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Issue 133, Friday 5th September 1997Prepare to be Spontaneous Tomorrow!
Reenie Beenie Blocked -89 arrested
" [We will] not permit the sale of arms to regimes that could use them for internal repression or external aggression..." - Labour Party Manifesto
Labour's claim to have introduced an `ethical' foreign policy rang hollow on Monday, when George Robertson, the Defence Secretary, officially opened the Royal Navy and British Army Equipment Exhibition (known as `Reenie Beenie'), at Farnborough. Just three months after promising not to export arms to repressive regimes, the Government has decided to continue where the Conservatives left off, staging an event aimed at marketing arms and welcoming nations notorious for human rights abuses. Buyers from the Indonesian, Turkish and Chinese armies - and a host of other countries high on the Amnesty International list of human rights abusers - attended as official guests of the government. Britain is the world's second biggest arms dealer, after the United States.
The opening day saw the biggest mass arrest in Britain since the Poll Tax Riot as up to 1,000 people took part in a demonstration organised by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). 89 were nicked, many given bail conditions that prevent them from attending the COPEX Arms fair in October. Some were also charged with "aggravated trespass" (dealing with trespass on land in the open), despite the whole fair being staged inside a building! At one point all three main gates were simultaneously blockaded, causing mile-long tailbacks.
25 anti-arms trade protesters managed to thwart security guarding the exhibition. "It was very powerful. People were blocking the path of individual arms dealers who were being escorted in by the police," said one protester. A group of Buddhists beat drums for eight hours solidly before being physically removed from the road by the police. They were not arrested.
Rachel Harford from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) told SchNEWS: "Allowing the arms fair to go ahead gives the green light to companies happy to arm some of the world's most oppressive regimes."
The protesters were joined by Kurdish refuges whose banners condemned Turkish generals as `war criminals' for suppressing the Kurdish PKK left wing nationalist movement. Vickers has bid for [sterling]3 billion order for 800 battle tanks, almost certainly for use in the 13 year war with the Kurds, which has cost more than 22,000 lives. Amnesty accuses Turkey of routinely using torture, and `disappearances' are commonplace.
Labour says Britain also has to `honour' existing commitments, so 21,000 export licences to Indonesia are to be left in place, including 500 armoured vehicles. A third of East Timor's population - 200,000 people - have been killed by the Indonesian army, with the help of British-made Hawk jets, which are still on sale. Big arms dealers in the UK are British Aerospace, GKN, GEC and Rolls-Royce. The majority of sales go to developing countries, with Saudi Arabia by far the biggest buyer. The countries which purchase arms invariably fail to provide rudimentary health care, education or basic necessitates of life while they squander limited resources on arms.
This week, four Greenham women were found not guilty of criminal damage by Reading Crown Court. Jean Hutchinson, Mary Wilson, Yolanda Kreik and Katrina Howse were accused of fence cutting - causing an estimated [sterling]37,000 of damage, at AWE Aldermaston. The Crown Prosecution Sservice retreated from the case in disarray after realising that the evidence of nuclear crime perpetrated by AWE Aldermaston was overwhelming. A Greenham peace campaigner told SchNEWS, "This trial would have revealed that the Trident weapons do not serve the present deterrent policy of this country, and that both the policy and the weapons are illegal under national and international law. This case is part of an on-going challenge of non-violent direct action against nuclear weapons in Britain by the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp- which celebrates it's sixteenth birthday on 5th September." Happy Birthday to YOU!
Worthing's Critical Mass, which has been scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed until Saturday September 20th. Apparently an ex-member of the Royal Family died last weekend, and the whole country is going to grind to a halt on Saturday anyway. Ironically, the Critical Mass was called to commemorate another road death, that of Danni Parke, age 29, a local green activist who was killed under the wheels of a lorry while cycling home from work last Wednesday.
Within 24 hours friends had decided to "complete Danni's journey in her memory" by holding a `Critical Mass' with hundreds of cyclists taking over the road on the route between her work in Shoreham and house in Worthing. Leisa Tomaszewski, from Worthing Friends of the Earth, said: "We'd like to make this a really big event. Danni was an artist who had just held her first exhibition in London. She lightened a lot of people's lives, and she will be a great loss to us all. We want to celebrate Danni's life as well as protest about the horrific way it ended."
Worthing Critical Mass Sat. Sept. 20th meet 12noon Shoreham Railway Station. For more info on ring 01903 522 949, Reclaim The Streets 0171 2814621, Road Peace, a national charity for road crash victims, 24-hr national helpline: 0181 964 1021.
320,302 people involved in car crashes.
Of these: 3,598 people killed, of which:
Barry Horne's four-week old hunger strike in protest at the government's U-turn on animal welfare has seen the growth of anti-vivisection protests: Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridgeshire, one of the UK's largest vivisection labs (and the subject of a horrific Channel 4 documentary last March) is to see a permanent protest camp set up on their doorstep, and continue until it is closed.
With the recent closure of Consort, the tide seems to be turning against the abusers- with no thanks to the new Labour junta. A recent letter to a Luton activist from a government department denied any need for a Royal Commission to look into vivisection...in direct contradiction of pre-election promises.
The Animal Rights movement does not have much experience of protest camps so bodies, equipment, help and advice from EF!/anti-road activists is desperately needed. HLS - and the camp - are situated on the East side of the A1, just North of the A1/A14 intersection near Huntingdon.
The bad publicity generated by the TV programme have led to shares plummeting by [sterling]80 million; many major customers have pulled out and staff morale is at rock bottom. Two employees, seen on TV hurling a beagle against a wall and abusing others for kicks, are currently up in court on charges under the Protection Of Animals Act, and regular demos outside the premises have seen shame-faced staff locking themselves in the car park and leaving only under heavy police escort.
HLS, who at any one time have 62,500 animals being experimented on, have their licence up for renewal in November - some sustained pressure could see them stand a real chance of losing it.
HELP! Wanna perform/write plays/spin on your head? Why not get involved in SchNEWSNIGHT- our monthly political cabaret evening at the Lift? Planning meeting next Tuesday (9th) @ Hobgoblin Pub, London Rd 8pm
For wearing a Celtic football top! Liam Forbes was nicked in Derry and charged with behaviour likely to lead to a breach of the peace, after taking his coat off and revealing his team colours. The case was thrown out of the magistrates court.
"Yesterday the police demanded that my partner remove two upsidedown jigsaws of D****, a teatray with the same picture and various bits of paper with writing on them, like DI DEAD, TWO LESS PARASITES. They cautioned my partner, despite him denying knowledge of the material. They qouted section 5 of the Public Order Act. I don't particularly want to be fined, it was just stating an opinion. It was all attached to the front window facing a road. How do you think I should play this one?" -Letter from anonymous Southampton couple this week
The SchNEWS warns all readers not to wear black armbands on Saturday as they'll be mistaken for anarchists. Always campaign with a heart. And then when you die shop workers will get the morning off, and giros will come early. Honest!
Elton John sings Candle In The Wind. A nation weeps.
Last updated 5th September 1997
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