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Tyneside Knitters | 28.11.2006 12:50 | Faslane | Anti-militarism

A dozen anti-nuclear campaigners from the North East have returned
home, after spending 27 hours in police cells in Scotland. The
campaigners, ranging in age from 16 to 73 and from Berwick to County
Durham, lay or sat in the road in front of the main gate of Faslane
naval base.

D-Locked Protestors Block Road outside Faslane
D-Locked Protestors Block Road outside Faslane

The protestors blocked the road in front of the North Gate, at the
height of the Monday morning rush hour, causing delays and disruption
for well over an hour. Several managed to 'lock on' to each other,
despite a heavy police presence. 20-30 others supported from the
pavement, continuing a positive presence at the gate with banners and
placards until mid-morning. The action, early on Monday morning (20th
November), brought the number of arrests since the launch of the
"Faslane 365" campaign (1st October) to 301. It was preceded by a
demonstration by the group at Faslane on Sunday, when campaigners
dressed as 'weapons inspectors' and walked around the gate and fence
to highlight imminent plans for Trident's replacement by a new
generation of nuclear weapons.

Faslane is 'home' to Britain's entire fleet of nuclear armed Trident
submarines, and this week's action comes as an imminent decision is
expected from Tony Blair's government relating to the replacement of
Trident. Building work for new weapons facilities is already well
underway at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston, and
hundreds of scientists have recently been recruited to work on the new
nuclear weapons to be built there.(1) Parliament has been promised a
debate and vote on the issue, but campaigners fear that the decision
will have been made long before any Parliamentary or wider national
debate is allowed to take place.(2)

In total, 4 women and 8 men were arrested on Monday, and held in
single cells within Paisley police station near Glasgow, being
released after 1pm on Tuesday with a warning letter from the
Procurator Fiscal (but no prosecution or criminal record). The long
period of detention has been typical of the Faslane 365 protests so
far, so those arrested were well prepared. "Perhaps if Tony Blair
were locked up for 30 hours by himself, he would have time to think
over the momentous consequences of his decision to replace Trident
nuclear weapons," Andrew Gray (38, working in a library in Durham)
said after his release.

The oldest person arrested on Monday was Joy Mitchell (73), a retired
headteacher from Berwick. Joy said before her arrest, "How can we
expect young people to respect the government, when it threatens mass
destruction with an immoral weapons system like Trident?" Also
retired but never previously arrested at Faslane, Lindy Conway (60), a
retired social worker from Warkworth, was brought up by pacifist
conscientious objectors and her son campaigns full-time against
Trident. "Like many people, I have long considered nuclear weapons to
be fundamentally evil and unnecessary," she said earlier. "What I now
realise is that they are also illegal. So now I am obliged not just
to join a national debate, but actually to try to stop their present

The youngest to be arrested was Gareth Jones from County Durham, aged
16. He said after his arrest, "The money that goes into making
nuclear weapons would be much better spent on sorting out climate
change."(3) Lottie Hann (51), an administrator living in Heaton,
Newcastle, said on Saturday, "All my life, I was told that nuclear
weapons would keep the peace, but there have been wars in every decade
and every continent. Trident nuclear weapons do nothing to help build
a more peaceful world, and building a replacement will only expose us
to greater risk from terrorist attacks."

The North East group can be contacted as below, and several of those
arrested are available for interview this week. Photographs should
shortly be available from the contacts or website below.

reports and photos (when available):

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