Aldermaston AWE Blockade February 15th 2010

On February 15th about 30 Welsh protestors including CND Cymru Chair Jill Evans MEP joined the hundreds blockading the nuclear weapons factory at Aldermaston, England. We had been allocated the Aldermaston AWE Construction Gate along with ‘bomspotting’ and other internationals. Spending on new facilities at AWE has increased seventeen-fold over the past decade, from £24m in 2000 to £420m last year. This is in spite of government denials that any decision has been made to go ahead with new warheads, with Ministers stating decisions will not be made until the next Parliament.

It was cold and damp; several of our party locked on to each other and blockaded the gates completely obstructing the traffic on the roads leading to the establishment. The singing was good, thanks to Cor Gobaith of Aberystywyth and Theo of Seize the Day. The Buddhists from Milton Keynes,the violinist and trombonist raised our spirits too. Trident Ploughshares support were brilliant and on hand with cups (and saucers) of tea, sandwiches, soup  and hand,  feet and …bottom warmers.

Meanwhile, from 6.30 am, all the other gates had been blocked by protestors (see more at www.tridentploughshares.org). There were very many police who, it was felt were mainly fair and gentle, at least at Construction Gate. All in all that day there were 26 arrests. We spent the day getting the message out and the event was reported well in the Welsh national and local media. Thanks to you all who came – and if you weren’t there …we’d love to have you along next time!

North Wales Blocks the Construction Gate

1. Blockader and CND  Cymru Vice Chair Ray Davies writes:

‘The 2010 blockade of AWE Aldermaston was a tremendous success. Over 500 peace activists converged on the nuclear facility from all corners of Europe. Our Welsh contingent spent the night in the church hall in Reading discussing our tactics for the blockade. The adrenalin was running high as people tested out their lockon tubes and equipment, and very little sleep was had by anyone. We left the church hall before dawn, and as we approached the Construction gate in the darkness, we attached ourselves together with the tubes. As we slowed down by the gate, we very quickly threw ourselves in front of the gates, along with 15 of our Welsh colleagues and 15 internationals. The whole place was  brought to a standstill. The MOD had their secret plan – to open another entrance to the base;  but no sooner had they opened it, a flood of protesters managed to block it. The police had been forced to wear their identification badges, and so their treatment of us was far better than on previous blockades. A band from the Basque country, and Aberystwyth’s choir Côr Gobaith provided the entertainment, with peace music from all over the world. The ground was soaking wet, and by 9 a.m. the misty rain was falling. Our international colleagues brought a roll of aluminium  foil to keep out the cold, and some of us were trussed up like turkeys. A policeman stamped his cold feet, and said, ” Get up before you get hypothermia.” I replied, “Don’t worry about us. We have our principles and passion for peace to keep us warm. What have you got ? you are guarding the most evil  weapons, which threaten all of mankind.” The atmosphere was electric. We were winning. News came from the other gates of the total success of the blockade. Nothing was going in, and nothing coming out. By 10 am the womens’ gate was in uproar, with 6 arrests. Our blockade leader Angie Zelter formed a plan which required us, and the Bangor delegation, to chain ourselves together at the main gate. As the police were thinking of ways to deal with us, it allowed  the internationals to pile on to the road, lock themselves on, and within minutes the whole of the Aldermaston perimeter was brought to a standstill. Within half an hour,  it was reported that there were tailbacks going back 3 miles in every direction. Police were in turmoil. Cutting equipment of all sorts was brought in to deal with the internationals, and this allowed the other 7 gates to maintain the blockade without interference. It took the police 2 1/2 hours to disentangle the internationals and take them off to Reading police station. We had already been warned  that if we didn’t stop obstructing the main road, then we too would be arrested and charged. By one o’clock, the police had had enough. Aldermaston had closed for the day, and we had won. We all converged on the main gate, singing and dancing , proclaiming our fantastic victory- the best blockade ever. At 345 I was back in Reading railway station, full of aches and pains but happy in the knowledge that we had stopped production at Aldermaston,. We had sent a powerful message to Gordon Brown and his government  that it would be madness to proceed with the new breed of nuclear weapons instead of spending our taxes on education, health and the things that matter to us all. Why did we get up at 4 a.m.  on a freezing cold wet morning? I did it for our beautiful but fragile planet, for my wife Wendy, children Tad and Carwyn, and so that the generations to come will have a future. And I don’t think we need to worry about the caretakers of that future, because the young people came to Aldermaston in their droves, and they will be  back again and again until we had won the greatest prize- to rid the world of the horror of nuclear weapons.’

2. British CND Press Release

Hundreds blockade nuclear bomb factory

The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire, was subject to the biggest blockade in years as 800 campaigners effectively blocked all entrances to the site for several hours. Anti-nuclear campaigners are intent on obstructing building work which is in preparation for the production of new nuclear warheads. Welsh protesters joined with international activists to send a strong message to government here and worldwide, that the abolition of nuclear weapons is the only answer to security and proliferation risks. Protesters were joined by two Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire who ‘locked-on’ to other campaigners at the designated ‘Women’s Gate’. The blockade was timed to raise the profile of the issue of Trident replacement in the run-up both to the General Election and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, in New York in May. Opinion polls now consistently show a majority against spending £76bn or more on Trident Replacement. Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said:

“The Prime Minister says he wants Britain to take a lead on nuclear disarmament. But he cannot do this if he is spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on upgrading the nuclear bomb factory at Aldermaston. As Britain goes to the UN nuclear talks in New York in May, we urge the Prime Minister to see sense as the majority of the British public have and end wasteful spending on weapons of mass destruction and commit genuinely to a nuclear weapons free world.

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