Actions at AWE mark anniversary

IssueSeptember 2005
Feature by Janet Kilburn

On 4 and 5 August a group of international peace gardeners visited AWE Aldermaston to plant vines and fig trees both inside and outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Nine were arrested and charged with criminal damage.

Taking inspiration from the biblical text Micah 4:3 - "and everyone shall live underneath their vine and fig tree and none shall make them afraid..." - the action kicked off a weekend of events held at Britain's nuclear weapons factory to mark the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Blocking the builders?

On Sunday 7, around 30 people, young and old, gathered at the main gate for a vigil of remembrance. Many had already spent the best part of their day planning the ongoing resistance to new weapons-related facilities being built at the site.

The following morning a slightly larger group met to carry out a - mostly symbolic - blockade of the base. There were two arrests for obstruction of the highway, with one woman being handcuffed and suffering mild injury after "dearresting" herself.

Enhancing the base

On Wednesday 10 August the nine arrested Vine and Fig Tree Planters appeared before Newbury Magistrates. One of those arrested was former PN co-editor Stephen Hancock who, reporting on their court appearance, said "All nine of us entered pleas of not guilty to charges of criminal damage to the perimeter fence of Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston. Les Gibbons, fresh from Bristol Prison [after refusing to give his date of birth - something which is not an offence!], told the magistrates that our action had `enhanced the base'".