Three nuclear abolition activists arrested after locking on and blocking road to Coulport

photo by Denise Laura Baker

Early in the morning of June 13, 20 peace activists arrived at the main gate of Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) Coulport in Argyll, Scotland for their daily vigil for nuclear disarmament. Coulport is the storage and loading facility for the United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear warheads. 

Five women from “Greenham Women are Everywhere” poured red paint on themselves to symbolize blood and staged a die-in right in front of the gates blocking one side of the entrance into the base. A little while later, three people from Peace Pirates, a Trident Ploughshares affinity group, locked on a little further around the roundabout road. They are all long-time peace activists, incensed at the waste of resources and dangerous stupidity of the UK government refusing to sign up and ratify the multi-lateral Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – the only safe way to nuclear disarmament.

By 8:45 a.m., after being there for two hours, police had persuaded the Greenham women to leave the road. They then cut out the three Peace Pirates in lock-ons, who were arrested and taken to police stations.

Brian Quail, a retired 84-year-old school teacher with a heart transplant and disabled by a recent stroke, said while locked-on, “Trident is illegal and immoral and the worst thing in the world”. Willemien Hoogendorf from Holland, who has been supporting the Faslane Peace Camp, was locked onto Brian and also to Gillean Lawrence. Gillean, a grandmother and supporter of Extinction Rebellion Peace, stated, “It is a humanitarian catastrophe with billions of pounds spent on preparing for a nuclear holocaust that does not make us safer. In fact the opposite. It could be spent on dealing with the climate emergency”.

The action is part of the Faslane Action for Bomb Ban campaign, active at Coulport and Faslane Trident nuclear submarine base from June 9-18, leading up to the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

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FABB photo

From the Herald

Police make three arrests during Faslane nuclear base human blockade

by Martin Williams

Police have arrested three people during a human blockade protest outside the Clyde UK nuclear weapons base in Scotland.

Demonstrators have refused to move after lying on the road as anti-nuclear activists stepped up a protest near RNAD Coulport.

Up to eight demonstrators have been seen lying on the road with Scottish CND saying that they were “putting their bodies in the of business as usual for weapons of mass destruction”.

Anti nuclear activists began their protests at Faslane and Coulport on Sunday with activists towing a trailer with a giant piece logo on it.

Around 50 people gathered at the north gate of the Faslane naval base at 11am, then again two hours later at Coulport, where Trident nuclear missiles are stored.

The human blockade protest started outside Coulport at around 9am.

Police who have been monitoring the protest have called on the blockade protesters to move on.

One officer told three of them: “I am requiring you to remove yourself from this position and allow the community and local business to return to a state of normality. Will you comply?”

A number of the protesters who were lying on the road said: “No.”

The officer then said: “I am now informing you, all three, that you are under arrest…for breach of the peace. The arrest procedure will now proceed. You will safely be removed from your lock-on devices and you’ll be arrested by my officer who may use reasonable and proportionate force. Thank you.”

Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde – commonly known as Faslane –  is the navy’s headquarters in Scotland and is best known as the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons, in the form of nuclear submarines armed with Trident missiles.

It is home to the core of the Submarine Service, including the nation’s nuclear deterrent, and the new generation of hunter-killer submarines.

The Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport, eight miles from Faslane, is responsible for the storage, processing, maintenance and issue of key elements of the UK’s Trident Deterrent Missile System and the ammunitioning of all submarine embarked weapons.

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The Faslane Action for the Bomb Ban disarmament camp has launched the protest in advance of a Vienna gathering of state representatives over the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Before the blockade, around 50 protesters have been singing traditional peace songs, and newer chants over the UN treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

Dancers and singers, banners and protesters were also celebrating the continuation of the Faslane Peace Camp for 40 years while decrying the need for it.

Angie Zelter of Trident Ploughshares said: “The Edinburgh based Protest in Harmony group progressed down to the main gate at Coulport surprising the police into blockading the base for us.”

Faslane Action for Bomb Ban – which featured Extinction Rebellion as well as Ploughshares – is targeting Coulport and Faslane until June 18.

One demonstrator said: “This is the story of Britain’s nuclear weapons so-called defence system. Of course, it is offence. It is truly grotesque and awful. It is our money paying for it. It would be so much better spent on the NHS, feeding hungry schoolchildren, or maybe fighting climate change.

“That is why we are here. That is why we are protesting.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers engaged with a group of individuals carrying out a protest in the Coulport area of Helensburgh which began around 7.30am on Monday, 13 June, 2022.

“Three people have been arrested in connection.   

“Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation that puts our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do. We have a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter protest balanced against the rights of the wider community.”