With chains, tubes, cakes and dragons, Welsh activists blockade Burghfield AWE nuclear weapons site

1235297_615572321798414_1121065624_nby Ray Davies, CND Cymru Vice Chair

The Welsh Blockade of Burghfield AWE on October 3 turned out to be one of the highlights of my year.

Our bus from Wales was full to overflowing with activists from Aberystwyth, Knighton, Cefn Forest, Blackwood Cardiff, Builth, Llandeilo and Swansea, and we had to commandeer a second van to transport our large dragons.

We were all in high spirits. Our love of peace was the motivation that drove us to act. After a night without much sleep at the Friends Meeting House in Reading, we were up at 5 a.m. and off to the nuclear bomb factory at Burghfield.

Karen Jenkins (from Cefn Fforest in Gwent) and I had practised our lock on until we were super efficient at dodging police. We arrived at the main gate to see literally hundreds of vehicles queuing to enter the evil bomb factory. Karen and I with all our handcuffs and tubes and chains successfully dodged the police, and threw ourselves  into the middle of the road.

We quickly handcuffed our hands through an unbreakable  tube. Then we chained ourselves to Janet from Swansea, making it impossible for the police to remove us individually from the road.

The police immediately closed off the road and called up reinforcements. Meanwhile, Angie, our coordinator, set up tables and chairs in the middle of the road, and a posh two person settee. The cakes and jellies were laid out, and within half an hour the protest party was in full swing.

Our two large dragons danced rings around the police, and the beautiful Welsh singing set the scene for one of the craziest, most enjoyable and successful blockades ever.

After a while, the MOD police had sent for expert officers with saws and bolt cutters. One of them said they were waiting for the order from above to move in to make arrests. We didn’t care. We had succeeded in disrupting the work at Britain’s number one bomb factory.

1379954_615540781801568_1955699214_nA mobile canteen was set up by local peace activists , providing hot and cold drinks and sandwiches. Tea and cakes were offered to the bewildered police. We bombarded them with kindness, gentleness and most of all, with wonderful Welsh singing.

One of the high profile police officers told me that they had never seen anything like it in their lives. Senior police officers dithered about whether to move in with the heavies, but in the end they gave up.

For me, and all of us, it was a wonderful example of what the power of song and nonviolent direct action can achieve.

Yes, the protest was one big enjoyable picnic, which even the police finally halfheartedly joined in. But our objective was serious: to disrupt the manufacture of nuclear weapons and to give a powerful message to all the warmongers and arms dealers, that we will never, ever give up the struggle to free our world from the evil threat of nuclear weapons.