Whatever happened to ...

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008
News by Emily Freeman, Nik Gorecki, Jess Orlik, Emma Sangster

The Chagos Islanders

The right of Chagos islanders to return to their homeland has been once again thwarted by the British government. On November 6th the government declared that it was going ahead with its decision to appeal to the House of Lords to seek clarification about the status of its overseas territories. The appeal will be heard in 2008.


The conflict in Darfur has escalated in recent months with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

The anticipated arrival of a greatly expanded UN peacekeeping force coupled with ineffective negotiations between rebel groups and the Sudanese government has fuelled a power struggle, intensifying the conflict.

The Sudanese government declared a unilateral cease-fire at the opening ceremony of peace talks on Darfur in October, but crucial figures from the rebel groups were absent.

Iraqi oil law

Opposition to Iraq's controversial oil law intensified in September as the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) facilitated a major conference in Basra, under the slogan `Oil wealth belongs to the Iraqi people.' The conference took place alongside meetings between government officials and international oil companies at the Iraq Petroleum 2007 summit. Meanwhile in Britain, a speaking tour organised by Hands Off Iraqi Oil asks what part the British government has had to play in promoting the agenda of the multinational oil corporations. For more details see http://www.handsoffiraqioil.org/

Shell to Sea

In October, members of the affected Erris community in North Mayo, Ireland, met with Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan in the first such interaction in the history of the Corrib gas pipeline campaign. Meanwhile, in November parliamentary delegates voted to refer a motion backing the Mayo Shell to Sea campaign to the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC).


Maya Anne Evans, the first woman to be convicted of demonstrating without police permission near Parliament (under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act), was in court on 6 November for two unpaid fines relating to SOCPA. She was given a further 28 days to pay.

The police are being taken to court by photographer Marc Vallee, who was hospitalised by the police while taking photographs of the "Sack Parliament" demonstration in October 2006.

And while recent (large) unau- thorised Burma protests in Parliament Square have been virtually unpoliced, peace protestors (individuals or small groups) continue to be hassled by the police.

It may be a result of activists' efforts, or the difficulties the police have implementing SOCPA, or just pressure from MPs: whatever the reason, the Home Office are "consulting" on SOCPA reform.

"Managing protest around Parliament" can be downloaded from the Home Office website and submissions must be made by 17 January 2008.

The www.repeal-socpa.info website will be updated with information for submissions to the consultation. There's a public meeting on 2 December (see p20).

Brian Haw

On 29 October, the Met were taken to Southwark Crown Court by Brian Haw, the round-the-clock Parliament Square protestor, who was challenging their right to remove his anti-war display, seized in May 2006 (see PN 2474). The police were ordered to return Brian's letters and documents, and to give him a list of all other items seized - but his display will not be returned.

Because the Greater London Authority now refuses to allow tents on the grass in Parliament Square, since October the tents of Brian's supporters' are on the pavement opposite Parliament - while GLA spends a fortune on security guards to make sure noone encroaches on the grass.

Lt Watada

In June 2006, Lt. Ehren Watada became the highest ranking US officer to refuse to fight in Iraq, on the grounds that he would be participating in war crimes.

After numerous court appearances Watada looks like winning on a technicality. However if the case continues it may force US judges to rule that the invasion was indeed unlawful.

Iraqi nonviolence

Since 2005 a network of organisations and individuals belonging to different ethnic, ideological and religious groups has been established in the common cause of seeking a nonviolent resolution to the continued fighting in Iraq.

Satisfying the desperate needs of the people is an immediate priority, but the long-term objective is to increase awareness of nonviolent strategies through education, training and support networks.

A third "Iraqi week for nonviolence" is planned for 2008. "Salaam is not just a greeting - it is the goal," says Sami A. Rasouli, director of the Muslim Peacemaker Team in Najaf.

BANg action academy

After a successful fun and exciting summer camp/project involving over 20 young Europeans from Ban All Nukes generation (BANg)and 20 Japanese students from NGO Peace Boat, the global youth network for nuclear disarmament is expanding!

BANg held a protest, jointly with the Peace Boat students, calling for a nuclear-free Europe in a nuclear free-world, safe for all.

Following this, some of the Europeans joined Peace Boat in a journey across the Atlantic to New York, where we taught and talked with the Japanese students more about nuclear issues, and learned from Michi San, the Hibakusha who was also on board.

The trip ended in a visit to the Office of Disarmament Affairs where we handed in a statement written by a multinational team, and a peace festival in New York on Nagasaki day.

The Japanese students were so moved and motivated by our talks of anti-nuclear activism and the need for change they held their own protest on October 1st at the British Embassy in Tokyo in solidarity with the F365 Big Blockade.