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.
The ten activists detained were among more than 200 who entered the site, decorating it with pink in order to highlight its existence. They are not Swedes and, under Swedish law, whereas Swedish activists engaged in the same activities have been released, the “foreigners” are being held – perhaps for 72 hours. This itself is a punishment prior to judicial process, and perhaps a more punishment more serious than the possible sentences for any crimes they may have been deemed to be committed.
Among the ten activists are the Venezuelan Rafael Uzcategui, one of the 12 elected members of the WRI international council, and the Chilean Javier Gárate,employed by War Resisters' International (WRI) in its London office where he coordinates the compilation on war profiteers. WRI is an international organisation founded in 1921, and now with a network of affiliated groups in more than 40 countries. These affiliates include the Swedish group Ofog, the main organisers of “War Starts Here”.
The chairperson of WRI, Howard Clark, said that Sweden's hosting of NEAT, its support for the war in Afghanistan, and now its treatment of foreign protesters shows how far the country has turned away from a peace policy.
War Resisters' International calls for protest emails and faxes calling for the immediate release of the 10 detained peace activists to Luleå police station:
Contact: Andreas Speck in Luleå +44 7973683936
War Resisters' International