.


Nepal blockade

India should lift the three-month blockade of Nepal immediately, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said on 20 November.

‘The secretary-general is alarmed by reports of the obstruction and destruction of life-saving medical supplies and the continued impact on humanitarian operations,’ his spokeperson said.

The Indian government blames the blockade on protests by Nepali ‘Madhesis’, residents of the low-lying Terai region next to India, who have been protesting against the new Nepali constitution, which they say leaves them under-represented, relative to other ethnic minorities.

In fact, trucks stopped crossing into Nepal even at checkpoints where there were no protests, and Indian border security staff have admitted being ordered to thoroughly search every single truck trying to cross into Nepal.

On 18 November, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF said the blockade ‘threatens the future of the country itself’. Oxfam warned that its humanitarian programme would have to end completely within weeks

Prisoners for Peace

Please send a card for 1 December Peace Prisoners Day. Everyone below is in prison for conscientious objection to military service, unless otherwise specified.

Send your card in an envelope and include a return name and address on the envelope. If a prisoner’s number is given, include this with the address. Please avoid writing anything that might get the prisoner into trouble. Thank you!

  • Eritrea: (Jehovah’s Witnesses, imprisoned for conscientious objection) Yoel Tsegezab (in prison 26 Aug 2008– ); Nehemiah Hagos (26 Aug 2008– ); and Samuel Ghirmay (1 March 2009– ). For all write to Meitir Camp, Meitir, Eritrea.(Also JWs) Paulos Eyassu (24 Sept 1994– ), Negede Teklemariam (24 Sept 1994– ), Isaac Mogos (24 Sept 1994– ), Aron Abraha (9 May 2001– ), Mussie Fessehaye (1 June 2003– ), Ambakom Tsegezab (1 Feb 2004– ), Bemnet Fessehaye (1 Feb 2005– ), Henok Ghebru (1 Feb 2005– ), Kibreab Fessejaye (27 Dec 2005– ), Bereket Abraha Oqbagabir (1 Jan 2006– ). For all write to Sawa Camp, Sawa, Eritrea.
  • Finland: Visa Savolainen (sentenced 27 Oct 2015 – 17 Apr 2016; total objector, sentenced to home detention for ‘refusal of civilian service’), c/o AKL, Peace Station, Veturitori 3, 00520 Helsinki, Finland.
  • South Korea: Kim Kyung-mook 283 (14 Jan 2015–13 July 2016), Tongyeong, PO Box 17, Tongyeong-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea 53043. Park Ji-hoon 1230 (15 May 2015–14 Nov 2016), Jinjoo, PO Box 68, Jinjoo si, Gyeongnam, South Korea 52684. Kim Doo-won 1868 (30 Jun 2015 – 29 Dec 2016), Uijeongbu, PO Box 99, Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea 480-700.
  • Turkmenistan: Soyunmurat Korov (18 Nov 2014– , Jehovah’s Witness, not yet tried), Seydi Labour Camp, Turkmenistan, 746222 Lebap vilayet, Seydi, uchr. LB-K/12, Turkmenistan.
  • Ukraine: Ruslan Kotsaba (9 Feb 2015– ), Ivano-Frankivsk detention centre, E. Konovalets 70, Ivano-Frankivsk 76018, Ukraine.
  • USA: Rafil Dhafir 11921-052 (in prison 26 April 2000–26 April 2022 for convictions resulting from providing humanitarian and financial aid to Iraqis in violation of US sanctions), FMC Devens, Federal Medical Center, PO Box 879, Ayer, MA 01432, USA. Chelsea E Manning 89289 (in prison 15 May 2010–20 August 2048 for whistleblowing), 1300 North Warehouse Road, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027–2304, USA. Norman Edgar Lowry Jr. KN 9758 (in prison 1 August 2011 possibly until 31 August 2018, for third trespass at military recruiting office), SCI Dallas, 1000 Follies Rd., Dallas, PA 18612, USA.



More names and addresses can be found on the War Resisters’ International website:
www.wri-irg.org/inprison

Conscience warriors

On 25 October, a new group called ‘Matt Ridley’s Conscience’ shut down a coalmine on land belonging to Matt Ridley, a prominent climate change sceptic and Conservative member of the House of Lords. Nine people were arrested.

A group of 12 lay down in front of the main entrance to England’s largest open-cast coal mine, on Ridley’s estate in Northumberland. Four others locked-on to a 500-tonne excavator. The protest went on for eight hours.

At least 8 percent of the coal mined across the UK comes from the site.


Climate warriors

On 7 October, a group of Pacific Climate Warriors visited the Vatican to ‘to celebrate the leadership of Pope Francis on climate change, and to pray for the islands and the leaders that will decide our fate at COP21 in Paris’.

Koreti Tiumalu, 350.org’s Pacific co-ordinator, added that: ‘We brought mats from the islands made specifically for this journey which we used to pray on over the last three days in St Peter’s Square.’

Runway warriors

The campaign against a new runway at Heathrow airport continues. On 14 November, there was a ‘no new runways’ banner drop by local residents, Ealing Green Party and others on Richmond Bridge, London.

On 21 November, a 100-strong flashmob descended on Heathrow Terminal 2 to say: ‘No third runway’ and ‘Stop airport expansion’. One group held a banner saying ‘Any new runway is Plane Stupid’.

Money warriors

In the last two months, two universities announced plans to divest from all fossil fuel companies (University of Surrey has a £42m endowment; Oxford Brookes £1.6m).

In November, six other universities (Birmingham City University, Cranfield University, Heriot-Watt University, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Westminster) also joined the global fossil fuel divestment movement after their fund manager CCLA decided to move its investments out of coal and tar sands.

In the last two months, one local council (Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire) voted for divestment, and three (York, Bradford and Reading) voted to review their fossil fuel investments.

The environment agency pension fund also pledged to dump 90 percent of its coal stock and 50 percent of its oil and gas, and to invest 15 percent of its fund in low-carbon technologies.

Globally, more than 2,000 institutions and 400 individuals worth a collective £2.6tn have moved investments out of various forms of fossil fuels.