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Diamonds in the mine

On 11 November, Palestinian administrative detainees, Ahmad Abu Fara (29) and Anas Shadid (19) reached the fiftieth day of their hunger strikes to demand freedom from imprisonment without charge or trial. They were shackled hand and foot to hospital beds. Their lawyers lodged appeals to demand their release because of their deteriorating health.

Meanwhile, three brothers, Nour al-Din, Abdel-Salam and Nidal Omar, announced in mid-November that they had been on a co-ordinated hunger strike for 11 days to demand an end to Nour al-Din’s three-year-long solitary confinement.

On 13 November, Raed Salah, leader of the northern Islamic Movement, launched a hunger strike against long-term solitary confinement and mistreatment in Ramon prison. He was given nine months in prison for incitement in May – and put in solitary confinement.

Lonesome heroes

Please send a card (in an envelope) for 1 December Peace Prisoners Day! Please do include a return name and address on the envelope. Also: avoid writing anything that might get the prisoner into trouble.

You could write to Chelsea E Manning 89289, 1300 North Warehouse Road, Fort Leavenworth Kansas 66027-2304, USA.

War Resisters International have lots of addresses: 020 7278 4040;
www.wri-irg.org/node/4718

Topics: Prison

Come healing

Here is some cheery news of recent direct action in the US collected by the very wonderful Nuclear Resister.

  • On 26 September, 21 activists associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance were arrested in Washington DC. They had refused to leave the Pentagon until they had spoken to an official in a position of authority about US war crimes. The 21, who declared that they were fulfilling their Nuremburg obligations, were charged with ‘violation of a lawful order’.
  • On 25 October, nine Californian peace activists blocked the main gate at Beale air force base (AFB) for over 30 minutes in protest at the US drone assassination programme. Each driver in the mile-long tailback was given a leaflet informing them about the use of US drone missiles in September to kill 15 civilian men while they were sleeping in their beds in eastern Afghanistan. Toby Blomé, Pamela Osgood, Shirley Osgood and Mauro Oliveira then crossed the base boundary line to express their grievances about drone killings. They were arrested, charged with trespassing, and later released with a citation. Beale AFB controls the Global Hawk surveillance drone used to identify and track targets for the drone assassination programme.
  • On 9 October, 31 Catholic Workers crossed onto the Nevada national security site (NNSS, formerly known as the Nevada nuclear test site) and were arrested for trespass. They were soon cited to appear in court and released. The Nuclear Resister writes: ‘The 1,360 square mile site is where the US tested over 1,000 above-and-below-ground nuclear blasts from 1951 to 1992. It is now used for experiments and safety training related to the nation’s nuclear stockpile. Just three days after the protest, an underground explosion was detonated there to test methods for detecting underground nuclear explosions. ‘The NNSS is on Western Shoshone Nation land, recognized by the US government in the Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863. The Western Shoshone National Council has declared their nation a Nuclear Free Zone. They have resisted attempts by the US government to nullify the treaty, and have fought for their land to be returned to them.’ The October action came at the end of a Catholic Worker gathering that brought together 120 people from 17 US states as well as Mexico, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. The Workers went on from the NNSS to blockade Creech air force base, a centre for drone warfare. Charged with unlawful assembly, 13 were taken to the brutal Clark county detention centre in Las Vegas.

More action news and inspiring testimony (subs £30/$35): www.nukeresister.org

Topics: Anti-war action

By the rivers dark

As PN went to press, North Dakota police were reported to be using rubber bullets, tear gas, water hoses and percussion grenades against hundreds of ‘water protectors’ standing up to the Dakota Access oil pipeline which threatens sacred places, land and water belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

On 17 November, representatives of indigenous peoples from Canada, the Marshall Islands, the Arctic and other regions held an action at the COP22 climate talks in Morocco in solidarity with Standing Rock and all front-line water protectors.

Closing time

Combe Haven Defenders (CHD) have exhausted legal action against the Queensway Gateway road which will wipe out the Hollington Valley wildlife site in Hastings, East Sussex.

On 9 November, the court of appeal refused to allow a judicial review of the planning permission for the road.

Preliminary results from CHD’s monitoring show that NO2 pollution levels are already above the legal limit, even before the new road brings 10,000 more vehicles a day.

‘Hastings council’s stated commitment to carbon reduction and clean air is looking very hollow,’ said Andrea Needham of CHD.

Topics: Transport | Green

Everybody knows

On 14 November, members of two unions, Prospect and Unite, picketed the Atomic Weapons Establishments at Aldermaston and Burghfield.

Workers held the 24-hour strike because of a threat to replace pensions based on an employee’s career earnings with pensions based on stock market performance and staff contributions.

The company’s contribution to pensions would go from 26 per cent of an employee’s salary to nine per cent.

The move breaks a promise made by the ministry of defence when the nuclear bomb factories were privatised in the 1990s.

Topics: Nuclear Weapons

There for you

Veterans for Peace UK had their largest Remembrance Sunday turnout on 13 November. 68 members of VfP walked behind a banner saying ‘Never Again’ to lay a wreath of white poppies at the Cenotaph in London.

The ceremony was the last piece of a four-day VfP UK gathering which included a public conference, a day-long AGM, and a guided peace walk in central London.

During the conference, a panel discussion on ‘Creating Enemies: Social perspectives’ was addressed by Bilal Ahmed, on Islamophobia in France; Omran Belhadi (Reprieve), on killer drones; and Lena Mohamed (Islamic Human Rights Commission) who explained the government’s Prevent Strategy. www.vfpuk.org

The guests

On 10 November, more than 100 peace activists blockaded the entrance to the annual conference of the European defence agency in Brussels, Belgium.

Organisers Vredesactie (‘Peace Action’) criticised the European Commission’s proposal to give money from the EU budget to support military R&D, initially €90m, rising to billions.

Bram Vranken, spokesperson for Vredesactie, said: ‘An industry with an annual turnover of 100 billion euros should pay for its own research and development.’

Topics: Anti-militarism

Stranger song

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize went to US president Barack Obama after he’d done nothing for peace. The prize this year went to Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos days after he failed to achieve peace. On 3 October, he lost a referendum on a peace agreement by 49.8 to 50.2 percent.

As PN went to press, peace efforts continued in Colombia.

Topics: Peacemaking

Travelling light

The Oxford branch of the Seeds for Change training network has struck out on its own, under the name ‘Navigate’. The name ‘Seeds for Change’ now refers only to the Lancaster collective.

More on this next issue.

Topics: Activism

Nepal

Human rights groups used the 10-year anniversary of the end of the Nepali civil war to point out that no progress has been made on ‘transitional justice’ for crimes committed during the civil war.

Despite being set up nearly two years ago, neither the truth and reconciliation commission nor the commission on investigation of disappeared have begun an investigation of a specific case.

In early November, hundreds of former Maoist child soldiers occupied the ruling CPN-Maoist (Centre) headquarters in the capital Kathmandu, and padlocked seven leaders in an office. The Discharged People’s Liberation Army Struggle Committee demanded better treatment from the party that had discarded them.

In mid-November, a breakaway Maoist party led by Netra Bikram Chand shut down Kathmandu valley, demanding food security and lower prices for essential goods. Police arrested more than 100.

In late November, a group of Maoist (Centre) leaders from Province 7 began the process of breaking away from the party. According to the Kathmandu Post, secretariat member Khagaraj Bhatta asked if thousands of people had sacrificed their lives in the 10-year civil war just to see a handful of leaders amassing property.

Topics: Nepal

Western Sahara

While hosting the COP22 climate talks, Morocco boasted about its green credentials. However, ‘An increasing part of the renewable energy programmes that Morocco is promoting – even on the official COP22 website – are not taking place in Morocco at all, but in Western Sahara, which it illegally and brutally occupies’, warns a new report from Western Sahara Resource Watch.

Last year, the Moroccan government illegally extracted over one million tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara. Almost all the energy used to mine that phosphate was provided by 22 windmills recently built by the German company Siemens.

Morocco has huge plans for solar energy plants – built in occupied Western Sahara – to provide over 25 percent of Morocco’s electricity by 2020.
www.wsrw.org/a105x3614

Topics: Western Sahara

Turkey

The Turkish peace process was ended by the Turkish government last year. Since the coup attempt this summer, there has been a massive wave of government repression.

In Kurdish myth, there was a cruel king ‘Dehak’. Hatice Altinisik, a Kurdish peace activist, has combined the words ‘demokrasi’ and ‘Dehak’ to coin the word ‘dehakrasi’, meaning ‘a reign of absolute cruelty’, according to Al-Monitor.

Topics: Peacemaking