News in brief

Proud battles

In Turkey, hundreds gathered with rainbow flags in Istanbul on 30 June despite the Pride march being banned (for the fifth year running).

They were among millions of LGBTQ people around the world celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York that began on 28 June 1969.

Istanbul Pride was broken up with tear gas by police, who arrested six people.

Earlier, on 22 June, police in the western city of İzmir arrested 17 people after the local LGBTI+ Pride Week committee publicly read out a statement condemning the fact that İzmir pride parade had been banned.

Turkish authorities have taken away the scholarships of several Middle East Technical University students who were detained during a banned LGBTI pride march at the university on 10 May. 25 students and academics were arrested in total.

The ministry of education is asking the students to pay all the tuition fees previously funded by their scholarships.

The scholarships were revoked under a law put in place to punish students involved in terrorism.

All Pride Week activities were banned in the southern provinces of Antalya and Mersin in June–July for 14 and 20 days respectively.

On the other hand, dozens of municipalities run by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) celebrated LGBTQ Pride Day on Twitter on 28 June, circulating statements of support and a rainbow flag image. More info:

Carbon bootprint

The British military emits more carbon than the whole of Iceland. The annual emissions from the ministry of defence are equivalent to 3.2 million tonnes of CO2.

That was one of the revelations from Dr Stuart Parkinson, executive director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, at 'Save the Earth, Abolish War' on 29 June.

The London conference, organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War, also heard from Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and others.

Treaty stalls

The rate of ratifications of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has slowed dramatically.

Signatures are nice, but 50 states need to actually ratify the treaty, which the UN adopted on 7 July 2017, for it to come into force. In democracies, ratification usually requires parliament to pass a law.

In the year to September 2018, 19 states ratified the TPNW, roughly three countries every two months.

Since then, only four countries have followed suit, not even one ratification every two months on average.

This year, the last ratifier was Panama on 11 April. Keep track:

Elbit protests

On 1 July, three activists from Manchester Palestine Action began a three-day rooftop occupation of a Israeli-owned arms factory, the five-storey-high Elbit Ferranti building in Oldham.

The same day, activists entered Elbit-owned Instro Precision, in Sandwich, Kent, blockading both gates.

The protests marked the fifth anniversary of Israel's 'Protective Edge' assault on Gaza which killed around 1,500 Palestinian civilians.

Elbit supplies four out of five drones used by the Israeli military, one part of its £500m sales to the Israeli ministry of defence.

All activists were released without charge.

Remember Molesworth

On 29 June, there was a ceremony organised by the Molesworth Peace Garden Group and Christian CND to rededicate the peace garden and to remember peace activism at USAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

Bridie Wallis and Ian Hartley shared memories of living at Molesworth Peace Camp in the 1980s, to oppose the siting of US cruise missiles at the base.

Molesworth is now home to a US military intelligence processing and analysis centre.


Nukewatch spotters

On 10 July, Nukewatch spotted a nuclear warhead convoy heading north on the A34 near Oxford. It was taking nuclear warheads from the Burghfield nuclear bomb factory up to the nuclear bomb store at Coulport in Scotland.

The main convoy was made up of four weapons carriers, each with an armoured personnel carrier escort, a fire engine and MoD police escort vehicles.

Following was a rear support convoy which included a decontamination coach.

The convoy was observed by Nukewatch up to Catterick barracks in Yorkshire, and then, the next day, on into Scotland.

No to artwashing

On 10 July, street art collective Protest Stencil withdrew from a Science Museum exhibition after finding that the top sponsor of the ‘Top Secret’ event was the arms manufacturer Raytheon.

Protest Stencil protested against the ‘artwashing’ of an arms company ‘whose missile fragments are found at massacre sites in Yemen’.

The Saudi-led coalition has used Raytheon’s Paveway II bombs against civilians in Yemen.

Paveway II fragments were found after attacks on: a water drilling site in Sanaa governorate in September 2016 (31 dead); a funeral in Sanaa in October 2016 (140 dead); and on a wedding in Hajjah governorate in April 2018 (33 dead).

Western Sahara

In July, French citizen Claude Mangin-Asfari was prevented for the fifth time from visiting her husband, the Sahrawi political prisoner Naâma Asfari. She flew into Casablanca on 8 July and was refused entry to Morocco – and put on the next plane back to Orly.

Naâma Asfari is serving 30 years in the notorious Kenitra prison in Morocco for helping to organise the Gdeim Izik protest camp in 2010.

Gdeim Izik grew to house more than 5,000 people nonviolently protesting against discrimination, poverty and human rights abuses against Sahrawis.

Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975.

Naâma Asfari and 24 other young Sahrawi activists were detained the day before Gdeim Izik was brutally cleared (3,000 other Sahrawis were arrested).

Naâma and his colleagues were prosecuted in military courts for 11 security force deaths that occurred after they were arrested.

On 17 February 2013, 23 of the detainees were given sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment.

You can express your concern for the health of Naâma Asfari and other Western Saharan activists, and your objection to the ban on visits by Naâma's wife, Claude Mangin-Asfari, to: His Excellency Mr Abdesselam Aboudrar, Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, 49 Queen's Gate Garden, London SW7 5 NE.

Gaza march

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated at the border fence between Gaza and Israel on 12 July, with 33 reportedly shot with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers.

It was the 66th Friday protest in the Great March of Return.

313 Palestinians have been killed and 30,135 have been injured during the protests according to patient records verified by the UN world health organisation.

On 11 July, a Hamas security guard was shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he tried to prevent protesters from getting close to the border fence, as part of an understanding with Israel designed to prevent escalation.

Gandhi 150

The Indian government has been carrying out tree-planting, statue-erecting, cycling and so on, all around the world to mark the upcoming 150th birthday of Indian pacifist Mohandas Gandhi.

Right-wing Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi is asking his Bharatiya Janata Party MPs to hold 93-mile marches (with tree-planting) in their constituencies starting on Gandhi's birthday, 2 October. 150km for 150 years.

On 3 July, an Israeli beer company, Malka Beer, apologised to the people and government of India for putting a picture of Gandhi’s face on a limited edition beer bottle to mark Israeli independence day in May.