road protests 1998
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From: "Heather" (email@example.com)
Subject: Amazing time in Faslane
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 23:06:27 +0100
amazing time in Faslane
"Just back (again) the energy at the peace camp is very bouyant..."
ARRESTS REACH 100 AT DISARMAMENT ACTION
Australians brother and sister Jens and Anja Light were arrested with Trident Ploughshares 2000 co-ordinator Angie Zelter after spending over 30 minutes
inside the base between the security fence and 'razor wire' while the police used an angle-grinder to open the fence and remove them. They have been charged with 'malicious mischief' and are currently being held at Strathclyde district police station.
We hope the British government is starting to understand our determination to disarm Trident. The international media is following this event closely and we want to remind the Government that they should take this opportunity to be world leaders in the disarmament process. If countries like Britain don't take take the initiative to disarm we will all be locked in the deadly and expensive arms cycle forever," said Anja and Jens earlier today.
Meanwhile a Swedish Church minister was released at Dumbarton Sheriff Court after breaching his bail conditions on 3 occasions by breaking into the Trident base. During each arrest minister Fredric Ivarsson wore his dog collar and carried a bible. Other members of the Corpus Christi group, Klaus Engell and Petter Joelsson carried a hammer and bolt cutters.
Bringing a message of peace the Swedes say they will continue their actions until the British government realises that "stockpiling nuclear weapons is no solution to the threat of world conflict, all countries must learn to negotiate with respect and love."
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 www.reninet.com/hobo or may be ordered through Broken Eagle Press POB 402 Arcata, Calif. 95518 USA
SWIMMING TO TRIDENT
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.
Please see the attached statement regarding why we are taking this action.
Our group of 10, composed of 3 active disarmers willing to face serious jail consequences, 3 disarmers willing to cause damage with less severe consequences, a media person, a legal supporter and orbserver, and two supporters to cover loose ends, gather materials and see that out personal posessions were returned home, went to work immediately gathering information about the Trident submarine system.
We learned that rather than de-escalate the nuclear threat at the end of the Cold War, the Trident fleet of four nuclear submarines represented a significant escalation, with missiles capable of longer distances, greater speed, more fire power, and more targets.
We studied several possible ways to disarm the Trident system from Trident communications to missile loading equipment, from towed array used for sonar communications to the missile launch tubes. We consulted local activists from the long standing Faslane Peace Camp who have attempted and succeeded at such actions in the past. We learned of their successes and failures. We took tours of the Gareloch and Faslane area where Clyde RN Submarine base is located and the Loch Long, home of RNAD Coulport, a weapons depot, where Trident missiles are loaded, unloaded and stored. We studied the Tri-Denting It Handbook which was complete with maps of the bases, descriptions of the submarines and support systems, possible targets and nonviolence pledges.
After a week of research we focused on the submarine, sitting in the water at Faslane itself and decided to approach by water. Ministry of Defense officers later explained that even the summertime water temperature of the Gareloch is so cold that hypothermia and death happen in just fifteen minutes of exposure. Choosing a water approach created an equipment list that took another three days organize. We were fortunate that one of the affinity groups had arrived with a selection of wet suits, fins, masks, and snorkels. We found the best fitting suits we could and completed our wardrobe with hammers, hacksaws, flares for emergency, and plastic jugs of tarry goo. Our goal was to beat the missile tubes closed and pour tar into the same tubes so that missiles could not be launched.
We performed a practice run at midnight on a clear and dreamy night across the bay from Faslane on the west bank of the Gareloch. We tested the fit of our wetsuits and our ability to withstand the cold. We swam up the bay as we studied the Faslane Bay and ship lift warehouse where the Trident is docked next to and sometimes dry docked for maintenance and repairs. We stayed in the water for 45 minutes and felt as though we could double that time if we had to. We decided to swim across the entire bay just after midnight three nights later because it was the longest approach and therefore the approach they would least expect.
The three active disarmers were Krista Van Zelzin, 23 of the Netherlands, Katri Silvonen, 18 of Finland and myself, Rick Springer, 47 of the United States. The other action members of our team planned a fence entry to attempt a land approach of the Trident to increase our possible success from all sides.
After a special 11:30 PM drop off, we dove down the bank to avoid being spotted by the constant Strathclyde police patrols. We breathed deeply as we secured our weight belts, fins, hammers, flares and jugs of tar. If our dreams were realized and we were actually successful at disarming the Trident we expected that we could be imprisoned for at least until our trial and, if we lost our trial, many years. We entered the water at 11:45 and a cold chill filled our wet suits as we lay down into the Gareloch. We began swimming to Trident as Katri explained to me that she had never swam with flippers. It seemed all in the Creators hands now.
At about the center of the bay Krista pointed out a green light that just appeared on the west bank from which we had come. She also noticed a red light on a boat moving up the side we had just departed. "They must have spotted us," she commented. I told her I suspected the green light was only a vector light, a navigational aid, and the boat was just coincidence but I became concerned myself when the boat seemed to be turning right towards us. The concern of being run over had been considered and that coupled with possible hypothermia were the reasons we carried waterproof flares.
A bight spotlight landed 20 feet off the side of the boat descending upon us. I suggested in a whisper that we take a deep breath and get ready to submerge. I dipped under just as the spotlight hit my head and was amazed to look at my suited body fully lit up under the water. I rarely felt so exposed but as came to the surface I was amazed to see the 30 foot cabin cruiser search boat continue on while the diesel hummed. Krista and Katri told me that they had come to the surface in the middle of the spotlight.
I realized that the spotlight means nothing if there is not someone staring at it and after hours of cruising the bay staring at a spot of light must be mesmerizing. The spotlight also destroys the viewers night vision so anything outside the light is nearly invisible.
We began swimming again feeling somewhat more buoyant and excited. The huge shiplift building loomed ahead for an eternity when suddenly the shadow of the boom surrounding Faslane Bay became visible. The boom, a huge floating sausage connected to a huge round ball and then another sausage creating the inner bay, was only eighty yards off as a Zodaic inflatable came zooming in between us. They shined their search light at the base of the boom but it seemed to me impossible for them to spot a swimmer at the speed they were going. The sea birds resting on the boom squaked and resettled as the boat went by. Our fears of being given away by squaking birds were calmed as we gently approached. I cooed softly like a pigeon and they barely moved as we slid in between the sausage and ball, no netting, no trip wires. We realized that we had made it to Faslane Bay.
And there before us, only three or four hundred yards more swim was the evil Trident submarine, docked on the right side of the Shiplift building.
The three of us gently cruised forward out into the bay when Krista noticed three tiny figures standing on the left front of the Shiplift. They were so tiny, I was hoping she was wrong and they would prove to be just garbage on the dock but by the time we had covered half the bay to the Trident, we could see the glow of their cigarettes with each puff. And then they moved.
With the tremendous Las Vegas style lighting of Faslane, we could barely conceive that we had not been spotted. Krista urged, "Let's go for it," and began swimming faster towards the Trident. I slowed down, attempting to size up the situation and also responding to cramps in my calves. I was shivering intensely by this time, my whole body shaking as I decided to swim wide of the shiplift hoping to stay out of sight range. The women were 50 yards ahead and nearly touching the pilings of the dock when one of the three smokers yelled in a woman's voice, "H A L T!!! H A L T !!! I watched her run across the dock to the right side of the building and grab at a box. When she came over to the edge of the dock her silhouette clearly held a machine gun type rifle. She pointed it down at the Katri and Krista and continued screaming conflicting orders. "Stay there! Come here!" At the same time more lights came on and a huge load speaker system announced in a booming voice, "Bandits on the Base. Bandits on the Base!" It was only a moment more before the female officer spotted me as I tried to swim around the melee. She pointed the rifle my way but with my wet suit hood covering my ears, her voice was muffled and something told me she wouldn't shoot me as I continued swimming to Trident. My partners had a better view of the woman with her rifle and remained floating at the bottom of the dock, their feet dangling in the water perhaps only five meters from the end of our goal.
I continued swimming realizing now that with four or five short underwater bursts, I could slither out onto the back surfaced area, next to the rear fin and wings and perhaps have a chance to take a few delicious whacks at the beast before they whacked me. In what seemed to be three minutes a zodiac came zooming out of the dark in back of the Trident. They passed me to pick up the women and I made one underwater spurt, feeling my right calf cramping as I did. I surfaced to see the Zodiac coming my way with Krista and Katri on board. I had a dilemma. I could evade the Zodiac and get to the Trident or I could surrender. The nonviolence guidelines are quite clear that once spotted, running is prohibited, but swimming fast has yet to enter the anti-nuclear movement nonviolence bylaws.
There is fine dance that happens in our effort to convert these missiles to farm tools. It is a dance that happens when one human being makes a stand, looks another human being in the eye, and refuses violence. I climbed into the Zodiac and when I stood up, the Navy seal slapped me on the arm and said, "Well, done man. No one had ever gotten that close to a Trident before." I remembered the old adage that "the best way to destroy your enemy is to make them your friend." One friend by one friend we will disarm that Trident. Keep swimming!
Note from Faslane peacecamp - On 2 previous occasions 2 young peacecampers, Scots Mhairi, and New Zealand Claire
swam out to the submarine and boarded it. The first time they entered the control room to find it unoccupied,
and used the telephone to phone the peacecamp, giggling, to tell them where they were (knowing the phone is bugged!) The second time they just popped their heads through the hatch and said "hello!- we’re from the peacecamp!" Allthough they were both arrested, these occasions are so acutely embarrassing to the M.oD
that they simply sweep it under their carpet, denying that security has been breached! They are currently
still claiming that no security has been breached by the TP activists!
SWIMMERS ONCE AGAIN REACH TRIDENT NUCLEAR SUBMARINE
TWO INTERNATIONAL FOR MOTHER EARTH CAMPAIGNERS ARRESTED
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.
Krista van Velzen (23 - Netherlands) and Katri Silvonen (20 - Finland), both full-time campaigners at the office of 'For Mother Earth' International in Belgium, swam for one and a half hours across the ice-cold Gare Loch, penetrating the heart of Britain's first strike nuclear weapon system at 3:15 a.m.
Tonights attempt follows a first attempt made in the early hours of August 17th, where they were arrested within only a few yards of a Trident nuclear submarine. Tonight, according to an independent monitoring source, they came even closer, one activist climbing onto the ship-lift above the Trident submarine.
The activists were arrested by the MOD at Faslane, and will possibly be greeted once again with high respect by the astonished security forces.
Although first met with fear and distrust, the activists say that the MOD and local Strathclyde Police are displaying growing sympathy for the commitment and challenging non-violent methods employed by the emerging international Trident Ploughshares 2000 movement.
'If they send me to join the three other women in a Scottish jail, I can only state that they arrest the wrong people. We as citizens have the legal obligation to stop the preparation of crimes against humanity under the UN approved Nuremberg Charter', states the 20 year Finnish campaigner Katri Silvonen.
Twenty three year old Dutch citizen Krista van Velzen says 'We have no doubt that this Ploughshares movement is going to force Westminster to fullfil its commitment under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by the year 2000. The people of the UK, nor the global community, want these costly weapons of mass destruction. It is time to invest this waste of money and resources into meeting real social needs'.
FOREIGN TRIDENT NUCLEAR SUBMARINE DISARMERS RELEASED
ONE MORE UK CAMPAIGNER REMANDED
TP2000 MOVEMENT PRESSES CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST UK GOVERNMENT
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.'
Citizens' Complaint against UK government accepted at Police headquarters Yesterday an international delegation of the peace movement filed succesfully a Citizens' Complaint against Members of the UK government and employees of UK nuclear weapons establishment at the headquarters of the Dumbarton Police. Stephen Allcroft, Morag Balfour and Koen Moens of TP2000, George Farebrother of the World Court Project UK, and Brian Quail of Scottish CND and TP2000, talked Mr. Superintendent Wylie. Mr. Wylie is said to be most sympathetic and to have quickly grasped the issue, and said to understand that the UK government could break international and UK law with its nuclear weapons deterrent. The complaint will be forwarded to the Procurator Fiscal office in Dumbarton. George Farebrother who was part of lobbying successfully the UN for the World Court opinion, stated that 'it is important to realize that governments are not above the law. This has been proved with legal actions against states such as Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. The international Court of Justice in The Hague can not make new laws, it merely states what international law is. It's ruling of 8 July 1996 states that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally contrary to existing international humanitarian law'.
Tomorrow, Rachel Wenham and Sylvia Boyes, two imprisoned TP2000 campaigners will appear at 10 a.m. in the Victoria Hall of the Helensbrough Court. It is not clear yet if the foreign campaigners will appear in court tomorrow. George Farebrother will be called as an expert witness, while Robin Boyes, a Minister of the Unitarian Church in Birmingham and Sylvia's husband will travel to show his support for the disarmers.
The campaigners of TP2000 announced that from today all Trident related sites across the UK become susceptible to direct disarmament actions.
Nuclear weapons sites abroad will also be targeted, especially in Belgium (Kleine Brogel) and the Netherlands (Volkel), two US Airforce bases with tactical B-61 nuclear warheads.
Helen John will now join three UK campaigners and an Australian activist who have been on remand since last Friday August 21. Two of them, Sylvia Boyes (56) from Birmingham and Rachel Wenham (25) from Leeds will appear in Victoria Hall, Dumbarton Court tomorrow at 10 am. Robin Boyes, Sylvia's husband and a vicar will travel up to Scotland to support his wife as he supports her for 100%. Helen John, from the Menwith Hill Women's Peace Camp in Yorkshire arrested at Coulport last night for cutting the fence, stated just before her arrest : 'I admire the wonderful concept of all TP2000 activits, dedicated to bring an end to the Trident system. I will snip in the fence of international law against genocidal weapons. It is a great pity that courts do not yet support us'.
Around 110 activists were arrested over the past two weeks TP2000 international peace camp. The arrested were from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, USA and Wales, amongst others. People from Belarus, Romania, Russia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine were refused an entry visa when they wanted to join the 1,000 km peace walk which joined TP2000 on Nagasaki day in Faslane. The peace walkers had left from NATO hq in Brussels.
The released FME activists might take new disarmament action before leaving Scotland for their homebase in Belgium and the Netherlands, where a new Ploughshares campaign is being launched against US B-61 tactical nuclear weapons. Today starts the new fase of TP2000. All Trident related sites are now susceptable to direct disarmament actions.
Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, granted his support for the Trident Ploughshares movement in a letter dated 29 July 1998 (appendix). Also the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and National CND are stepping up their involvement in this direct disarmament campaign which wants to force the British government to abide by the July 1996 UN World Court's decision outlawing 'the threat or use of nuclear weapons'. Dave Knight, CND Chair says: 'The protestors are exposing the hypocrisy of the UK over war crimes. On the one hand the UK has taken the lead in setting up the International Criminal Court, but at the same time it still refuses to accept the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) Advisory Ruling, which judged weapons of mass destruction like Trident to be unlawful'.
Rob Green, a former UK Navy Commander, and today Chair of the UK World Court Project, sent a message of support all the way from New Zealand: 'The non-violent activists are using direct action to uphold the self-evident legal case against any use of Trident. This is why I am supporting the courageous people'. George Farebrother, UK's Secretary of the World Court Project, stated: 'The wrong people are being arrested. International law, as clarified by the International Court of Justice, has a great deal to say about what the military can, and can not do to people in time of war. So who are the criminals? The activists who are putting their bodies and their freedom on the line to prevent a criminal cataclysm? Or the high officials and politicians who devise plans contrary to international law?'.
Ben Oquist, assistant of Australian Senator Bob Brown, already proposes to table a motion in the Australian Senate demanding the immediate release of Australian activist Jens Light, and the start of negotiations leading to a global ban of all nuclear weapons. Anja Light, Jens sister, who is also at the
Trident Ploughshares camp says:
'Jens is a prisoner of conscience. He has been locked up while attempting, peacefully and responsibly, to prevent crimes of unimaginable magnitude.' Australia has been for many years on the forefront of nuclear disarmament. Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating reported on the 14th of August 1996 the historic report of the 'Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons'. With seventeen leading international figures they agreed that 'nuclear weapons pose an intolerable threat to all humanity and its habitat'. The Canberra Commission proposed practical steps towards a nuclear weapons-free world, and urged the nuclear weapon states to commit themselves, immediately and unequivocally, to eliminating all nuclear weapons.
Also Corbin Harney, spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone Indians in Nevada, sent his support to the activists. Britain has detonated for many years its nuclear bombs on the Treaty land of the Western Shoshone Tribe in Nevada.
FOR MOTHER EARTH DISARMERS REMANDED
FOURTH BREACH OF SECURITY AT FASLANE
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').
The three For Mother Earth campaigners will join three other campaigners currently being held on remand. Angie Zelter (Norfolk - UK) and Helen John (Yorkshire - UK) are being held at Corntonvale women's prison, Angie facing trial on September 22, Helen on September 29, both in Helensburgh. Jens Light, an Australian national from Canberra, is also being held at Greenock prison, with his trial on September 22, Helensburgh. A further two women, Sylvia Boyes and Rachel Wenham, are currently having their case heard, each facing jail sentences.
Today the non-violent direct disarmament campaign will spread to all Trident related sites in the UK, as well as to other countries with nuclear weapons. Especially the US B-61 tactical nuclear weapons in Kleine Brogel both in Belgium and Volkel in the Netherlands are now being targetted.
road protests 1998
| road protests (current)
| movement links