Demonstrating against the arms trade

Quakers in Ireland

Eurosatory, the biennale of the biggest arms trade fair in the world, took place in Paris from 11-15 June 2018. This year the organisers, Stop Fuelling War, managed to be part of an event in central Paris which gathered people from all over Europe in a peaceful and fun-filled event in the days leading up to the start of the arms trade fair. Unfortunately, this Quaker was not looking where she was going and took a nasty fall the day beforehand which meant a period of recuperation during this musical and fun-filled event which had opportunities for interaction and reflection, where folk were invited to vote on military budgets. The efforts to raise awareness in the French public, of the enormous economy generated by an industry whose end product is death, was well received. Many people in France are completely unaware of the size of their military budget each year.

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Guest post by Elidh Robb: The anti-fracking movement is not just about fracking

Thank you Elidh, much appreciated!

DRILL OR DROP?

180628 Block around the clock8 RCTP Block Around the Clock outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 28/6/2018. Photo: Reclaim the Power

eilidh

Elidh Robb, communications coordinator of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, describes in this guest post how she discovered that defence of democracy is at the heart of the anti-fracking campaign.

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No Faith in Fracking week in April

In February we formed a small group to plan for a week of activities based around faith and spirituality as part of the three months of #UnitedResistance at Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

It has been an amazing experience of everyone contributing their skills in whatever way suited them and inviting many different groups to come and participate. We put together a programme for the week on the newly formed website http://www.nofaithinfracking.org and I camped for the week at Maple Farm, a mile away from the site entrance. The weather was challenging at times with quite a chilly wind and rain from time to time. We managed to maintain a presence at the gates  for most of Cuadrilla’s working week. Throughout it all there was a spirit of solidarity in spite of the police performing their tasks of moving people out of the way for any vehicle movements in and out of the site.

Creativity, love and peace inspired the week and a grounding in love for the earth and environment. Thanks to all who took part and those who supported us from afar. Much appreciated.

Towards a healthy retired life

Lord's prayer astrology

Interesting times!

I am grateful to have time for reflection, research and learning how to live heathily in this corrupted world. Our nature is beautiful and yet our planners want to destroy it for so called progress which is against all that is good for people and planet. I have always innately felt that nature knows best and have gone for organic vegetables as much as possible and also wholefoods and especially macrobiotics when advised by an acupunturist for remedy of sinus and congestion problems. Now I am delving more into using essential oils for body and home to use more DIY natural products rather than commercial chemical concoctions. There are so many things that nature provides for us and we have been taken down a wrong route by the agriculture, food and pharmaceutical industries to name just three. I believe we should only use medicine when it’s an emergency and try to allow and assist our bodies to heal themselves. This requires more discipline about what we put into our bodies in the first place – ‘we are what we eat’ is becoming more and more evident. We are certainly up against it for the whole human race to survive without being destroyed by the toxins in our environment making us ill, which includes the detrimental effects of the electromagnetic fields too. There are many self-help books on these subjects and one I bought years ago was Dr Hulda Clark’s ‘The Cure for all diseases’ and she went into detail on the many parasites within us and what we can do to eliminate them, using energy medicine and herbs. Detoxing seems to be too much hassle, expense and takes too much time when you have a busy life, but isn’t our health important enough? We have to balance our priorities and take responsibility for our own wellbeing and health – you know you’re worth it!

Sellafield Sponsors Cumbria Day -Leaving a Nasty Taste in the Mouth?

Corporate deception at play?

The Evening Mail excitedly tells us  that

“The best Cumbria has to offer will be showcased in Parliament (today) as leading businesses set out their stall. Cumbria Day – now in its third year – is hosted by the county’s six MPs as they put their political differences aside for the good of the area. A total of 15 companies and organisations have been invited to the event by their local MP so they can demonstrate the important part their business plays in the economy of Cumbria.  The event is sponsored by Sellafield Ltd and Taste Cumbria.

So at the same time as Sellafield has public money to spend in sponsoring Cumbria Day, the Sellafield Firefighters are out on strike over an ongoing pay row.

Sellafield has already tainted so much of our land and sea. It also has the awful potential to radioactively poison our agriculture and…

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Cuadrilla’s site at Preston New Road – December 2017

The view from the protector’s gate camp opposite, which monitors and logs activities 24/7. There have been many breaches of regulations already and changes to planning to accommodate this industry! Large convoys of trucks have begun again and now they can bring them through the night. If any local residents have accepted bribes from Cuadrilla, they will have no redress in the future. Livestream https://youtu.be/Je9aki9NJf8

Photos: credit Anke Bremer

Trial of #SeedsofHope2 in Burnley October 24-26, 2017 

Photo4762As a Quaker and activist, I have been attending the trial of Sam Walton, a young Quaker from London and Rev. Dan Woodhouse a Methodist Minister from Leeds, who have been charged with criminal damage for breaking into BAE Warton in January 2017. Their intention was to disarm Typhoon jets, for which they had a list of serial numbers which they believed were about to be sent to Saudi Arabia for use in the bombing of civilian population and infrastructure of Yemen. We also heard that BAE Warton also serviced planes from the Saudi airforce and that there was a plane possibly ready to be returned. So in the early morning of January 29, 2017 they entered the base by cutting through two perimeter fences but only made it to a security door before being spotted by BAE security. They fully complied with the requests of the security services and the police who arrested them, as intended by the pair should that be the outcome.

This coincidentally was 21 years after the Seeds of Hope East Timor Ploughshares action at the same site when four women disabled a British Aerospace Hawk jet and were acquitted by a jury. I had been living in Middlesex at the time and missed the news on it, so I will catch up on their story by reading Andrea Needham’s book ‘The Hammer Blow’.

Rev. Dan Woodhouse was represented by a barrister from Matrix Chambers, Blinne Ni Ghrálaigh and Sam Walton represented himself. They both gave good accounts of their backgrounds which led them to their actions and we were left in no doubt that they were of good character and that they truly believed that war crimes were taking place in Yemen by the Saudi’s, facilitated by our Government supplying them with the hardware knowingly.

They are both very passionate and sincere people who care very deeply about people and the injustice of the war in Yemen. They have both tried all legal forms of protest and have had no success; such as engaging with their MPs and other organisations like Oxfam, Amnesty International and the UN. They believed that their action was their last opportunity to prevent more lives being lost and property being destroyed. The fact that Yemen now has the largest outbreak of cholera is no surprise after what has been done to their country.

My husband joined me from the second day as the case was so compelling from a faith and moral point of view. So on the third day, we were awaiting the verdict from 10am we found the court was delayed and then resumed after 1.30pm. District Judge James Clarke gave a carefully considered judgement as he found this to be a unique case of importance (see the press release below). The elation I felt sitting there when the ‘not guilty’ verdict was given, after two days of listening to these eloquent and impressive young men, (as described by the judge) was tremendous I’m sure, for all of us.

Video before start of Sam and Woody’s trial

On BBC NW Tonight Report by Dave Guest

Press release below:

Sam and Dan verdict release – Good news!

Reverend and Quaker activist found not guilty after trying to disarm BAE fighter jets headed for Yemen

  • Activist Sam Walton and Rev Daniel Woodhouse have been acquitted after breaking-in to BAE Systems factory to ‘disarm’ Typhoon fighter jets.
  • BAE’s Typhoon fighter jets are being used by Saudi-led forces in the ongoing bombardment of Yemen
  • The UK has licensed £3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015

This afternoon, Reverend Daniel Woodhouse and Sam Walton, a Quaker activist from London, were found not guilty at Burnley Magistrates Court, following their arrest for trying to disarm Typhoon fighter jets at BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire on 29 January 2017.

Their aim had been to stop the jets, which had Saudi markings painted on them, from going to Saudi Arabia where they would be used to support the ongoing bombing of Yemen. Sam and Daniel successfully argued that their intention was to save innocent lives and prevent war crimes, by physically disabling the warplanes.

The two campaigners broke in via a fence on the perimeter of the site, and got within five feet of the warplanes before being stopped by BAE security.

The court heard evidence about the scale of the brutal bombardment, and the many serious accusations of war crimes that have been made against the Royal Saudi Air Force.

In delivering comments on his judgement District Judge James Clarke said: “They were impressive and eloquent men who held strong views about what they were doing and what they wanted to achieve. They impressed me as being natural in their delivery and honest throughout their evidence…”

“I heard about their belief of BAE’s role in the supply of aircraft to Saudi Arabia. I heard about their beliefs regarding the events in Yemen, that they include the death of civilians and the destruction of civilian property, and the basis for their belief that this amounted to war crimes…”

“However, having considered in full the defence under sec 5 Criminal Damage Act 1971, I find the defendants not guilty.”

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:

  • £2.6 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
  • £572,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)

In a joint statement, Sam and Daniel said: “We did not want to take this action, but were compelled to do so in order to stop the UK government’s complicity in the destruction of Yemen. Thousands of people have been killed in the brutal bombardment, while companies like BAE Systems have profited every step of the way.

This vindication from the Courts is further evidence of the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy that underpins so much of UK foreign policy. It is time for the government to stop putting arms company profits ahead of human rights. We do not regret taking action, and would do it again in a heartbeat. The only thing we regret is that we were not able to finish the job.”