Oct 9, 2012 – What went on

Keep Space for Peace – October 9, 2012

Photograph taken by Steve Scofield: sdschofield.wordpress.com

“Invisibles” at Menwith Hill base on October 9, 2012.

Click here to see more photographs of this event.


On the evening of Tuesday 9 October 2012, the main gate at NSA Menwith Hill was the scene of a protest against the use of drones by the American military. The demonstration which was organised by CAAB was in response to the call for a week of international protest by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (GN) – ‘KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE’ week. It was a quiet, warm night and the rain that had been forecast held off so the need to erect shelters disappeared.

A CAAB table of information leaflets, newsletters and mugs (‘Blow the Whistle on Menwith’) was staffed by Christine Dean (Hon Treasurer of CAAB) throughout the evening with a lot of interest being shown in the available material. We were very pleased to be joined by the cyclists and members of Yorkshire CND who had ridden 100 miles from Fylingdales to NSA Menwith Hill. Laila (Joint Coordinator of CAAB) and Rob Packer welcomed everyone with hot soup, cake and tea.

Christine Dean talked about the experience of living in war time England when the doodle bugs flew across the channel to deliver death and destruction. The audience heard her personal and moving account of her life being saved by a milk man from one of these flying bombs which went on to kill people very close to where she had been. The obvious parallel with drones was clear to all her listeners. David Webb (Chair of CND, YCND and Convenor of GN) went on to speak about the drones programme and the links to NSA Menwith Hill which helps to identify suitable targets. The legality and the ethics of using drones against remotely identified targets are highly questionable.

The demonstration was peaceful and conducted in a positive way that made the message – DRONES ARE SIMPLY WRONG – clear to all present. Growing numbers of people in many countries are deeply upset by the use of these deadly faceless weapons which are unaccountable, illegal and immoral. Many civilians have been killed and injured in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. This message was for all who work at NSA Menwith Hill.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped to organise the demonstration and particularly to Steve Schofield (CAAB official photographer) who took photos of the demonstration – see them here.

Keep Space for Peace Action in Boston, Mass, USA

Image from spaceforpeace.org

On October 6, 2012, ten members of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Boston Branch, participated in a drone death walk to call attention to the illegal, counterproductive and deadly use of drones for “targeted” killings by remote control. All dressed in black, wore white masks and were silent but for two drums.

The walk crossed through a busy section of the Back Bay in Boston, the Boston Public Garden and the Boston Common on a warm October day where many residents and international tourists were out and about. Signs and leaflets called for Grounding the Drones and Keeping Space for Peace.

A copy of the flyer distributed to some passers-by can be found here.

Annual Independence FROM America demonstration, NSA Menwith Hill

View photographs of the event

For the American people 4 July means Independence Day. For many others it means the annual Independence FROM America demonstration – outside the main entrance to Menwith Hill. This year the weather was lovely.

Over 100 people came to this demonstration. Martin Schweiger (doctor, Quaker and activist) introduced the day. He said that he had written (on behalf of CAAB) to the Louis Susman (US Ambassador in London), Michelle Clays (US base Commander at Menwith Hill) and Patrick Currie (RAF Liaison officer) inviting them to come to the demonstration and speak about the base from their point of view. A stamped addressed envelop was included.

No response was forthcoming from Louise Susman or Michelle Clays. However Patrick Currie did reply by saying ‘it was not MOD policy to participate in such events’ adding ‘please note that RAF Menwith Hill is a British base and all activities within the base fully accountable to the British government’. (The only aspect that is accountable to the British government is that the land is in the possession of the Secretary of State for Defence).

We were invited by Martin to turn our backs on the base and to stand for two minutes silence, looking out on to the glorious Yorkshire Dales to remember all those who had been killed, injured or made homeless by the ongoing conflicts such as in Iraq, Afghanistan and the struggles known as the ‘Arab Spring’.

Peter Kenyon and Joan West (East Lancs CND) read the Peoples Declaration for Independence FROM America’ (please refer to link). We walked a short way along the diverted footpath and on to the first gate (replacing Nessfield Gate) where Lindis Percy and Mike Davies gave some brief information about the base.

Back to the main entrance where we were entertained with lovely singing by the Clarion choir from East Lancs CND. Roy Bailey (socialist folk singer) kindly came for the third year running – singing and playing in his wonderful way.

We had three excellent speakers this year. Peter Tatchell (Human Rights activist) who said it was time the UK reclaimed its sovereignty and instead of uncritically following Washington, Britain should chart its own independent foreign policy, promoting international peace, disarmament, cooperation, development and global justice. “We, the British people, need welfare, not warfare.” He spoke movingly about Bradley Manning – the US soldier who has been in prison for over a year for allegedly leaking thousands of US documents to WikiLeaks.

John Sloboda (Co-founder of Iraq Body Count and Director of the Oxford Research Organisation Recording of the Casualties of Armed Conflicts programme). Read John Sloboda’s speech here.

Yvonne Ridley (journalist, convert to Islam and activist) illustrated her speech, carrying a bag of rocks and a bottle from key locations. They were from the fall of the Berlin Wall, a popular movement of the people and the greatest event in the history of the Cold War which was completely missed by US Intelligence. She produced a stone from Tahir Square in Cario – another large popular movement. Two days prior to the occupation of the square Hilary Clinton declared that Egypt was stable and there would be no revolution there – another US Intelligence failure. A stone from Benghazi in Libya was another revolution missed by US Intelligence. She took out of her bag a blackened bottle from Sudan. It came from the ruins of the Al- Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which was bombed by the US on 20 August 1998. The missile attack came two days after the US media started to carry stories about Monica Lewinski and President Clinton. The loss of the factory resulted in a serious loss of access to modern pharmaceuticals in Africa, probably resulting in many deaths. “US Intelligence is not always intelligent” she said.

Then the wonderful sound, humour and energy of Les Vagus and the International Boys of Rhythm – blasting out their amazing sound! People danced and thoroughly enjoyed their music. The demonstration ended on an energetic note with Samba Tigers – both these groups had not visited Menwith Hill before.

We have lots of people to thank. Thank you to all the speakers and musicians who came , to Steve Hill, Chris Chanter who comes to assemble the PA system and to Dusty Rhodes (of Raise the Roof) who very kindly and generously has loaned the equipment for the day for many years. We say a special thank you to Sarah Dean who produced the original art work ‘Blow the Whistle on Menwith Hill’ and then produced the mugs, tea shirts and bags to sell on the CAAB stall. CAAB would like to thank North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police Agency who kindly supplied bottles of water – after we learnt that Andrew from Fish&…..was unable to come as the cooking part of the van had broken down. The numbers of police at the demonstration was the lowest ever – minimalist and at long last sensibly and proportionately policed! The few NYP officers who were present (on cycles) were courteous and very helpful.

View photographs of the event

PLEASE NOTE: There is a demonstration every Tuesday evening (3-8 pm) outside the main entrance to Menwith Hill’.

On Tuesday 4 October 2011 we organised an event for ‘Keep Space for Peace‘ week – called for by the Global Network Against Weapons and Power in Space.