Newsletter Number 13, January 2002


Right Livelihood Award
Right Livelihood Award for Trident Ploughshares
OKBLOK in Fancy Dress
Iona Community at OKBLOK
November Camp
The Capital Responsibility
Innocents Vigil
Ploughshares, Gandhi and Protest
Gandhi: The nonviolence of the strong
In Prison
Trident Ploughshares in Prison
Prisoner Support Website
Your words keep my spirit strong
In the Courts
Wrong Livelihood Awards for Judges
The Elastic Offence
My account of what happened
Woodwoses in Newbury
And Finally…
Core Group
Diary Dates
And the fence came tumbling down


Welcome to the thirteenth issue of Speed the Plough! Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a nonviolent, 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 parliamentarians. We act to uphold international humanitarian law and to expose the illegality of the Trident system.

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Right Livelihood Award for Trident Ploughshares

The Right Livelihood Awards – often called the alternative Nobel Peace Prize – are presented annually at the Swedish parliament to honour and support those offering practical and inspiring answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.

Angie Zelter, Ellen Moxley and Ulla Roder received the prize on behalf of Trident Ploughshares at the award ceremony in December. Peace and justice activists from Palestine and Israel, Brazil and Venezuela also received awards. Angie said “It is often difficult for ordinary people to resist the gross power abuses, terror and violence that their governments use to bolster their narrowly defined national interests. This is why the recognition bestowed by the Right Livelihood Award is so important and encouraging to us”.

At a press conference after the Right Livelihood Award ceremony, Angie Zelter drew attention to the ’terrorism on an unimaginable scale’ represented by Trident.

She continued “Our planet is dying. One of the major causes is the inability of our leaders to see themselves as global citizens and their country as just one among other equally valuable countries, or to put the planet’s well-being above that of their own narrow nationalistic ideologies.

But ordinary people are way ahead of their political leaders. They know that their lives rely on international friendship and partnership and that we are inextricably linked one with another – that any person’s suffering and death diminishes all of us – that we are responsible for it all.”

OKBLOK in fancy dress

We were celebrating life against death. Amongst people of all ages and backgrounds – many dressed in colourful costumes, holding banners or dancing in and out long chains of people holding hands. ’Commotion’ providing brilliant drumming, later followed by two crazy tricycle sound systems.

We had been encouraged to dress for the occasion, and our affinity group doesn’t need to be asked twice! We had Beauty Queen costumes including Miss Information; Miss Isles Kill; and Miss Teri Enemy. Drums, a 10 foot pumpkin head puppet, Elvis Presley and a Peace Officer completed our eclectic offerings.

We don’t want or like being arrested, but we knew as we sat in the road to blockade Faslane that the authorities would likely choose to arrest us. Our joining with so may others in opposing Trident during a time of ’war against terrorism’, and the bombing of Afghanistan following the horrors of September 11, was important to us all. It is our only practical means of condemning the machinery of war and destruction targeted against the less powerful.

Eventually it was our turn to be cut from our lock ons. While people sang and danced, the police struggled to recharge their cutting gear. Support from those around was brilliant. Sue was badly bruised when her arm was tugged out of a pipe but on the whole police treated people with respect.

Being locked up for a few hours and any subsequent court case seems a small price to pay for taking part in this peaceful action.

Mark, Celidh Creatures Affinity Group

Iona Community at OKBLOK

Members of the Iona Community are becoming familiar faces at the mass blockades at Faslane. This is just a taste of our own experience.

Alan managed to get us right up to the front line of police under cover of darkness and the Christian CND banner. Five of us managed to lie down in the road all joined together with cunningly linked drainpipes! Somewhere there was the sound of others singing familiar chants from Iona. For some time there was little to do apart from watch police legs or other people’s boots. And yes, I actually went back to sleep! But in this position there are vital if bizarre conversations to be had: like ’Would you wrap another bin bag round me?’ or ’I can’t break up this chocolate, my arms are down these pipes’. I even discussed my defence for the Scottish Parliament action with an Member of the Scottish Parliament who squatted beside me. Kreb, a druid, discussed the wisdom of using one’s respective scriptures as a pillow in these circumstances!

After two and a half hours cutting equipment arrived and Brian Brown was the first to be removed. It takes a special courage to risk your first arrest and we were proud to have him in our group. Our fiendish cunning required three cutting tools in all but once the centre of each pipe was opened it did not take long to dismantle. And now we wait to see if charges will be pressed.

The Irish proverb ’It is in the shelter of each other that the people live’ came home to me. Without an Affinity group, would I have the stamina and vision to do this? Without the Community, would I have the affirmation? Without all those doing the unglamorous tasks of praying, driving, sitting by phones and computers, tracking each one through the legal system, running court and prison support, where would the people be?

As it is, the voice of the people is now being heard in Scotland and beyond. A voice that speaks of Peace.

Marie-Collette Wilkinson

The Capital Responsibility…

From 16 – 19 November, Trident Ploughshares supporters gathered for a ’camp’ at Kingsley Hall in London. It was the first time since the launch of the campaign that the message had been taken to the capital.

During the London camp, forty activists and supporters took part in an alternative guided tour of five of the largest companies involved with the British Trident nuclear submarine fleet. The tour began with a visit to the offices of British American Business Inc, a lobby group that advises US companies on obtaining contracts in the UK. The tour then visited: TRW , a major Star Wars contractor; Raytheon, providing guidance systems for Trident missiles, Rio Tinto, the uranium mining company; Rolls-Royce, which makes nuclear reactors for Trident submarines; and British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), part of the consortium managing AWE Aldermaston, the British nuclear weapons laboratory.

At each office, the windows were decorated with signs reading “This Company Profits from Nuclear Crimes”, and leaflets were given out. The walk ended with a number chaining themselves to the gates of Downing Street. All the activists were cut free by the police, and there were no arrests.

Two days later an international group of “War Crimes Inspectors” returned to the offices shared by Rolls-Royce and BNFL, to search for evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity and the planet. Although denied access to the offices, they successfully occupied the lobby, preventing workers from gaining access to the building for almost two hours. Rolls-Royce is also responsible for supplying arms to countries that have been criticised by Amnesty International for their poor human rights records, and instances of internal repression, as well as countries currently at war, including Turkey, India, China and Israel.

These actions show the possibilities of taking the struggle against nuclear weapons to the multinational arms companies that are making huge profits from these devastating industries.

Dave Heller

Innocents Vigil

A silent vigil was held outside Westminster Abbey during the London camp to testify to the threat of Trident to the world’s innocents. With the Dean’s co-operation, on Sunday morning activists circled the Innocent’s memorial, with its simple inscription – Remember all innocent victims of oppression, violence, war.

Ploughshares, Gandhi and Protest

Vijay Mehta of London Region CND opened this workshop with a thought provoking reflection on Ghandi’s approach to nonviolence in a post September 11 world. Janet Bloomfield introduced the workshop session with the story of Abdul Khan.

A brainstorming session produced many questions for Trident Ploughshares, ranging from the highly practical to the deeply philosophical! The issues were grouped into themes for small group discussion: Legal issues; Civil liberties; Communicating with decision makers and the wider public; What to do about the USA; and Creating a wider movement.

After a lively discussion we came back together and shared our thoughts. One key theme that emerged was the importance of dialogue and reaching out to new constituencies. There was also a recognition that we need to make contact with people in the United States who are against the policies of the current administration. They need support and solidarity. It was also seen as important to engage with people in the justice system such as clerks and magistrates and with other ’establishment’ figures such as church leaders.

It was a very rich discussion and we all felt the spirit of Gandhi presiding over us.

Janet Bloomfield

The nonviolence of the strong

Gandhi said that, in their struggle for independence, the Indian people practiced the nonviolence of the weak. They did not have any other weapons to use. But what would happen when strong people, with many weapons, practised nonviolence? Gandhi caught a glimpse of this in an unlikely place, among the Pathans of the Northwest Frontier Province of British India.

As a young war correspondent Churchill reported “No people are more fierce, more brutal, more without regard for human life.” The Pathans live by a strict code of honor, including courage and revenge. Into this setting came a Muslim chief, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who appealed to the Pathan’s code of honour to inspire a warriorship of protection of life instead of revenge. After travelling to India to learn from Ghandi, Khan inspired the Pathans to organize themselves into disciplined ranks called “Servants of God”.

At one time, over 100,000 Pathans carried out huge educational campaigns in what we would today call sustainable development. History’ first nonviolent army came from the current border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Trident Ploughshares in Prison

Since the start of the campaign, Trident Ploughshares activists have spent 1490 days in prisons in England and Scotland: awaiting trial; sentenced directly after conviction; or more often, sentenced for refusal to pay fines. Experiences of prison, and campaigners’ responses to it vary, but most agree that support is vital. A letter pushed through the cell door can be the best moment of the day – and sometimes a card from someone you haven’t even met is the best possible lift to your spirits. You can use the new website to support current prisoners.

Trident Ploughshares Prisoner Support website

The new site contains prison addresses for Trident Ploughshares activists currently in prison; support information; and addresses for support groups. It also has links to some other political prisoners.

Your words keep my spirit strong

On 29 November Sheriff Galbraith sentenced Jenny Gaiawyn to three months imprisonment for the minor offence of breach of the peace at the February Big Blockade. Tommy Sheridan MSP put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament condemning this “outrageous attack on this young woman’s right to protest peacefully”. Jenny sent this message from HMP Cornton Vale:

Thank-you to everyone who has sent me letters and cards of support. Your words keep my spirit strong.

I am doing well in here. I think about how in many countries I would have been conveniently “disappeared” a long time ago for my beliefs. That is one of the reasons I feel we all have to speak out, there are many who are forced to be silent that for us to choose silence would be criminal and immoral.

I am glad people share my outrage at the disgraceful behaviour shown in court last week. We should all be raising our voices at the arrogance displayed by so many individuals within the criminal justice “system” in their response to our peaceful actions.

I hope my time in here, and the stand myself and others have made in the name of peace inspires others to overcome their unjustified fear of the system.. My love, respect, strength and hugs to you all out there.

Write to Jenny at HMP Cornton Vale, Stirling SK9 5NY.

Wrong Livelihood Awards for Judges

It has been no easy task to identify three winners from the many nominations, most of them cited for their “keen insight into the needs and interests of nuclear weapon states and the role that the judiciary can play in advancing the cause of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.”

But this year’s prize has been awarded to three judges for their “ability to maintain a high level of prejudice towards peace activists in the face of the law and the facts.” The Award Ceremony is still to be planned and suggestions are welcomed.

Sheriff “parasites”

In October Sheriff Ronald Smith made the famous remark which won him the award when trying Luud Appeltans and Kitty Jones in Dumbarton Sheriff ’s Court. He said: “I look upon you so-called peace protesters as parasites, causing untold damage to fences, disrupting the base and wasting this country’s money which could be spent elsewhere.” We drew his behaviour to the attention of the Scottish Office who then drew his attention to the remark and the complaint. For the Executive David Stewart said that Mr.Smith had not intended anything political. Reading between the lines our complaint has been effective and the Sheriff knows he was out of order.

Sheriff “send her down!”

On 29th November in the same court Sheriff Morag Galbraith shot to the top of the list from relative obscurity by sending Jenny Gaiawyn to jail for three months for a breach of the peace at the Big Blockade. MEP Caroline Lucas and MSP Tommy Sheridan, (who was acquitted on the same charge), have come out strongly in public against the sentence and Tommy has tabled a critical motion in the Scottish Parliament. At the trial the same Sheriff ignored Jenny’s protests about the date she had set for sentencing and on the 29th Jenny told her that she found the Scottish court system arrogant and petty-minded. The Sheriff has confirmed her assessment.

JP “sky high fines”

For sheer consistency and persistence in his adopted mission to come down hard on protest at Faslane a very special award goes to Justice of the Peace Fraser Gillies in Helensburgh District Court. His fines are usually much higher than those of other judges and he has made no secret of his distaste for peace activism. We have written to the local council’s Justices Committee, which has an oversight role for lay magistrates, pointing out that “we feel a responsibility to draw these problems to your attention since they represent a pattern that hinders the proper administration of justice in the District Court.”

We await a reply. Make no mistake, the judges are important. Our recent experience, at least in Scottish Courts, is that the outcome will depend not on the circumstances of the alleged offence, nor on the quality or otherwise of your defence in law, nor on any “previous” you might have, but almost solely on who happens to be on the bench on a particular day.

The Elastic Offence

It all began with Panda’s appeal against a breach of the peace (BOP), based on the European Convention on Human Rights requiring that criminal charges must not be vague and unspecific – people should have reasonable indication of the borderlines of lawful and unlawful behaviour. The High Court did not uphold her appeal but did give a useful clarification of BOP law in their Opinion, now popularly known as Smith v. Donelly. Among other things this states that the prosecution needs to show that the behaviour in question caused or was liable to cause fear and alarm.

The Crown has been unable to show this, given the peacefulness of the blockades. It was partly the argument from Smith v Donelly that got Tommy Sheridan and Iona Gorringe acquitted. The Crown is appealing these acquittals.

BOP has also been the issue for the 11 protesters charged after the demonstration in the Scottish parliament on 5th April. Jane Tallents was given a deferred sentence but has lodged an appeal. Elinor Mackenzie was acquitted after she submitted an applicaiton of ’no case to answer’ after Crown witnesses had failed to identify her. A submission of “no case to answer” by solicitor Joanna McDonald, based on the fact that the Crown had not produced any evidence of distress or alarm, led to Leesa French’s acquittal. The verdict on Ulla Roder’s case was the uniquely Scottish “Not Proven”. The Sheriff said: “A certain latitude of behaviour must be allowed in bona fide political protest.”

David MacKenzie

My account of what happened

Every week wonderful people come to the courts in Hellensburgh and Dumbarton and we have laughter and tears as the truth about nuclear weapons is spoken aloud. Here is just one example, from Anna Wright, of part of a straightforward summing up of a defence which left the court support in tears and the court officials nervously studying their paperwork:

I sat on the road to protest. To protest about these weapons which I feel are fundamentally wrong. I sat there and risked arrest because this fills me with such a despairing passion that these fearfully dark and wicked weapons are allowed to exist on this precious and fragile planet. It was a symbolic gesture, that by placing my body in the roadway there could be complete peace for a day, happy in the knowledge that Faslane naval base would not be able to operate and I could therefore protect all the things I love: my family, my friends, my home, the cats, the trees, the mountains, the snowflakes and the stars. I did it because I love life and I love this planet.

Anna Wright was found guilty and fined £100.

Woodwoses in Newbury

The Woodwoses four were far from downhearted after a two-day trial in Newbury Magistrates Court in October ended with a guilty verdict and 12 month conditional discharge. Peter Lanyon said: “It was an absorbing and inspiring two days in court”.

He and the other three East Anglian activists, Barbara Sunderland, Davida Higgin, and Simone Chimowitz, were arrested on Remembrance Sunday last year after cutting their way through the fence at AWE Aldermaston to carry out a citizens’ inspection of the site. Charged with criminal damge, they argued that their action was justified as a last resort in responding to the threat posed by the illegal Trident nuclear weapons system. The four are each to pay £92.50 for the damage caused and £100 court costs.

Justice Wooller made it clear he saw himself as bound by the ruling in the Hutchinson appeal in assessing a defence of necessity. Defence barrister Rajiv Menon had argued that that case should not be taken as conclusive authority on the defence of necessity, referring to the 1999 appeal case of Abdul Hussain in which the High Court held that the defence of necessity was available to the defendants even though they had other options to deal with their very real fears. Peter Lanyon

Core Group

Sylvia Boyes has now finished her long stint on the Core group. Thank you Sylvia for all that hard work and travelling!

Current Core Group members : Sarah Lasenby, Brian Quail, Jane Tallents, Maggie Charnley, Helen Harris, Gillian Sloan, Dave Rolstone, Jenny Gaiawyn, Andrew Gray, Adam Conway, David MacKenzie, David Heller, Alison Crane, Morag Balfour

Diary Dates

11 – 13 February Block ’n’ Roll at Faslane (see page 1)

16 February Treaties Day School (on nuclear weapons treaties) At the London School of Economics, London WC2, cost £5 Organised by Abolition 2000 UK / Christian CND / Medact Details from: Christian CND, 162 Holloway Road, London N7

13 – 18 June Trident Ploughshares Disarmament camp at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment, near Reading

5 – 19 August Trident Ploughshares Disarmament camp at Coulport, Scotland

And the Fence Came Tumbling Down

An Atomic Mirror Film made by Spirit Earth Productions

Some of us at the London Trident Ploughshares camp viewed this inspiring video over a cup of tea. First the fence at Greenham … next the fence at Faslane?

In April 2000, the fence finally came down around Greenham Common air base in Southern England. This ten-minute film tells the story of how a US Air Force base with 96 US nuclear cruise missiles came to be returned to the people after 20 years of non-violent protest and witness.

An information pack for schools, colleges, and community groups accompanies the film. The video and info pack cost £12.50 inc p&p. From: Atomic Mirror, 25, Farmadine, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 3HR Cheques payable to: The Atomic Mirror.