News

1 October 2022 David Polden

Arrests in Oxford and Edinburgh

During the outpourings of grief for the late queen, Elizabeth II, who died on 8 September, a few brave souls attempted to show dissent.

Symon Hill was walking home from church in Oxford on 11 September when he passed a proclamation ceremony for the new king, Charles III. He heard a speaker tell the crowd to accept Charles as their ‘only lawful and rightful liege lord’.

In response, Symon shouted: ‘Who elected him?’. The crowd cried: ‘Shut up!’ Symon was arrested and handcuffed…

1 October 2022 David Polden

Human rights groups labelled 'terrorists'

On 18 August, Israeli troops raided the offices of six Palestinian human rights groups in the occupied West Bank, confiscating computers and other equipment.

The six groups, which Israel labelled terrorist organisations in 2021, were: al-Haq (the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists); the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees; the Union of Agricultural Work Committees; the Bisan Centre for Research…

1 October 2022 PN staff

This autumn sees a burst of activity in Britain over Western Sahara, ‘Africa’s last colony’ – in court, in parliament, in conference and in supermarkets

Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, saw a long ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario liberation front, from 1991 until 2020, when Morocco moved forces into a UN-patrolled buffer zone (PN 2648 – 2649). Scattered fighting is continuing in border areas.

Recently, Moroccan security forces mounted a brutal campaign against a Sahrawi human rights activist, Sultana Khaya, including beatings and sexual assault (PN 2661).

1 October 2022 PN staff

US voters back diplomatic solution to Ukraine crisis

Image Click on the image to enlarge it.

Most people in the US support their government pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to end the war in Ukraine, ‘even if it means Ukraine making some compromises with Russia’ (see graphic above).

When Data for Progress asked the question in a slightly different way, an even larger majority of…

1 October 2022

Peace symbol now recyclable

White poppies are now plastic-free and recyclable! The poppies are now being made for the Peace Pledge Union by Calverts, a workers’ co-op in London. White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism. (A pack of five costs £5 plus £3 p&p.) More info and orders: PPU, 020 7424 9444, www.ppu.org.uk

1 October 2022 PN staff

Cost of living protests in 50 towns and cities across UK

1 October saw huge protests against the cost of living crisis: national strikes by three rail unions – and by postal workers – involving tens of thousands; the blocking of four bridges in London by the Just Stop Oil climate and social justice coalition; and rallies and marches in 50 towns and cities across the UK by the new union-backed social justice coalition Enough is Enough.

1 October also saw the burning of energy bills in 20 towns and cities by local Don’t Pay groups. (Don’t Pay…

1 October 2022 PN staff

Unarmed Civilian Protection team mooted for nuclear plant

Activists are exploring the possibility of setting up an Unarmed Civilian Protection team at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine ‘to prevent a nuclear explosion that would impact Ukraine – and the world’. A deliberate attack or an accident at Zaporizhzhia could create a Chernobyl-like disaster.

On 30 September, it was reported that 30 people were killed when a Russian missile struck a civilian convoy waiting to go into Zaporizhzhya. According to the authorities, there were…

1 October 2022 PN staff

Bank of England refuses to come clean as Afghan children starve

The humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan can only be ended by allowing the Afghan central bank ‘immediate access to its foreign reserves in full’. Those are the words of Andrés Arauz, former general director of the Central Bank of Ecuador (see PN 2661), reflecting the views of many other financial and aid experts.

All $9bn of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves have been ‘frozen’ – stolen – by five governments. Of the $9bn held overseas, $7bn is held in the US, leaving $2bn in the…

1 October 2022 David Polden

Climate campaigners in Westminster actions

On 2 September, Extinction Rebellion (XR), the climate change direct action group, carried out actions at the Westminster parliament in London. Three XR members glued themselves to a chain inside the chamber of the house of commons. Two other campaigners held large banners reading: ‘Citizens Assembly Now’ and ‘Let the People Decide’.

Meanwhile, another two XR activists D-locked themselves by their necks to the gates to the members’ car park and an eighth rebel climbed up the…

1 October 2022 David Polden

Palestine Action campaigners charged with burglary and 'blackmail'

A five-week trial involving members of the direct action group Palestine Action (PA) is due to start at Snaresbrook crown court on on 10 October.

The eight Palestine Action activists (including cofounders Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard) have been charged with burglary, criminal damage and ‘blackmail’ – for which the maximum sentence is 14 years.

The charges relate to the first six months of PA action against the British subsidiary of the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems,…

3 August 2022 David Polden

Dissident Israelis held on remand for one month

On 20 June, the British branch of Elbit, Israel’s largest arms company, announced it was closing its offices in Kingsway, Central London.

This was five months after Elbit, which produces 85 percent of the military drones Israel uses for attacks on Palestinian territory, announced the sale of its Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham.

Both these closures are due to a sustained direct action campaign by Palestine Action (PA). In the case of Elbit’s London offices, they’ve been the…

2 August 2022 PN staff

19 million Afghans face starvation due to Western theft of country's reserves

In Afghanistan, ‘more people will die of hunger in 2022 alone than from violence during the last 20 years of conflict’, if the international community does not take drastic action.

That was the warning, back in December, from four aid experts including Elizabeth Winter, executive director of BAAG, the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group. BAAG includes ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid and Oxfam.

One key issue is Afghanistan’s foreign reserves. When the Taliban retook…

1 August 2022 David Polden

Protests and legal challenge to take place on 5 September

The British government’s first attempt to deport up to 130 refugees to Rwanda was met with legal and direct action and ended in failure on 14 June.

After several lawyers had successfully appealed against the deportation of their clients, the government had only seven refugees listed to fly out of Gatwick airport.

In the late afternoon, a newly-formed direct action group called Stop Deportations lay down in the road outside Colnbrook immigration removal centre, creating a…

1 August 2022 David Polden

Human chain action in London planned for 8 October

On 17 June, the home secretary, Priti Patel, signed the order for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to be extradited to the US to face 17 counts under the US Espionage Act. His ‘crime’ was receiving and publishing secret US military documents containing evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. If found guilty of all the charges, Assange could be imprisoned for up to 175 years.

Assange, who has appealed, remains in solitary confinement in Belmarsh high-security prison where…

1 August 2022 David Polden

Gallery protests demand end to new oil extraction 

On 23 July, the ‘We All Want to Just Stop Oil’ coalition held a ‘mass swarming march’ in Central London. Groups set off from 11 separate locations, causing much traffic disruption, and all converging in Parliament Square for an authorised symbolic mass sit-down. Real Media, who filmed the event, reported that 1,000 people took part.

The coalition is headed by the climate action group Just Stop Oil (JSO). Other members include CND, Disabled People Against Cuts, Fuel Poverty Action,…

1 August 2022 Milan Rai

How Johnson and Truss have helped to undermine diplomacy and prolong the war in Ukraine

As Noam Chomsky has repeatedly pointed out since February: ‘our prime concern should be to think through carefully what we can do to bring the criminal Russian invasion to a quick end and to save the Ukrainian victims from more horrors’ (PN 2660).

This must mean an immediate ceasefire and a quick peace agreement along the lines nearly agreed at the end of March.

The reality is that this brutal and dangerous war will end in one of three ways: the two sides will…

1 August 2022

Send a card to the anarchist illustrator

While preparing this issue, and asking permission to use the graphic on the front page (which is not in the public domain, contrary to what the internet believes), we learned that the revered British anarchist illustrator Clifford Harper was not well (but on the mend).

Clifford is the author of Anarchy: A Graphic Guide and The Education of Desire and has been illustrating radical, alternative and mainstream publications since the 1970s! (You may know him from the…

1 August 2022 Milan Rai

RMT leader calls for general strike if new PM pursues anti-union plans

There should be a general strike if Tory MP Liz Truss becomes prime minister on 5 September and pursues the harsh anti-union policies she has announced recently.

That’s the view of Mick Lynch, secretary general of the RMT rail union, who says: ‘Truss is proposing to make effective trade unionism illegal in Britain and to rob working people of a key democratic right. If these proposals become law, there will be the biggest resistance mounted by the entire trade union movement,…

1 August 2022 PN staff

10-day camp records 'opposition to UK threats of nuclear mass destruction’

Four activists were arrested during the 10-day Trident Ploughshares/XR Peace ‘FABB’ (Faslane Action for Bomb Ban) Camp in Peaton Wood, in western Scotland in June.

On 13 June, one of the arrestees, Gillean Lawrence of XR Peace, was deprived of her heart medication for nine hours by police at Clydebank police station, and threatened with being held overnight without access to her medication. She has made a formal complaint.

Peaton Wood is very close to RNAD Coulport which stores…

1 August 2022 David Polden

Anti-nuke demos in London, Berlin, Paris and Coulport

On 16 June, an International Day of Action was held to call on all countries to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and for all nuclear weapon states to get rid of them.

There were demonstrations making these demands in Paris and Berlin, and letters were handed in to the British nuclear weapons bases at Faslane and Coulport.

The day of action was just ahead of the first review meeting (in Vienna) of the 65 countries who have so far ratified or…