500+ arrests at NATO HQ

IssueDecember 2003 - February 2004
News by FME/Whitney Lanphear

On 25 October hundreds of citizens from Belgium, Britain, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy carried out an inspection of SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), the NATO military headquarters in Mons, Belgium. The action was organised by Forum for Peace Action, For Mother Earth and Bombspotting.

Good citizens enter NATO HQ in search of evidence of preparations for war crimes.. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FOR MOTHER EARTH

Early in the morning 12 citizen inspectors entered the military base and headed for the main building, in search of evidence of US nuclear weapons in Belgium. They were also in search of evidence that indicated plans to use these weapons. Unfortunately the public-spirited inspectors were arrested before concluding their search.

There was a massive show of force from the Belgium police and hundreds of inspectors were arrested before entering the base; some participants barely made it off the bus before being confronted and arrested.

Among those arrested were four members of the Belgian parliament, all of whom asked for permission to speak to whoever was in charge on the base. One of the MPs was taken to hospital with a broken rib after reportedly being arrested in a “heavy-handed” way. In the end, 55 inspectors made it into the building to carry out their search, though a total of 500 people were arrested.

The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, issued on 8 July 1996 states that the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons is generally considered to be contrary to international law. In Belgium nuclear weapons are stationed at the Kleine Brogel military base. At SHAPE, the NATO's military headquarters, plans are made for the use of these weapons.

As PN went to press there was no further information on the fate of those arrested during the action. However any further updates will be found at http://www.motherearth.org/