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UK Anti-militarism Newswire Archive

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Gaza Children's Artwork on Display in Chester: 'Loss of Innocence'

07-08-2011 16:15

'Loss of Innocence: An Exhibition of Children's Art from Gaza' was on display in Chester city centre on Saturday 6 August as part of Palestine Day events. This report includes photos of some of the children's pictures on display in the exhibition.

More information and photos of the day here:

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Comic strip against violence

07-08-2011 04:40

5 page comic strip that looks at levels and attitudes towards violence in the UK and USA, comparing with Japan.

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SchNEWS: From Cradle To Graves: As The West Causes More Problems Than Droughts

05-08-2011 08:51

East Africa is currently experiencing one of the worst famines in recent history, with most of Somalia and large parts of Ethiopia experiencing severe food shortages. The west has been quick to offer the solution – more aid, more trade and flying in David Cameron (although he left early to try and save his job back home). This approach of aid, trade and sending rich white men to point at the locals has been the standard response to African disasters for the past 25 years and yet little progress seems to have been made.

It is true that the region is in the midst of an extreme drought and as a result pasture is parched and water sources for livestock have dried up. Unfortunately this means that if you bought an Ethiopian farmer a goat for Christmas, it’s probably already dead. However, this famine was far from unavoidable. Whether or not the drought itself can be blamed on human activity is debatable, yet the impact of western “foreign policy objectives” is far clearer and, conversely, much less reported.

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Easy Way To Attack The Corporations

02-08-2011 22:00

Thanks to Hakim Bey, an Eastern-travelling probably Buddhist inspired 'chaos magician', we have been left with a very good method to attack corporate power. It is simple, free, very difficult to prosecute, and in the hands of one with a good sense for words, extremely dangerous to them...

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Hands Off Libya! Street rally Saturday 6 August

02-08-2011 11:39

On 19 March 2011 the British state, along with France and the US, began bombing Libya. This is the 46th separate British military operation in North Africa and the Middle East since the end of the Second World War. By 13 July Libyan sources said that NATO was responsible for killing 1,108 people with its airstrikes and wounding another 4,500.

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parliament banner - SOCPA section 128 convictions

01-08-2011 23:55

last thursday, two people were found guilty at westminster magistrates court under section 128 of the serious organised crime and police act (socpa), which creates a criminal offence of trespass on certain 'designated' sites. the convictions were related to a banner drop from scaffolding at the front of parliament during the only debate there has ever been about the war in afghanistan.

click on image for larger version. 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission


last november, maria and seamus managed to confound security, and despite injuring themselves on the very sharp spikes at the top of the fences, they entered the grounds of parliament, ran across to the scaffolding at the front of the house, climbed up and unfurled various banners. after negotiation with the police and security, they managed to remain there for a full 26 hours.

the event was covered at the time on london indymedia, in a series of posts which included first-hand photos and reports from the protestors themselves sent while they were still occupying the front of parliament.

the court case took place in the tiny court 8 at the top of the building, with only one witness from the police as well as the two accused. it was heard by district judge elizabeth roscoe.

during the morning, we heard from detective constable matthews (from counter terrorism command at scotland yard) about the interviews he had with the two protestors after their arrest.

the interviews took place at charing cross police station, and perhaps unwisely given her tired and injured state, maria had elected to talk freely without a lawyer. dc matthews was asked about this, but he assured the court that in all his years in counter-terrorism, interviewing suspected terrorists perhaps thousands of times, he of course would never have any hesitation in stopping an interview if he thought for one minute that the suspect might be over-tired. so maria, with wounded feet, no medical assistance, and no sleep for more than 26 hours, was questioned, without a lawyer present, about her family, her background, her previous employment and means, as well as about the protest itself.

when maria took the stand, she described how with recent opinion polls showing 83% public support for the withdrawal of troops, she had hoped to influence politicians and policy-makers attending first a committee meeting, and then the first ever debate in the house on the war in afghanistan.

the court heard how her dealings with the authorities had been polite, and that despite an obvious opportunity to disrupt the course of parliament, that had not been her aim. asked why she felt the need to protest within the grounds of the palace of westminster, she explained that although it was clearly not an easy place to get to, it was effectively just another building, but that as it was the only debate on the war it was clearly the most important place to reflect public opinion, as it seemed that the majority of the 650 MPs were unlikely to do so.

maria pointed out that the democratic process she was accused of disrupting, was far from democratic, with only a handful of politicians even turning up to sit through the debate, and hundreds voting at the end according to party whips' commands, rather than conscience or public opinion.

the prosecution made much of the fact that maria was a 'full-time' protestor, and that her peace strike 'boxes' and banners opposite the gates of parliament might have already influenced any politicians they were going to. the suggestion was an attempt to undermine the notion that she 'needed' to do this further protest.

the content of one of the banners was also brought up, a large 'squatter's rights' banner, suggesting that the protest had 'occupied' the scaffolding and could not be removed without civil proceedings. the prosecuter tried to suggest that the protestors weren't serious about the war motive , and were taking the opportunity to campaign for squatting rights too!

seamus then took the stand. his original interview (with a lawyer) was a 'no comment' interview, because he'd realised he was so tired. in court, he spoke of his childhood in belfast, and his knowledge of what a military occupation was like. he felt for the afghan people who face raided homes, and murdered innocents every day of their lives. he spoke of how the british presence in afghanistan had led to more civilian deaths. when maria told him about the debate he saw it as a real and exceptional opportunity to influence the politicians, policy makers, and lobbyists, and how even if he could shorten the war by just one day it would save real people's lives.

seamus' defence advocate explored whether he had made any attempt to hold a more 'legitimate' protest, and we heard how seamus had contacted the socpa events team at charing cross, asking for permission to hold his protest within the grounds of westminster palace, but had been told he'd have to go into tower gardens, a small park out of sight from and to the west of parliament, where very few people pass through. he was also denied access to parliament square, "not possible" because it was fenced off by the GLA.

asked about the squatter's rights banners, he explained it wasn't a publicity stunt or a protest about squatting, but that because the scaffolding was a free-standing structure, the section 6 declaration might just buy some extra time for the protest. otherwise there was the distinct possibility that the protest would be removed by a police rope team in a couple of hours.

he spoke about how it was not impossible that the protest might have an effect, and that because a million people marching had not prevented the iraq war from beginning, that this more direct form of protest was necessary and potentially more effective.

the prosecution made much of his previous 'direct actions', including a much shorter banner drop back in may, but seamus pointed out this was different because it was a proper 'occupation', and had been much more dangerous to accomplish as they had rucksacks etc.

the defence simply asked whether there had been a debate on afghanistan going on back in may. of course there hadn't.

in summing up, the prosecution referred to their skeleton argument, already before the magistrate. she also made an extremely distasteful comment that if a strongly-held political belief was the basis of the defence, then that could apply to the 7/7 bombers too. apart from this jibe, she mainly appeared to argue that although the law allows a defence of 'necessity', it couldn't apply in this case, because both maria and seamus were 'full-time protestors' with a 'cause for the day', proven by the fact that the squat banner had nothing to do with afghanistan, and that it couldn't have been a last resort action as seamus had done something similar before. she also argued that the action might not have been 'necessary', because neither protestor could be sure that their previous protests hadn't already influenced the politicians. i found that an odd argument.

maria's defence (barrister ben silverstone from doughty chambers, appointed by bindmans) argued that the test of necessity was that the action was taken in circumstances that a sober person of reasonable purpose would take in the belief that it was necessary.

given that the debate was the first on afghanistan, and that it was taking place within parliament, it was reasonable and necessary to try to take a high profile action at this exceptional event and in this particular place at this exact time. with that purpose in mind, the action was conducted in a manner that was wholly proportionate and reasonable. the squat banner was only taken in the (perhaps misguided) belief that it might be an aid to the aims of the protest to occupy the space for an extended period.

seamus was represented by hodge, jones and allen partner, raj chada. he argued that 'necessity' meant the defendant's reasonable perception and good cause to fear that death or serious injury would result if he didn't take this action. as this was the first vote on the war, seamus reasonably believed it was crucial, and he felt 'impelled' to do this as the vote could have been pivotal to saving lives. his attempts at organising an 'authorised' protest had been denied, refusing him permission to get his views across effectively, with the offer of an out of site venue around the corner.

at this point judge roscoe seemed confused, and then after appearing to clear up the matter, a few minutes later asked some more questions. she'd been under the illusion that seamus had approached the police events dept before his previous banner drop in may, rather than the one in november, the subject of this case. although after some painful reptition, she eventually got this point, it was rather disconcerting that she hadn't grasped these simple facts about the case as they unfolded earlier in the day. it certainly made me wonder if she'd been listening at all, and undermined any confidence i might have had in her ability to reach a fair verdict.

when eventually she'd grasped the timeline, raj continued with his summing up. with the test of necessity met, the issue of the squat banner was a sideshow drummed up by the prosecution as it was clearly there simply to aid the main protest, and the timings and position of the protest was clear, proportionate and reasonable.

after nearly an hour of deliberation judge roscoe told the court that in her mind the protestors were not 'impelled' to take this action and, while they may have reasonably believed their actions were necessary to influence the course of a war in which people are killed, that all sorts of other protests were available to them which were not illegal.

she said that maria was a full-time protestor who believes only in peaceful protest, but that 'impelled' means no other course of action was available, and she didn't believe that was the case. she asked whether a reasonable person of similar 'characteristic' would have done the same thing, but then said that 'characteristic' was not the same thing as beliefs, and so the answer was no. i'm not sure i understood the distinction in this argument.

she accepted that although seamus' previous escapade didn't necessarily mean he couldn't have been 'impelled' to do it this time, she didn't accept that was the case.

both defendants were found guilty, but as both were very peaceful, co-operative, and proportionate, she saw the misdemeanour as an 'overstepping of the mark' rather than a serious offence, (which socpa section 128 can be), and so she would give the minimum sentence she could. she also said she certainly didn't want to discourage lawful protest. she then proceeded to pass a nine month conditional discharge to both defendants. no costs were awarded.

i'd have thought an absolute discharge would actually have been the minimum sentence but what do i know!

suddenly, the prosecution lawyer asked to address the court one more time, on behalf of detective constable matthews. quite how this fits into court protocol no-one knew, and given that a little earlier the judge had refused to hear a comment from one of the spectators in the court who had raised their hand to speak, it was a little surprising we had to hear this post-trial comment. but the lawyer then read out what amounted to a thinly-veiled death threat from the officer, who asked anyone considering similar action to bear in mind that parliamentary security were armed officers, and that someone might get shot next time.

both defence lawyers commented outside that this was an unusual and surprising addition to the legal process.

so there we have british justice. a prosecution lawyer making out that the protestors weren't serious and just went up parliament with a medley of banners including squatter's rights, also trying to compare them to extreme terrorist bombers. a judge who had difficulty grasping the factual timeline of the evidence. and a police witness who hung around after giving evidence and got the prosecution to utter threats at the end of the trial.

still, seamus enjoyed a walk round to parliament square, having been banned from there for the last nine months by draconian bail conditions for what the judge concluded was 'an overstepping of the mark'.

the defendants are considering whether to appeal.

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Cut the arms trade not public services!

31-07-2011 12:37

Shut down DSEi day of action – 13th September 2011 – details TBC

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Summer Camp Peace News

30-07-2011 19:30

A participant in a “Using Indymedia” workshop at the “Peace News” Summer Camp writes and posts his first article to Indymedia, giving some of his impressions of the camp.

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Murdoch's Other Moral Crimes

30-07-2011 11:05

When Rupert and James Murdoch appeared before the House of Commons media select committee on July 19, not one of the MP inquisitors demanded accountability for News International’s biggest moral crime – its shameful role as a facilitator of war. Robin Beste, of the Stop the War Coalition, put it succinctly:

‘Rupert Murdoch's newspapers and TV channels have supported all the US-UK wars over the past 30 years, from Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands war in 1982, through George Bush Senior and the first Gulf War in 1990-91, Bill Clinton's war in Yugoslavia in 1999 and his undeclared war on Iraq in 1998, George W Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Tony Blair on his coat tails, and up to the present, with Barack Obama continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and now adding Libya to his tally of seven wars.’

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The war on Libya : An imperialist project to create three Libyas

29-07-2011 13:01

Diplomats from 32 countries attend Libya Contact Group Meeting,Istanbul,15-07-11

The division of Libya into three separate countries is part of the US-NATO imperial design. It is part of a project shared by the U.S., Britain, Italy, and France.

The NATO war launched against Libya in March 2011 was geared towards the breakup of the country into three separate entities.

The NATO led war, however, is back firing. The Libyan people have united to save their country and Tripoli is exploring its strategic options.

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The Left has lost its way over Libya

27-07-2011 22:08

In an essentially excellent piece Sarah Flounders ‘Libya: Demonization and Self-determination‘, near the beginning under the sub-hed ‘What should be the response to this terror?’ she writes:

“Unfortunately, a minority of groups or individuals who present themselves as opponents of war spend more time cataloguing Gadhafi’s past real or alleged shortcomings than rallying people to respond to this criminal, all-out U.S. attack. Their influence would be small, except that it coincides with the opinions of the U.S. ruling class. Thus it is important to thoroughly answer their arguments.”

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WikiLeaks documents shed light on US-backed intervention in Libya

27-07-2011 21:42

US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks expose some of the real reasons and diplomatic tensions behind NATO’s ongoing bombardment of Libya. Far from initiating a “humanitarian” intervention to protect civilians against Muammar Gaddafi’s government, Washington backed the NATO intervention for one reason only—the installation of a regime that better serves the strategic interests of the US, as well as the operations of the giant oil and gas companies.

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Free activists detained at nonviolent action at military training area in Sweden

27-07-2011 10:26

War Resisters' International is calling for the release of ten activists who were detained by Swedish police during the “War Starts Here” nonviolent action at the North European Aerospace Testing Area (NEAT) near Vidsel, Sweden. The test site – covering an area the size of Belgium – is used for testing a range of innovative weapons, including planes, missiles and “drones” (remotely piloted weapons). Despite its size, NEAT is a little known site – even in Sweden – yet plays a crucial role in multi-national preparations for war.

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170 international peace activists enter secret Swedish military test site

26-07-2011 16:50

170 international peace activists from 17 countries today entered the North European Aerospace Test range in a massive act of nonviolent civil disobedience in the north of Sweden. Some 28 activists have been confirmed as arrested or detained, among them activist from Venezuela, Spain, Germany, Germany, UK and Finland.

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Operation Gladio: NATOs secret far right terror cells killing innocent Europeans

25-07-2011 11:57

NATO’s Secret Armies: discussion with historian Danielle Ganser about NATO’s ‘Strategy of Tension using terror against European civilians and pretending it was the Russians to put political pressure on European governments, the notorious Operation Gladio.

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Obama reaction to Norway massacre betrays US "war on terror" fundamentalism

24-07-2011 18:12

The Sun, 23 July 2011
Within hours of Norway’s deadly bomb and gun attacks claiming at least 91 victims it has become clear that the horror was perpetrated by a Norwegian loner with rightwing Christian fundamentalist affiliations.

However, this did not restrain Obama or his New Zealand guest from issuing wild insinuations about Islamic terrorism. Obama is reported to have been briefed by intelligence officials before he spoke on the matter. Which makes his response an all the more odious bit of politicking to turn a horrific, tragic event into a propaganda stunt to stir up anti-Islamic fears and shore up Washington’s illegal “wars on terror”.

What should be disturbing is the level of inculcation of such irrational propaganda. It seems that every and any horror no matter how obviously unrelated to Islamic countries can now immediately be attributed by Obama and other Western leaders to “Islamic terrorists”.

It is as astounding act of reality inversion. The US leader who has taken international wars of aggression to record heights of lawlessness and who has made such a big deal of “embracing the Muslim world” nevertheless shows a disgraceful ability to prolong these wars by twisting any tragedy into a snide vilification of Islam.

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NATO bombs Libyan Great Man Made River project!

23-07-2011 13:24

The NATO alliance decided to carryout mass murder against the Libyan people by targeting the only drinking water source, where billions were invested and without it life stops in Libya

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Call for Action for Palestine

21-07-2011 18:52

September will be a grand month, the UN, for the first time will vote on recognising Palestine as a sovereign state within the 1967 borders. Politically this is the most significant mile stone since the Oslo peace accord. This isn't yet an end to the occupation, what is likely to happen is that the US will veto it, probably in the security council.
So, the most likely outcome is that there will be a Palestinian state for a few weeks.

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Smash EDO wants your messages!

21-07-2011 16:18

Do you have a message you'd like to send to the worker's of the notorious EDO/ITT arms factory in Brighton? Or maybe you know a poem/piece of writing about war or the arms trade that you think they should hear? E-mail your ideas to and we will shout it over the loud hailer as the arms dealers leave work at our weekly noise demonstrations.

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Smash EDO 2012 Summer of Resistance Speaking Tour

21-07-2011 15:19

Smash EDO, Brighton's long running anti militarist campaign against weapons
manufacturer EDO/ITT, are planning a 'summer of resistance' against the factory in
2012. This might seem like a long way away but as we want to involve as many people as possible across the country and beyond we are starting our outreach early. In order to engage people to take action against EDO, we are planning a tour across the country in Winter 2011 (from late October/November). We were wondering if you or any other group you are in contact with might be interested in providing a venue where we could come and give a talk in your area?