News

1 August 2022 PN staff

Nine walk free after anti-arms fair protest

On 25 July, a group of nine anti-arms trade protesters were acquitted after a four-day trial at Stratford magistrates court in East London.

The court found that Meredith Dickinson, Yvette Hannon, Lizzy Haughton, Francis Henderson, Joshua Instone, William James, Emily Robinson, James Uzzell and Luke Whiting did obstruct the highway by blocking an access road to the DSEI arms fair last September.

However, the DSEI Nine were acquitted because the court ruled that the…

1 August 2022 Trish Whitham

Unique window into British nuclear decision-making goes online

In August, the Nuclear Information Service (NIS) will be unveiling the first digitised documents from the research archive of the late Scottish CND co-ordinator John Ainslie (see his obituary in PN 2600 – 2601). As well as taking part in campaigning and direct action in support of disarmament, John was ‘an authoritative and internationally respected nuclear researcher’ (the Guardian…

1 August 2022 PN staff

Whistleblowers say weapons were planted to justify killings

SAS soldiers killed detainees and unarmed men in Afghanistan in suspicious circumstances on dozens of occasions, according to a BBC TV documentary broadcast in mid-July.

Military reports obtained by Panorama suggest that one SAS unit may have killed 54 people unlawfully in one six-month tour.

Whistleblowers from the SAS squadron told the BBC they saw SAS ‘operators’ kill unarmed people during night raids – and then plant AK-47 rifles to justify the killing.

1 August 2022 PN staff

30,000 march against military alliance

Peace activists flocked to Madrid before and during the NATO summit in the Spanish capital at the end of June.

There was the biggest anti-NATO march for decades on 26 June, with 30,000 marchers. It was part of the programme of the Madrid Peace Summit, held in the huge, union-owned Auditorio Marcelino Camacho in the city centre.

Sara Herschander reported on Waging Nonviolence that other protests included an XR/Fridays for Future die-in of 30 people at the Reina Sofia…

1 August 2022 PN staff

Former PM rejects proposed increase in military spending

The Italian government fell on 21 July partly over the issue of arms supplies to Ukraine.

The Five Star Movement, the hard-to-define, anti-establishment party, and the largest party in Italy’s parliament, had been in governing coalitions since 2018, but it lost confidence in the current national unity government this summer.

The party also split over Ukraine. Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio, in favour of arming Ukraine, broke away from Five Star in June to form a new party, ‘…

1 August 2022 PN staff

Report highlights differential treatment of Ukraine and Palestine in UK schools

As thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza and the West Bank against US president Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East in mid-July, the British Muslim human rights group CAGE released a report on bias in British education: Understanding Ukraine and Palestine solidarity in UK Schools.

In Bethlehem, Palestine, Palestinian journalists turned up to Biden’s press conference with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas wearing T-shirts featuring the face of Shireen Abu Aqleh,…

1 June 2022 PN staff

Campaigners demand ‘No US nukes in Britain!’

‘No US nukes in Britain!’ That was the message of over 150 activists from around the UK (and from the Continent) who joined the CND demonstration at USAF Lakenheath on 21 May.

The news that the US air force might be returning nuclear weapons to its base in north Suffolk broke on 11 April with a tweet from US researcher Hans Kristensen: ‘Looks like RAF Lakenheath air base has quietly been added to the list of nuclear weapons storage sites receiving upgrades in Europe.’

1 June 2022 David Polden

Campaigners disrupt dinner to denounce 'racist and inhumane' deportation plans

On 6 May, protesters infiltrated a Conservative party dinner in Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire. During a keynote speech by home secretary Priti Patel they took it in turns to stand on chairs to denounce her ‘racist and inhumane’ plan to deport refugees to Rwanda. (The audience booed them as they were removed.)

The UK government has reached an agreement with Rwanda by which refugees who arrive in the UK ‘illegally’ (the only way they can), and who apply for asylum, will be flown 4,500…

1 June 2022 PN staff

Protest calls for 'Windmills Not War Machines'

On 22 April, Earth Day, a local anti-militarist action group in North Carolina, USA, held a two-hour blockade of the construction site for a 1.2mn square foot jet engine manufacturing plant belonging to Pratt & Whitney (wholly owned by Raytheon Technologies, the second largest war corporation in the world). The ‘Reject Raytheon Asheville’ protest, called ‘Windmills Not War Machines’, was one of over 30 events in a week of mobilisation around the US sponsored by the War Industry Resisters…

1 June 2022 David Polden

'Justice delayed is justice denied' say women deceived into relationships with undercover police

Women deceived into relationships with undercover police officers have condemned the further delays that have been announced in the government’s Undercover Policing Inquiry. On 20 May, their campaign group, Police Spies Out Of Lives, said: ‘The idea that we have to wait until 2024 for the next tranche of hearings is beyond belief. Justice delayed is justice denied. We urge the inquiry to rethink this timeframe.’

In 2015, the Metropolitan police apologised to seven women and paid…

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…