News

5 July 2021 PN staff

Nuclear weapons treaty renewed days before expiry

The incoming Joe Biden administration stepped in to renew New START for another five years on 3 February, two days before the treaty was due to expire.

New START places limits on the US and Russia in terms of warheads, missiles and launchers that can be used for a nuclear attack on each other’s homelands (‘strategic’ weapons).

Each military can only have 700 ‘deployed’ (operational and armed) methods of attack at any one time.

They can split up that 700 number between…

5 July 2021 David Polden

Trial scheduled for 13 December

Four people charged with criminal damage to the bronze statue of 18th-century slave trader Edward Colston will face a jury trial at Bristol crown court, starting on 13 December.

The date was set at a hearing on 2 March, after the Colston 4 pleaded not guilty before Bristol magistrates on 25 January, and opted for a trial at crown court before a jury. This is their right because the charge they face carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Bristol city council, who recovered the…

5 July 2021 David Polden

Last occupier removed after 31 days underground

On 26 February, the final occupier came out of a tunnel under Euston railway station in central London. Bradley was taken away in an ambulance, having spent 31 days underground.

The tunnels were dug under an anti-HS2 protest camp which was set up in August in Euston Square Gardens, outside Euston station.

The aim of the Tree Protection Camp was to stop the felling of the trees in Euston Square to make way for new taxi ranks for the new HS2 terminus. Half the Gardens had already…

5 July 2021 David Polden

'No case to answer' for activists who prevented deportation 

On 29 January, after six days of trial, the court of appeal in London overturned the convictions of the activists known as ‘the Stansted 15’, saying they should never have been prosecuted on counter-terror charges in 2019.

After they prevented the departure of a deportation flight from Stansted airport in 2017, the Stansted 15 were prosecuted on the charge of ‘endangering the safe operation of an aerodrome’, under section 1(2)(b) of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990.

4 July 2021 David Polden

Four charged for toppling Colston statue

In December, the Bristol police charged four people with criminal damage to the statue of Edward Colston. The bronze statue was removed from its plinth and tipped into the harbour by anti-racist demonstrators on 7 June 2020. No arrests were made at the time.

Rhian Graham (29), Milo Ponsford (25), Jake Skuse (32) and Sage Willoughby (21) appeared for a plea and directions hearing on 25 January.

Bristol city council, who recovered the statue of the 17th-century slave trader from…

4 July 2021 PN staff

Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector attacked 

On 22 January, a Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector was attacked in western Ukraine by a far-right mob shouting ‘Death to the enemies! Ukraine above all!’ 

Ruslan Kotsaba, a member of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, was sprayed with a fire extinguisher as he made his way into Kolomyia city district court in Ivano-Frankivsk region. He did not suffer any serious injuries.

Ruslan was on trial (again) for a video he posted in 2015 in which he called for people to…

4 July 2021 David Polden

'Beacon of truth' bamboo tower erected in river Colne

On 8 December, police and security staff cleared an anti-HS2 protest camp in Denham Country Park in West London. They made four arrests on suspicion of attempted assault on the police.

The Protection Camp has been in woodland there for the past six months. 

Half the woodland is due to be taken over for works in connection with the high-speed HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham and beyond.

Well-known environmental activist Dan Hooper, known as ‘Swampy’, was removed…

4 July 2021 David Polden

Arms company blockaded on anniversary of Paris climate agreement

On 11 December, protesters from Extinction Rebellion Bristol and Christian Climate Action blockaded the headquarters of the defence equipment and support organisation (DE&S) at Abbey Wood, near Bristol.

Sita Ruskin of Bristol XR told the Bristol Post: ‘We’re here to say to our government: “spend our money on combatting climate change – not on putting weapons into combat”.’

DE&S supplies both lethal and non-lethal equipment to the navy, army and air force.

4 July 2021 David Polden

Wikileaks founder denied bail pending US appeal

On 4 January, district judge Vanessa Baraitser, sitting at the central criminal court in London, refused an application for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to the US to face charges of espionage.

However, the judge also ruled that Assange would have committed an offence under UK law if the acts complained about by the US had taken place in the UK. Judge Baraitser refused extradition on the grounds that Assange would be a suicide risk if extradited. 

Two days…

4 July 2021 David Polden

Are UK police still spying on activists?, asks inquiry head

On 3 November, retired judge sir John Mitting asked the question we all want to know the answer to. On the second day of the public hearings into undercover police officers sent in to spy on political groups, Mitting, the head of the inquiry, asked the QC for the Metropolitan police whether the spying was continuing. 

The QC avoided giving an answer. 

Mitting said he would insist on an answer... but no such answer has yet emerged.

We now know that the Metropolitan police…

4 July 2021 David Polden

Home office failed in its legal duties towards black Britons - report

The home office’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration measures were a breach of the ministry’s public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. That was the conclusion of the British government’s own equality and human rights commission (EHRC) in a report published on 25 November.

The EHRC also found that the home office had a ‘perfunctory’ approach to its legal duty to ensure its policies complied with equality legislation. 

The Oxford dictionary says that ‘perfunctory’…

4 July 2021 PN staff

On 22 January, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons became law

A majority of people in Britain think that the UK should sign up to the UN’s nuclear ban treaty, which entered into force on 22 January. 

That was the finding of a Survation poll commissioned by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Britain’s largest peace organisation by membership.

Survation found that 59 percent of the British public thought the UK should sign up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and 77 percent supported a total global nuclear…

11 December 2020 Jill Evans

Welsh peace institute launched

On International Peace Day, 21 September, Wales joined the world in having its own research and information body dedicated to peace. Academi Heddwch Cymru was officially established after 10 years of campaigning.

The idea was first proposed following UK government plans to privatise and merge all military training at a massive military academy in Sain Tathan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

This would have been the focus of all UK war preparations, but also available to other…

11 December 2020 Lotte Reimer

Wreaths removed at Knighton war memorial

With no marches or formal gatherings, this year’s Remembrance Day had less emphasis on pomp and perhaps more on reflection in the quiet laying of wreaths of red, white and purple poppies.

In Knighton, wreaths were removed from the war memorial, leaving white poppies scattered on the ground, while all the red poppy wreaths were left intact.

Local activist Angie Zelter said: ‘Knighton Action for Peace and Justice are in shock that such disrespect should be shown to all the…

11 December 2020 Ian Bell

Campaigners shift to online campaigning

I know! I can learn to play the concertina. I’ve never been able to commit to learn to play anything, but the COVID-19 lockdown would offer the opportunity. The pandemic has necessitated rapid change for us all. From the start of the first lockdown in March, and with each frequent rule change, like many other activists I have wondered what it means and where do we go from here?

In our peace and justice choir, we have found a way with online meetings to practice together though apart…

11 December 2020 Symon Hill

Call for UK to 'remember Yemen'

Launching this year’s white poppy campaign, Geoff Tibbs of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) encouraged people in the UK to ‘remember Yemen’, where British-trained Saudi forces are targeting civilians with British-made weapons.

Despite the closure of shops and other outlets, white poppy sales were only slightly below last year’s level.

There was a sharp rise in orders from schools. The PPU, who produce and distribute the white poppies, received over 200 orders for remembrance…

11 December 2020 PN staff

US activists receive 10 - 33 months for anti-Trident action 

Six of the Kings Bay 7 have received their sentences – between one and three years in prison – for their disarmament action at a Trident base in Georgia, USA, in 2018. One will be sentenced in December.

The Ploughshares activists, five of them from Catholic Worker groups around the US, carried hammers and baby bottles of their own blood to three locations on the Kings Bay submarine base.

The seven Christians attempted to symbolically convert US weapons of mass destruction and…

11 December 2020 PN staff

Activists target UK-based Israeli arms companies

On 2 November, four Palestine Action activists were arrested at an Israeli-owned drone factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire, after several locked-on to the factory gates. According to Palestine Action (PA), two legal observers were also arrested, after being pepper-sprayed.

Two other factories owned by Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems were spraypainted the same day: the Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and the Elite KL factory in Tamworth, Staffordshire.…

11 December 2020 David Polden

Protests not exempt from lockdown rules

Under the regulations for the second lockdown in England, published on 3 November, protests outdoors of more than two people are in effect banned.

This is a change from the regulations previously in operation. These specifically allowed public gatherings of up to 30 people for political purposes provided a thorough risk assessment had been carried out and reasonable steps had been taken to limit the risk of transmission.

No such exception appears in the new regulations, which…

11 December 2020 PN staff

Banner hang calls for debt cancellation & reparations

On 12 November, a giant 70 square metred (23-foot by 33-foot) Africans Rising banner was hung on scaffolding on the side of the houses of parliament in central London. The huge letter, launching the #ReRightHistory campaign of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity, made four demands. It called on the government of the UK to:

apologise for the human cost of slavery and colonialism  begin a Truth and Reconciliation process in relation to the UK’s colonial crimes  cancel African…