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To the bases!

Over the weekend of 24-25 September, peace activists visited two US military bases - Croughton in Oxfordshire and Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Here are two short reports from participants which, it is hoped, might enthuse you enough to join in with protests during October's "Keep Space for Peace" week (see box below).

Close it down!

Chris Brennan writes...

On a sunny Saturday, 24 September, about 60 protesters marched around the old RAF Croughton site on the NorthantsOxon border which is acknowledged to house the infrastructure for US military and governmental communications between North America and Europe.

Protesters claim the base plays an integral part in implementing US foreign policy and is part of the chain of command for the US nuclear weapons sited in Europe - of which more than 100 are currently thought to be at Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Lindis Percy from the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) was the guest speaker at the rally and picnic, which was organised by Oxfordshire Peace Campaign.

The rally has become an annual event, held to raise awareness of the fact that the base is outside British parliamentary control, and to encourage the view that an immediate start should be made in closing it down Oxfordshire Peace Campaign, oxonpeace@yahoo.co.uk.

Don't panic!

Mell writes...

On 25 September, a day that started with rain, more than 60 people from across the country descended on USAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, arriving in beautiful sunshine! I am surprised that the sun ever shines at a place where the US military keeps up to 110 B61 freefall nuclear bombs.

When I asked one of the MOD if they felt panicky working at such a dangerous place they told me there was "no need to panic".

I mean, why panic? There have already been at least two major accidents inside USAF Lakenheath, one of which almost turned East Anglia into a desert, or so it said in top secret documents released some 25-odd years later.

Dynamic performances

The demo began with long-term anti-nuke campaigner Davida Higgins speaking about Lakenheath, the NPT and the "Nukes out of Europe" campaign. Davida was followed by Pat Arrowsmith, with some thought-provoking poetry.

Theatre of War took to the "stage" [pictured] for a dynamic performance of a new show called Ever fancied a stab at global domination? In 15 minutes they showed the different aspects and problems that come with total global domination in a fast and turbulent way.

Spontaneous and symbolic

We were told that, for the first time ever, someone would come out of the base to receive our letter for the base commander. It was Inspector McD ... not who we were expecting. He was a bit flustered and talking quietly about two "young" people who had just run past the "terrorist barriers" into the back of the base and, apparently, caused quiet a stir...

It's great to keep things spontaneous! No arrests where made, just a police warning.

At 2.30 there was a Quaker meeting outside the gates and Meals not Missiles served us great tea, coffee, cake and smiles to keep us all going.

Later, we all took to the road and blocked the entrance to the base for a few minutes - very symbolic. Maybe next year we will stay there, in the road, until the base shuts down, or we get arrested. Lakenheath Action Group, http://www.lakenheathaction.org; Lakenheath@theatreofwar.org

KEEP SPACE4PEACE WEEK International annual week of action and events. This year sees a demo at Menwith Hill on 8 October and several public meetings during theweek. See back page for events.