Abolition days 1997 — NATO HQ, Brussels: after demanding to be taken to a responsible individual, four ‘War Crimes Inspectors’ find themselves in discussion with one of the Directors of NATO’s Secretary General. After prolonged grilling, he was reduced to denying that nuclear issues are NATO’s responsibility.
Over 50 activists are blockading the main gate and announcing to passing motorists that the building is closed for ‘war crimes inspections’.
The Abolition Days started when all NATO leaders were served with a Notorised Citizens’ Summons, endorsed by over 60 international peace organisations, at the NATO Summit in Madrid on Tuesday 8th July. The summons stated that NATO, as an alliance, is violating international law by maintaining its policy of nuclear deterrence and that it is the duty of citizens to uphold the law by directly confronting nuclear weapons at ‘sites of crime’.
So, on Hiroshima Day and Nagasaki Day, NATO having made no attempt to mend its illegal ways, that’s what happened. Actions took place all over the world at bases and installations which harbour the criminal activities of the nuclear war machine. In Britain, ‘War Crimes Inspectors’ were present at Faslane, Aldermaston and Menwith Hill.
It’s important to remember that this is just the beginning. When the four activists in Brussels were eventually removed from the building, they were standing outside the main gate in the blazing sun telling reporters that this was just the first time. They’d be back.
It is a pity that not more people were able to come to St Mark’s Church on September 9th as this was an inspirational evening.
The new video “Sacred Fire” is a beautiful and profoundly thought-provoking documentary of Janet’s pilgrimage around some of the atomic sites and most sacred places of Great Britain. Janet told us that there are plans to show an edited version on US television next year. The film tackles the immorality of nuclear policy head-on and deserves the widest possible audience.
Although only about 30 people were gathered in St Mark’s it was encouraging that at least half were not CND members. Please contact Joanna [543-0362] if you think you may be able to use “Sacred Fire” in your church, school, college, club etc.
After many months of work we hope that the next month will see Wimbledon’s very own contribution to the national network of “citizens’ juries” which are debating & assessing the pro- and anti-nuclear case in the light of recent international developments such as the Canberra Commission, World Court judgement, UN resolutions, etc. We have been offered the use of a beautiful room in Malcolm Road and we have the free services of an experienced professional facilitator. We shall show the video shot at the Hague last year in which both sides are seen putting their case to the International Court of Justice & we plan to have an expert on hand to answer questions of fact although not to take part in the discussion. (Milan Rai has been approached.)
We are now seeking “jury members” who would be required to read in advance the background information pack which we shall supply, and then take part in the actual discussion in central Wimbledon, lasting about 2½ hours one Sunday afternoon. (Tentative dates are November 9th or 23rd). Please will you get in touch as soon as possible if you can think of any public-spirited friends or acquaintances whom you feel it might be worth approaching.
WDC/CND has had a stall at three fêtes and fairs this summer and raised a total of about £200 net, thanks to the efforts of a very small and dedicated team of helpers. The money is a useful addition to our funds, but especially important is to maintain our public presence at these events and build up goodwill with the organisers and public. Please remember WDC/CND when you are turning out your cupboards (books, bric-à-brac & gifts — we can always store things) and PLEASE SAVE FLOWER-POTS for Anne and Joanna who can only keep up their continuous supply of plants with your help!
Annual subscriptions are due in October, please (£4 per household waged, £2 unwaged) and you will find a form enclosed with this Newsletter. Prompt payment covers the bread-and-butter running costs of the group (printing, postage, room hire etc.) and frees funds from the Fête of the Earth, stalls etc., for specific campaigns.
We are sorry that John Anderson has been unwell and we have sent him best wishes on behalf of WDC/CND.
The September Peace Table was postponed for a week because of Princess Diana’s funeral. The following weekend we held a special ‘Landmines Peace Table’ with a petition and posters from the Campaign against Landmines. Public support was tremendous; we collected almost 200 signatures in 2 hours and took £11·00 in donations.
I attended the annual Garden Party at the Finchley Peace Centre, on Saturday September 13th. There was a friendly atmosphere, a very tasty tea, and a full hall. (Something we might try.)
The speaker was Emily Johns of the ‘Ploughshares Movement”, who spoke about the action of the four Ploughshares women at British Aerospace last year. She gave a detailed description of the very careful preparations for months beforehand, discussing all that was involved — disruptions to their lives and long imprisonment if found guilty. Each woman had a “support person” to whom she could relate and who might be a possible replacement.
Despite the gravity of the action — real danger of imprisonment — she told us some of the lighter aspects of the event. They found the hangar would open very easily and when they entered and started to hammer the aeroplane there was nobody around. They then had to telephone to the Press Association and tell them to get in touch with British Aerospace, as they wanted to be identified with the action.
They only used hammers — part of the symbolism of “ploughshares” — and only damaged the part of the plane that was involved with the bombs, as that would be a vital part of the defence case. They were arrested and spent 6 months in prison prior to their trial.
The judge acted throughout assuming that they would be found guilty, but allowed all statutes from international law to be presented, as he did not want these to be heard during a possible appeal. Three women defended themselves, and one employed a barrister.
To end with, I’d like to draw your attention to the Vanunu Campaign which is associated with the Peace Movement. A book on him has just been published — price £7·99 — which gives detailed accounts of his life, actions and the Conference held in Israel last year. The Finchley Peace Group bought a copy and I hope organisations and individuals will follow suit.