Home | Friday 22nd August 2008 | Issue 643
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER DREDGE OF DARKNESS
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Story Links : Going Overboard | Crap Arrest Of The Week | Red, Blue & Whitey | Bodged Attempt | Whale's Tale | Positive Schnews | Blood Kurd-ling | Out Of Shac-kles | ...and Finally...
AS ROSSPORT ACTIVISTS TAKE ON SHELL IN IRELAND
The protests against Shell's Corrib gas project in Rossport, Ireland, saw waves of direct action this week. More work has started on the pipeline with a special pipe-laying ship arriving last weekend with just two weeks to do its job. But it's yet to start - so if protesters can stop or delay it over the next week, the project will be set back a long way and cause massive problems for Shell. Protesters are asking people to come and help them resist at this crucial time...
Yesterday (21st) at 10am, fifteen Shell to Sea activists entered the water at Glengad Beach as dinghies, surfers and swimmers surrounded the machine and stopped work. Three Gardai in a boat began arrests and taking the boats an hour later. With no regard for health or safety, they wrestled with protesters in the water. On at least one occasion they worked together with the Shell security team who grabbed a protester and held him until the Gardai got there.
Then three protesters moved onto a rock in the sea near the dredging operation. At around 11.40am the dredging machine started picking up large amounts of debris from the sea bed and dumping it within inches of the protesters - as the Gardai stood and watched - before then arresting all three.
Mary Jones, who witnessed events said, "It was so dangerous. The huge dredging machine continued working right over those lads' heads and then the Gardai half drowned them. It's amazing no one was killed. It's a crime that the Gardai can work for Shell like that."
SOLIDARITY CAMP BACK ON
With the gas refinery half built, Shell are now starting work on the accompanying pipeline.
In late July, the company set up a compound on Glengad beach (former site of Rossport Solidarity Camp) to begin preparatory pipeline work. A causeway was constructed and over half a mile of 10 foot high steel fencing was used to cordon off a large part of the beach. Many local people resisted Shell's occupation of Glengad and destruction of the pristine Broadhaven Bay (a Special Area of Conservation). They were met by a joint team of 40 Gardai and 70 Shell specialist security - 13 were arrested and one hospitalized for several weeks after being injured in Garda custody.
This week, in anticipation of the arrival of the world's largest pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, a week of action was called. Booked up solidly for the next two years, it is believed to have just two weeks before going off to the next job. Marine & Public Information Notices had announced the Solitaire would arrive in Broadhaven Bay last weekend, but at present it is still docked over 5 hours away in Donegal Bay.
Last Saturday, a team of kayakers - some fresh from the Camp For Climate Action's Rebel Regatta - began the week of action by reclaiming Glengad beach. To a crowd of cheering onlookers they entered the compound via the water, hanging a banner inside.
On Monday, Rospport Solidarity Camp was reborn and a large marquee and tents were set up in Glengad, just 100 metres from the compound. In a display of things to come, as soon as the marquee was up, Shell's compound was invaded.
On Tuesday, when the Solitaire still hadn't arrived in the bay, three kayakers went over to Donegal to meet her there. They paddled 1200 metres out to sea to deliver a letter to the Captain of the ship asking him to reconsider the ships involvement and informing him that if he continued he would meet strong resistance in the waters of Rossport.
The story behind this latest stage in the Corrib project is filled with the usual dose of political corruption and intimidation tactics. When Shell first moved into Glengad it appeared that planning consent for the work had not been granted. Later, Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan stated that the authorisation had been given, but the government had made an "oversight" in failing to publicise them. Oversights such as this are a defining feature of the project and exactly what the Green Party minister was so critical of in opposition before he got into office.
This key section of the onshore pipeline at Glengad was granted permission outside of the usual planning process. Eamon Ryan used the Gas Act to exempt this 200 metres of the onshore pipeline from the planning process, which is arguably the most dangerous part of the whole project. Subject to the pipeline's highest pressures (potentially up to 345 bar, the highest pipeline pressure in a residential area anywhere in the world), it runs from the landfall at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain. Dooncarton mountain is notorious for landslides and the original landfall permission was awarded in 2002 before the devastating 2003 landslide that saw 200,000 M3 of debris washed off Dooncarton, destroying houses, bridges and roads. Despite the obvious dangers, no review has taken place since.
Aside from this, no planning permission exists for the onshore pipeline. The proposed route runs 9km through protected blanket bog habitats, a Special Areas of Conservation, Specially Protected Area (protected habitats under the EU habitats directive), common and farmland. However, activity at Glengad and the arrival of the Solitaire demonstrates that Shell are certain that permission is already in the bag. Perhaps this is because they know the government will be using the Strategic Infrastructure Act to get round any troubling resistance. The act allows chosen planning consents to bypass the local democratic process and be forced through from above. It was surely not just co-incidence that this handy piece of legislation was first proposed by Bertie Ahern after a meeting with Shell where the company expressed concerns at the Irish planning process!
Since Shell occupied Glengad beach, their small army of security have been an ominous presence in the area. The unidentified security (often wearing balaclavas), use video cameras and binoculars to monitor anyone on, or near, the public beach, including children. The company hired by Shell is headed by a former member of the elite Irish Rangers Unit and while the company claim that current members of the defense force are not part of the operation, it is known that other former military personal have been hired.
Meanwhile, Shell has used its usual tactics of divide and rule and bribery to silence resistance from local fishers to the project, overcoming what the company views as one of the final hurdles preventing the Solitaire beginning work in the bay. The local fishers universally expressed concerns over the location of the discharge pipe and its outfall diffuser (certain to pollute both Broadhaven Bay and inshore waters), and disruption to their work during the laying of the pipeline. However, last week, after long negotiations, a significant number of fishers have agreed to keep quiet in return for compensation. On the other hand some remain resolute in their opposition. Fisherman Pat O'Donnell stated that he would continue fishing in the path of the Solitaire. He added that even if a court order was granted, if the state wanted to stop them they would "have to send [him] and the other fishermen to gaol."
Rossport Solidarity Camp is a hive of activity this week, with new recruits and random boats and water equipment arriving all the time. Actions against the Solitiare will continue for the next few weeks. Sail and rail tickets from anywhere in the UK to the area cost just £35. Pack yer arm-bands and join the fun.
* For background see SchNEWS 611, 603, 595
* Check out www.corribsos.com for the latest news and videos.
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For Sean McGowen's poor diction...
In yet another contender for 'most blatant misuse of a local bye-law' award, longtime peace campaigner Glenn Williams was nicked outside Brighton arms factory EDO-MBM/ITT on Wednesday.
The protesters had gathered to hold a 'Musical Demo', making sure they kept in line with a recent ruling at Brighton Magistrates Court that political or protest songs are not banned under the anti-noise byelaw. The demo djs had barely got started on their extensive collection of political tunes before another 'anonymous complaint' (from EDO's director). Twenty-five tooled-up coppers swiftly marched in and ordered the sound system off.
Glenn refused, patiently explaining to the pig-ignorant pigs that the song being complained at, the Pogues' And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, was a song that highlighted the horrors of the First World War. Claiming that they couldn't make out the lyrics, the cops then arrested him.
Regular EDO'er Glenn said, "I've been bailed not to go to Home Farm Road. I'm devastated that after going to protests almost every week for over four years I now have been arrested and will possibly be jailed just for playing protest songs. Does Brighton Council really want to suppress free speech so much?" Er, quite possibly Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah...
* See www.smashedo.org.uk
RED, BLUE & WHITEY
Last weekend saw the BNP's 'Racists,Whites But No Blacks Festival'.
The Saturday (16th) was a day of demos as United Against Fascism (UAF - a Trot front group) held a poxy march through the streets of nearby Heanor, heading towards the festival, after which 30 odd managed to demonstrate outside the entrance. ANTIFA had their own response, managing to bring together a group of around 80, all masked up in black and ready to go.
The demo took a trip through woodland near the festival site - only attracting a police helicopter towards the end - and the group blockaded the junction at Condor Lane, the road to the festival. As riot police, FIT Team and police dogs turned up and started attacking, the anti-fascists fled back into the fields followed by riot police and one obliging nutcase local farmer. Mr Sewell of George Farm went postal and drove at protesters in his tractor, as well as attempting to block them escaping riot police with dogs.
Battles ensued as the group headed across the fields followed by riot cops and dogs, sending a volley of ammunition back in their direction (though some protester were caught in friendly-fire thrown from the rear). 33 were arrested for such things as breach of bail and Section 2 (violent disorder) of the Public Order Act. Also it's been reported that some kids were up for the action as they came out of their home with their mum - all in balaclavas - cheering ANTIFA on.
Unfortunately the anti-Red, White & Blue Festival demo has hardly been reported in the main media or even activist media - however the UAF are obviously claiming their 400 strong march and rally a success and are glad to rid the world of the evil BNP for once and for all.
One masked-up bloc'ie told us "it was definitely empowering to see people from all around the country come and take part in trying to disrupt the facist BNP. Keep your eye out in SchNEWS and Indymedia, you might notice more and more mass direct action is taking place on our streets. Black is coming back in style".
* See www.antifa.org.uk
The squat at Prospect House near Shipley in Derbyshire, a protest on the site of a proposed new open-cast coal mine (see SchNEWS 641), finally came to end last week with the eviction of the remaining two protesters, who had resolutely resisted attempts to clear the site by furiously digging for victory.
Rechristened Bodge House by the occupants, work at the site has been obstructed and delayed by industrious protesters who held lock-ons and built a scaffolding tower, treehouses and an extensive tunnel network. The eviction eventually took more than a hundred Police and bailiffs over a week to complete whilst activists and locals resolve remains unbroken. One of the tunnellers, identified only as 'Moley', said on his forced return to the surface: "We found ourselves in a hole, but we kept digging. It was pretty hard spending a week underground, but worth it to slow down UK Coal's destruction of the environment."
Three hardy shipmates of a Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship have found themselves placed on an international wanted list by Japan. Why these minor crew members have been singled out is a mystery, but Sea Shephard captain Paul Watson sees it as desperation after recent successes in obstructing illegal Japanese mammal-murdering activities. The last whaling season saw 550 minke whales killed out of a planned 850 (see SchNEWS 636).
The outlaws include one Briton, believed to be Daniel Bebawi, from Nottingham, and two Americans, all sought for their involvement in actions against the Kaiko Maru whaling ship in 2007.
Despite forensic proof, no admission is being made that the Kaiko Maru repeatedly rammed the activists' vessel, but police have at least dropped claims (widely and sensationally reported at the time of course) that Sea Shepherd crew tossed "acid" onto the deck. What was tossed was rotten butter - chemically defined as butyric acid in the same way orange juice is defined as citric acid. It is non-toxic, non harmful but very slippery and it stinks to high heaven. Although taking no legal action, the Japanese don't like a smelly boat - in 2008 they retaliated to these tactics with live bullets and concussion grenades. Captain Watson was struck in the chest with a bullet and was saved only by his Kevlar vest.
Meanwhile, preparations continue for this year's campaign, Sea Shepherd's fifth in Antarctic waters. The goal is to send two fast ships to the Southern Ocean with the purpose of continuously keeping the Japanese whaling fleet on the run.
"We intend to sink the Japanese fleet economically," said Captain Watson. "Our strategy is to prevent whales from being killed, to force Japan to spend money on fuel without killing whales. My crew and I will not watch whales die; we will not bear witness to the cruel slaughter of a single whale without risking our lives to prevent its unlawful and cruel murder..."
Battle on the high seas looks set to recommence from November - whether or not Interpol are on their tail.
See www.seashepherd.org and www.whalewatch.org
The first prosecution case under the sections of SOCPA applying to nuclear sites was dismissed this Wednesday (20th) by a Newbury magistrate.
Juliet McBride - a veteran of twenty years of non-violent peace campaigning - was arrested inside the fence of the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in March 2007, during a No Trident demo, but it was deemed to be outside the SOCPA-protected inner fence of the nuclear licensed site.
"Without any reason we are being held here and they are trying to deport us to the most dangerous country in the world. We want people to listen to us. We are refusing all food and water and we will keep going. It is better to be dead than to return to Iraq." - Fazzel Abdul, Kurdish detainee spokesperson.
Thirteen Kurdish detainees at Campsfield immigration detention centre ended their 9 day hunger strike last Thursday (14th). The Kurds went on strike in order to bring an end to the forced return of refugees to Iraq (see SchNEWS 627) and the inhumane conditions inside the centre. Throughout their ordeal the hunger strikers had to face violence and verbal abuse from Campsfield's guards, and have received inadequate medical treatment.
The original demonstrators were joined by more than fifty detainees from many other countries (including Iran, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and the Congo), all victims of the UK's repressive and racist asylum system. During their week-long protest one refugee managed to get on the roof of the detention centre.
The point being made took on added urgency on August 10th when one Kurdish refugee, Hussein Ali, committed suicide following his expulsion from the UK to Iraq. He had lived in the UK for 6 years, but was forcefully deported after 50 days in detention. His was the second suicide by forcefully deported Iraqis this year. Over 500 people have been deported to Northern Iraq since the Home Office struck a deal with the Kurdish government there.
There have been protests both inside and outside the camp pretty much since it opened in 1993. It has been condemned in government reports and the subject of riots and breakouts (SchNEWS 580, 636). Join the fight to shut it down.
For info and updates see www.ncadc.org.uk and www.noborders.org.uk
OUT OF SHAC-KLES
Last Friday saw another weekly demo by SHAC at Novartis in Horsham, who use vivisection lab HLS and animal experiments on primates, guinea-pigs and other animals for their 'research'. Novartis have an injunction in place preventing more than twelve people protesting, and at the demo police served injunctions on two teenagers, one only 14 years-old.
This campaign follows the national demo in April (See SchNEWS 630). www.shac.net
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