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Kayaks Back in Base Attack

Alarms were once more raised in anger last night at Faslane as paddling Peace Campers swept past security in a daring moonlit amphibious assault. Two boats made it under the first jetty and under the radar, allowing one camper to make a landing at berth 7 near the sub pen. Staff were again caught napping, with none seemingly concerned by our man’s soaking wet clothes, boots, and dreadlocks. Having marched along the road unimpeded by several manned checkpoints, the intrepid trespasser was finally huckled by a singularly conscientious Ministry guard on entering the Trident area.

This marks the first time unauthorised feet have strayed past this perimeter for a long time, and sets a new benchmark for current activities. Of course, the more people we have, the more things we can do…

With the bandit alarm bleeping, the trailing kayak was unable to find a route past alert police and… more details may be confirmed following the outcome of potential consequences.

Having managed to fumble the incursion into their custody, the forces of oppression followed up in fine fashion by failing to successfully collude on the charging and prosecution of a number of statutory offences. Being unable to distinguish between the land and sea, and unfamiliar with the arcane bye-laws ‘protecting’ the Gareloch facilities, the fiscal’s officer managed to get the case against dismissed despite the accused proferring a ‘guilty’ plea in the name of expediency.

Meanwhile, the Peace Camp’s efforts to bring dry clothing to its people led to farce as a car seeking to make the drop-off at South Gate was waved through the checkpoint and into the facility. An immediate alarm led to further disruption and confusion for the proliferationists, whose heightened numbers and state of alertness seems to have precipitated a loss of coordination. So if you’ve already voted by post to banish the bomb, now is an ideal time to cause trouble and strife for the nuclear warfare operation.

Either way on Thursday, Saturday will see North Gate hosting ‘Yes or No – Trident Must Go’ from 12pm. Anti-nuclear people old and new are invited to come and reinforce the message, network, and plan future actions and activities to make sure the pressure for disarmament is unabated.

Not Protest, but Active Resistance

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The new exhibition by Peace Camper Lavinia Raccanello is still open at New Glasgow Society in Argyle Street, near Kelvingrove. Three new works inspired by the artist’s time at the Camp over the spring and summer, plus a collection of archive material from the protest site, are on display.

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Most of the nicer artwork to have appeared at the Camp over the duration has been attributable to Lavinia, including such banners as have been carted by Peace Campers on recent demonstrations of solidarity with Palestine in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

She can also take credit for the singular look of the Camp’s touring van, which has been acclaimed by all those lucky enough to have seen it out and about. There will hopefully be more chances to view it in action soon.

Mere painting’s not the limit of Lavinia’s contribution though – she’s been present and correct and pitching-in with the rest of us since March, playing a part in essentially all of the interesting things to happen in that time. From each according to their means? Aye, and then some.

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So where can you meet this person? And where can you see their cool work? The work remains in situ at New Glasgow Society, 1307 Argyle Street, Glasgow until Sunday night. There will follow a closing event, “Not Protest, but Active Resistance?”, comprising a discussion of direct action with particular reference to the anti-nuclear movement. That starts at 6pm on the 7th September, in the same venue, and attendees will include the artist herself and some fellow Peace Campers past and present. All are welcome – nay, encouraged! – to come and join in.

Photographs by Lavinia Raccanello.

Hiroshima, No More

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The anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were marked by the Peace Camp and local CND. Some efforts were frustrated one way or another, though the best recent trespass was achieved, as a kayak reached the docks by the sub pen, before being angrily redirected by surprised Ministry police. Apparently they are still obsessed by watching people on the shore between the Camp and the base, seemingly not having learned any lessons in March.

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Both the dates in question saw the now-traditional floating of lanterns on the loch. Although the weather wasn’t as favourable as last year, the lochside gatherings gave opportunity to reflect on the significance of the bombings.

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The atomic weapons programme was started during the Second World War due to fears among British scientists that Nazi Germany could be developing a similar weapon (it was). The joint Allied ‘Manhattan Project’ quickly took on a life of its own. As their own technology improved, the Allies realised that Germany could not realistically hope to produce atomic bombs. Instead, panic set in when it became possible that the war could end before their own project was complete.

Fortunately for the future of mass destruction, Japan held out until its mainland was besieged. This gave time for successful atomic detonation to be achieved in the New Mexico desert. Prior to the live test, some projections had indicated that the intensity of the bomb could set the entire atmosphere of the planet alight and destroy all complex life. In the event, this didn’t happen.

Having cracked Japan’s ciphers, the Allies knew that it was ready to sue for peace, with the preservation of the monarchy the foremost concern of the ultra-nationalists they’d be negotiating with. Nevertheless, two main targets were selected for atomic bombing. These were removed from air raid schedules and left intact, fully to assess the capabilities of the new weapon without mis-attributing damage already caused by conventional ordinance.

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Hiroshima was attacked on August 6th, 1945. Prior to the bombing, the navigator on the Enola Gay bomber wrote in his logbook, “Everyone has a big hopeful look on his face.” An entry after reads, “I honestly have the feeling of groping for words to explain this. I might just say: my God, what have we done?”

The bombing of Nagasaki followed three days later on August 9th, following which Japan’s military offered unconditional surrender. Altogether, 180,000 deaths are attributed to the bombings. Either one on its own would constitute the single worst atrocity of the world’s worst conflict.

Following the bombings, the Allies were quick to try to quash rumours regarding radioactive emissions and fallout from the attacks. Journalists were escorted on visits to the bombsites and kept away from victims, and film footage showing the human effects of radiation exposure was confiscated and classified ‘Top Secret’. However, Wilfrid Burchett, a correspondent for the Daily Express, had already made his way to Hiroshima on his own initiative. What he found in the vicinity made headlines as ‘The Atomic Plague: A Stark Warning to the World’.

Another journalist, John Hershey, compiled accounts from survivors of the bombing at Hiroshima. Reading these is harrowing, and full of monstrous detail. For example, the heat from the bomb caused seeds to germinate, covering the ruined city in a joyless carpet of flowers within days. Ultimately, though, what comes across is the incredible show of human resilience which followed the bombing; all of the survivors in Hershey’s interviews have somehow overcome worse than could ever be expected, and are making progress in their attempts to recover.

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So, it is difficult to look at the cherry tree planted by visiting Hiroshima survivors in the Peace Camp and not take heart: for as long as people live, there is hope. It is impossible to look at the tree without another thought soon crowding forth: NEVER AGAIN.

War Never Changes

What a great opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow! Having had their hopes for jingoistic pageantry confounded by an arch choreography including dancing teacakes and kissing men, the Forces of Darkness were left with only the closing day to recover some imperial pride. By invoking the dead of the First World War, they ensured that this was done in as morbid a fashion as possible.

A joint closing ceremony and Great War commemoration in Glasgow was attended by Prince Charles (to our disappointment – we’d expected Brenda) as well as the heads of state of the Commonwealth nations (excluding the ones who dropped out early in shame, hounded by pantomime protest). A service at Glasgow Cathedral was the starting-point.

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With friends from the Scottish Peace Network picketing out front of the service, Peace Campers avoided armed police and roadblocks by jumping over a wall. Climbing the Necropolis above the Cathedral, we dropped an enormous banner just under the disapproving gaze of John Knox.

Some kind of plainclothes unit got onto us straight away, complaining that our campaigning was somehow offensive to the dead. When we explained that metaphorically digging up millions to invest current military adventures with misplaced reverence for previous ‘victories’ was offensive to the living, we were threatened with charges of ‘desecration of a sepulchre’.

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Although tempted to acquire convictions for this offence, thereby to become Kings and Queens among Goths, we’d already decided to be non-arrestable, so we slowly and sarcastically complied with direction to the official ‘protest zone’. This meant we were able to again hoist the banner, within metres of the departing motorcade as it set off for George Square.

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We then packed up and rolled on to the main public event at George Square. Some lovely Loyalists were also foaming somewhere abouts, which possibly took the heat off us as we once more set up, spanning North Frederick Street with hand-lettered defiance. We were pleased to see some friendlies picketing nearby, and got practical solidarity from both these, and sympathetic shop-fitters who lent us scaffolding to take the weight from tired arms.

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Being behind a banner meant we couldn’t see the comrades who penetrated the proceedings, unfurling another banner demanding ‘RESIST MILITARISM’ before the dignitaries at the Cenotaph. This peaceful plea was met with illustrative hostility; apparently the Empire’s so shaky these days that such dissent must be crushed, with prejudice. Escaping from the mob to the safer fold of fellow-travellers outside the fencing, this plucky band recovered their breath for a last action.

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As the memorial service closed and the marching bands struck-up, it was abundantly clear what this day was about: falsely invoking our lost people, and revising their meaningless slaughter into a source of pride for Brittania and all who kill, and die, in her name to this day. The offensively inappropriate gala-day atmosphere of the military march-past was successfully tempered, however, as peace people showered the soldiers with white feathers, in memoriam of the conscientious objectors.

Aye, because in all circumstances, even universal conscription at a time of hysterical nationalist fervour, there are those principled few who choose to do the right thing regardless of personal cost, and their example shames the rest of us. That’s what Milgram’s experiment showed: not that it’s easy to direct people to torture one another, but that a minority will always instinctively refuse. By supporting and celebrating that resistance, we can win the cultural war against war, when the minority becomes the majority.

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Meanwhile, back in Glasgow, our day ended with a commemoration of the consequence of current conflict, as we participated in the chalking of two thousand human figures in Kelvingrove Park, representing the dead in besieged Gaza and the West Bank territories. We left tired, but with a renewed sense of purpose: because every day the other side wins, humanity loses.

Almost all pictures stolen, from AF Glasgow and the Scottish Peace Network.

No pasaran! or: how to stop worrying and block the Bomb

The MoD’s nuclear convoy found itself in difficulty on the home stretch of its journey to Coulport last Friday morning as it was delayed for an hour by a Peace Camp blockade.

Campers used superglue and lock-on clips to stop the convoy on the ‘haul road’ from Loch Lomond to Coulport, just off the A82, at around one o’clock. Following the action, four were taken into custody and held over the weekend, with three later being released without prosecution. One was bailed to appear in court in October, charged with breach of the peace and resisting arrest.

The nuclear convoy is part of the regular servicing of the Trident warheads deployed on Faslane’s submarines. It comprises between three and five warhead carriers with support vehicles and a police and military escort, which travels Britain’s main motorways from the south-east of England to the west coast of Scotland. There isn’t a population centre in the country safe from the potential impact of a nuclear accident with this transport.

It’s a very clear example of how the practical elements of sustaining Trident represent a major public safety threat, quite aside from the moral and legal considerations of maintaining nuclear weapons. The secrecy and lack of accountability accorded to the MoD make it clear that its operations are considered untouchable. It’s for this reason that direct action and awareness-raising are so important, to present a challenge to the Ministry’s autocracy and mobilise wider resistance to it.

Thanks to all for their kind messages of support, and to those who contributed practically on the night.

Resist, persist, ’til the militarists desist

The UK Government’s relatively-new celebration of all things military was marked by events across Scotland. As the Army, Navy, and Air Force rolled out to encourage blind loyalty to flags and uniforms, so too did the peace movement to show that not everyone is in love with the morbid machinery of militarisation.

Winning hearts and minds
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In Stirling, around 40 picketed the national Armed Forces’ Day event. The counter-demonstration was mostly made up of affiliates to the nascent Scottish Peace Network, including a sizable delegation from the Peace Camp. Concerns about possible ill-will from supporters of the military procession through the city proved largely ill-founded, and protestors had few problems dispensing a considerable number of leaflets with the prominent, and promising, heading of ‘NO MORE WAR’.

The text highlighted the massive cost of the whole-day Armed Forces event, estimated at £500,000 to the local authority and corporate sponsors, as well as its timing – 82 days prior to the referendum on Scottish independence and coincidental with a two-day event in Stirling commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. The insensitivity of celebrating warfare in the context of ongoing campaigns and their bloody fall-out was also noted. These messages were sympathetically received by nearly all those who deigned to comment, showing that what seems superficially to be a token presence can in fact be an important reflection of unspoken sentiment. Altogether, this first sortie for the Scottish Peace Network as a group boded well for future joint operations.

Crane on their parade
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Meanwhile, there was high drama in Glasgow as four members of the hitherto-secretive White Feather Collective overcame both vertigo and a newly-installed steel door to adorn the Finnieston Cran with a succinct rejection of warfare and capital. Banner dropped, the four remained in situ for around twelve hours, subject to close police attention whilst soldiers advertised killing machines to kids in George Square. On their descent, the team was taken into custody and held until late on Monday to appear in court. Despite an attempt to ban them from the city of Glasgow for the duration of the Commonwealth Games, they’re now free until trial in October, unless they breach bail by going within 50 metres of the crane in question.

Cross stitches
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Edinburgh saw the exposure of months of work as a patchwork pink scarf was unrolled over 900 metres of the Royal Mile. Knitters from around the country contributed to Wool Against Weapons, which easily upstaged a low-key Armed Forces’ Day event in the city. Impressive as it is, this scarf represents a mere component of the full seven-mile train which will stretch between Atomic Weapons Establishments Burghfield and Aldermaston in August. There’s still plenty of time to get involved in this project, and make space in your summer for the couple of days around August 9th you’ll need free to ensure that Scotland is duly represented at its culmination. It’s likely to be the best-attended anti-nuclear event of the year, apart from local stuff in September of course.

What would John MacLean do?

The next big date on the agenda is August 4th, which will see both the closing of the Commonwealth Games and the opening of a four-year onslaught of First World War revisionism. The exact proceedings are a bit unclear at the moment but the Queen and heads of state from the Commonwealth nations will be involved, as will George Square and Glasgow Cathedral. We’re hoping for a good turnout to show that the mass slaughter of a generation of working-class men has not been forgotten, and resist the abuse of their memory to promote the values which murdered them. Get your affinity group ready and equipped, or meet at the statue of Donald Dewar on Buchanan Street before 10am on the 4th (kettle warning!).

Pictures robbed from the groups named above, apologies to any other credits due.

Birthday bash brings brutal band – FPC at 32

The Peace Camp’s anniversary passed in some style as friends and former campers joined to celebrate 32 years of anti-nuclear action. Camp stalwarts, including some of its founders, shared memories, whilst current campers offered workshops on present and proposed future activities.
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Our still-standing stage took the party to the MoD, or some few feet of its land at least. Unfortunately this gave its police force licence to be annoying, though they did stand off some in the end and made a series of agreements (with themselves) to permit the party, amid some mumbling about multiple trespass transgressions.

Transgression was supplemented with aggression, as probably the first ‘brutal death metal’ band to perform at the Camp rocked the base with noises not heard locally since the last Punk’s Picnic. A surreal segue into elevator music kept the festival sound system warm for our visiting mixmaestros to play out the weekend (and a little over, until the generator failed).

Unsupervised use of this awesome equipment by enthusiastic amateurs led to a number of complaints, but Police Scotland actually confounded expectation by dealing with these in a courteous and tolerant manner. It was almost enough to lead us to forget the numerous wrongful arrests, extended terms in custody, spurious vehicle pulls, speculative stop-and-searches, and idle threats, but not quite.

Perhaps the rationale for the (relative) fluffiness of the forces of oppression was that the party would serve as a distraction from the action that usually accompanies the Peace Camp’s birthday. It wasn’t; the nuclear convoy staging at and leaving AWE Burghfield over the weekend did that. Since it didn’t come up in the end, we didn’t get the opportunity to welcome it to Scotland despite putting other plans on hold. In consequence, the next Peace Camp action doesn’t count, an attitude we hope is shared by the eventual prosecuting authorities.
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More generally, the weekend remained a success in bringing people to the brink of destruction (Faslane, of course) and offering them a mix of entertainment and information. Everyone was lovely, but we owe special thanks to the sound-in-every-way guys and their diligent decksmithery; the musicians who played mostly to midges (numerically at least); the guest-starring chefs who helped us hospitalise; everyone who brought us presents; and our neighbours for their understanding. This said, hopefully the Camp doesn’t have too many birthdays left, because neither does Trident.

Please note: there are more and better birthday pictures. These are placeholders until the Campers remember to charge their phones and upload them.

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