40+ arrests at disarmament camp

IssueSeptember - November 2003
News by James Tullett

Between 2 and 15 August, citizens from Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the United States and Britain joined together in taking action against nuclear weapons at Faslane and Coulport - the nuclear submarine and warhead sites (respectively) in western Scotland.

More than 40 people were arrested over the two-week international disarmament camp, most for obstructing access to the bases and for “criminal” damage to security fences and military buildings.

Some brave souls attempted to perform the near ritualistic activity of “sub painting”, with Petter Joelson, Linus Larsson, Marcus Armstrong and Peter Hammarstedt all having a go. However, previous successful “peace branding” on these vessels has caused the British Ministry of Defence embarrassment and consequently security has been increased. Attempts this year therefore were not entirely successful, however each intrusion did cause the sounding of an alarm on the base leading to the cessation of normal activities for 30 minutes.

Other actions included: cutting the weld-mesh fence that secures the perimeter of the Faslane base; occupation of the nearby military fuel depot for twelve hours; and spray painting military buildings with peace symbols and slogans. One blockade by an affinity group of disabled activists lasted seven hours but incurred little opposition and, uncharacteristically, no arrests.

During the camp some protesters were repeatedly arrested, but resolve remained strong: one activist said she felt she had been successful because she had made people, “aware of what I was willing to go through to make my feelings felt”.

The camp also poignantly commemorated the 58th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing by staining the entrance of the nuclear submarine base with footsteps of blood. Marcus Armstrong of Trident Ploughshares said, “We recalled the horrors of Hiroshima, the total devastation, the living skin stripped from the bodies of young children, the long slow torture of radiation poisoning. It is such horrors that these submarines are for.”