lcw | 30.12.2010 11:30 | Anti-militarism
and Giuseppe Conlon House/ London communities www.londoncatholicworker.org were joined by 20 anti-war activists, in solidarity with the imprisoned Pfc Bradley Manning, http://www.bradleymanning.org/
and in resistance to the continued war on Afghanistan, at the gates of Northwood HQ/ London on Wednesday morning Dec 29th.
The participants marked the Catholic "Feast of the Holy Innocents" while seeing the contemporary victims of imperial power as those marked for death as "collateral damage" in wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The British components of these wars are directed from Northwood HQ, located in leafy London suburbia!
Largely ignored by the more mainstream Britiish anti-war organisations, the central warfighting role of Northwood HQ and has been addressed consistently, in word and NVDA deed, over the past decade by the Catholic Worker movement. Resistance actions have also been undertaken recently by "Justice Not Vengeance" http://www.j-n-v.org/ and in the late 90's by "Reclaim the Streets" In recent years, the cashed up military have responded to such nonviolent resistance by redesigning the entrance to the base and remodelling the "Northwood Headquarters" sign. A sign that that has been regularly "enhanced" over the years by Catholic Workers staining it with red paint - symbolic of the Iraqi and Afghani blood spilt as the result commands issued from Northwood HQ.
As a group of 20 gathered at Northwood tube station for a preliminary vigil and procession to the base, seven Catholic Workers arrived at the gates of Northwood. They were surprised to find the base sign had been removed in keeping with the military's growing awareness of the relationship between the liturgical calender and potential nonviolent resistance actions at the base! With the sign unavailable for redesign, the red paint was poured in the shape of a cross on the roadway leading into the base.
80 year old Quaker, former Britsh Army veteran and Palestinian solidarity (CPT) activist John Lyons, Sr. Susan Clarkson of the Oxford CW, London CW/ retired social worker Angela Broome, London CW/ college teacher Henrietta Cullinan, London CW/ musician David Turley and Bristol university student activist Tim Saunders took up position blockading the entrance to the base. Veteran Catholic Worker/Plowshares activist Ciaron O'Reilly wearing a photo of imprisoned U.S. Pfc Bradley Manning spontaneously scaled the base fence, slowly negotiated his way through the razor wire and leapt in to the base.
The resistance group was joined by 20 anti-war activists who had processed to the base form Northwood tube station. This group included a combat veteran of the Iraq/Iran war of the '80's, a U.S. Air Force veteran, a former Trident 2000 plowshare prisoner, members of the Catholic Worker movement, Justice not Vengeance, Trident Ploughshares, Christian CND. Speak, as well as English, Irish, Scottish, Australian, Iranian, Polish, U.S., Swedish, Dutch, Brazilian paricipants.
This larger group formed an expanded blockade of the entrance at the roadside of the entrance and for the next 90 minutes respectfully read the names of Afghan and British war dead.
* British war dead in Afghanistan
* A list of some Afghan war dead
They were joined in the "Presente!" response; after each fatality was read out, by the six blockading the gate. O'Reilly maintained an inaccessible position inside the fence of the base for the next 90 minutes conversing with police, the combat veteran solider deployed to block any further advancement into the base and support people. An attempt by Tim Saunders to enter the base was thwarted by police. Tim was arrested taken to a police van, questioned and release rejoining the blockade line at the gate.
After 90 minutes O'Reilly made a speech form within the base, read out the statement of faith and surrendered to the military. He was taken by a soldier to the police within the base questioned and searched. The blockaders collectively read out the statement of faith and concluded their blockade. After some negotiating with the police the demonstration temporarily withdrew and O'Reill was released. This was followed by a closing circle, transportation from the site to a debrief.
STATEMENT OF FAITH & RESISTANCE
“We come here this morning, the day after the Feast of the Holy Innocents to remember, to repent, to pray and to act.
We remember the innocent children slaughtered by Herod in his pursuit of thethe child, Jesus. We also remember the innocent children slaughtered by Herod in his pursuit of the child, Jesus. We also remember all innocent victims of war, cynically defined by our government as "collateral damage", especially those in the current war on Afghanistan.
We repent the actions of our own government that have resulted in such deaths. We come in a spirit of repentance too for our own failure to live according to the teachings of Jesus, our friend and brother,"
We pray for all victims of war, civilian and military, and for those whose lives have been shattered by the violence in our world and by the policies of our government.”
We act by entering Northwood Headquarters and kneeling in prayer for an end to war and war-making. We are inspired by the nonviolent resistance emerging from within the British and U.S. miilitary. We celebrate the courage of Joe Glenton who went to a Colchester prison rather than re-deploy to Afghanistan. We pray for Private Bradley Manning presently imprisoned in the United States accused of exposing the massacre of children, parents and journalists by US forces in Iraq. We pray for the day when the skills and talents of the personnel on this base are used for peace
not destruction, and Government budgets are used for better things than
war. Our belief in nonviolent ways of enng conflict is rooted in Jesus' message oflove and non-violence that is proclaimed in his Gospel.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Angela H. Broome
The action at Northwood HQ was preceed by a 36 hour "Faith and Resistance" retreat involving 30 people aged 6 months - 80, there were folks from @narchist, Anglican, Evangelical, "No Faith", Quaker, Muslim. "No Faith" and Roman Catholic traditions. There were Aussies, Brazilain, Dutch, English, Gringo, Iranian, Irish and Swedish participants. We include veterans of ANZUS (20th. anniversary this New Year's Day 2011!), Jabiluka, Jubilee 2000, Pitstop, Riverside plowshare and EDO 9 disarmament communities. Our number included veterans of the Brtiish Army, U.S. Air Force and a combat veteran of the Iraq/Iran war ogf the 1980's. Present were people nonviolent resisaters who have been incarcerated for peace & justice sake in Australia, England, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, Palestine, Scotland and the United States. We included academics, catholic workers, gardeners, homeless & refugee shelter workers, journalists, mathematicians, nuns, parents, priests, professional musicians, social workers, solidarity activists (Palestine, East Timor), students, teachers & techies.
The schedule included check in & introductions, a theological presentation by Scott Albrecht of the CW Farm on the "Feast of Holy Innocents" and a political presentation by Gabriel Carlyle on the "War on Afghanistan".
If you couldn't be with us, but would like to financially support the gathering and nonviolent resistance you can send a cheque made out "London Catholic Worker" to
Ciaron O'Reilly "Faith & Resistance Retreat" c/- LCW 49 Mattison Rd. London N4 1BG
This would help to defray the costs of the gathering, provide transport to the gathering for some of our "time rich/ resource poor" participants, help finance our next "Faith & Resistance" rettreat in Lodnon during Easter season.
WHAT IS A "FAITH AND RESISTANCE GATHERING"
"Faith & Resistance" retreats come out of the Catholic Worker and faith based draft board raid movements of the Vetnam War period in the United States. As most people are aware, the Catholic Worker praxis is based on community building and the twin ministries of Christ - the acts of mercy and the nonviolent confrontation with the principalities, powers, governments and corporations that cause poverty, exploitation and death.
We see war preparations and making as the lynchpin in maintaining the global systems of exploItation that doom so many to homelessness, poverty, exile, early mortality and reduced to the status of "collateral damage" in the wars that sustain and expand empire. The Catholic Worker resists being boxed off as a mere charity, affirmed for its work with the homeless, it steps out to confront those who would prefer to patronise and co-opt us while continuing to cause homelessness and refugees on a massive scale. We refuse to be co-opted, "take the soup" - we choose to resist!
The Catholic Worker is quite miraculous considering how decentralised and inclusive involving people of varied and no faiths in its anti-war and homeless work. The CW movement remains coherent in word and praxis 30 years after the death of its founder Dorothy Day.
Sharon Nepstead in her recent work "Religion, War Resistance and the Plowshares Movement" (now free on the net ...)
..makes the observation is that it is the shared risk and praxis of solidarity through the many trials and jail sentences that has knitted and coalesced the Catholic Worker as a movement, beyond a series of atomised grouplets. This has been our experience in England ovet the past decade as our Oxford/St. Francis House, Farmhouse amd Giuseppe Conlon/ London gathered once more to pursue peace and justice collectively.
While we gathered in England others will be at silmilar F & R retreats in
..... in Washington DC
,,,,,,,,,,at STRATCom, Omaha, Nebraska
and at the Trident nuclear weapons base near Tacoma Washington USA
Our last "F & R" retreat in Oxford in Sept 2010 saw Sr. Susan Clarkson, Fr. Martin Newell and Chris Cole arrested cutting into Aldermaston (Nuclear) Weapons Establishment
Our next F & R retreat will be in London during the Easter 2011 season
Homepage: http:// http://www.londoncatholicworker.org
(as before, please credit if used)
e-mail: vd2012-imc [at] yahoo.co.uk