Quaker Woman Imprisoned for Repeated Anti-Trident Protest

Sylvia Boyes

Sixty-seven year old Sylvia Boyes, a Quaker from Keighley, appeared today at Bingley Magistrates Court. She was sentenced to 14 days in New Hall Prison for refusing to pay fines arising from a series of protests against Trident in and around Faslane Naval Base in Scotland during the summer of 2009.

Boyes is the third peace activist sentenced to prison in the United Kingdom in two weeks. Eighty-one year old Georgina Smith was jailed a week ago for 45 days for refusal to pay a £3000 compensation order for her part in painting the Scottish High Court, also in protest against Trident.  Chris Cole was sentenced January 19 to 30 days for nonpayment of fines from a graffiti protest at a 2009 London arms trade fair. Cole was just released February 2. With statutory credit, Boyes should be released after about one week.

Boyes’ actions included painting a rock with the words Scots! Say No to Trident, blockading the Coulport nuclear weapons storage facility, and walking in the main gate of Faslane, the homeport of Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapons system. For these actions she was charged with Malicious Mishchief, Breach of the Peace and Aggravated Trespass.

Sylvia has been imprisoned on numerous ocassions for anti-Trident protests. The Court refused to allow her to give a statement of her reasons for refusing to pay £700 in fines. However she insisted the Court accept her written statement which said:

“As a responsible person I must act to bring about disarmament. A necessary part of that campaign is to carry out non-violent direct actions at military bases. No government can continue policies without the active or silent acceptance of its people. This includes the police and judiciary. So while I accept responsibility for my actions, I am refusing to pay fines as a further act of civil disobedience and am fully aware of the consequences.”

The peace-loving pensioners’ actions were part of the ongoing campaign by Trident Ploughshares, a network of global citizens committed to bringing about the disarmament of Trident.

Sylvia stated in Court: “I know that this country’s continued possession of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity. All nuclear weapons are weapons of mass murder and destruction and while in narrow terms of the law this is debateable, each Trident warhead with its explosive power of eight times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, would cause immediate death and destruction followed by the long term horrific effects of radiation, causing cancers, tumours as well as long term genetic damage to future generations. Britain has around 160 of these warheads.

“To use Trident as a threat of murder and destruction (deterrence) is to dehumanise people and create enemies. I believe in a common humanity. I cannot accept this violent means of successive government’s policies. In a world where there is so much hunger and poverty, to misuse resources on nuclear weapons is a crime in itself. In no way can the causes of very real conflicts be dealt with by the threat of murder and destruction. Nor can our security be maintained by such threats.”

Cards and letters can be sent to Sylvia Boyes; HMP & YOI New Hall; Dial Wood, Flockton; Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4XX, United Kingdom.

(Information from Trident Ploughshares.)