UK Feature Archive
07-02-2003 06:54Tony Blair has today joined the panic over refugees by pledging to reduce the number of asylum applications by 50% by september. The Home office has also announced an increase in the number of countries on it's "white list" from which no application for asylum will be considered. The concept of a "white list" is deeply flawed, are there really any countries where there are never any human rights violations? I doubt it.
This move comes after many weeks in which the panic rhetoric over asylum has reached alarming proportions, and the BNP has secured another council seat. The issue of asylum is a crucial test of the humanitarian credentials of any government, and this one is failing miserably. The government must stand up for the right of refugees and for everyone whose human rights are abused and against the opportunist newspapers and politicians who aim to profit from scapegoating the innocent.
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns/ Campaign against Racism and Fascism
Open Statement from the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers
A tapestry version of Pablo Picasso's powerful anti war picture "Guernica" hangs, appropriately, in the United Nations headquarters in New York, right outside the security council chamber. However, when delegates arrived to hear Hans Blix's weapons inspection report (some of whom have already decided on war) it was a surprise to see that the picture had been covered by a blue banner with the UN logo on it. Abdellatif Kabbaj, the UN's PR person explained "It's only temporary. We're only doing this until the cameras leave," apparently it's more 'appropriate' for people planning a war to be photographed in front of a neutral background.
However it seems that it's all a question of timing - it is acceptable when you're only discussing the aftermath of a war you have already waged, as the covers were removed the next day when the council was due to discussed the newly liberated and prosperous Afghanistan.
After postponing strikes to allow for negotiation over the period either side of christmas and new year, the FBU has become increasingly angered by the employers and government's unwillingness to discuss their proposals and have started a series of shorter strikes. As if the 'Bain or nothing' ultimatum wasn't bad enough, Prescott is now falling into line with the official tory party and threatening to take action to ban the strikes. Andy Gilchrist commented “Yet again Mr. Prescott has succeeded in adding fuel to the fire dispute...(he) needs to understand the only way this dispute will be resolved is by a negotiated settlement "
The next strike is from 9am Saturday 1st Feb untill 9am Monday 3rd
There is a firefighters support demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday 1st of February.
Video of the protest | Photos of the Nude Protest Against Police Brutality | More Photos
Whilst Civil Society gathers in Porto Alegre for the 3rd World Social Forum to debate alternatives to neoliberalism and economic globalisation, in the Swiss city of Davos world finance "leaders" and CEO's of the main global corporations meet behind closed doors for this year's summit of the World Economic Forum to further implement economic globalisation policies.
For more information of the WSF in Porto Alegre, and reports & photos [ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 ] of the anti-capitalist demonstrations in Davos and Bern see IMC-UK World page feature.
The convoy, led by former US Marine and Gulf War veteran Ken Nichols O'Keefe, has attracted volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. They state that a massive civilian presence in Iraq has the potential to create the pressure needed to stop western governments from pursuing "a criminal war" and that "our so-called democracies have failed us. If we as people are going to stop wars we must act" (read press release)
Meanwhile opposition to the War continues all over Britain with almost daily actions and demonstrations taking place. The lastest reports recived inform of a demonstration in Colcheser where 500 people marched on the barracks of the 16th Air Assault Brigade. In Brixton 300 people blocked the entrance of Lambeth Town Hall where Geoff Hoon was due to address the Lambeth Labour group. In Southampton the Greenpeace flag ship, the Rainbow Warrior, entered Marchwood Military port and blocked the departure of UK military supply vessels heading for Iraq.
Up to 500,000 people rallied in Washington DC on Saturday, January 18 to say no to war with Iraq [chronology] Speakers at the event evoked the memory of Martin Luther King in calling for a world without violence. Speakers also said that Bush was killing the American way of life in this war for oil. The event in DC was organized by the International ANSWER coaltion - read entire feature.
A massive anti-war protest was also held in San Francisco, calling, with estimates of crowd size ranging from 200-350,000 people [chronology][pics 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | overhead photos]. All age groups were in attendance, and people of all colors attended the convergence. A radical anti-capitalist breakaway march militantly marched through the financial center smashing windows and graffitting the San Francisco Chronicle building, the British Consulate, CitiCorp, the Immigration & Naturalization Service building [1 | video 1 | 2 ], Starbucks and Victoria's Secret [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | audio ]. There were two confirmed arrests.
In Portland, Oregon, at least 20,000 people gathered against a preemptive war against Iraq - read entire feature. Throughout America there were many smaller protests and anti-war events, illustrating the ongoing decline in support for the Bush administration and its policies.
Tens of thousands of people joined marches, demonstrations, rallies and over 30 events across Canada.. The larger demonstrations across the country included 15-20,000 persons in Toronto, 20,000 in Vancouver, 25,000 in Montreal, 15,000 in Halifax, and 3000 in Ottawa, with smaller demonstrations in many other places - read entire feature.
About 10,000 people demonstrated on Sunday, 19 January in Brussels. At the end of the demonstration, the police arrested Karim Hasoun of the Arab European League (AEL), who helped handle security at the peaceful protests. There were also protests on 13 January against US military transports in Antwerpen, the main harbour used by the US military in Europe for transport to the Persian Gulf region- read entire feature
In the Netherlands about one hundred civilian inspectors gained access to the grounds of Volkel military. They cut through the perimeter fence in several places and used their own keys to enter several gates after padlocks were seemingly replaced by new ones. Most of them were arrested, but released later throughout the day. A Martin Luther King memory march against the plans for war against Iraq was held in Leiden, while nother action was held in Rotterdam.
Over three thousand marched in Tokyo on Saturday, January 18. On a beautiful and very cold day, more than three thousand people gathered as some of the first participants in the global protest against the war in Iraq. More than 2000 people rallied  against war in Christchuch in New Zealand. Demonstrators called on the New Zealand government to take a stand against war and sever its links with the US war machine. This was probably the largest antiwar event in New Zealand since the Vietnam War. The last round of anti-war actions in New Zealand were on December 14.
Anti-war protests literally spanned the globe, including demonstrations in Germany, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Pakistan, Antarctica's McMurdo Station. Plus Portland, Ore, Yorba Linda, CA, Montpelier, VT, Charlottesville,VA, Madison, WI Rockford, Il, Albuquerque, NM, Denton County, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, Spokane, WA. Also see corporate news reports [1, 2, 3]
There were over 70 arrests during the blockade (press release, pics, guilfin pics) which officially started with a multi faith service outside the main gates. The main bulk of the anti-war protestors (young and old) marched from Northwood tube station towards the base with a samba band and a bicycle powerd sound system. Police initially tried to funnel them into a fenced off area on the pavement opposite the main gate, but the crowd staged sit downs as soon as this became apparent until the police allowed them right up to the main gates (report). There was music and speeches for several hours as people blockaded the gates (read 1pm report). The police gave a deadline of 3pm before they would use force and make arrests, but after discussion people decided to remain and risk arrest. Supportes cheered on the blockaders for a couple of hours as around 150 police made arrests, carrying people away and using cutting equipment to remove additional lock ons. The area was cleared by around 5.15pm. Earlier in the afternoon the secondary side gate was also blockaded by four women who locked themselves together in pairs. In contrast with the main gate lockons they were arrested and put into police vans while still locked together.
On Saturday, the previous day, around 200 people participated in Operation Internal Look, a mass breach of the official secrets act at Northwood. See report and see photos 1, 2, Guilfin pics. See previous feature for more information on the actions.
In London anti war campaigners are mobilising for a weekend of protest and civil disobedience at the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the British Armed Forces at Northwood, the command post for British rapid deployment forces. Called by Voices in the Wilderness UK - a high profile campaign of civil disobedience against the economic sanctions on Iraq - ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War), the d-10 group and others, the weekend of action, will include a tour of the base, a mass blockade, a mass breaching of the Official Secrets Act, non-violence trainings and other direct action. A few days later there will also be a rally outside parliament on Tuesday 21 January.
While on 26th January a civillian arms inspection - will take place at the united states air force base at RAF Fairford. The protest coincides with the last day of inspections for the UN inspectors in Iraq before Hans Blix reports to the Security Council on the 27th. The protests have been supported recently by Ann Pettitt one on the initiators of the Greenham Common anti-nuclear peace movement (see also SchNEWS)
Meanwhile around three and a half thousand people in Britain have now signed the ARROW Pledge of Resistance committing themselves to taking part or supporting acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to an attack on Iraq, should it take place.
Last week While the British Minister of Defence, Geoff Hoon, announced the mobilisation of British Armed Forces for the war on Iraq war resisters all over the world called for conscientious objection to the war. A statement by War Resisters' International, signed by more than 800 people urged all soldiers - in whichever forces they are supposed to fight, to refuse to take part and to apply for conscientious objector status.
They also urgend those involved in preparations for war, in administration or in arms factories to refuse to co-operate and called on journalists and the media to insist on writing and broadcasting the uncensored truth. Echoing George Monbiot's calls in the guardian newspaper last week (which reiterated what many people and groups had been saying for months), they called on all people opposed to the war to participate in direct action, civil disobediance and nonviolent resistance.
Finally a massive global anti-war protest is planned for the 14th and 15th of February, with groups in at least 11 European countries co-ordinating actions in a weekend that should see a total of millions taking to the streets, with a massive national demonstration in london and another in Glasgow. Coordination for the protests followed discussions and the European Social Forum in Florence, a conference in Cairo in December, and a meeting in Copenhagen.
Stop The War Coalition | ANSWER | ARROW | Iraq Journal | Musilm Association of Britain | Media Workers Against War | Bristol Stop The War Update 11th Jan | Respect Your Enemies-The First Rule of Peace: An Essay to the Peace Movement | U.S. Labor Against the War Launched | Protest Plans If War Starts | SchNEWS Latest Issue 17th Jan
16-01-2003 08:59As the government's consultation on the introduction of a UK Entitlement IDCard enters its final days, the home office and Lord Falconer were saying that the majority of the 1500 people who have responded to the consultation, were extremely positive on the idea (!?). However some people who have voiced opposition have received replies from the Home Office saying "Thank you for your e-mail...in support of the introduction of an entitlement/identity card scheme."!
Several privacy groups have expressed concern at the proposals, and a simple webform set up by campaigners STAND and others (to allow people to easily object to the proposals) has been used almost 4000 times since it was set up less than one week ago. The deadline for submissions is 31st January.
The system is scheduled to cost over £1.5bn and while the government says it will not be compulsary, it is designed to be used in accessing a range of public services.The proposals include a massive IT project to introduce a universal identifier for all citizens, with a centralised database of personal details, kept accurate by making a new crime of withholding your current address from the government.
Read Full Report
(14thJanUpdate) Privacy International Release
Defy ID Action Network
16-01-2003 08:28Recently there have been press headlines about the government ' s proposals to abolish the restriction on pub opening hours. At last we will fall in line with just about every other country in the world. Hurrah! But before you cheer too loudly, there is a sting in the tail and a nasty one at that. At the same time as revising the law on pub opening, the Government is proposing to tidy up the situation on entertainment licences.
The bill currently before parliament contains provisions that will have a serious impact on all branches of the performing arts, both amateur and professional. Schools, village halls, pubs, restaurants, even private houses will have to be licensed if used for performance events, whether they take place frequently or only occasionally. Any performance in unlicensed premises will be a criminal offence, punishable by a large fine and costs, or a prison sentence.
Full story | More information available from Music lovers | There is also an online petition + a Demo against the License Bill Reforms, 1pm Parliament Square, London 27 Jan
16-01-2003 07:53A startling new report based on research in Afghanistan points to the likelihood of large numbers of the population being exposed to uranium dust and debris. When the Afghan crisis began, many believed that a great amount of DU/dirty uranium would be used to achieve the US-British campaign objectives. The amount used in Afghanistan may have exceeded the several hundred ton's of DU/dirty uranium used in the 1990-91 Gulf War and the Balkans conflicts.
The refusal of the Ministry of Defense to fully admit that dangerous uranium weapons may have been used in Afghanistan and the conflicts in the Balkans (Bosnia and Kosova), when evidence shows the contrary, illustrates just how sensitive the government is to the possibility that its use, or its collusion in the use, of weapons of mass destruction may be discovered.
This is not just because thousands of innocent civilians will suffer due to radiological (and heavy metal) poisoning, but also because the government is prepared to send British troops and aid workers, possibly for a long occupation of the war zones, ill-equipped and vulnerable to contamination.
Full report | Pandora DU Research
On the coldest night of the year so far, the 4/5 January, a Peace Camp was established at Shannon Airport in ireland. The Peace Camp kicked off with a 24 hour Women's Peace Camp and quickly began to draw a huge amount of attention from the National Media. The Green Party and Labour Party members are both now calling for the suspension of US military use of Shannon Airport. Debates on the legalities of US military use of Shannon got an extensive airing on National TV and Radio, and ended up on the front pages of UK and Irish Sunday Newspapers. See Ireland Indymedia for full story.
On the 7th Jan at USAF Menwith Hill, in North Yorkshire, 4 protesters carrying large flags with 'No To Star Wars' printed across the stars and stripes, from Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) kept up a steady and very visible presence at the gate. The weekly Tuesday night protests are part of a campaign of regular gatherings at Menwith Hill spy station. In related news the defence secretary is today expected to make a statment about the american request to expand their bases in the uk for use in their new star wars missile defence scheme. When it was first discussed around 270 backbench MPs signed a motion opposing it.
On 10th Jan two Scotland based train drivers refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition believed to be destined for British forces being deployed in the Gulf. Described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq, while an EWS spokesperson declined to confirm if the train had been cancelled or not.
On Saturday 11 Jan an anti war activist was arrested whilst blockading the naval base at Portsmouth from which the Ark Royal and several other warships were due to depart for the Gulf to take part in any attack on Iraq. The blockade lasted 90 minutes, from 7.30 am-9 am. The protestors who have all pledged to engage in acts of civil disobedience against the war, also tried to board several of the warships. One of the people taking part, Rosie Bremer, said "There is still time to halt this war and that's why we are here."
Also on saturday, a total of 9 arrests were made during anti-war demonstrations at a US Air Force-run military base in Norfolk UK. 5 demonstrators were arrested after gaining access to the Royal Air Force Base at Feltwell in yet another direct action. In addition, 4 others including a person videoing for indymedia were arrested across the road from the main entrance to the base. The protest succeeded in disrupting normal operation of the base. The base at Feltwell is run by the US Air Force as part of a network of "near-space tracking facilities", and plays an important role in americas attempt to militarise space as well as being used for electronic surveillance. See Full Story.
For more info see Stop The War Coalition website
Also check IMCUK Iraq War Threat page for previous reports.
11-01-2003 02:52Fifteen Anti-war campaigners were apprehended at about 11am on the 6th after breaking into the U.S. Airbase at Mildenhall, Cambridge. The campaigners were caught on the base's main runway after breaking through a perimeter fence. An MoD spokesman "In getting on to the site there was a breach of security” and they were detained by U.S. military police, who handed them on the MoD. No charges were laid, but all 15 released on police bail to report back in 21 days.
Mildenhall houses the U.S. Air Force's 100th Air Refuelling Wing giant. Its sister base at nearby Lakenheath houses US fighter-bombers. The two bases are among the biggest U.S. airbases outside the United States mainland and are regular targets for demonstrations by peace protesters.
Read full report
On Tuesday she lost her fight against deportation in the Tel Aviv District Court, where she was supported by numerous Israeli and international citizens who were threatened with arrest for trying to prevent her forcible removal.
[Report | womenspeacepalestine.org | tridentploughshares.org | rightlivelihood.se ]
Other cases of GM contamination are well known, but have often been considered as not scientifically proven, despite being peer-reviewed. The most alarming so far were GM contamination of Mexican maize landraces. Another example is crop-to-crop contamination of canola (oilseed rape). It became obvious when Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer, was sued by Monsanto. Since then canola plants grew that had acquired resistance to three different herbicides through cross-pollination.
The promises made about GM crops are crumbling. By now it is obvious that herbicide-tolerant GM cropsactually increase the use of herbicides, and that for example Roundup Ready soybean varieties yield less than conventional ones. Only some side-effects in the introduction of GM soybeans like different weed management currently keep yields higher at some farms.
Environmental activists and consumer organisations have continued to raise awarness. For years actions to weed fields of GM crops or to block sowing have taken place, carried out by activists and scientists, farmers and consumers fighting for their right to decide what they want to eat and for an agricultural system where sustainable, organic agriculture is possible.
Actions are taking place worldwide: in the UK [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], in Germany [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], the Netherlands [ 1| 2 ], and elsewhere.
[ GEN | Norfolk Genetic Information Network | Friends of the Earth UK ]
21-12-2002 23:00ARGENTINA REBELLION ANNIVERSARY D 19 - 21: Global Piquet
On December 19th and 20th massive mobilizations took place in Buenos Aires, throughout Argentina and around the world, to mark the 1 year anniversary of the popular rebellion in Argentina ousting former President Fernando de la Rua.
Britain accepted 1000 Iraqui Kurds and 200 Afghans on temporary work permits, changing their status from political to economic refugees. The remaining Sangatte residents can choose between claiming asylum in France and being deported. Refugees who arrived after Nov 5th are facing dispersal, deportation is likely. Some of them occupied a church and were forcefully evicted.
From January 08, changes in the asylum system will make it harder for migrants to enter Britain and stay. The demo was called by the Calais C.SUR collective containing 30 organisations, the unemployment group AC! and immigrant supporters from GISTI. Supporters included the French Green Party, Act-up (against discrimination and social control), and libertarian anti-capitalists. Barbed Wire Britain, the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers and noborder London mobilised on the British side.
Considering the processing of migrants in the region, Sangatte can be seen as a laboratory of social control. Consequently, the demo coincided with a day of action in France against the new terrorism and security bills. Some people from Iraq and Afghanistan joined in, but most were too scared due to pressure from French riot police. Despite rain and immigration politics, the demo was a cheerful event, a coalition between anti-racists, charities, media and noborder activists, samba bands and some of the people who risk their lives to cross borders.
Immigration facts|Right wing media scare stories|Situation of migrants in Calais region| Refugee Council: who are the refugees|carf info|Statewatch|noborder info| migration management info]
Reports: [ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 ] Pictures: [ 1 / 2 ]
Video: [ 1] Interview with weapons inspector: 
Resent actions against the war:
Glasgow Anarchist Students have today occupied the main lecture hall of the Adam Smith Building at Glasgow University. They are protesting against the war, and demanding that the University cuts all ties with the armed forces and the arms industry.
A number of peaceful protesters tried to inspect weapons in Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland.
On Saturday night a number of peace activists attacked targets within the Menwith Hill spy base causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage. Saying "Menwith Hill is the intelligence hub for co-ordinating the war effort against Iraq and is totally unaccountable to people in the UK"