Trash Trident Trial
Rosie And Rachel Discharged!
Coulport Summer Camp
A beginner’s experience
Nonviolence in action
Truth and Justice?
Truth and Legal Processes
Court Quotes and Notes
Dr. Moonie’s ’Moment Of Truth’
Militant pour la paix
September 11 Attacks
Trident Ploughshares Statement on the Terrorist attacks on the US and their Aftermath
A View From Europe
TP to the Capital
TP Camp in London – 16-19 November
Welcome to the twelfth issue of Speed the Plough! Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a non-violent, open, peaceful and fully accountable manner. People from 13 countries have pledged to disarm Trident in this way and our supporters’ database contains around 2000 names, including many famous people and members of parliament. We act to uphold international humanitarian law and to expose the illegality of the Trident system.
Rosie And Rachel Discharged!
Aldermaston Women Trident Trashers Rosie James and Rachel Wenham were discharged at Manchester Crown Court on 4th October after the jury (again!) could not reach a verdict. Since their brilliant Barrow action in February 1999, which held up HMS Vengeance for a month, the legal process has been long and weary. Rachel said: ” I feel great – this is an excellent outcome. It’s good to know that at least three people -probably more – knew we were justified in our action and held out for that.” It has always been hard to imagine any jury convicting Rachel and Rosie. They were so deliberate and single minded in what they did and so transparent about why they acted. Their action back in the early days of the campaign gave us a tremendous lift and was a model of sheer guts and effectiveness. The trials themselves have exposed the insane violence behind our so-called policy of deterrence -a violence so sadly illustrated these days in the unthinking readiness to go for the war option without considering the potential holocaust that may result.
TP Wins “Alternative Nobel” Award
TP, represented by Angie Zelter, Ellen Moxley and Ulla Roder, are among the winners of the Right Livelihood Award, to be handed over in the Swedish parliament in December. TP were picked out as “a model of principled, transparent and non-violent direct action dedicated to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Their imaginative campaign highlights the illegality of these weapons.”
Summer Camp at Coulport
A beginner’s experience
Wednesday 25th July was a beautiful sunny morning and found me cycling through the glorious Scottish countryside heading for Loch Long. It was very interesting to see the North Gate at Faslane in the daylight. During the Big Blockade I had seen very little of it before being cut loose and taken away. Now all the razor wire and security could be seen – no wonder that it’s regarded as one of the most secure areas in the UK. It certainly gave the impression of being impregnable…
On my map there is only one minor road shown crossing the hill to Coulport, but as I made my way across it became obvious that my map only told half the story of what was there. New roads lead off in many directions. Finally there it was – Peaton Wood, with about half a dozen people working. Someone dressed up in overalls and helmet was energetically wielding a large petrol strimmer. This turned out to be Jane Tallents, and the bracken and brambles were disappearing at a great rate, clearing the main area for the marquee. The marquee was soon unfolded and set up with the minimum of fuss when you take in to account the fact that very few of us had ever put up such a thing before! Kitchen tent and toilets all followed in quick succession and by the end of the day we were all firm friends working as a team and planning how to challenge the impregnable fortresses that surrounded us.
The next day we finished putting up the camp, and we felt that if we could set up a camp of this complexity in two days, what chance did the Modplod have of keeping us out? We now had the ability to cater for hundreds, with electricity, phones, and computers to deal with the press and give legal support; everything was ready for the start of the disarmament actions! Of course a lot of preparation and work had been put in to enable all this to happen so seamlessly. How the camp functioned and the decisions were made in the camp brought home to me how important consensus decision-making is, how everyone felt included and had an input. There was confusion sometimes, but this was a small price to pay for the enthusiasm of everyone, and the determination to work together and gain our ends.
Henry David Thoreau’s essay on Civil Disobedience had been read by Tolstoy, Tolstoy had been read by Gandhi, and Gandhi had been read by the people in TP2000. It was an ideology which had been around the world, affecting and being affected by all it encountered. Now we were putting it in to practice, watching it come alive, invigorating and enabling as it unfolded. The process was so important, as important as what we hoped to achieve, when For Mother Earth cooked dinner it was not just to feed us, but something very special – an entertainment, quiz and gourmet delight all rolled in to one, building that community. One of the things which most deeply impressed me about the camp was the ability of people to listen with respect to what others had to say. So often, in arguing, we can hardly wait for our “opponent” to finish so that we can “correct” him (or her). The success of the camp was intoxicating, but just as my map only told part of the reality of what was on the ground, so the success of the actions only told part of the story of the success of the camp. I can’t wait till next year and be part of that community again.
Nonviolence in action
After having seen police violence in actions many times, it’s been amazing to see how peaceful, and still extremely radical actions there can be. It was amazing to see during the TP camp, how activists and police officers respect and even trust each other and how police officers may chat with activists who have just made a blockade, almost as if they were good friends.
I came to the camp to see if Trident Ploughshares is the campaign I want to join, and to learn better how to organise actions working on a consensus and non-violence basis. Campaigns in Finland have a lot to learn about consensus decision – making structures, and non-violence is not always so controlled either. So, as many things were new for me I mostly observed actions and meetings during the camp. It was tempting to do actions and to get arrested, but I decided not to do anything illegal this time because traveling to Scotland for a trial wouldn’t be so simple for me.
The camp had a huge impact on me. It was inspiring to see the variety of actions organised, and the way they were organised. After seeing it all I feel more confident about doing actions myself, and as I saw at court how ridiculous it all can be, getting charges is no longer a reason not to do an action. Actually only five days after I came back to Finland from the camp I joined a group that was going to do a symbolic action to support a conscientious objector who is in jail. We tried to release him by digging a tunnel to his cell, though we didn’t succeed before police came and stopped us. It was the first time I did an action that wasn’t a mass action, during which I could have got arrested, and probably the next time will come quite soon.
My first open and accountable non-violent action was a liberation for me! The Coulport Summer Disarmament camp had an exciting start! Some nice Dutch people and I formed a temporary affinity group. We D-locked ourselves together and we blocked the south gate for 2 hours! During the camp I learned lots of interesting things by doing some decoy-operations, vigils, more trainings, swimming, meetings, fence – cutting, etc.
The most exciting thing I did was the fenceÂ-cutting action together with my excellent action partner Harriet. We cut a neat little hole in the fence and after some spray-painting and disarmament work, worth Â£2000, we crawled inside the protective shield of the razor-wire for more than 6 hours, which I believe is a record! Wow, what a statement we made! Result: 36 hours in a police cell, 4 charges and the case to be continued on the 29th of October in Dumbarton Sheriff Court!
Looking back, the camp started a new chapter in my life. Claiming my first non-violent disarmament action was a liberation. The power of it is so strong and I am no longer afraid of the police and the consequences. I never felt more free than inside the police cell. They can restrain my body, but not my mind. And I know, I felt, that I was doing the right thing. That’s enough to bear the not so nice things about being an activist!! What I’ll remember most about the camp is the many nice people I met, who became my friends. Too many to name you all, but I really miss you guys and girls! Hope to see you again at Okblok!!!
If you are not on e-mail you can still keep up with the latest campaign news by phoning the TP Newsline on 0845 4588365 and listening to the recorded message. If you are on e-mail and want to join our information list e-mail email@example.com
Truth and Legal Processes
Helensburgh Magistrates Court has the curious mixture of relaxed informality and rigid rules of behaviour often characteristic of local municipal services. Proceedings are conducted according to a routine and in language which hides the humour and the tragedy of the stories told and the decisions made.
On Friday 17th August one young man was sentenced to a Â£200 fine for stealing two flowers in pots and another Â£60 for drinking port wine in a public place. Ian Richardson was then called to answer for not paying a Â£200 fine for non-violently blockading Faslane nuclear submarine base. He expected to be imprisoned and passed me a note of his mother’s telephone number to tell her what had happened. Ian speaks with a strong Glasgow accent and it is hard for an English person to understand. I feared that the Magistrate might also find it difficult. When asked to explain himself he gave a powerful and dignified account of his commitment to the Quaker peace testimony. He told the Court he would not pay an assassin to kill somebody. He is, therefore, not willing to pay the Government to kill or threaten to kill many people to defend him or to pay a fine for taking action to try to prevent the Government doing so. The magistrate listened to his witness without interrupting and I think was moved by it. Instead of immediately imprisoning Ian he gave him another month to pay but imposing a sentence of 7 days in prison if he did not pay. Ian responded by pointing out that another month would make no difference as he would not pay. His manner was not aggressive, merely quietly determined.
Ian’s case was followed by the full trials of Ann Kobayashi, Myra Garrett and Angela Broome, all for their nonviolent obstruction of workers wanting to drive into Faslane to carry on preparations for crimes against humanity and the planet. Ann had sat down outside the south gate and Myra and Angela at the north gate early on Monday 12th February 2001. They were warned by a senior police officer that if they did not move they would be arrested. They each gave moving and sincere accounts of their motives. They are grey-haired women of dignity, courage, knowledge, experience and sound judgment. Sue Davis, who was linked arms with Myra and Angela at the north gate and acted act a witness for Angela and Myra, added further dignity and mature judgment to the proceedings. It was obvious how inappropriate two parts of the charge were, “behaving in a disorderly manner” and ” breaching the peace.” The magistrate listened politely to the witness of each, only remarking when Ann was recounting her experiences as a worker in Thailand and Japan that he liked brevity. She had already spoken of her commitment to follow the teachings of Christ and of resolving conflicts by creating opportunities for dialogue. She managed to complete most of her account of why she felt called to obstruct the work at Faslane without further intervention.
The Procurator Fiscal’s main argument was that the defendants had stepped over the line between legal democratic protest and illegal obstruction of people seeking to go to work. The defendants had already referred to the illegality under international law of that work. The Scottish High Court of Justiciary has, for the time being, made such arguments unlikely to result in an acquittal in the Scottish courts. He drew out from the prosecution witnesses that more people were present holding banners and giving out leaflets, nearly 400 at the south and north gates together according to the constables who did the arresting, than were sitting in the road, around 30. The three had been writing letters, holding poster parades and leafleting for years. He did not try to prove that the three women had behaved in a disorderly manner in the ordinary sense of the expression.
The Magistrate fined each Â£250.* They did not have previous convictions. This is more than twice what other magistrates have fined people for the same offence on the same occasion. He used the same words each time and it was almost as though he had not been listening. Some of his body language, for instance crossing his legs so a knee obtruded over the top of the bench, suggested this was indeed the case. The sense of disappointment and outrage was relieved somewhat by Sue Davis congratulating him on the peace lilies he had to the right of the bench. This he acknowledged with a smile. The powers, working through this magistrate, have imposed quite heavy punishment on three non-violent resisters to genocidal plans and made it almost certain that a fourth, Ian Richardson will go to prison in a month. They will not however stop that resistance and upholding of a higher morality and law.
* JP Gillies said of Myra: “The appellant did not disclose her financial circumstances but had sufficient means to travel from London to take part in the demonstration and thus I considered she was in a position to pay the fine. I considered that a fine of Â£250 was commensurate with the defence.” Mr Gillies obviously has not heard about Virgin ticket prices of Â£13 return from London to Glasgow!
Trident on Trial (Â£9.99), Angie’s book about the campaign and the Trident Three is published by Luath Press. It is available from all good bookshops from 8 July 2001 but if people buy it from us TP gets Â£5.49 for each sale. (Find out how to buy the book
Court Quotes and Notes
“The judgment reads throughout as if it were a leisurely theoretical discourse concerning a somewhat unreal future hypothesis. There was no awareness that we are dealing with the ever-present possibility of immediate global destruction.” (Brian Quail on the LAR Opinion at his appeal hearing in the High Court in June)
“The experience could help to challenge attitudes in areas such as dealing with authority and social responsibility.” (Official guidance leaflet on Supervised Attendance Orders such as imposed on Barbara Maver and Jane Tallents.)
“The more I have gone into the background of the bailiff procedure . . the more distressed I have become. The cruel, barbaric practice, first introduced in 1267, has already been legislated against in Scotland. What is Labour doing in England?” (Joan Meredith, writing to Baroness Jay after a distress warrant was served on her by Alnwick Magistrates Court.)
In a moving plea of mitigation she told him that she had ended her involvement in direct action to take up teaching but hoped that in her new career she would be able to help youngsters to think for themselves and develop their own ethical codes. (Eleanor Stobo in Helensburgh District Court in June)
“I was part of a Bicycle Performance Art event, an installation which the police could have easily moved from the roadway if they had wished.” (Allen O’Keefe defending himself on a Big Blockade Charge in August)
” We are not saying the Sheriff is a fool, merely that the law is an ass.” (MSP Margo McDonald on Jane Tallents’ conviction for the Scottish Parliament demonstration in April.)
“I was simply doing my duty for the future of humanity.” (Roger Franklin in his Big Blockade case in August)
“If voices cannot be heard through normal channels the ultimate act is to put your body where it cannot be ignored.” (Anne Kobayashi in her Big Blockade case in August)
“There cannae be any fairness in that!” (Eric telling JP Viv Dance how the great cost of Trident condemned people to lives of poverty – September)
“This country is ready to spend billions on weapons of mass destruction while two out of every five children in my city, Birmingham, are born to a life of poverty. I cannot stand by and do nothing.” (Carol Naughton on trial in September)
“As much as I would like to be with you and explain my reasons for wanting Faslane to be shut permanently, it is a long journey from Oxford and I am very busy. I am writing to say that I intend to be back at the base in October to make a similar protest and would be happy to meet then to discuss the matter further.” (Philip Pritchard from Oxford, politely refusing an invitation from Helensburgh District Court.)
Trident Ploughshares Statement on the Terrorist attacks on the US and their Aftermath
In the wake of the appalling atrocities of September 11th Western leaders have committed themselves to a “war” against terrorism. We do not believe that this is a genuine attempt to put an end to mass murder worldwide. The stated commitment is inevitably flawed by double standards. In the case of the UK that is simply illustrated by our close involvement in a deliberate policy choice over Iraq which has led to so many deaths over the last decade and by our continued active and threatening deployment of weapons of mass murder. No state possessing nuclear weapons has ever been able to provide a scenario in which these weapons could be used in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law. There is no credibility in claiming the leadership of a coalition against terrorism at the same time as continuing to engage in terrorism. We also believe that the aftermath of the atrocities will be used as far as possible to further establish US hegemony, as consistent with the “full spectrum dominance” policy underlying the Star Wars programme. We believe that warmongering and erosion of civil rights for security reasons will only strengthen the position of potential terrorists. The bombing of Afghanistan has already led to the deaths of many innocent people, with terror and dislocation for many more.
Those of us who oppose warmongering are challenged to say how we would respond to these atrocities. We are not short of answers. On the specific case of September 11th there are steps under the United Nations Charter of 1945 and the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that United States was required to take before moving to any military option. The attack on Afghanistan illustrates yet again the unwillingness of the US (and the UK) to be accountable to all under international law. More broadly, prevention of terrorism entails the honest uncovering of underlying conflicts, and tackling the radical injustices at a global level. Instead of preparing for war, we should be devoting resources into the only sustainable way of dealing with the problems – peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution.
Since our international campaign is focussed on disarming Trident, the UK’s terrorist weapon of mass destruction, we call on the UK Prime Minister to take the lead in a rational response to the problem by taking the first steps in dealing with the addiction to violence that is at the heart of our international policy. In the absence of a change to a radically humane attitude we will continue our disarmament campaign with all the vigour we can muster. We invite all who share our vision of a world free of terror and terror weapons to join us at the Trident base at Faslane on October 22nd at 7 a.m. to do what we can to stop its preparations for mass murder.
July the 17th and Auld Reekie was in a bright and sunny mood. All I had to do was settle the trifling formality of my Intermediate trial, and after that a pleasant afternoon in Edinburgh would be mine. Or so I thought.
Alas, like mice and men, the plans of peaceniks ’gang aft agley’*. Having confirmed my plea etc, I was about to leave the dock of the Sheriff Court when my way was blocked by two police officers who produced a warrant for my arrest for an unpaid fine. So it was off to a night in St. Leonard’s police station then a week in Saughton jail in Edinburgh.
Which is odd, because it was Strathclyde that had issued the warrant, and I should have been taken back to Glasgow, to Barlinnie. This is exactly what happened when I was served a warrant for another unpaid fine after the action with the Democratic Dozen in the Scottish Parliament. So why this change? Perhaps it was connected with the fact that when I was released from Barlinnie last time I wrote a polite but firm letter to the Governor, Mr Houchin, informing him that if I was compelled to slop-out and to share a cell with a smoker in any future stay in Barlinnie I would seek legal redress. Since that time the prison had in fact been successfully sued for the degrading and inhuman practice of slopping out.
In Saughton, I was given a cell to myself. The atmosphere in general was a lot more relaxed than the infamous Bar-L. I was allowed to keep my watch, trainers, socks and underwear. There was a little library on the first floor where my cell was.
The ubiquitous drug culture was a sad evidence of so many young lives blighted; the undercurrent of violence a familiar sensation, though I never felt personally threatened. (Being three times the age of most of the inmates I dare say I was not seen as a threat!)
I fasted for the six days of my stay, a private and silent act of spiritual solidarity with those who starve perforce while we squander billions on the killing industry.
*often go astray
A View From Europe
It has been a busy few months in Belgium for the anti-nuclear working group of For Mother Earth. At Easter we organised the Bomspotting III action at the secret US nuclear weapons base at Kleine Brogel. There were about 850 arrests after a mass trespass, and an occupation of the runway. Despite quite serious levels of aggression from the police and soldiers who arrested us, the atmosphere remained overwhelmingly one of non-violent defiance. The action made the front page of just about every (Flemish language) newspaper in the country. Unfortunately, the resolution demanding the withdrawal of US nukes from Belgium that was due to be tabled immediately after the action is making very slow progress through the Federal parliament.
No sooner had the dust settled from the Bomspotting action than we got news that George W. Bush was planning to visit Brussels, on a mission to sell his plans for National Missile Defence to the NATO heads of state and heads of government. For Mother Earth took a leading role in the coalition of NGOs mobilising for demonstrations against his visit. For Mother Earth has also made mobilising people to take part in Trident Ploughshares events a priority. A couple of us went over to Aldermaston in May, and several Belgian activists made the trip up to Coulport for the summer disarmament camp. We’ll be back again for the October Blockade, and the November camp. The lure of Faslane Peace Camp is also very strong, and there is an almost constant flow of activists between Gent and the Gareloch.
So where now? As I write this, we’re still getting news of the terrorists’ attacks in the US. For Mother Earth has added its voice to the NGOs calling for justice rather than revenge to guide the international response. The next few months will be busy enough. Belgium holds the presidency of the EU, which will bring summits (and demonstrations) to Gent and Brussels. We will be developing a sustained campaign against Star Wars, linking up with groups across Europe and around the world. The anti-nuclear campaign continues, with actions at several sites of nuclear crime across Europe on the 1st October (to mark the anniversary of the Nuremberg war crimes trials). Trident Ploughshares actions in October and November will take us out of the office, and across the North Sea. I only hope we don’t have to organise any anti-war protests as well…You can find more information on our campaigns, and reports from previous actions at: http://www.motherearth.org
Dr. Moonie’s ’Moment Of Truth’
In early April Mr Dennis Flaherty of Pontypridd received via his MP a long letter dated 25th March 2001 from Dr. Lewis Moonie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence. The letter is mainly about Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons but in paragraphs two and three it contains the most candid admission of the illegality of nuclear weapons yet to emerge from the British government.
“The use of all weapons in armed conflict, including DU-based ammunition, is subject to legal restrictions on the circumstances in which they are deployed. In particular, International Humanitarian Law requires that weapons be used during armed conflict in a discriminate manner. DU ammunition is capable of such discriminate use.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence evaluates the legality of the use of weapons in specific circumstances before they are used. The use of DU ammunition is neither illegal nor prohibited under any international agreements, including the Geneva Conventions. Nor is DU ammunition classified as a weapon of mass destruction or indiscriminate effect. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction specifically designed to incapacitate or kill large numbers of people; DU ammunition is not.” (Underlining emphasis added.)
“Specifically designed” are the key words. They emphasise what the Scottish High Court Judges in their recent Lord Advocate’s Reference refused to admit. Nuclear weapons including Trident, are designed, deployed and threatened, with the intention of committing mass murder whenever is deemed to be in the national interest.
But thecurrent state of customary international law is clearly stated in the International Court of Justice Opinion of July 1996(paragraph 78): – “States must never makecivilians the object of attack and must consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets”. Since the World Court Judges had already decided that ” if the use of force itself in a given case is illegal, the threat to use such force will likewise be illegal” (paragraph 47), the conclusion is obvious and inescapable. Both the use and the threat of use of nuclear weapons are illegal, and that includes Britain’s Trident continuously deployed under a policy of “stated readiness to use”
TP Camp in London- 16-19 November
Bringing Trident Ploughshares back to London, one of the Capitals in which it was launched in May 1998, enables us to confront both the spiritual and the temporal aspects of the capital that stubbornly embraces the criminality of Trident. Chiefly gatherings of pledgers, who quietly go about their business, our quarterly “camps” also warmly welcome close supporters accepting our simple rules and who are asked to phone in as shown on the insert.
At the Innocents’ Memorial outside Westminster Abbey on the Sunday morning with the 20th century martyrs gazing down at us from the west facade, we shall be questioning whether, when we crown monarchs inside the building, we really mean to accord them the unquestionable royal prerogative to include in their defence plans weapons that kill innocents. (The LAR argued that we do mean that!).
In the vigil in Parliament Square on Monday afternoon we shall face our elected representatives’ supine acquiescence (with notable exceptions !) to the British deployment of weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction. In anticipation of many MPs being in their constituences on the Friday, the more of our supporters who can seek meetings with them there the better. The International Criminal Court, ratified and enthusiastically supported by the UK, may well be properly in place by then. Face your MPs with the way the ICC’s Articles 7, 8 and 25 make Trident more clearly than ever a crime. Amongst the workshops during the weekend will be a singing one, most necessary in these critical and worrying times – to which the planning of the camp will, of course, remain sensitive.
PLEASE COME AND JOIN US
Militant pour la paix
In France TP Pledger Serge Levillayer has been fined 1000 francs after chalking a quote from the ICJ Opinion on nuclear weapons on the pavement outside the submarine base in Cherbourg last year. Serge has been campaigning against nuclear weapons since 1974. His action and case have been covered by the regional media and have put the issue of France’s nuclear “deterrent” on the agenda.