Author Archives: Henrietta

NEW REFORMATION PROTEST

New action from Christian Climate Action

Christian Climate Action

IMG_7792.JPGOn Monday 4th December, 12 noon, Pope Francis and Martin Luther visited the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to call for a radical reformation of the economy, to protect human-kind and abundant life on earth.

IMG_7794.JPGIt is the third year in a row that CCA has visited the department responsible for climate change to remind our government of their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

We visited BEIS because we disagree with the premise of the department, that climate instability should be solved as part of a strategy for economic growth.  We don’t think that the threat to the viability of life on earth should be dealt with within an immovable economic ideology, but should be the number one priority, choosing the economic system that is fair and just and gives us the best chance of survival. As Pope Francis has said, ‘money should serve, not rule.’

IMG_7806While…

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“We did not want to take this action, but were compelled to do so”

Supporters outside court

After the not guilty verdict, outside Burnley Magistrates Court

This afternoon, (26 October) Reverend Daniel Woodhouse and Sam Walton, a Quaker activist from London, were found not guilty at Burnley Magistrates Court, following their arrest for trying to disarm Typhoon fighter jets at BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire on 29 January 2017.

Their aim had been to stop the jets, which had Saudi markings painted on them, from going to Saudi Arabia where they would be used to support the ongoing bombing of Yemen. Sam and Daniel successfully argued that their intention was to save innocent lives and prevent war crimes, by physically disabling the warplanes.

The two campaigners broke in via a fence on the perimeter of the site, and got within five feet of the warplanes before being stopped by BAE security.

The court heard evidence about the scale of the brutal bombardment, and the many serious accusations of war crimes that have been made against the Royal Saudi Air Force.

In delivering comments on his judgement District Judge James Clarke said: “They were impressive and eloquent men who held strong views about what they were doing and what they wanted to achieve. They impressed me as being natural in their delivery and honest throughout their evidence…”

“I heard about their belief of BAE’s role in the supply of aircraft to Saudi Arabia. I heard about their beliefs regarding the events in Yemen, that they include the death of civilians and the destruction of civilian property, and the basis for their belief that this amounted to war crimes…”

“However, having considered in full the defence under sec 5 Criminal Damage Act 1971, I find the defendants not guilty.”

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:

  • £2.6 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)    

  • £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)    

  • £572,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)    

In a joint statement, Sam and Daniel said: “We did not want to take this action, but were compelled to do so in order to stop the UK government’s complicity in the destruction of Yemen. Thousands of people have been killed in the brutal bombardment, while companies like BAE Systems have profited every step of the way.

This vindication from the Courts is further evidence of the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy that underpins so much of UK foreign policy. It is time for the government to stop putting arms company profits ahead of human rights. We do not regret taking action, and would do it again in a heartbeat. The only thing we regret is that we were not able to finish the job.”

Christians arrested at arms fair protest

Yesterday morning (5th September) members of Christian peace groups, Put Down the Sword and the London Catholic Worker, were arrested after successfully blocking the service road leading to the Excel Centre, using arm tubes.

The activists intention was to create a prayer space for faith groups to gather and witness against the arms trade. The blockade formed the basis of a prayer space decorated with prayer flags and banners.

Following this action there were other actions in which members of Put Down the Sword abseiled from the bridge and Quakers blocked the road with a massive were arrested. Altogether peace activists held the road for [xx] hours while faith groups from the Quakers, Pax Christi, Wake Up, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship said prayers and bore witness. There was a bring and share lunch for all faiths.

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The names of the those taking part in the direct action are Chris Cole, (53) of Oxford, and Nora Ziegler (26) Joanna Frew (38) and Henrietta Cullinan (56) all from London.

Chris Cole [53] says,

At a time when war has become so normalised that it has faded into the background, its more important than ever that we say a clear and simple ‘no more war preparations ‘.

Joanna Frew [38] writes,

‘Like Theresa May, I am a vicar’s daughter. But unlike Theresa May, I see the principles of the Christian faith as an active commitment to non-violence. Jesus risked ridicule, imprisonment, torture and, ultimately, a political death sentence to teach us radical non-violence and peacemaking.

The arms fair, supported by Theresa May’s government, contributes to war, violence and oppression in countries where conflict and suffering is beyond imaginable, such as Yemen, Bahrain and Israel-Palestine. DSEi also helps the border security industry to push equipment and ideas that deal with migration as a crime that needs to be stopped. The Bible is full of examples of welcoming the stranger and providing hospitality. We are here to say that this is the kind of welcome we want to see, not one for dictators and murderous regimes.’

For further information on the protests see:

Stop the Arms Fair https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk

For further information on the two groups see:

London Catholic Worker http://www.londoncatholicworker.org

Put Down the Sword https://putdownthesword.wordpress.com

Activists enter US military base in Germany to challenge nuclear weapons deployment

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Catholic Worker Susan Crane amongst five international activists who entered nuclear weapons base, Buchel Air Base in Germany

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
An international group of five peace activists got far inside the
Büchel Air Base in Büchel, Germany, after nightfall on Monday, 17 July
2017.

For the first time in a 21-year long series of protests against the deployment of US B61 thermonuclear bombs there, the activists climbed on top of one large bunker used for nuclear weapons. After cutting through two exterior fences and two more fences surrounding the large earth-covered bunkers, the five spent more than one hour unnoticed sitting on the bunker. No notice of the group was taken until after two
of them climbed down to write “DISARM” on the bunker’s metal front door, setting off an alarm. Surrounded by vehicles and guards searching on foot with flashlights, the five eventually alerted guards to their presence by singing, causing the guards to look up. The internationals were eventually taken into custody more than two hours after entering
the base.
The five, Steve Baggarly, 52, of Virginia; Susan Crane, 73, of California; John LaForge, 61, and Bonnie Urfer, 65, both of Wisconsin; and Gerd Buentzly, 67, of Germany, said in a statement titled All Nuclear Weapons are Illegal and Immoral: “We [..] have entered Büchel Air Base to condemn the nuclear weapons deployed here. We ask Germany to either disarm the weapons or send them back to the United States for disarming.”
An hour after being detained, searched and photographed, the five were
released through the base’s main entrance.

Activists from the United States came to Büchel to highlight the plans
for modernization of the B61. Ralph Hutchison, from Oak Ridge,
Tennessee, where a new thermonuclear core for the “B61-Model12” will be
manufactured, said: “It is important that we show this is a global
movement. The resistance to nuclear weapons is not limited to one
country. The new B61-12 program will cost more than $12 billion, and
when production starts sometime after 2020, Büchel is scheduled to get
new nuclear bombs.”
“The idea that nuclear weapons provide security is a fiction believed
by millions,” said John LaForge, of Nukewatch in Wisconsin, which
organized the 11-person delegation from the US. “Tonight we showed that
the image of a secure nuclear weapons facility is also a fiction,” he said.
“Everyone’s children and everyone’s grandchildren have a right to a
nuclear weapons-free world. All of creation calls us to life, to
disarmament, to a world of justice—for the poor, the Earth, and the
children,” read the statement, released in both German and English.

Susan Crane, a Plowshares activist from the Redwood City, Calif.
Catholic Worker, said, “The Commander of the Base, Oberstleutnant
Schlemmer, came to meet us at 3:00 a.m. and told us what we did was very
dangerous and we might have been shot. We believe the greater danger
comes from the nuclear bombs that are deployed at the Base.”

Büchel is Everywhere, Nuclear Weapons Free Now! continues until August
9, 2017 and will close with a commemoration of the US atomic bombing of
Nagasaki, Japan.

Message of Support from Dorothy Day’s granddaughter

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One of over fifty Christian activists signing the Faith and Resistance Pledge at the launch

Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day sent us this message of support:

FAITH-BASED NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION

I write in support of the Nonviolent Direct Action Network being launched this month in the UK. As disciples of Christ in His two thousand year old movement, we strain to hear the voice of God guiding us, giving us courage, helping us to walk while holding “enemy” love. We need each other in community as we follow our daily practice of the works of mercy. The best way to visit the prisoner is to be in prison.

Our tears are a form of prayer and protest in our awareness of the suffering we inflict on the so-called “other”. Our position of privilege and power reminds us that we are complicit in the sins of violence. Our high standard of living relies on the exploits of war.

“Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted.” We are blessed in our rising up in protest against the misuse of nation/state law that refutes God’s law of loving our neighbor as ourselves. Christ was executed through devious yet “legal” means. We continue to practice this murder on a massive scale in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and many other countries, even in the streets of our own western democracies.

Our small but persistent actions may appear to be weak, but remember; God hears just one voice raised up against evil. Our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock, North Dakota are showing us the way. Many other people around the world are standing up and are paying a harsh price. Like our Christian forerunners in the early centuries of the Church, we too can place ourselves in solidarity with the oppressed. We must not idolize the state system by complying with the lust-filled force; we want heaven on earth here and now.

Message of support from Martin Sheen

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Gathering of activists at Friends House yesterday

Martin Sheen, best known for his role in Apocalypse Now, sent a message of support for new Faith and Resistance Network:

Dear friends,

When we accept the cup as offered, not altered, we join a powerful world-wide community who share a common vision of hope and a deep thirst for that mysterious nourishment called grace, which soars up and flows out of a collective memory from all those times and places where that mighty blessing descended on those outrageous and necessary acts of compassionate confrontation,  those heroic acts of non-violent resistance that take our breath away and renew the face of the earth!

Peace be with you

Martin sheen

 

Bishop sends message of support to Christian activists, willing to risk arrest

Over fifty Christians, who have pledged to take nonviolent direct action for the sake of justice and peace, have gained the support of Thomas McMahon, Bishop Emeritus of Brentwood.

The activists, of all denominations and from all parts of the country, campaign on issues of justice, peace and climate change, and consider nonviolent direct action to be an unavoidable consequence of following Jesus’ teaching today. They will gather to take the pledge at the launch of the Faith and Resistance Network on Saturday 15th July at Friends House, Euston Road, London.

In a statement to be read out on Saturday, Thomas McMahon says,

‘I have long believed that when the Gospel loses its prophetic element it has lost its cutting edge. A prophet is very much God’s person who is prepared to challenge in his name even though uncomfortable. They are not usually popular people and certainly disturb our conscience. There are many ways of giving prophetic witness  and non violent direct action can be one of them.’

The pledge was initiated by the Faith and Resistance Network whose aim is to grow the Christian nonviolent action movement, widen recognition of its wide ranging work and welcome new activists.

Martin Newell, one of the organisers, says,

‘Nonviolence is at the heart of the Christian Gospel. This network will raise the profile of Christians today putting Jesus’ radical teaching into action’

The network is intended to support activists as they embark on direct action, through providing training, contact with the media and legal support. It has been set up by experienced activists who have themselves been arrested, charged and convicted and experienced time in prison for the sake of their faithfulness to the teaching of Christ.

Symon Hill, author of The Upside Down Bible writes,

‘Jesus exemplified active nonviolence and resistance to the sins of violence, oppression and inequality. I continue to seek God’s guidance and am unsure of the way forward, but I don’t doubt that active nonviolence is an essential element of seeking to follow Jesus. It is a consequence of attempting to live out love for God and love for our neighbours.’

At the launch pledgers and their friends will hear from Andrea Needham, ploughshares activist and author of The Hammer Blow and Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse, who recently attempted to disarm a warplane, bound for Saudi Arabia, at RAF Warton, Lancashire.

The pledgers look forward to the No Faith in War Day, which will see people of all faiths oppose the DSEi arms fair in September.

Christians disrupt military conference

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Christian campaigners have disrupted an arms industry-funded event at Church House Westminster just as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is due to speak.

A few minutes ago, they blockaded the main entrance to the building, insisting that a Christian venue should not be hosting the annual Land Warfare Conference.

Senior army officers and arms industry personnel are now clustered around the steps and unable to get through the doorway. It is unclear whether Fallon’s speech, due at 9.00am, will go ahead as planned.

The conference is organised by a pro-military thinktank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and sponsored by arms companies including Airbus Defence and L3.

Along with the small number of Christians blocking the doorway, others are standing by offering support, with banners declaring “Evict the arms dealers”, “Anglicans against arms” and quoting Jesus’ words, “All who take up the sword will die by the sword”.

The Christians blocking the entrance say they have taken nonviolent direct action after five years of attempting to engage with the Church House authorities, who have repeatedly ignored letters, refused to hold meetings and even blocked polite critics on social media.

Christian author Symon Hill is one of those blockading the entrance. Before the protest, he said:

“I am not taking this action lightly. Church House have consistently refused to listen or talk with us, ignored the points we have raised and even given misleading statements to the media. As those with power refuse to listen, we have taken nonviolent direct action, putting our bodies in the way of the evil that is going on at Church House today.”

Eve Waterside, a member of the Church of England living in Oxford, is also taking part. She explained:

“Jesus lived a life of active nonviolence. We are called to follow his example, however fallibly. A leading Christian conference centre is being used to plan large-scale violence, funded by companies that arm some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. I am sad and angry to see the church of which I am part profiting from war and the arms trade.”

Church House claim that Church House Westminster (the conferencing wing of Church House) is a separate business. However, it is a wholly owned subsidiary business of Church House Corporation, whose president is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at staged wedding

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Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at staged wedding

On Monday 8th May, Christian Climate Action staged a wedding between the Church of England and fossil fuels to protest the Church’s continued investment in the industry. The sketch and short prayer vigil took place on the steps of Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster.

The event, which was part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, aimed to encourage the Church of England to show moral leadership and divest from the fossil fuel industry. Currently the Church is pursuing a policy of engagement – holding shares in the industry and using shareholder status to try to change the industry’s behaviour. Christian Climate Action believes that engagement cannot work because there is not enough time for it to prevent runaway climate change having a devastating impact on people and God’s creation. They also do not think it is right for the Church to profit from an industry that is making money from wrecking the earth’s climate.

In the sketch, where the Bride of Christ, representing the Church of England, was to be given in marriage to the fossil fuel industry, there was an objection from Jesus Christ, who persuaded the bride to break her engagement with fossil fuels and seek forgiveness.

After the play the guests heard about the impact of coal mining and climate change in Colombia and Uganda before joining in a short prayer vigil.

Diana Salazar, of Colombia Solidarity Campaign, said, ‘the Church of England invests in BHP Billiton and Anglo American, two of the biggest mining companies in the world, and both with significant coal mining operations. They are among the owners of the Cerrejon opencast coal mine in Colombia, which has a history of forced evictions of farming communities and destruction of rural livelihoods. The mine has a massive impact on water in an arid region, and when mine management are challenged about this they try to evade responsibility by blaming water shortages on climate change. Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, primarily coal, so this is rather an ironic excuse for a coal company to use.’

Jim Green talked about his recent visit to rural Uganda with a Christian Development Agency. ‘Every community we visited were talking about the effect of climate change. For some it meant having only one meal a day, or, in some cases, one meal every two days.’

The Church Commissioners were ‘invited’ to the ‘wedding’ but were unable to attend.  Before leaving, Holly Petersen, dressed as the Bride of Christ, handed in some chocolate hearts and a card to the Church Commissioners’ Communications Officer, asking them to conclude the Church’s engagement with fossil fuels.

Caroline Harmon of Christian Climate Action said:

The Church of England claims to be a responsible investor, and has a strong moral voice. It claims to understand the threat and urgency of climate change, yet instead of divesting from the biggest fossil fuel companies, they continue to engage. As part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation we invited the Church Commissioners to the wedding of the Church and fossil fuels, where we highlighted the impacts of climate change and prayed for more urgent action.’

More photos are available here