UK Feature Archive
August 1st 2009 sees the official launch of Northern Indymedia by the alt-media monkeys of IMC Northern England. Having revived the dormant IMC Leeds/Bradford and merged with IMC York, the collective is officially launching their new site as a news resource for all those seeking a better world in the grim north and beyond. 9 Months of hard work are culminating in the public unveiling of the new site at Hyde Park Unity Day in Leeds, where there will be a solar powered "Be the Media" centre provided by the collective. The pitch will also include members of the Climate Camp Yorkshire neighbourhood who are helping to launch "The Great Climate Swoop" on the same day. Full coverage of all the goings on will be put up on the new site:
Links: New site of IMC Northern England | Join our mailing list | Collaboration tools on Crabgrass | IRC Chat room | New IMC form submitted | Letter sent to IMC York proposing merge | Letter sent out to local groups in the North of England | Northern IMC at Glastonbury 2009
Around 25 workers have occupied the second floor of the offices of the Vestas St. Cross factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight, the UK's only industrial-scale wind turbine blade factory, following mounting concern over its planned closure on the 31st July. They are calling for government intervention to save the plant, jobs, and to ensure fair redundancy packages. Since the first day of the occupation on the 20th July the workers have been besieged by police and private security, with 15 arrests being made (as of 28/07), mostly for 'breach of the peace' as people tried to join and get food to the occupiers. A large crowd of fellow workers, locals, and environmental campaigners from around the UK have gathered outside the factory gates to show their support.
Related: Support the Vestas factory occupation - what you can do | Vestas Factory OCCUPIED | Vestas Workers Speak Out | Vestas situation update - two arrests; mass walk-in gets food to occupiers | Vestas Sit In - Photos|Daring Action Gets Supplies To Vestas Workers Occupation
London Solidarity Demo, Wed 22nd July: Report, Pictures: 1|2
London Solidarity Demo, Tue 28nd July: Report: 1|2
Birmingham Vestas Solidarity Picket: Report
Links: Save Vestas
Following the announcement of a £15million plan to 'strengthen their borders', the British and French governments are planning to destroy the Calais 'Jungle' in northern France and mass-deport hundreds of refugees stranded there. Reports from Calais say the French authorities are preparing for the destruction of the make-shift camps next Tuesday, 21st July, with a mass deportation flight to Afghanistan planned on Friday, 24th July.
Calais refugees and their supporters are calling upon activists, independent journalists and legal observers to go down to Calais and help prevent this tragedy. A protest outside the French embassy in London has been called by No Borders on Monday [more action ideas]. A group calling itself 'Calais Witnesses' has prepared a statement and is asking groups and individuals to sign it. Two UK Green MEPs have also issued a joint statement condemning the 'inhumane' plan.
Related: SALAM: Destruction of the Jungle on Tuesday, 21st July | The Law of 'Jungles': The situation of exiles on the shore of the Channel and the North Sea (pdf) | No Border Camp at the UK border extension beyond the channel
Activists from Free Gaza.org and the International Solidarity Movement, determined to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, gathered in Cyprus and set sail for Gaza on the ‘Spirit of Humanity’ on June 29th. The following morning, over 20 miles off the coast of Gaza, the boat was surrounded by Israeli Naval vessels who threatened to fire on the boat unless it turned around. The boat continued towards Gaza, and was then boarded by Israeli soldiers, who took control of the boat, and took all 20 passengers and the captain hostage, along with aid including building materials, medical supplies and childrens art supplies. By attacking the vessel in International Waters, and by preventing it from sailing into Gaza, Israel once again showed that it has scant regard for International Law, and confirmed that it is the de facto occupier of Gaza.
The majority of the prisoners were taken first to Ashdod, and then to Ramle Prison, accused of trying to enter Israel illegally. In fact the boat at no point entered Israeli Territorial waters, and nor did it intend to do so. Whilst in prison, the passengers were able to give a number of interviews, but the mainstream reporting of the incident has been patchy. Several of them have commented on the plight of the asylum seekers trapped in Israel’s immigration detention centres, some with no way apparent way out. The majority of the passengers have now been deported, and the charge that they attempted to enter Israel illegally has been dropped.[Interview with deportee] The boat remains in the hands of the Israelis. The Free Gaza movement is already fundraising in order to be able to undertake another journey as soon as possible.
Two activists who entered Gaza on a previous successful Free Gaza voyage, have been stranded at the Rafah Crossing since June 10th, despite having permission to exit from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the other side of the border, 100 US activists with $1m of medical supplies are trying to get in.
A farcical curtain of steel descended on Calais, and the massive campaign of demonisation of the camp by the local authorities continued in the press. The camp gradually grew to around 1000 people from all over Europe. Many local people visited the site, a group of around 100 mostly Kurdish and Afghani migrants participated at a daily basis and a lot of local kids and young adults hanged out in the Camp [Report and Pics]
It run alongside the main motorway from the port out of town and it was just a few minutes from the "Jungle", the makeshift camps where migrants are living. Migrants report that currently the controls at the border are very tight and that no one has been getting through for few weeks, consequently the number of migrants in Calais are at their highest in several years.
On Sunday 21st of July, people from the camp went to the festival in the town centre of Calais, with a sound system, to give out leaflets that explain the aim and nature of the camp, in an attempt to communicate directly with the locals beyond the media lies. After the prohibition to distribute any kind of literature that was issued the following Monday, giving out leaflets became an action in itself where people got arrested. Issues of the daily produced newspaper "Nomad" were also confiscated.
Assisting the migrants seems to be a criminal offence, which granted an arrest on Wednesday 24th June, but people have been thinking about some paractical ideas you can do this summer to help the hundreds of migrants stranded in Calais.
On Friday 26th morning, a man demanded showers for migrants when he glued himself to the entrance of La Mairie de Calais - one died trying to have one in the dangerous place where they are forced to wash themselves. In the afternoon, the local motorway was blocked to highlight the hypocrisy of allowing freedom of movement for goods and animals but not of people. Reports: [1|2] Pictures: 1 [Summary of Friday actions]
There have been accusations of genocide having taken place in Sri Lanka in the last few months. So far this year, it is estimated that over 50,000 Tamils – mainly civilians - have lost their lives in a massive military onslaught by Sinhalese Sri Lankan government forces as the 26-year civil war was brought to a climax with the use of cluster bombs and shelling of civilian areas. Sri Lankan Armed Forces are also alleged to have used chemical weapons.
Over 280,000 displaced civilians are being held in prison camps – where conditions are reported to be dire, with poor sanitation, widespread diseases and a lack of adequate security. Amnesty International has received consistent reports of serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearance, extra-judicial executions and torture and sexual violence, including young girls being abducted from the camps.
Update: More than 40 women in Yarl's Wood continue their hunger strike for the 5th day [more].
A mass hunger strike by families detained at Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire has been met with violent assaults on men, women and children by Serco security guards who mange the prison on behalf on the UK Border Agency. The detainees started the hunger strike on Monday and staged a sit-in in the corridor over their inhumane conditions.
Meanwhile in Brook House, the newly opened detention centre at Gatwick airport, a 'disturbance' broke out on 12th June and a fire was set by rioting detainees in the exercise area causing some damage.
A solidarity protest outside Serco's offices in London (22 Hand Court, Holborn, WC1V 6JF) has been called by No Borders London in support of the Yarl's Wood hunger strikers on Friday, 19th June, from 12noon. Activists from the Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR) gathered outside government offices in Newcastle on Wednesday to protest against racism and all immigration prisons.
Update: Occupation ends with (partial) success.
Students and staff at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), along with anti-deportation campaigners, have occupied the School's main building in protest at the management's and immigration authorities' attack on migrant workers at the School. Nine cleaners were detained on Friday, 12th June, in an orchestrated dawn raid in which the management and cleaning contractor ISS reportedly played a 'sickening' role [details].
Five of the nine have already been deported, with the others held in detention pending their deportation. A well-attended rally was held on Monday, 15th June, outside the building [pictures]. Another rally and demonstration were held on Tuesday [pictures | update].
Campaigners believe the raid was the management's 'revenge' against the cleaners' successful campaign, Justice for Cleaners, which saw them winning the London living wage and trade union representation.
On the evening of Monday the 1st June, dredgers and accompanying boats returned to Broadhaven Bay to begin work on the off-shore pipeline for Shell's Corrib Gas project in County Mayo, Ireland. The pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, is expected to arrive within the next few weeks.
The boats have met stiff resistance from people at the newly formed Rossport Solidarity Camp. There have been attempts to dismantle the causeway at the Shell compound and numerous water based actions against dredging work . On Tuesday night the crane on one of the dredgers was occupied for over 10 hours, halting work for this period.
The camp is currently well occupied and the area seems set for another summer of action... Last year, the pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, was forced out of Irish waters with no pipeline laid. The time frame for pipeline work is limited; if resistance can be sustained for enough time pipeline work can be halted again. The camp is calling for people to go to Mayo to support the struggle against Shell.
Initiatives from the UK, France, Belgium and Germany are currently preparing a protest camp against border controls in Calais, France. The camp, which will take place between 23th and 29th June, will include a transnational demonstration on Saturday, 27th June. The callout describes the aims of the camp as "highlighting the realities of the situation of migrants in Calais" and "challenging the authorities on the ground, to protest against increased repression of migrants and local activists alike." The camp mobilisation in the UK is carried by the No Borders UK network, which calls for the freedom of movement for all and an end to all migration controls.
For the second time in less than two months, anti-deportation campaigners blockaded a detention centre to try and prevent a mass deportation flight to Iraqi Kurdistan. Six activists from the Stop Deportation network locked themselves together on 12th May, using glass and plastic arm tubes attached to heavy concrete barrels, blocking the entrance to Colnbrook detention centre near Heathrow, where some 45 of the deportees were being held. The blockade lasted for over four hours, after which three coaches carrying the deportees left for an undisclosed airport. All six were arrested (two quite violently) for obstruction of the highway.
This week it was announced Barclays and four other large investors dropped all shares in Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), Europe's largest and most exposed vivisection laboratory. LSR stock owned by institutional shareholders has now fallen to 12%, placing HLS $4 million below the NYSE minimum listing standard for market value (the only stock exchange listing the company, a major target in the campaign to close HLS).
Following a legal challenge against the CEO's proposal to purchase all of the outstanding LSR stock, an intense global campaign and recent repression against SHAC in Birmingham, a total of 797,284 shares have now been sold. Barclays Global Investors, Barclays Plc, Hartford Investment Management Company, Rice Hall James and Associates LLC, Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo sold all their shares, of which over 400,000 were held by previously largest shareholder Barclays.
As attacks by the national army in Sri Lanka have intensified, so do the protests around the world. After the news of thousands of civilian deaths in Sri Lanka at the weekend, which the UN has described as ‘a bloodbath’, British Tamils began a civil disobedience protest on Monday (11.05.09) in the hope that the British government might put genuine and decisive pressure on Sri Lanka to stop the atrocities it is currently committing. Five hundred began the protest at Parliament Square early in the morning. Thousands more joined them, at which point they moved onto Westminster Bridge and closed it off to traffic. Police officers were taken by surprise. The blockade lasted until mid-afternoon, at which time police resorted to physical attacks on people in an effort to clear the bridge.
More than 300,000 Tamils are currently under siege by the Sri Lankan forces. Aerial bombardments and shelling of civilians are continuing. Children and elderly are dying as a direct result of the aerial bombardment. There has been increased violence in Sri Lanka following the capture of Tamil territory. It is estimated more than 75,000 people have already died in the conflict.
Upcoming: Tamil solidarity event this Sunday (17.05.09)
On the newswire: Estimate 1700 Tamil civilians killed 3000 injuried in 48 hrs in Sri Lanka | Civil Disobedience Protest By British Tamils Met With Police Brutality | Tamils Blockade Parliament Square Again (photos) | Tamils Blockade Parliament Sq (photos) | Bloodbath unfolding in Sri Lanka | Tamil blockade of Parliament Monday 11th May (photos) | "State terror in Sri Lanka - a Tamil perspective" today at Resonance 104.4 FM | Tamil protesters take to streets as the GENOCIDE of there people gose on | Urgent, westminster blockade happening now | Tamils genocide: More than 2,000 civilians feared slaughtered in a single night
Brighton's Mayday! Mayday! street party saw 2,000 people from all over the country gathered to protest against capitalism, war and the arms trade. It was called by Smash EDO, the movement that has been campaigning against the EDO MBM/ITT bomb component factory in Brighton for the last 5 years.
On the newswire: Mayday Mayday, Smashing EDO in pictures | Anti-War Clashes With Police | FIT shut Down in Brighton | Pics of Cops at Mayday | Businesses linked to ITT redecorated | HSBC Smashed | Photos | Video of the Day | Photos of FIT and EGT at Mayday | More Pics | Pictures and Video | Last Hours Pics | NETCU Watch Critique of the Day | Smash EDO claim Brighton demo a success (pressrelease)
Smash EDO's Mayday! Mayday! Street Party on 4th May looks set to be the next stop on the summer of rage. The mobilisation has been linked firmly to a new wave of resistance against global capital. A map has been published showing the location of EDO's key investors and business partners in Brighton. The list includes highstreet banks, BP, American Express and Mcdonalds. The message is clear, EDO cannot operate in a vacuum; it is propped up by the state and a network of global corporations.
Despite all this the police seem to be firmly on the back foot after the media backlash, triggered, by the killing of Ian Tomlinson, against police violence and repression at the G20. Sussex Police have been told to 'behave' by Chief Constable Richards who fears that “People’s confidence in policing has been shaken by things they have seen on their TVs and read in their newspapers". All this must be rather difficult for Sussex police as they have been gearing up for some serious repression of Smash EDO for quite sometime. Dick Barton, a Sussex Police officer seconded to the Home Office who was responsible for training Iraqi police recruits in Basra and Baghdad, has been given the dubious honour of coordinating investigations of 'crimes against EDO'. Past police tactics have included following 'organisers', supporting a dodgy injunction, engaging in ridiculous conspiracy cases, attempting to cultivate informers and attacking mass demonstrations
"We came to Henningsvaer. We saw the Skarbakk. We sank the bastard" - Agenda 21
On the evening of April 23rd, the Norwegian whaling ship The Skarbakk was scuttled by environmentalists in the Lofoten islands, Norway, using the name of a 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment. The conference detailed action proposed for a sustainable 21st century, with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society promising Norway that if they did not comply with international conservation law, then they would sink their whaling ships.
This was not an empty threat, with Captain Paul Watson supervising the sinking of two ships; the Nybraena in 1992 and the Senet in 1994. The anonymous and covert goup Agenda 21 then took over with the scuttling of the Elin-Toril in 1996. In a communique last week, the activists reported they flooded the engine room of The Skarbakk by using an adjustable spanner to open the salt-water intake valve; "to delay the killing season and to protest the continued illegal export of whale meat to Japan."
Related Features: The Whale Wars - Sea Shepherd Returns From Antarctica | Japan issues arrest warrant for Nottingham activist | Arrests As International Whaling Commission Fails To Protect Whales | Nottingham Activist Returns From Whale Saving Mission In Antartica | Sea Shepherd activists injured as Japanese military open fire | Activists Held Hostage By Japanese Whalers In Southern Ocean | Whalers use Public Relations to twist the truthLinks: United Nations Agenda 21 | Sea Shepherd Conservation Society | Ocean Defence topic page
On Saturday 25th April, over two thousand anti-vivisectionists marched through London to mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories as part of a Week of Action. The day is an internationally recognised, UN sanctioned event for reflection and remembrance of the countless millions of animals that suffer and die in vivisection laboratories around the world each year in the name of science.
The march was organised to call for an end to vivisection both in the UK and elsewhere, in response to Labour's abandoned pre-election promise for an official inquiry into animal experimentation. It has been over 15 years since the anti-vivisection movement marched in London to mark World Day, successfully uniting, mobilising and attracting new activists to the movement. Campaigners in attendance included Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), SPEAK Campaigns, Stop Wickham Animal Testing (SWAT), prisoner support groups, as well as Animal Liberation Front (ALF) supporters and green anarchists.
114 people were arrested in a 2am police raid on a community centre and school on Sneinton Dale, Nottingham, early on Easter Monday, 13th April 2009. It is believed that a demonstration was planned at the E.On powerstation at Ratcliffe-on-Soar as a spokesperson for the company claimed that it was the "planned target of an organised protest". The Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station is the 3rd largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK and has been previously targeted by activists.
Similar to past police actions, some of the homes of those arrested have been raided while they were held in custody. It has been confirmed that at least 6 homes have been raided in Nottingham and personal paperwork and computers have been seized. A school located next to the community centre where people were arrested was also broken into and smashed up by police. Those arrested have now all been released on bail without charges and to re-appear in court in July.
Legal advice for activists: Police powers to search premises.
Meanwhile, four Dutch activists from Earth First! forced entry into E.On's head office in Rotterdam and occupied a director's office to have a 'serious chat' about the planned construction of a new coal fired power station.
More coverage: on Nottinghamshire Indymedia
On the newswire: Statement of solidarity with the Nottingham 114 | Climate Action 114 Media Blog | A Conspiracy too far? | Solidarity for the Coal Conspiracy 114 | Bristol Rising Tide and Westside Statement of Solidarity for the Ratcliffe 114 | Climate activist searches (raids?) still happening | Mass arrests for thought crime | Nottingham's Climate Criminals | 100+ people arrested in Notts for conspiracy this morning | Climate Protest Busted!? | Mass arrests in Nottingham on Easter Monday
Related previous coverage: No case to answer after Notts E.On protest | Police Searches Houses After Arrests At E.On Blockade | Fossil Fools Take On E.On In Nottingham | Convictions For Activists - Climate Criminals Walk Free | 'Clean' Coal On Trial | Climate Activists Bring Powerstation Operations To A Halt | Spring Into Action Now!
Spontaneous protests have erupted in London as a result of the ongoing state violence in Sri Lanka. On Monday, over 300 Tamil youths blockaded Westminster Bridge, which remained closed overnight. On Tuesday and Wednesday large numbers gathered outside parliament and had reached at its peak up to 3000 to call on Gordon Brown to 'open his eyes' and work towards securing an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Under the banner 'Stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka' over 150.000 people marched in Central London on Saturday 11th April. Further demonstrations happened in Oslo, Paris and Copenhagen. Reports:   [photos 1] [photos 2] [video]
Earlier on in the week police tactics were violent, with unprovoked attacks on demonstrators. On Wednesday morning Tamil flags were being confiscated under the Terrorism act. Demonstrators reported that police used truncheons and dragged protesters across the ground. A three-year-old's leg was reportedly broken in the process. Seven people have been arrested, two under the terrorism act on suspicion of carrying articles supporting proscribed literature. Two people started a hunger strike earlier in the week, of which one was still fasting on Saturday 11th April.
More than 300,000 Tamils are currently under siege by the Sri Lankan forces. Aerial bombardments and shelling of civilians are continuing. Children and elderly are dying as a direct result of the aerial bombardment. There has been increased violence in Sri Lanka following the capture of Tamil territory. It is estimated more than 70,000 people have already died in the conflict.
On the newswire: Fast unto last breathe (day 13) | Video of the Tamil protests | Massive Tamil Protest Against Sri Lankan Genocide | Tamil Hunger Strike, London - pictures (day 6) | Stop the Genocide in Sril Lanka Protest - London April 11 2009 | Tamil protest (day 6) | Tamil Demo in Central London | Emergency Protest In London 11th April Please Come | Supporting the Tamil protests, SOCPA arrest | parliment square still going strong (day 4) | Tamil Protest in Parliament Square: Students on Hunger Strike to the Death (day 4) | Tamil protest still going strong / 8th April 3pm (day 3) | Tamils protest against chemical attacks | Tamil protest amid more police violence (day 3) | A lively night in Parliament Square (day 2) | Tamil protest still going strong /continues (day 2) | Tamil Protest still going strong | Tamil Protest on Westminster Bridge (day 1) | Sri Lanka: Killings, Concentration Camps and International Silence | Students on Hunger Strike | Tamilgotcha! Westminster Bridge occupied for 3 hours - Sat 31st Jan
Last month, some members of the 'Notts Shut Down Heckler & Koch Campaign' travelled to Germany. Together with German Peace Groups, we wished to pre-empt the company’s 60th birthday celebrations.
Here in Nottingham, the campaign holds regular monthly demonstrations outside their offices at Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 PX. These will continue with a picket on Tuesday April 14th and a special campaign anniversary demo on Monday May 11th [with a mystery guest!]. Heckler & Koch's UK office is NSAF Ltd, Unit 3, Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2PX. Map | Google 'Street View'.
Newswire: Demos continue at Heckler & Koch weapons HQ: [July 2007] | [May 2008] | Surveillance at H&K HQ [May 2008] | [July 2008] | Pix 1 [Oct 2008] | Pix 2 [Oct 2008] | Surveillance at H&K HQ [Nov 2008] | Full Circle: From weapons to wars to refugees. Market Sq. Nottingham [Dec 2008] | [Dec 2008] | [Jan 2009] | German Indymedia: Weitere Proteste gegen Heckler & Koch | Demo about H&K weapons activities, Market Square [Jan 2009] | [Feb 2009] | Nottingham Campaigners to Visit Germany German Trip: Nottingham Campaigners to Visit Germany, press release in PDF | 1 Freiburg Peace Group | 2 Rottweil Peace Meeting | 3 Oberndorf Demo | 4 Oberndorf Demo | 5 KTS Social Centre Freiburg | 6 Misc pictures of German visitPrevious Feature: Protesters Target Nottingham Weapons Manufacturers
Links: Notts Shut Down Heckler & Koch Campaign | Notts Anti-Militarism | Nottingham Stop The War | Nottingham Student Peace Movement | RüstungsInformationsBüro RIB | Ohne Rüstung Leben | Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft - Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen DFG-VK | Notts Indymedia (anti-militarism) Audio: H&K German Mission [Speech at Rottweil] Flyer: Poster / Flyer PDF of H&K leaflet