News

1 June 2022 PN staff

Campaign launches UK-wide door-to-door leafleting campaign

On 12 May, peace activist Maria Gallastegui sprayed ‘Priti Patel Save Julian Assange’ on the wall of Belmarsh high-security prison where Assange is being held. She used a drill in a mock break-out attempt as a protest over Assange’s pending extradition.

To prevent any confusion, Maria had a placard saying ‘Jailbreak in progress’. She was taken into custody and held for four hours.

Journalists and free speech groups from around the world have called on the home secretary, Priti…

1 June 2022 PN staff

Former PN diarist requests digital deletion

On 9 May, the well-known peace activist and Labour councillor Maya Evans got in touch to ask for the online version of her articles for Peace News to be removed from the PN website.

In line with her request, PN has begun the process of removing the 50 or so items that Maya wrote for us. Most of them are warmly-received Diary pieces that Maya contributed during her four years as the PN Diarist between November 2007 and June 2011. There are also…

1 June 2022 Symon Hill

Peace campaigners across globe mark International Conscientious Objectors' Day

Messages of solidarity were sent around the globe on 15 May, as protests and vigils were held to mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day.

Countries such as Colombia and Turkey saw demonstrations calling for the abolition of conscription. Peace campaigners in countries from Spain to Japan sent messages of support to conscientious objectors in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

In Finland, protests against conscription were combined with demonstrations against the Finnish…

1 June 2022 David Polden

Oil terminals blockaded as XR promotes door-knocking project

There were a huge number of climate actions in April and May, organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) and its spin-off, the Just Stop Oil (JSO) coalition.

JSO reported over 965 arrests by 15 April as a result of two weeks of daily blockades of oil terminals and petrol stations all over the country, including in Birmingham, Essex, London and Southampton.

By 4 May, the total had grown to over 1,200 arrests, according to the group.

JSO demands that the government calls a…

1 June 2022 David Polden

Police Bill becomes law as UK government commits to scrapping Human Rights Act

The Police Bill received the royal assent on 28 April and thus became law as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

During its passage, the bill was twice returned to the commons by the house of lords with many amendments. The lords removed measures in the bill to give police new powers to: stop protests in England and Wales if they are deemed too noisy and disruptive (in the opinion of the police); impose conditions on protest on noise grounds; stop and search…

1 June 2022 PN staff

Video collective wins court battle against injunction

Reel News has just shown the power of independent media to help bring about social change.

On 11 May, the high court threw out an injunction that the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union tried to take out against the London-based activist video collective. Reel News describe this as ‘a huge victory for free speech and press freedom.’

On 7 May, Reel News had uploaded a video interview with a former organiser, Claire Laycock, detailing serious…

1 June 2022 David Polden

Decision to drop prosecution 'crosse[d] the threshold of irrationality' says NI Chief Justice

A relative of a victim of Bloody Sunday has condemned what he called ‘amnesty by attrition’ after authorities in Northern Ireland appealed to the UK supreme court to try to avoid prosecuting a British soldier for murder.

‘Soldier F’ (David James Cleary) is the only soldier who has ever been charged with a crime in connection with the Bloody Sunday massacre. He was put on trial in July 2021 for the murders of William McKinney (26) and James Wray (22), as well as at least five attempted…

1 June 2022 Milan Rai

The British government must support Ukrainian neutrality

The outlines for a peace deal in Ukraine have been clear for weeks, as US activist and author Noam Chomsky points out in this issue (see pp 11 – 13).

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine made a solid peace proposal at the end of March which could be built upon.

It is not enough simply to appeal for a ceasefire. Western peace movements should be pressing their governments to actively voice their support for peace negotiations.

Ukraine specialist Anatol Lieven wrote on…

1 April 2022 David Polden

Home raids as more charges dropped

Palestine Action (PA) has organised at least five more actions in the last two months. PA activists have had charges against them dropped – and they’ve also had house raids.

The first action in the latest run came on 24 January, when PA raided the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. UAV is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company that produces 85 percent of Israel’s military drones, used in attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

PA activists occupied the…

1 April 2022 David Polden

New group targets missile maker

On 7 March, a new direct action group, ‘Block Lockheed’, did what it said on the tin and blockaded the Lockheed Martin UK factory at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, England.

Lockheed Martin says it is ‘a global security and aerospace company’ which is ‘the leading provider for offensive and defensive weapons systems’.

Among other things, it builds the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile for the US and UK nuclear arsenals.

Block Lockheed shut down the access road…

1 April 2022 David Polden

Climate activists have recorded two major successes in their campaign to stop oil company sponsorship of cultural institutions.

Scottish Ballet ended its partnership with BP (formerly ‘British Petroleum’) on 31 January. The ballet company said its partnership deal no longer ‘aligns with the company’s green action plan – to be carbon neutral by 2030’.

Three weeks later, on 22 February, the National Portrait Gallery in London announced that it had also ended its BP sponsorship…

1 April 2022 PN staff

Making every pixel count ...

It’s actually been around for a while now, but we should formally announce in these pages that Peace News has a new website!

After tons and tons of hard work theme-ing, template-ing, module-ing, database-ing and so on, we have a more secure, more up-to-date and more attractive website.

Thank you, Emma Sangster, our tireless web worker!

Thank you, Pastel!

Pastel (who built the site under Emma’s guidance) are a web design and development team with over 20…

1 April 2022 PN staff

Global action for climate draws 330,000

Over 330,000 young people took part in the 25 March global school strike for the climate, according to Fridays for Future (FFF), the youth-led global climate action group founded by Greta Thunberg. The main slogan was ‘people not profit’; FFF also called for climate reparations. 1,152 events were organised in 639 cities in 92 countries, higher numbers all round than the strike last November. More info: fridaysforfuture.org

Image…

1 April 2022 David Polden

Over 260 charges brought after five jailed

After five Insulate Britain (IB) activists were jailed in February, police forces in three counties brought criminal charges against IB road blockaders in March.

Kent police charged 74 people, all but one for causing a public nuisance, many also for obstruction of the highway. Two were charged with criminal damage to a police car.

The Met in London laid 63 ‘public nuisance’ charges against 56 activists.

Surrey police brought 131 charges. They charged 54 people with…

1 April 2022 David Polden

Report finds culture of racism, misogyny and homophobia among Met police 

Since the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan police officer in March last year, the Met has been embroiled in a series of further scandals.

On 11 March, the high court ruled that the Met had breached the rights of four women organising a vigil in London for Sarah Everard last March. The police told the Reclaim These Streets organisers that they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if they went ahead with the vigil.

The vigil went ahead in…

1 April 2022 David Polden

MPs criticise police for 'misleading' enquiry

On 14 March, a young protester was cleared of riot but imprisoned for nine months for her part in ‘Kill the Bill’ protests outside a police station in Bristol on 21 March last year. Jasmine York (26) was convicted of arson because she had been filmed pushing a bin against a burning police car. She denied in court that she had been intending to add more fuel to the fire.

So far, 15 protesters have been sentenced to almost 60 years imprisonment for their part in the Bristol protest…

1 April 2022 David Polden

UK government presses on with plans to criminalise asylum

On 22 March, the house of commons voted down seven of the house of lord’s amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill on its return to the commons.

In other words, MPs have reconfirmed that it will be a criminal offence to arrive in the UK without official entry clearance.

Under the bill, you can be imprisoned for up to four years if you enter the UK unofficially – for example, in a small boat across the Channel.

This will also apply to Ukrainians entering the UK…

1 April 2022 Milan Rai

Punishment sanctions actually reduce Russia’s incentive to end its war, argues Milan Rai

When Britain invaded Egypt in 1956 (in alliance with Israel and France), the US threatened to block attempts by Britain to borrow $561 million from the IMF and to get a $600m credit extension from the US Export-Import Bank. The US also threatened to sell its sterling bonds (tradeable IOUs issued in British pounds), which would have had a catastrophic effect.

These ‘financial warfare strikes’, and other pressures, forced Britain, within weeks, into a humiliating withdrawal.

If…

1 April 2022 Milan Rai

We need to work for peace in Ukraine – and  recognise our greater moral responsibility for peace in Yemen

Noam Chomsky once wrote that some things were almost painful to have to say, they were so obvious. One example is that we have more responsibility for things that we can affect than for things that we have little or no influence over.

In Britain, we can help relieve the suffering of Ukrainians, but we have little influence over the Russian state which is raining destruction on Ukraine.

Whatever influence we have, we should try to use. Bruce Kent gave us a fine example of that…

1 April 2022 PN staff

New anti-war statement omits NATO

Towards the end of March, a new British anti-war statement appeared online. Unlike the two main anti-war groups in the UK, ‘No War on Ukraine’ does not mention NATO expansion as a factor in the Ukraine crisis.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Stop the War Coalition are part of the international ‘Peace in Ukraine’ coalition which organised the global day of action against the war in Ukraine on 6 March.

Members include US groups such as CODEPINK, Food Not Bombs…