News

6 July 2021 Jane Harries

Primary and secondary schools invited to register with Wales Peace Schools Scheme

‘Peace is a big part of our lives, which maybe we didn’t realise. Now I understand more about the news. After we did our project on Syria, I could explain something about the conflict to other people.’ – Delyth, peace ambassador, Ysgol Dyffryn Aman

‘Learning about conscientious objectors and how Wales welcomed immigrants in the past really influenced my views, and I see things differently.’ – Judy, Cyfarthfa High School, Merthyr

These are just two of the comments the…

6 July 2021 Phil Steele

Why the ongoing obsession with nuclear power?, asks Phil Steele

Desperate attempts are being made to resuscitate the fading nuclear dream in North Wales, where the Welsh Labour government is vying with Tory Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, in repeated bids to save the seemingly-doomed Wylfa B power station project.

Possible ‘white knight to the rescue’ options included an unholy consortium of the financially- and morally-bankrupt Bechtel, Southern Company and Westinghouse.

In January, the application by the site owners, Horizon Nuclear,…

6 July 2021 PN staff

UN predicts 'worst famine the world has seen for decades' as UK halves aid

The UN’s head of humanitarian affairs has described the ‘huge cut’ in UK aid to Yemen as a ‘quite shocking’ attempt to ‘balance the books on the backs of starving people’.

Mark Lowcock was reacting to the UK’s pledge of only £87m of aid compared to the pledge of £160m it made a year earlier – and the £214m it actually delivered in 2020 – 2021.

For several years now, the UN and humanitarian agencies have described Yemen as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Mark…

6 July 2021 PN staff

Fewer police killings in areas which saw protests

Police killed 15 – 20 percent fewer people between 2014 and 2019 in those parts of the US where there had been Black Lives Matter protests.

Where there were larger and more frequent BLM protests, there was a steeper decline in police killings.

These are the findings of a new study by US economist Travis Campbell posted in February (but not yet peer-reviewed): ‘Black Lives Matter’s Effect on Police Lethal Use-of-Force’.

Campbell wrote: ‘The payoff for protesting is…

6 July 2021 PN staff

Drilling plans rejected, protest ban defeated

British anti-fracking campaigners have been celebrating several wins recently.

On 2 March, West Sussex county council rejected new plans to test drill for oil in Balcombe, site of an early anti-fracking struggle in 2013.

Despite council officers recommending approval of the revised plan from Angus Energy, councillors unanimously refused the application.

On another front, at the beginning of February, anti-fracking campaigners were celebrating in Surrey and Sussex when…

6 July 2021 PN staff and Rob Fairmichael

Both unionists and nationalists need to start thinking creatively about possible futures inside and outside of the UK, says Rob Fairmichael

A Quick guide to NI
by PN staff

As many readers will know, the Northern Ireland mini-state was created when the British government partitioned Ireland 100 years ago, on 3 May 1921.

Since then, there have been people in NI who want to reunite the six NI counties with the rest of Ireland – they’re known as ‘nationalists’ and ‘republicans’. Against them have been those who want to maintain British rule over NI – known as ‘unionists’ and ‘loyalists’.…

5 July 2021 Kelvin Mason

Choirs fundraise to help end male violence against women

As part of the White Ribbon campaign, members of three activist choirs collaborated to stage a fundraiser for the charity, which works with men and boys to end male violence against women.

Canwyr Stryd Bangor, Côr Cochion Caerdydd and Aberystwyth’s Côr Gobaith organised an evening of teaching songs, singalongs, and performance poetry.

The evening began with Anthea Sully, chief executive of White Ribbon, who outlined the White Ribbon Promise ‘to never commit, excuse or remain…

5 July 2021 Lotte Reimer

‘Travelling’ signs and peace cranes mark 'entry into force' of UN nuclear weapons ban

Lotte Reimer writes: As congregating to sing or otherwise celebrate together was impossible due to the lockdown, a great deal of thought and innovation went into how to celebrate the ‘entry into force’ of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 22 January. ‘Travelling’ signs and peace cranes were photographed in various places across Wales (including the Welsh senedd/parliament – see below) and pictures were posted on social media. There was also an online CND Cymru concert…

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…