contemporary action to resist facism/promote peace


Jan Slakov

Dear RN Network,   Sept. 1

A few days ago Mark Douglas Whitaker sent a long posting to the RN list
detailing disarmament actions in the UK. He asked that I share this
information with you as he had seen none of it reported in the UK press.

I am only too pleased to oblige, as I feel that this type of civil
disobedience is desperately needed, given the terrible actions of
governments around the world.

Rather than repost the entire posting Mark sent, I will include here only
some excerpts, enough to show you that, contrary to widely-held notions that
the peace movement is dead, it is alive and well.

And I will take the time to copy out the first part of an article which
appeared in the July/Aug. issue of _Fellowship_ magazine and which gives a
good introduction to the Plowshares Deisarmament Actions:

(begin quote:)
        What have come to be known as Plowshares Disarmament Actions began
one early September morning 18 years ago in suburban Philadelphia, when 8
peace activists beat General Electric's nuclear nose cones into symbolic
ploughshares with ordinary household hammers. The have been 31-some such
actions since then on both sides of the Atlantic. These actions, in and of
themselves, are quite dramatic, with high tech security breached and an
unlikely collection of priests and grandmothers, carpenters and artists,
nuns and sutudents, poets and professors bashing and smashing weapons of
mass destruction and calmly waiting (sometimes for hours) for their arrest.
The timing of these actions has as much to do with the liturgical calendar
as with political events, evoking the prophetic call to choose life, as a
people and a planet.
        There has been controversy in the wider peace movement about the
efficacy of actions that could land people in jail for years and years, as
well as some disagreement about calling such acts non-violent, since
destruction of property is their intent and usually their result. However,
the story does not stop with the evening news or the morning headlines. In
most cases, Plowshares participants seek to continue their witness for peace
and justice in the arena of the courtroom. Sometimes this tactic is
completely shut down by the presiding judge. Sometimes the defendants (who
almost always represent themselves) are allowed to call on expert witnesses
to speak to the deadly potential of the damaged weapons, or on the points of
international law that rule in favour of the "higher good", such as
trespassing to prevent a loss of life. (The classic example is breaking into
a burning house to rescue a child.) This most fascinating aspect of
Plowshares actions (as yet undiscovered by Court TV) has great legal potential.
        Plowshares defendants, their families and supporteres continue to
hope and pray for individual changes of heart in the jurors, prosecutors,
judges, witnesses, and observers in these trials. Such conversions do
happen. One occurred in July of 1996, when four women were set free by a
jury in Liverpool, England, after being tried for criminal damage and
criminal conspiracy for their attempts to disarm a guidance system of a
British Aerospace Hawk warplane. Even after the $2.5 million repair job was
finished (on a $16 million jet) the Indonesian government refused delivery
of "damaged goods". The women, also known as the Seeds of Hope Ploughshares,
were acquitted by a jury who believed that their actions were necessary to
prevent a greater crime: the repeated bombing of villages on the island of
East Timor. (end quoted passage)

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 16:53:34 -0500
To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••
From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••>
Subject: (Fwd) 1000 TP2000 arrests

please read and forward, I haven't seen anything on this in the UK 
 [Note: One "headline" of the posting below was "ARRESTS REACH 100 AT
DISARMAMENT ACTION". That we have heard nothing of these actions in our mass
media speaks volumes about the quality of that media.]

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          Heather <•••@••.•••>
To:            gsn <•••@••.•••>
Subject:       1000 TP2000 arrests
Date:          Wed, 26 Aug 1998 23:07:56 +0100
Reply-to:      •••@••.•••


Today Helen John, a 60 year old detirmened disarmer, was remanded in
custody in Cornton Vale Prison till her Court appearance in Helensburgh on
September 29. Yesterday she attempted to disarm nuclear weapons at the
Coulport Naval Base in Scotland (40 miles NW of Glasgow). Surprisingly
Katri Silvonen (20) from Finland and Krista van Velzen (23) from the
Netherlands, two full-time'For Mother Earth' campaigners working in
Belgium, were released at the same court. These two young women had
breached, for the second time in one week, the high security at the heart
of Britain's Trident nuclear submarine weapon system, by swimming carrying
hammers, boltcutters and other disarmament tools. Hanna Jarvinen (21),
another Finnish For Mother Earth campaigner, was also released. Pol
D'Huyvetter from Belgium, TP2000 Press Officer, stated: 'I suspect that the
British government intends to counter the swelling controversy abroad by
releasing the foreign campaigners who have committed the most significant
offenses breaching military security. How do you otherwise explain that Mr.
Donnelly the Procurator Fiscal has dropped all charges against the foreign
activists.Though making headlines in the foreign press, here in the UK
press coverage has been minimal up to today.'



Just after 11a.m. this morning three For Mother Earth campaigners, working
full-time in the international office in Gent (Belgium) were remanded in
custody till court appearance September 29th in Helenbrough, near Glasgow).
Katri Silvonen (20) and Hanna Jarvinen (21), Finland, and Krista van Velzen
(23) from the Netherlands broke into the base last night and reached the
fuel depot before being apprehended and arrested at 11.55 p.m. This
morning in court, having been asked if she was aware that she could go to
Scottish women's prison in Cornton Vale, Krista van Velzen replied "Yes, I
understand. But you've got the wrong people." Krista Van Velzen referred to
the historic UN World Court advisory opinion of July 1996 outlawing nuclear
weapons. Although previous attempts at serious dialogue have been
unsuccessful, the campaigners are continuing to follow every avenue, to try
to press the UK government to comply with its international obligations and
to go ahead and disarm the illegal Trident nuclear weapons system.

Earlier this morning Pol D'Huyvetter, press contact of TP2000 and For
Mother Earth spent between ten and fifteen minutes informing the duty
officer and another sailor -who refused to give their names- about the
legal problems with the Trident nuclear submarines. The officers were
aboard board HMS Vigilant (Phone directly 01436-674321 - ask for 'vessel
docked at berth 12'). Earlier the MOD denied the existence of berth 12
after the first succesfull penetration into the heart of Britain's nuclear
weapons system by swimmers Katri Silvonen and Krista van Velzen (see also
today's excellent story and pictures in 'The Guardian').



Tonight two For Mother Earth campaigners breached the high security at the
Clyde Naval Base in Faslane, Scotland. This is their second spectacular
action this week,
Four other activists, three UK women and
a Australian man, were sent to Scottish prisons last Friday.
. Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National
Party, Rob Green, a former UK Naval Commander, and Australian Senator Bob
Brown, are amongst the many who have shown support for this campaign, to
rid Scotland of the illegal nuclear weapons system.



By Rick Paul Springer
After walking a thousand kilometers with the Walk for Nuclear Disarmament
from the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium to Faslane, Scotland, the
home of the Trident nuclear weapons submarine, our 50 or so walkers joined
the Trident Ploughshares 2000 camp to plan actions to disarm the Trident
itself. This is the story of the effort of the affinity group, Titanic
Trident, who walked those thousand kilometers to board the Trident
submarine and beat it, symbolically into a plough, a farm tool, and to beat
it, in actuality in a way that would make it as useless as possible by
Swimming to Trident.


In 1992 anti nuclear activist/author Rick Paul Springer appeared on stage
with former President Ronald Reagan at the National Association of
Broadcasters convention at the Las Vegas Hilton. In an effort to announce
the fire alarm on the nuclear industry he dashed a crystal eagle on a
pedastal and approached the podium. He announced, Excuse Me, Mr.
President, which is now the title of his new book. Excuse Me, Mr.
President, The Message of the Broken Eagle may be viewed at or may be ordered through Broken Eagle Press POB 402
Arcata, Calif. 95518 USA

As the article above indicates, one good source of news, the news being
screened out from most media sources, is the _Guardian_.

You can subscribe to the print version (and also receive an e-mail version
so you can share articles with others) by contacting:

An on-line source of alternative news is the A-infos News Service, source of
the excerpted article below:

Date: Sun, 23 Aug 1998 21:00:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Dave Cull" <•••@••.•••> (by way of •••@••.••• (Alan
Rycroft or Kealey Pringle))
Subject: Peace Int'l-- Trident Ploughshares press release

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

PRESS BRIEFING 11 Tuesday 18th, August 1998 16.00h

Press contacts: David MacKenzie and Pol D'Huyvetter August 11 1998 - August
25, 1998

Phone: 01436-850488
TP2000 Peace Camp, Peaton Wood, Coulport (40 miles NW of Glasgow, Scotland)



YOU ARE INVITED TO A CONCERT at the North Gate of HMNB Clyde at 0800hr
tomorrow.  Venus' Birds, an internationally renowned early music quartet,
will be holding a special music concert for viol consort to which the Base
Commander of HMNB Clyde has also been invited.

The concert will continue for half an hour, after which there will be a
MASS DISARMAMENT ACTION by Trident Ploughshares 2000 activists.  This will
include a Citizen's Inspection of the base and more than 20 people trying
to cut through the fence into the base.

Nine people were arrested in the early hours of this morning, of which 6
will appear in St. Michael's Rectory, Helensburgh, tomorrow; a time has not
yet been confirmed.  Altogether, there will be 22 trial hearings for
Trident Ploughshares activists from 7 different countries tomorrow, mostly
charged with Malicious Mischief or Breach of the Peace.  This has not
deterred the activists who claim to be upholding international law, and
plan to continue their attempts to openly and non-violently disarm Trident.

Claire Fearnley, from Trident Ploughshares, says "We're delighted by the
success of our disarmament actions so far as we are appalled by the failure
of the British government to uphold international law."


Previous actions have led to a growing total of 81 arrests since 11/8/98,
of which 38 were women and 21 were men.  (Note: several people have been
arrested more than once.)

Background Information for Journalists

Britain's Nuclear Weapons System
The UK nuclear weapons system is based on Trident missiles bought from the
USA and ready to be fired from three submarines (four from September) based
at Faslane Naval Base on the Gareloch near Glasgow and stored and loaded
onto the subs at Coulport on Loch Long a few miles further west. The
Trident system, in which each warhead has eight times the destructive power
of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, is a massive escalation in Britain's
nuclear capacity and has been outlawed under international law.

International Law
In July 1996 the International Court of Justice gave its Advisory Opinion
on the legality of nuclear weapons, stating that "methods and means of
warfare which would preclude any distinction between civilians and military
targets, or which would result in unnecessary suffering to combatants, are
prohibited. In view of the unique characteristics of nuclear weapons,   the
use of such weapons is scarcely reconcilable with such requirements" (ICJ
July 1996)

Trident Ploughshares 2000(TP 2000)
The Ploughshares movement is a confrontational but non-violent resistance
to the arms race and nuclear weapons. Over the years its members have been
involved in many disarmament actions, including the disabling of a Hawk
aircraft bound for East Timor, for which four women were acquitted. TP2000
was launched in May this year and 97 activists have signed its pledge to
prevent nuclear war crime in a non-violent manner. The organisation and
individual activists see themselves as fully and openly accountable for
their actions. The disarmers will continue their peaceful disarmament
attempt until 1 January 2000 or until the government commits itself to the
immediate disarmament of the Trident system.

TP 2000 is an international movement and activists from more than a dozen
countries are present at the Coulport disarmament camp for an intensive
15-day period of action.

Web page:

ends briefing 11
Trident Ploughshares 2000
42-46 Bethel Street

tel + 44 (0) 1603 611953
fax + 44 (0) 1603 666879

permanent office : •••@••.•••
TP2000 camp office : •••@••.•••

Nuclear weapons are immoral, dangerous, polluting, a terrible waste of
resources and were found to be generally illegal by the International Court
of Justice on 8th July 1996.

                The A-Infos News Service
                COMMANDS: •••@••.•••
                REPLIES: •••@••.•••
                HELP: •••@••.•••

All the best, Jan
PS Just in case: The _Fellowship_ web site is
<>. The Seeds of Hope - East Timor
Ploughshares address is: Women Disarming for Life and Justice, Box L, 286
Hitchen Rd., Luton, LU2 0EU, UK.
PPS I noticed some interesting mis-spellings I made while copying out the
_Fellowship_ article. They have to do with the US/British ways of spelling
words like "ploughshare/plowshare" and "favor/favour". Well, since
plowshares actions have happened "on both sides of the Atlantic" and since
the person copying the article lives in Canada (where British spellings are
the accepted norm) I will just leave those mistakes there...