The Royal Navy will host a National Service of Thanksgiving to mark 50 years of the Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) on 3rd of May 2019. New CASD Dreadnought submarines are currently being constructed as part of a £205 billion Trident replacement scheme. Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said “It’s morally repugnant that a service of thanksgiving for Britain’s nuclear weapons system is due to be held at Westminster Abbey. This sends out a terrible message to the world about our country. It says that here in Britain we celebrate weapons – in a place of worship – that can kill millions of people. If the Defence Secretary doesn’t cancel this service, we call on the Church authorities to step in to stop it.”
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will hold protests at Westminster Abbey on the day of the service if this celebration of nuclear weapons goes ahead.
Keep the day free – Friday 3rd May 2019.
Ploughshares activists blocked all three entrances to AWE Burghfield, the Berkshire site where the Trident warheads are manufactured and undergo regular heavy maintenance. Two ends of the The Mearings (MOD road leading to Main Gate) were blocked by activists locked onto to cars, whilst on the other side of the site, activists lay across the Construction Gate locked onto to each other through tubes.
The activists' intentions were to prevent work on nuclear weapons, whose use would be illegal 'in virtually all conceivable circumstances', and to highlight in the public mind the continuing danger these weapons pose and the refusal of the UK Government to engage with the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.
The first activists were cut out of their lock-on tubes and arrested at around lunchtime, whilst the last one was not removed until 5pm. Nine people were arrested.
One person accepted a caution, and the other eight were charged with wilfully obstructing a public highway without lawful excuse. All eight pleaded not guilty in January, and on 23 April they will argue that there was no intention to obstruct a highway, and that their action was 'a reasonable and proportionate exercise of their right to protest' (Article 10/11 European Convention on Human Rights).
THREE Green MEPs were arrested in Belgium in March for breaking into a military base to protest against nuclear weapons. Britain’s Molly Scott Cato, France’s Michele Rivasi and Luxembourg’s Tilly Metz scaled a 12-foot fence to enter the Kleine Brogel base and block a runway, unfurling a banner that read: “Europe free of nuclear weapons.”
The protest focused on US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty that removed nearly 2,700 ground-launched nuclear missiles from Europe. Ms Scott Cato said they “intended to challenge EU countries to remove US nuclear weapons from European soil. Each B61 bomb is 23 times more powerful than the bomb that devastated Hiroshima. We demand that Europe’s nuclear nations immediately sign up to the landmark global Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and begin the process of decommissioning their nuclear arsenals. Britain and France have ignored their obligations under the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons for far too long.”
The action was welcomed by Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. General secretary Kate Hudson said: “US nuclear weapons have no place in Europe — this isn’t a battleground for a nuclear war between world powers. We are in desperate need of a new era of diplomacy. The British government could lead the way by supporting efforts to rescue the INF treaty and fully engaging with the UN’s treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The alternative is to sit back while the US president tears up all restraints on nuclear weapons and rapidly moves the world closer to nuclear war.”
Thanks to The Morning Star for this report.
Nearly all of them received at least 100 hours of community service. (Ironic, since all of them work in their communities all the time, in migrant support centres, gardening projects, choirs, and so on). The defendants had lodged an appeal in January 2019 and have been told by their lawyers that the appeal is likely to be heard at the end of 2019 / early 2020, so it's a long road to clearing their names.
The Crown Prosecution Service has also indicated that it wants to prosecute the Stansted 15 for the original charge, Aggravated Trespass if the appeal is successful (as everyone expects it to be). The Stansted 15 and campaign group End Deportations vow to continue their campaigning until they have cleared their names and the discredited hostile environment policy is no more.
Thanks to Melanie Strickland of the Stanstead 15 for this report (edited).
The 15 had originally been facing the possibility of many years in prison after being convicted of ‘endangering safety at an aerodrome, contrary to section 1(2)(b) of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990’, anti-terrorist legislation which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Judge Christopher Morgan at Chelmsford crown court told the defendants: “In normal circumstances only a normal custodial sentence would have been justified in this case, but in your case I accept that your intentions were to demonstrate”.
From The Evening Standard 25th February - by Tristan Kirk, Courts Correspondent:
Four religious campaigners who were convicted after chaining themselves together in a protest against the global arms trade have vowed to fight their case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Christopher Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Joanna Frew and Nora Ziegler formed a blockade outside the Excel Centre in Docklands as it hosted the 2017 Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade fair.
The protestors, who describe themselves as "people of conscience" were cleared of a criminal charge of obstructing a highway last February but the High Court has overturned the verdict ruling that all four must be convicted.
The four appeared in the dock last week to be sentenced but their lawyer Raj Chada told Thames magistrate's court that efforts to take the case to the Supreme Court were already underway. "I have no doubt these defendants will be vindicated by history" he said.
He alleged "Unlawful weapons have been found at four DSEI arms fairs in a row. Regimes with a history of mass human rights violations are invited to purchase weapons at DSEI.”
The protestors used specially designed ‘locking boxes’ to bind themselves together in the protest on September 5th 2017, lying down in an access road leading to the ExCel Centre. (The purpose of this was to prevent weapons and other equipment being delivered to the site - Ed.) It took police about 90 minutes to cut them free and remove and arrest them.
Mr. Chada said all defendants were polite and co-operative, but determined and committed to the anti-arms-trade movement, and all asserted the importance of faith in the actions they took. The Court heard that Frew and Ziegler both work for Catholic church-run refugee centres in North London, helping victims of war-torn countries such as Yemen. Cullinan is a writer and activist, Coles is a campaigner against the use of drones in war, and has 16 convictions from protests.
District Judge Alison Rose sentenced all four to a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered them each to pay £120 in court costs and fees.
The High Court has been asked to approve the protestors' grounds for appeal so that the case can be heard in the Supreme Court. A decision is expected soon.
This was organised by Oxfam, UNA London and S.E, WarChild, International Rescue Committee, and several other organisations. It was planned to be in the Houses of Parliament in a committee room off Westminster Hall, and all Members of Parliament had been asked to drop in to hear speeches by activists and by Yemeni women who had been brought on a European tour by Oxfam. Unfortunately the event had to be moved at short notice due to a strike by Palace of Westminster staff, and although the new venue (the Brunel Room at the Institution of Civil Engineers) was very beautiful and very close, this did probably result in fewer MPs coming along than were hoped for.
However it was great to meet the young Yemeni women and hear their stories, though very harrowing, and to see the enthusiasm of the mainly young activists in the sponsoring organisations, all determined to make change happen.
A message for International Women's Day. 8th March 2019
When the US rolled into Kabul and toppled the Taliban Government in October 2001, they did so in the name of ‘women’s liberation’. Eighteen years later, the US now hosts peace negotiations which fail to include the women.
This week President Trump announced that 10,000 US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan will soon be withdrawn. The news has shone a spotlight on a forgotten war and intensified pressure on the already sketchy peace deal.
Talk of US withdrawal has left UK peace activists baffled at the prospect of Britain ‘picking up’ counter terror operations, and how the UK Government will continue to slavishly follow the US policy and the 'special relationship'. This may well be related to Brexit and Britain's keenness to maintain global allies, even if this means acting as a fig leaf to cover America's shame in suddenly heading out of a flaky peace deal. Certainly redundant forces post-Syria will be wanting to look as if they're doing something to earn their keep.
Afghan women civil society groups are rightly up in arms declaring that they “will never go back” and asking for solidarity from their sisters around the world – their call has been answered via a signed letter from various prominent international women asking for Afghan women to be included in the peace talks. Women are currently in fear of being thrown back into the dark conditions of Taliban rule, some understandably feel a sense of abandonment if the international forces withdraw.
Only yesterday morning there was a mortar attack in Kabul killing three people and injuring eighteen – this is an average day for the capital city. The Taliban now have shadow local governance in over 50% of the country, and the actual Government is made up of a murderous and kleptocratic elite.
Although there have been gains for women, many have sadly been exaggerated. The classic example is the education of some 4 million Afghan girls, when in reality enrolment numbers vary considerably between Afghan government sources and that of the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) who, in 2015, estimated that $769 million had gone to ‘Ghost Schools’, wherein administrators collect salaries for absent student bodies. Today illiteracy for women in Afghanistan stands at 84% which, after 18 years of foreign support and millions of dollars, is still the worst in the world.
As a non-Afghan ‘foreigner’ I am reluctant to criticise – only last week I posted on Facebook some photos I had just taken of a Kabul river bed piled high with rubbish, some opium addicts crouched in the shallows, above the bridge there was a gathering of street kids and some unemployed labourers.
A Kabul Afghan commented “why do you only post bad photos of Afghanistan”. He then posted an aerial picture of Kabul and another comment “why don’t you visit Bamiyan”. And that sums it up, Kabul looks OK from very far away and Bamiyan, though exquisitely beautiful, is inaccessible due to unsafe roads patrolled by the Taliban.
Nevertheless, I still felt guilty about painting a negative, albeit honest, presentation of a country which is not my own. I therefore asked some Afghans for their thoughts.
One particularly inspiring and seemingly fearless young woman Norina aged 20, gave me her thoughts:
“Change is going to take sacrifice and Afghan women need to be prepared for this, we need to be brave. We can’t expect the men to change their mindset so it’s up to the women to change their minds – there will be sacrifice but that’s the stark reality. Women need to get together with other like-minded women and push for change, we may lose women but perhaps other women in the future will find encouragement.”
A stunning analysis, both in bravery for someone so young, and in her position as an Afghan woman who has grown up under the reign of foreign ‘liberation’, but still feels women will need to make huge sacrifices.
And there it is, Afghanistan, the worst country in the world to be a woman, but also the number one place to find the bravest and strongest of women.
It is our duty to answer the cries of our Afghan sisters and stand in solidarity with them during these precarious and crucial times.
See more comments from Afghan women and photos on www.vcnv.org.uk
While producing this Newsletter I heard on Radio 4 Woman's Hour an interview with Helen Clark, a former Prime Minister of New Zealand who had recently visited Afghanistan. She had met a 26 year old woman who was offering her 12 year old daughter for marriage to gain some money. She had been married at 13 herself, had had a child most years and her husband was a drug addict, so the family was destitute and she was desperate. Every day the children were put out to find what work they could do and one day a small son vanished. They eventually found him in a hospital where he had had a kidney removed. He had no idea why this had happened. None of the family could read or write. There's a long way to go........
Thank you Maya for all you are doing.
Our fundraising season will be starting soon. We have some good quality books and some very saleable bric-a-brac in stock, but would like more. Are you decluttering? Any unused gifts, unchipped crockery or ornaments, attractive books etc. would be most welcome.
The first sales will be held in my garage on both May Bank holidays. Many will be busy on these days I’m sure and many can think of far better things to do on a Bank Holiday and that’s fine, but if you are willing and able to join me on Monday 6 May or Monday 27 May 2019 for an hour or longer that would be appreciated. My garage is in Lower Ham Road near the Hawker Centre and is at the rear of 289 Richmond Road, Kingston KT2 5DJ. The sales will begin at 11 am and will continue until 4 pm if the weather is good.
The other sales booked for this year are:
Wherever we go, KPC is complimented on its interesting and informative newsletter. I’m sure we all agree that our editors and contributors do an excellent job. Thank you to Rosemary Addington, Phillip Cooper, and Gill Hurle for their work. The money we make enables our newsletter to be printed and distributed to interested people all over the country. We also pay expenses of visiting speakers, donations to other groups with whom we have links and to causes which, like us, are striving for a better and more peaceful world. So please find out if you are able to help at these events as lots of help is needed, but I can assure you that if the weather is good - which it often is - then a really enjoyable and interesting day is in store.
Please contact me on 020 8549 0086 or email Maggie at galdor.co.uk with offers of help or to request collection of goods.
Campaigning Labour MP Paul Flynn died in February after a long illness. A sufferer from rheumatoid arthritis, Flynn campaigned for the medical use of cannabis. In July 2017, he called on users to come to London and ‘break the law’ by using cannabis at the houses of parliament.
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) paid this tribute:
The MP for Newport West since 1987 after 15 years as a councillor, Paul Flynn was a strong advocate and supporter of the NFLA, speaking at a number of our meetings over the past three decades. He was a politician of great integrity, as the tributes from MPs of all political parties have emphasised.
Paul Flynn was a consistent opponent of both nuclear power and nuclear weapons throughout his political career. He was an indefatigable peace campaigner and a real pleasure to work with.
He was a strong supporter of the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and consistently challenged the need for Trident replacement in Westminster debates. He was a principal speaker at the annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorative services at Tredegar Park for over 30 years. For example, he said: “I cannot think of any conceivable use that nuclear weapons could have, apart from the prestige they give us. They also undermine our position in international talks. How dare we tell Iran not to develop nuclear weapons, when we are going ahead with updating ours?”
As a Gwent county councillor he was a core part of the local campaign to oppose building a nuclear power station in Portskewett, south Wales, in 1979, which was cancelled shortly after the ‘Three Mile Island’ nuclear accident in the United States. He was also the press secretary to the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance, playing a prominent part in getting all 22 local authorities in Wales to sign up to the aspirational “Nuclear Free Wales Declaration” in 1982.
Paul would be greatly concerned about the negative turn in the nuclear weapons debate with the United States and Russia suspending the INF Treaty; and he would be continuing to advocate for renewable energy in the UK, particularly after the recent decisions by Toshiba and Hitachi to halt new nuclear projects at Sellafield, Moorside and Wylfa.
NFLA passes on our deepest sympathy to his family and to his many friends in the peace movement.
- a talk given to Haringey CND in March by Dr Ian Fairlie.
This article is taken from a video made by Rik Garfit-Mottram. You can see this entire video on www.ianfairlie.org
Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radiation in the environment with degrees in chemistry and radiation biology. His doctoral studies at Imperial College in London and at Princeton University in the US examined the health effects of nuclear waste technologies.
He has been a consultant to the UK Government and was Scientific Secretary to the UK Government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters. His area of expertise is the estimation of doses/risks from radionuclide emissions at nuclear facilities. He has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals on epidemiology studies of childhood leukemias near nuclear facilities, and the hazards of tritium.
Dr Fairlie began by explaining that, following the announcement that Hitachi and Toshiba were pulling out of funding Wylva B and Moorside nuclear power station construction, both EDF and Rolls Royce announced they are trying to sell their civil nuclear programmes. This was given very little publicity by the media as it was announced around the date of the first big vote against Teresa May's Brexit deal. In fact the very day after this vote many motions were tabled in the House of Commons among which the most interesting to us were concerning the fact that no Government money is to be given to Wylva B and Moorside, while half a billion pounds is going to offshore wind. Greg Clarke the Energy Secretary actually admitted that the price for renewables is plummeting while nuclear construction costs are going upwards fast. He also announced a review.
From all this Ian deduced that, following a worldwide trend in pulling out of nuclear new-build, Britain has decided it will ditch nuclear! Of course this is not being admitted at the moment, and the media is too distracted by Brexit to have picked it up. He also mentioned that local authorities in Somerset, Wales and Cumbria have long been pleading for more Government money for their new-build nuclear, but to no avail. As all this is very ground-breaking he has checked it with 3 other nuclear experts, who agree with him that the writing may be on the wall. Some of it may be influenced by the Fukushima disaster - the 8th anniversary of which was on 11th March.
The next part of Ian's talk was more technical and concerned keyway root cracking. He explained that all nuclear reactors have to have a moderator as if neutrons travel too fast fission won't take place. These are made up of 3,000 graphite (carbon) bricks, stacked up and locked together. They look like barrels, and the fuel and rods go in the centre. After 40 years or so they start to crack, the cracks are opposite each other, and so the moderator becomes unstable. Anything like a tremor can cause it to crack right down the stack (pictures were shown of this). This is an age-related generic fault, and at Hunterston in Scotland and Hinkley B in Somerset the moderators were designed to last 30 years, but they are over 40 years old now.
Ian was amazed to be invited for the first time, with Sean Morris from Nuclear-free Local Authorities, to go for a meeting with three top Government experts. The meeting, which lasted three hours, was about a 1,000 page safety report written by EDF, concerning a massive computer programme to analyse how safe it would be to restart these reactors (at present they are shut down). This has received some media coverage, including a photograph in the Guardian of the graphite bricks showing cracks. Ian wonders if all this is because they really want to close the reactors - they are aiming for 99.9% safety assurance, but this is impossible.
Ian concluded his talk by mentioning the subject that usually comes up in discussions about closure, which is jobs. But he stressed that jobs will not be reduced by closure, as nuclear plants cannot just be switched off. This has been demonstrated at Fukushima, where it has been impossible to cool the closed reactor, so a mass of radioactive water is being produced that has to be stored, as there's no way to get rid of it safely. He explained that when the plant is operating 21% of generation comes from radioactive decay. That can't be stopped so must be contained.
Finally he mentioned that 70 to 80% of electricity in Scotland is now coming from renewables, - wind, wave, tidal, geo-thermal and hydro - it is a world leader. News media find it hard to accept this. The fall-back will be gas fired, and also great progress is now being made in battery development for storage.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND