Ministry of Defence HQ in London marked on Ash Wednesday in resistance to nuclear weapons

photo by Alan Gerrard

One hundred and fifty people gathered at an Ash Wednesday event organised by Pax Christi and the London Catholic Worker in repentance and resistance to British nuclear weapons. The group proceeded to the M.O.D. building on White Hall, as activists broke off to mark the building that controls British nuclear weapons.  Seven Catholic Workers, a Quaker, a doctor and a priest were detained and searched.

During a procession and liturgy, those taking part heard how the UK government’s commitment to nuclear deterrence is an ongoing challenge. The UK alone has 225 nuclear weapons and the Royal Navy boasts a proud record of over 40 years of uninterrupted nuclear deterrence, as at least one of the four Vanguard-class submarines is on patrol at any time. They hoped that the government might have a change of heart and direction.

A Catholic Worker stated, “British troops on the ground have recently withdrawn from an illegal invasion of Iraq based on the fiction of that country’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. The British government and parliamentary opposition expect us to swallow the same lies in a lead up to a war on Iran. Yet the M.O.D. and British government continue to manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons.

“Ash Wednesday reminds us of the ash that nuclear weapons promises to reduce the world to. Lent is a season of repentance ‘turning around’ from our silence and complicity with these high crimes. The appropriate response continues to be nonviolent resistance to these high crimes and solidarity with our brothers in chains and before the courts for such resistance.

“We act in solidarity with Jesuit priests Bill Bischell and Steve Kelly and also Susan Crane and many others presently imprisoned in the U.S. for resistance to nuclear weapons. We are inspired by the resilience of Bradley Manning and the price he continues to pay for speaking truth to power, accused of exposing the war crimes of empire.”

This is the 30th year the M.O.D. has been confronted by Christian peace activists on Ash Wednesday.