Saturday, 15 November 2008

“Guilty of trying to provide a better future for the world”

Irene Willis appeared at West Berkshire Magistrates’ Court in Newbury on Friday 7 November 2008 to answer the charge of "wilfully obstructing a highway without lawful authority or excuse" at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston, Berkshire, England on Monday 27 October, 2008 (during the Aldermaston Big Blockade).

Irene (left) with supporters outside the Court building.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Blockade makes front page of Peace News

Congratulations again to everyone who came from far and wide to blockade Aldermaston and support in various ways. It was a really successful blockade, sending a very powerful message to the British Government and the international community. Good luck to everyone who is in court for defending your beliefs and trying to save lives - our thoughts are with you.

The entire front page of this month's edition of Peace News is dedicated to the blockade:
http://www.peacenews.info/issues/2503/25030101.html

British Government's AWE-ful lies continue (updated 11/11)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/04/houseofcommons-lords

Yesterday in Parliament:

"[Defence Secretary John] Hutton denied the atomic weapons establishment in Aldermaston was being used for the development of new nuclear weapons. But he said it was "vitally necessary" for Britain to maintain the "minimum nuclear deterrent"."

This latest ministerial denial is at best exceedingly disingenuous and at worst an outright lie. Public documents such as AWE's own Site Development Strategy Plan reveal that at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and Burghfield, massive multi-billion pound developments - on the scale of Heathrow Terminal 5, according to AWE itself - have recently been constructed, are under development and are in the pipeline. These include a uranium enrichment plant planned for 2009, the state-of-the-art Orion laser still under construction, hydronamics and materials science laboratories, the installation of a new supercomputer and the massive Gemini complex to house well over a thousand new staff that include a number of warhead designers. Are we to believe that this massive expenditure of taxpayer's money is for the purpose of making strawberry ice cream?

In a separate written parliamentary reply, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies revealed that capital expenditure at AWE increased from Pnds 171 million (Dlrs 350 m) in 2005-06, to Pnds 302 m in 2006-07 and to Pnds 500 m in 2007-08. (Source: IRNA)

Also noteworthy is the fact that John Hutton is the Labour MP for Barrow & Furness in Cumbria, where Britain's Trident-armed Vanguard-class nuclear submarines were built and their planned replacements are likely to be built (by corrupt arms giant BAE Systems), as well as the Astute-class hunter-killer submarines that escort them on patrol. Thus one could argue that the Secretary of State has a vested interest in the renewal or replacement of the Trident system.

See also:
Britain plans to spend £3bn on new nuclear warheads - The Guardian - 25 July 2008
Secret plan to replace nuclear warheads - Parliament misled - CND press release
Revealed: UK develops secret nuclear warhead - The Times
Britain in top-secret work on new atomic warhead - The Herald
So, minister, are we developing new nuclear weapons or not? - The Independent
Aldermaston recruits scientists 'to work on nuclear warheads' - The Independent
UK might seek new nuclear warheads - NTI
No new warhead yet, British official say - NTI
UK denies developing new nuclear warheads - IRNA
AWE Site Development Strategy Update 2005 - official public information leaflet

Friday, 7 November 2008

Nuclear weapons manufacturers urged to resign following university visit

Representatives of the Atomic Weapons Establishment near Aldermaston in East Berkshire have met calls for their resignation after they visited the University of Birmingham to recruit students into the development and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

Article continues here

More Big Blockade footage available

...on the Tamarians' blog .

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Folk singer David Ferrard on the blockade

It was great to have musicians David Ferrard, Seize the Day and Frankie Armstrong entertaining blockaders on Monday and keeping spirits high. David, who has performed many times at the gates of Faslane, travelled down to West Berkshire in the minibus from Scotland. He discusses his feelings about the day on his blog.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

More photos, courtesy of Roy St Pierre

Four pages of photos and notes from Monday's Big Blockade now up on Roy St Pierre's blog - check them out!

Media coverage


Like this blog? *Digg it!*


CND press release

CND pre-action press release

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Photos

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Aldermaston Big Blockade web albums

More photos courtesy of CND

More photos courtesy of Europe's Nuclear Heritage

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Links to Mainstream & Independent Media Coverage

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National & International

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Peace News (front page feature)

Indymedia UK front page feature

Indymedia UK report

Schnews report

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Guardian

Morning Star (front page feature)

Press Association

BBC - 1st report

BBC - 2nd report - "The arrests were made after dozens of people gathered at Aldermaston to mark World Disarmament Week." - Actually there were probably at least 300 campaigners present. It seems numeracy isn't the BBC's strong point when it comes to demonstrations. Probably taught maths by the police.

Evening Standard

Channel 4 News

Metro

Daily Express

Mirror

Tribune magazine

Islamic Republic News Agency

Mathaba.Net

Ekklesia - Peace protesters successfully blockade Atomic Weapons Establishment

-Earlier related event

-Earlier publicity

Independent Catholic News

Earlier related event - Bishop and ordinands in lamentation at Aldermaston - Inspire magazine

Indymedia Ireland - Dublin Catholic Worker solidarity vigil

-Indymedia Ireland - Publicity for Dublin vigil

Common Dreams (Guardian reprint)

Climate Ark (Guardian reprint)

Rinf.com (Morning Star reprint)

Corporate Watch

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Local

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Newbury Today / Newbury Weekly News

(excellent article, includes gallery with 16 photos)

-Wonderful video

Reading Evening Post / Get Reading website

-Earlier short

-Pre-action report 1

-Pre-action report 2

-Imbecilic commentary with a couple of sensible readers' comments

Reading Chronicle

Basingstoke Gazette / This is Hampshire website

Rochdale Online (featuring Pat Sanchez)

Cornish Guardian / This is Cornwall website (featuring Peter le Mare)

Chester Chronicle (featuring Joan Meredith)



Kate Hudson, chair of CND on the Big Blockade

Kate Hudson reflects on Monday's blockade:

Oct 28, 2008

Protesting at Aldermaston

Monday's peaceful blockade of Aldermaston's nuclear bomb factory was the biggest for a decade. Hundreds of protestors gathered from 5.30am to block the gates and halt work at the site, which is being prepared for the building of new nuclear bombs. We wanted to delay that building process and raise public awareness of what is going on there, in our name - and at our expense.

In the event we had some success. A number of gates were blocked for several hours, and coverage of the issue has extended into the national media. The imaginative nature of the protests caught many people's attention - from locking themselves together inside concrete casings, to sitting atop a massive wooden tripod, blocking an approach road to the site. Colourful costumes were a feature, as were music and songs of protest and defiance.

Once again - as with the huge CND demonstration at Aldermaston last Easter - there were many young people on the protest, some participating in their very first blockade. More are questioning the basis on which our government pursues its war and nuclear weapons policies. And many students across the country are protesting about army recruitment, and military funded research, at colleges and universities.

This week's protest is just the tip of the vast iceberg of public opposition to Britain's nuclear weapons. Polls show a majority opposed to the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, yet the government persists with its plans and its pointless wasteful spending. The system is estimated to cost in excess of £76 billion.

It is folly beyond belief that at a time of economic crisis, our government is prioritising nuclear bombs over healthcare, housing, job creation and investment in sustainable energy production - or the numerous other ways in which our government could spend our money for our benefit.

There are many ways to oppose nuclear weapons. Blockading at Aldermaston is one of them. But you can also write to the Prime Minister or your MP, sign our petition on this website, or raise the issue in your trade union or students' union, run a street stall or write to the local paper. Every action no matter how small contributes to our ultimate success. After all, no one ever knows which will be the last straw.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Report and footage courtesy of Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp

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Click here for blockade report from Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp
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Click here for video clip of tripod blockade.
-

Blockade report by Ray Davies from CND Cymru (Wales)

>
The success of the blockade of Aldermaston Weapons Establishment on October 27 2008 exceeded our wildest expectations. Sunday was spent in nonviolent direct action training, where the emphasis was on no drugs, alcohol, no abuse of the police, no carrying of implements which could be construed as weapons, and show respect to everyone concerned. Amongst the 350 who turned up, there were many young people from 18-25, and many others who had never been on any actions before.
>
Our task was to blockade the Construction Gate, through which much of the heavy material for building the new laser facility is transported. A perfect strategy was developed; and each gate was to be manned by those who were prepared to be arrested and those who would be legal support. We spent the evening practising training for the following morning, and discussing the reasons why we were there. For me it was obvious, having 2 young children - Tad and Carwyn, both at school, who want a future, and who represent all the young people throughout the world who also want a future. The financial crisis crippling the country, people losing their homes and their jobs; yet this government was determined to spend over £50 billion to build a new generation of nuclear warheads to add to the obscene number we already have and violated the UK's policy of non proliferation.
>
The warehouse in which we were stopping held 150 people, and by the end of the night sleeping bags filled every nook and cranny in every available room. Other facilities in Reading and Newbury housed yet more demonstrators. Many people came early in the morning to join the blockade.
>
At 4:15 in the morning,the whole place awoke to the loudest alarm clock I've ever heard. By half past four, everyone was having breakfast. Outside, the police were already searching the vehicles with their torches, taking masses of photographs. On the 20 minute journey from Reading to the AWE, it was agreed that Marcus, Hutt, Diane and myself would lock on. Six others would also be arrestable, locking their arms around the four of us. The non arrestables would rush out with the banners to create a diversion, whilst we with our tubes already locked on would rush out and blockade the Construction Gate.
>
As we approached Aldermaston, the police were everywhere, reporting our progress. Mike, our driver from London, was brilliant. He slowed down just enough to allow people to rush out to create a diversion, while we followed a few seconds later and planted ourselves flat out on the floor before the police could stop us.
>
It was quite obvious that we had better preparation than the police. For the first hour, the adrenalin kept us warm, but the temperature was dropping rapidly, and by 10 am, legs and feet were numb with cold. We were cheered by the fact that all the other gates had been successfully blocked. The peace campaigners who could not be arrested were absolutely wonderful, pushing bananas and cereal bars into us, keeping our energy and spirits high. We sang a croaky "We shall not be moved" and "down by the riverside". Some asked, "where is Côr Cochion"? They thought when I arrived with my red beret the night before, that I had brought the Red Choir with me.
>
At 10:30, two large vehicles came from the base, and out poured an army of police in riot-type gear, They immediately brought out heavy screens to isolate us from the rest of the protestors. Two Reading policemen who had arrested me at Burghfield twelve months ago came up to me and told me that they had checked up on their notes from last year- I lived at ****, and this information would be passed on to the appropriate authorities. This new bunch of energetic police, armed with equipment to cut away the arm-locks, were extremely polite, with "yes please", and "no thank you sir". One came up to me and said, "Mr Davies, I'm just going to put my fingers down the tube, sir, to see how you are hooked on". He rammed his two fingers into the tube and twisted it around, giving me excruciating jab of pain, and smiled and said he was sorry.
>
All of a sudden there was pandemonium. The inspector called everyone away from the operation, and within 10 minutes the blue plastic barriers were removed and they all disappeared from the scene. Shortly afterwards our gate support woman told us that 20 youngsters on Tadley gate had superglued themselves together and had all been arrested - a painful operation- and the gate cleared. Most of the police moved away. This was immediately followed by people using tall tripods and stilts, who attached themselves to Tadley Gate, blocking the entrance and stopping the traffic which had only just started moving again.
>
Meanwhile at the Construction Gate, Diane felt ill, and had to disentangle herself from the lock-on; but the three of us remaining were sufficient to block the entrance. All of us had gone through the pain barrier of our need to use the toilet, and our numb hands and feet. We were told that the base was expected to be blocked until 12 o'clock, by which time most of the base would be cleared of protesters. The police themselves expected to finish well before then; but by three minutes to twelve the police had barely cleared the tripod from Tadley gate, and we started the countdown to 12noon: 10,9..3,2,1. The police whistle went and they all left the gate. It was a total victory for the protesters, a wonderful achievement by Trident Ploughshares, CND, and all those who participated. We had totally blocked the whole base for 3 hours, and no traffic had gone through; and partially blocked it for a further 2 hours. We beat the police tactically; they had obviously underestimated the number of protesters, and did not have the resources to deal with determined peace activists.
>
I shall look back with a great deal of pride on this day of action and wonderful memories of fantastic people, who more than make up for the Blairs and Bushes and Camerons of the world.

Ray Davies (the Legend)
Pride of CND Cymru

Latest update

All 33 people arrested on Monday were released by Monday evening. They had been held at police stations in Newbury, Loddon Valley (near Reading), Abingdon and Maidenhead. Some were ordered to pay a £30 fixed penalty, others were charged (generally with Highway Obstruction, but one Section 5 Public Order Act (for wearing an offensive T-shirt, apparently) and one Obstructing a police officer), whilst others were offered a caution (which some refused to accept, and so were charged).

Please contact us at blockawe [at] yahoo.co.uk or call 0845 45 88 361 so we can help arrange court support, and to be kept informed about the latest Trident Ploughshares actions around the UK, at AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield, Faslane and Coulport, Rolls Royce Raynesway Derby, Devonport, Barrow-in-Furness, Menwith Hill, Fylingdales, Lockheed Martin, Serco, Jacobs Engineering, BAE Systems, Babcock and other ghastly sites of nuclear proliferation around the UK.

This blog will continue to be updated with photos, information and reports from Monday's highly successful blockade, so watch this space!

Please send your photos and video footage from the blockade (with credits) as soon as you can to
aldermaston_blockade_media_team [at] yahoo.co.uk
-

Trident Ploughshares website: http://www.tridentploughshares.org


Guardian report


Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian
Tuesday October 28 2008

More than 30 people were arrested yesterday during one of the biggest anti-nuclear protests at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston for 10 years. The gates of the site were blocked as people attached themselves to concrete blocks which had to be broken apart by police. Others climbed scaffolding or lay in the road at the demonstration by about 400 people to mark the start of the UN World Disarmament Week.

They were protesting against a decision to modernise the Aldermaston plant in Berkshire and plans to develop a new warhead for nuclear missiles that the government wants to buy to replace the Trident system.

The government plans to spend nearly £6bn on Aldermaston over the next three years. Ministers claim the money is needed to preserve Britain's ability to manufacture nuclear warheads safely; they say a decision has not yet been taken to develop new, "more usable" warheads with the help of American knowhow.

The Guardian revealed earlier this year that one of the MoD's senior officials told a private meeting of arms companies that a decision to replace the existing stockpile of nuclear warheads had already been taken despite ministers repeatedly denying there were any plans to replace them and insisting that no decision would be taken until the next parliament, probably sometime after 2010.

Daniel Viesnik, spokesman for Trident Ploughshare, said: "The government does not seem to take notice of anything else other than direct action. We are opposed to the development of a new generation of warheads and protesters feel more extreme measures like [yesterday's] have to be used to get attention."

Kate Hudson, chair of CND, said the protest showed there was a strong increase in public support for nuclear disarmament.

Report errors or inaccuracies: reader@guardian.co.uk
Letters for publication should be sent to: letters@guardian.co.uk
If you need help using the site: userhelp@guardian.co.uk
Call the main Guardian and Observer switchboard:
+44 (0)20 7278 2332

More than 30 arrests at Aldermaston anti-nuclear protest
This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday October 28 2008 on p9 of the UK news section. It was last updated at 00.02 on October 28 2008.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Morning Star front page




Hundreds blockade WMD base

(Monday 27 October 2008)
DEFIANT: Protesters barring the way into Aldermaston on Monday. pic: CND

DEFIANT: Protesters barring the way into Aldermaston on Monday. pic: CND

HUNDREDS of peace protesters blockaded one of Britain's secretive WMD sites on Monday to expose the billions being wasted on nuclear bombs while the country plummets into recession.

Demonstrators descended on the Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory in Berkshire under cover of darkness just before dawn, to blockade the gates before security forces surrounding the base could react.

Peace campaigners from Norway to Switzerland joined Trident Ploughshares and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament activists to link themselves together with chains and concrete tubes before police tried to drag them away.

CND chairwoman Kate Hudson explained that demonstrators had come to "highlight the existence of Aldermaston's Atomic Weapons Establishment and the work which goes on there.

"The fact that our government is planning to spend billions of pounds on a replacement to Trident, prioritising nuclear bombs over health care and job creation at a time of economic crisis, needs to be exposed and condemned," she stressed.

Aldermaston is where Trident submarine-based nuclear missiles are designed and built.

The government has pledged to spend £76 billion - handing over much of it to private weapons firms - to upgrade the weapons of mass destruction during the next few years.

Protester Dan Cole said that the blockade was intended to highlight that private companies "are making billions in profit at the taxpayer's expense through military spending.

"It is a sad reflection on our society that people need to take this action in order to have their voices heard," he said, as police arrested at least 33 of the protesters.

Trident Ploughshares spokesman Dan Viesnik added: "This is the biggest direct action that Aldermaston has seen for a decade and highlights the strength of feeling from the public against Trident and the government's plans to upgrade the missiles.

"These weapons and the massive multibillion-pound expansion of this nuclear arms factory are unnecessary expenses in the current financial climate and contradict the government's stated commitment to disarmament," the Trident Ploughshares spokesman said.

"We demand that the new developments are ceased and the whole Trident system taken out of service without delay."

Mr Viesnik urged the government to "make Aldermaston safe so it will be fit for use as an international centre of expertise on warhead decommissioning and verification as part of a global nuclear weapons convention."

But Mr Viesnik warned: "Unless the government listens, they can expect more of the same direct action."

Yesterday's blockade follows a huge CND demonstration on Easter Monday, when thousands of protesters surrounded the weapons factory to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1958 peace march from London to Aldermaston.

Ms Hudson said that campaigners would continue to press the government to keep its commitment to global nuclear disarmament.

"Britain's security should be based on peace and justice, not war and nukes," the CND chairwoman insisted.

Copyright Morning Star, all rights reserved

published by the Peoples Press Printing Society


More photos


Tripod blockade on A340 north of Home Office Gate

Veteran campaigner Pat Arrowsmith joins blockaders and citizens' WMD inspector at Tadley Gate

WMD inspector impeded from conducting essential work by fluoro-jacketed defenders of the military-industrial complex (on overtime payments).

Shalom (peace). Christian Peacemaker Team 'angels' inseparable (literally: hands superglued together!)


Japanese Buddhist nun Marute-anjusan who walked from London Peace Pagoda to Aldermaston drums and chants for peace before Tadley Gate blockaders and mounted police

Ready for any afternoon mischief

Tadley Gate morning action

Mounted police contemplate trampling peaceful protesters

Impressive banner illustrates potted history of nuclear weapons and the birth of CND

Rebel clown takes a nap after a hard day's blockading

Skulls mark the site of the nuclear death factory

Rinky Dink pedal-powered sound system arrives at Tadley Gate. Piglet ready for action.

Talented singers Frankie Armstrong (far left) and David Ferrard (second from left) with friends

Seize the Day keep spirits high with some great sounds

Costly white elephant of the apocalypse

Remnants of earlier concrete blockade on A340 just south of Home Office Gate. The police cutting team has been kept busy!



Procession of witness prays before moving off from Tadley Gate

Christian CND's chilly overnight vigil nears its end on Monday morning

Wrapped up warm
Christian CND banner with peace dove

All images CopyLeft 2008 D. Viesnik
(please credit any reuse)



More photos from Tadley Gate blockades

















All images CopyLeft 2008 J. Saunderson
(please credit any reuse)
.

Japanese message of support for Aldermaston Big Blockade

The following message was sent by Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy and one of the Faslane 365 organisers:

Dear Big Blockaders,

Below is a letter of solidarity from some Japanese activists that I had spoken to during my meetings in Hiroshima and Tokyo in August.

As I'm in New York at UN meetings, I also have to wish you strength, nonviolent power, fun and effective blockading for tomorrow morning.

Love, peace and action,
rebecca


Please find below a "letter of solidarity" from my colleagues and myself, who are members of Japan Association of International Relations and/or Peace Studies Association of Japan.
>
>
> I wish you great success of the Big Blockade. Please take care!
> In peace,
> Taka
>
>
> Takao Takahara, Professor of International Politics and Peace Research Faculty of International Studies, Meiji-Gakuin University Kamikurata 1518, Totsuka-ku, Yokohama, Japan 244-8539 Tel: +81-45-863-2224 Fax: +81-45-863-2265 E-mail: taka [at] k.meijigakuin.ac.jp (or: ttmgu [at] hotmail.com)
>
>
> October 27, 2009
> "A letter of solidarity to the people gathering at Aldermaston"
>
> As citizens and members of academia residing in a country where survivors from the two atomic bombings strenuously continue to plea for elimination of nuclear weapons, we respectfully express our support for the people of Britain who will be at Aldermaston on Monday, October 27.
> Let's work together to assure that tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki never be repeated anywhere on this planet. Nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral, as Sir Joseph Rotblat, the Nobel Peace Laureate of 2005, declared.
> We regret that there still exist over 26,000 nuclear warheads, among which about 2,000 are said to be at hair-trigger alert. This is unbearable.
> We look forward to seeing Great Britain take back the decision to renew Trident, and assume the honorable role of becoming the first among the permanent members of the UN Security Council to discard nuclear arsenals.
>
> With best and warm regards,
>
> Seiji Endo, Seikei University
> Kiyoko Furusawa, Tokyo Women's Christian University
> Yasushi Ikeo, Kyoto Seika University
> Kumi Masuyama, Peace Studies Association of Japan
> Takako Nabeshima, Hokkaido University
> Shiho Nakazawa, Bunka Women's University
> Gen Nogami, Tsukuba University
> Tsutomu Nomita, Peace Studies Association of Japan
> Takahiro Nozaki, Chubu University
> Hidetsugu Odawara, Peace Studies Association of Japan
> Atsushi Shibasaki, Komazawa University
> Satoshi Shinden, University of Tokyo
> Akiko Sugiki, Kobe-Gakuin University
> Hiroko Takahashi, Hiroshima City University
> Takao Takahara, Meiji-Gakuin University
> Kayoko Teshigawara, Ferris Women's University
> Shinichiro Tsukada, Peace Depot
> Haruo Yamaguchi, Kobe University
> Masaki Yokoyama, Ferris Women's University
> Ryo Yoshida, University of Tokyo
>
>
=========================================
Dr Rebecca E. Johnson
Executive Director,
The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy
24 Colvestone Crescent,
London E8 2LH, England
web: <>
tel +44 (0) 20 7503 8857
Cellphone +44 (0) 773 336 0955
>

Monday, 27 October 2008

2pm update

As we detail below, the blockade is well underway.

Photo CopyLeft 2008 J. Saunderson (please credit any reuse)

At 2pm the arrest count stands at 33, with those arrested taken to Newbury or Abdingdon. Nine people locked together with arm tubes managed to blockade the construction gate on the A340 for 5 hours; in the end they left over their own accord and were not arrested. A tripod was also erected on the A340; the police used scaffolding to remove this, after the road was blocked for 2 hours; 3 arrests were made. Currently the Rinky Dink is entertaining protesters at the Tadley Gate while a group of protesters (a Buddhist monk and nun, as well as people from Christian CND) have completed a procession around the entire boundary of the site.

The blockade is underway

Trident Ploughshares Press Release

27 October 2008 - For immediate release



blockading the gatesA major blockade and protest is underway of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston near Reading to mark UN Disarmament Week [1]. The Aldermaston Big Blockade, organised by Trident Ploughshares [2] and supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) [3], Block the Builders [4] and the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp [5] is seeking to disrupt work on existing Trident nuclear warheads and the facilities that will enable the development of their successors at Britain’s nuclear weapons research laboratory.



As of 7:30am, access to several gates has been blocked off by protesters lying in the road attached together with superglue, concrete blocks and arm tubes. Veteran campaigner Pat Arrowsmith, one of the organisers of the first London to Aldermaston march is sitting in the entrance to Tadley Gate. The A340 on Paices Hall, heading north to Aldermaston village has also been blockaded by protesters, near Home Office Gate.


Shalom!
Several hundred peace campaigners from as far afield as Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Portugal, Scotland, Wales, Bradford, Sheffield, Manchester and Plymouth have converged on Aldermaston for the biggest day of direct action against Trident in the UK since last October’s Big Blockade of Faslane naval base in Scotland, the home of Britain’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. [6] Today’s action builds upon CND’s Easter Monday demonstration at Aldermaston, the biggest to be held at the site for two decades. On that occasion, around 5,000 campaigners surrounded the site to mark the 50th anniversary of the first march to the base from London. [7]


Buddhist monk and nun
Christian CND, having completed a 10-hour overnight prayer vigil at Tadley Gate, is now carrying out a procession of witness around the base in support of the blockade. [8] A monk and nun from Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist order strongly opposed to nuclear weapons, are also in attendance, having walked from the London Peace Pagoda.


Christian peacemakers
As well as calling for an end to Trident and the construction of new facilities that include a uranium enrichment plant planned for 2009, the campaigners want to highlight urgent concerns regarding public health and safety and environmental contamination, especially in light of recent revelations of severe flooding at AWE’s nearby Burghfield site last summer which resulted in suspension of all live nuclear work for nine months, and numerous other ongoing safety issues. [9]



Daniel Viesnik from Trident Ploughshares said, “The massive multi-billion pound expansion of AWE, continued deployment of Trident and its planned replacement are unnecessary expenses in the current financial climate and contradict and undermine the Government’s stated commitment to global abolition of nuclear weapons. All this is hypocritical, destabilising and in breach of the UK’s disarmament obligations. Trident is a serious hazard to life, health and the environment and there can never be a lawful or moral use for it. We as concerned citizens have therefore called a peaceful blockade during World Disarmament Week to demand that the new developments are ceased and the whole Trident system taken out of service without delay. We would rather see this facility made safe so it will be fit for use as an international centre of expertise on warhead decommissioning and verification as part of a global Nuclear Weapons Convention, in line with Government proposals.”


Police manhandling protesters



Musician and songwriter David Ferrard [10], who has travelled down from Scotland to perform for the blockade, said, “I have participated and sung at several blockades outside the gates of Faslane in Scotland, where the Trident submarines are based. I thought it was time to travel to the source of the weapons of mass destruction and show solidarity with my English neighbours.”




ENDS

Notes to Editor:



1. UN Disarmament Week – 24-30 October

http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/disarmament/


2. Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a nonviolent, open, peaceful and fully accountable manner.


For further information and to arrange interviews, contact Daniel Viesnik: 07506 234 091 aldermaston_blockade_media_team@yahoo.co.uk

http://blockawe.blogspot.com

http://www.tridentploughshares.org


3. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere. Contact Ben Soffa, CND Press Officer: 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859 http://www.cnduk.org


4. Block the Builders http://www.blockthebuilders.org.uk


5. Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp http://www.aldermaston.net


6. Faslane 365, a year-long blockade of Faslane naval base, Scotland http://www.faslane365.org


7. CND The Bomb Stops Here event, Easter Monday 2008 http://www.cnduk.org/aldermaston


8. Details of Christian CND’s vigil and procession http://ccnd.gn.apc.org/events.html


9. Reports on severe flooding at AWE Burghfield in July 2007 and other safety issues:


SWAMPED!

The devastating impact of the July 2007 floods on Britain’s nuclear weapons factories

Nuclear Information Service report

http://nuclearinfo.org/view/nuclear_sites/accidents/a1952


Flood threat to nuclear arms site - Channel 4 News

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/society/environment/flood+threat+to+nuclear+arms+site/2513357


Britain's nuclear weapons factory 'nearly overwhelmed' by flood - The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/3178392/Britains-nuclear-weapons-factory-nearly-overwhelmed-by-flood.html


Trident plant shut down in safety alert - The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/25/nuclear.defence



10. David Ferrard’s website http://davidferrard.com



11. In March 2007, Westminster voted in principle to retain nuclear weapons and to build new submarines from which to launch them. To date, there has been no vote in parliament on the future of warheads. However, Ministry of Defence (MoD) documents obtained by CND in July 2008 confirmed that contrary to repeated ministerial denials, the government has already made the decision to replace the warheads.


CND press release http://www.cnduk.org/index.php/press-releases/trident/secret-plan-to-replace-nuclear-warheads-parliament-misled.html


12. The MoD has already committed billions of pounds to a massive ongoing construction and recruitment programme at AWE, where Britain’s nuclear warheads are researched, developed and maintained. AWE first outlined its expansion proposals, which it claimed would be on the scale of Heathrow Terminal 5, in its 2002 Site Development Strategy Plan. Building work commenced - on the Orion laser facility - in 2005 and continues to this day.


Trident replacement - a short chronology

http://www.aldermaston.net/campaigns/tng/chronology.php


AWE site development strategy plan (2005 update) http://www.awe.co.uk/Contents/Publication/1567930Site%20Development%20Strategy%202005.pdf

13. All images CopyLeft 2008 D. Viesnik (please credit any reuse)






Saturday, 25 October 2008

Christian CND overnight vigil and daytime procession

http://ccnd.gn.apc.org/events.html

26 – 27 October: Bell, Book and Candle. CCND supporting Trident Ploughshares’ ‘Big Blockade’. There will be an all-night vigil on Sunday 26th October at Tadley Gate, from 9pm until 7am on Monday 27th October.

At 7am there will be a procession round the base starting with a short liturgy. Bring bells, Scripture quotes on placards or Bibles, etc and candles or lanterns. At each gate there will be a stop for a rest and a liturgy so people can join at any time during the procession. Should finish at about 4pm with final prayers.

The idea is to support the blockade with a Ring of Prayer and to provide an alternative witness for those not wishing to take part in possibly arrestable actions. If you are coming for the prayer procession (or indeed, the blockade) and need accommodation see below for 27th October.

Leaflet (PDF document) Notes and timetable (Word doc)

A message of support from the Rt Revd the Bishop of Reading, Stephen Cottrell:

“How can we tell others not to possess something we are so keen not only to keep but also to upgrade? While the world needs investment to build a sustainable future we invest in bombs which only bring further instability to an already unstable world. The peace the world longs for can only be found beyond the futility of the arms race and in particular the horrors and waste of nuclear weapons. As the Anglican bishop serving Berkshire I look forward to the day when Aldermaston leads the world: not in making bombs but in decommissioning them; and I am happy to offer my support and prayers to all people of good will who want to build a sustainable world without the terror of nuclear arms.”


A message of support from the Very Reverend John A.R. Methuen, formerly Dean of Ripon:


"I have been involved with the anti-nuclear movement for many years and am now a member of the National Executive of Christian CND. I believe strongly that the various ills and woes of the world are all interlinked, so I am equally concerned about Greenpeace, War on Want, Christian Aid, World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International and similar organizations because they all contribute to the peace movement and need to be seen as all part of a bigger picture. The cause against Trident replacement in particular and nuclear weapons generally seems to me to be unassailable and I gladly give my support to you and all those who are struggling for a better, more peaceful, more just and more secure world. With all my very best wishes and prayers."



Thursday, 23 October 2008

Latest Press Release


Campaigners to blockade nuclear bomb factory to mark World Disarmament Week

Trident Ploughshares Press Release - 23 October 2008

Trident Ploughshares [1] has called a major blockade of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston near Reading during UN World Disarmament Week [2], on Monday 27 October, from 6:30am. The Aldermaston Big Blockade is supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) [3], Block the Builders [4] and the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp [5] and aims to disrupt work on existing Trident nuclear warheads and their successors.

Hundreds of peace campaigners are expected to converge on Aldermaston in what looks set to be the biggest day of direct action against Trident in the UK since the Big Blockade of Faslane naval base in Scotland last October. [6] On Easter Monday, around 5,000 people surrounded Aldermaston as CND marked the 50th anniversary of the first march to the base from London. [7]

Christian CND is planning an overnight vigil at Tadley Gate from 9pm on Sunday 26 October and a daytime procession around the base on Monday in solidarity with the blockade. [8] Joining them will be monks and nuns from Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist order strongly opposed to nuclear weapons, who plan to walk to Aldermaston from their Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes.

In addition to calling for an end to Trident, campaigners want to highlight urgent concerns about public health and safety and environmental contamination, especially in light of recent revelations of severe flooding at AWE’s nearby Burghfield site last summer and numerous other ongoing safety issues. [9]

Daniel Viesnik from Trident Ploughshares said, “The massive expansion of AWE, continued deployment of Trident and its planned replacement are unnecessary expenses in the current financial climate and contradict and undermine the Government’s stated commitment to global abolition of nuclear weapons. This is hypocritical, destabilising and in breach of the UK’s disarmament obligations. Trident is a serious hazard to life, health and the environment and there can never be a lawful or moral use for it. We as concerned citizens have therefore called a peaceful blockade during World Disarmament Week to demand that the new developments are ceased and the whole Trident system taken out of service without delay. We would rather see this facility made safe so it will be fit for use for warhead decommissioning as part of a global Nuclear Weapons Convention, in line with Government proposals.

Musician and songwriter David Ferrard [10], who is travelling down from Scotland, said, “I have participated and sung at several blockades outside the gates of Faslane in Scotland, where the Trident submarines are based. I thought it was time to travel to the source of the weapons of mass destruction and show solidarity with my English neighbours.


ENDS


Notes:

1. Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a nonviolent, open, peaceful and fully accountable manner.

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews, contact Daniel Viesnik, press liaison: 07506 234 091 aldermaston_blockade_media_team [at] yahoo.co.uk

http://blockawe.blogspot.com

http://www.tridentploughshares.org

2. UN Disarmament Week – 24-30 October

http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/disarmament/

3. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere. Contact Ben Soffa, CND Press Officer: 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859 http://www.cnduk.org

4. Block the Builders http://www.blockthebuilders.org.uk

5. Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp http://www.aldermaston.net

6. Faslane 365, a year-long blockade of Faslane naval base, Scotland http://www.faslane365.org

7. CND The Bomb Stops Here event, Easter Monday 2008 http://www.cnduk.org/aldermaston

8. Details of Christian CND’s vigil and procession http://ccnd.gn.apc.org/events.html

9. Reports on severe flooding at AWE Burghfield in July 2007 and other safety issues:

SWAMPED!

The devastating impact of the July 2007 floods on Britain’s nuclear weapons factories

Nuclear Information Service report

http://nuclearinfo.org/view/nuclear_sites/accidents/a1952

Flood threat to nuclear arms site - Channel 4 News

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/society/environment/flood+threat+to+nuclear+arms+site/2513357

Britain's nuclear weapons factory 'nearly overwhelmed' by flood - The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/3178392/Britains-nuclear-weapons-factory-nearly-overwhelmed-by-flood.html

Trident plant shut down in safety alert - The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/25/nuclear.defence

10. David Ferrard’s website http://davidferrard.com

11. In March 2007, Westminster voted in principle to retain nuclear weapons and to build new submarines from which to launch them. To date, there has been no vote in parliament on the future of warheads. However, Ministry of Defence (MoD) documents obtained by CND in July 2008 confirmed that contrary to repeated ministerial denials, the government has already made the decision to replace the warheads.

CND press release http://www.cnduk.org/index.php/press-releases/trident/secret-plan-to-replace-nuclear-warheads-parliament-misled.html

12. The MoD has already committed billions of pounds to a massive ongoing construction and recruitment programme at AWE, where Britain’s nuclear warheads are researched, developed and maintained. AWE first outlined its expansion proposals, which it claimed would be on the scale of Heathrow Terminal 5, in its 2002 Site Development Strategy Plan. Building work commenced - on the Orion laser facility - in 2005 and continues to this day.

Trident replacement - a short chronology

http://www.aldermaston.net/campaigns/tng/chronology.php

AWE site development strategy plan (2005 update) http://www.awe.co.uk/Contents/Publication/1567930Site%20Development%20Strategy%202005.pdf