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Year 2001 No. 82, May 16, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Protests at Nuclear Bomb Factory

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Protests at Nuclear Bomb Factory

Forthcoming Events:
Vigil against Star Wars
Public Seminar on NATO, the Balkans and the New World Order

Second Inquest on Deptford Fire-Bombing after 20 Years

Universities Restrict Students over Fees Payments

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Protests at Nuclear Bomb Factory

Between May 10 and 15, continuous protests were held at the nuclear bomb factory at Aldermaston, Berkshire, and at nearby Reading in the south of England. The events were organised by Trident Ploughshares backed by London Region CND.

Aldermaston manufactures and services all British nuclear weapons and is currently working on methods to upgrade them. This is despite the fact that last year the British government bowed to ever-mounting international pressure and agreed to a declaration which included an "…unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament…".

Aldermaston was set up following the secret start of the British nuclear bomb programme in the late 1940s which had the purpose of "keeping Britain great" and continues under the present government with its aim of "making Britain great again".

A special protest camp was set up outside the factory for the whole six-day period and the continuing monthly Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp was held there at the same time.

On Saturday, May 12, there was a march through Reading followed by a public mock trial of the Aldermaston factory.

Monday, May 14, saw a mass protest at the main gate and at other places around the factory involving some 150 people.

However, despite extensive agreement beforehand between the organisers and the police over management of events, on the day the police issued a blanket ban under the Public Order Act 1986 on all protests other than one they themselves specified in a car park hidden well away from public view. As a result, about 52 people were arrested, mostly for defying the ban.

Those taking part in the protests came from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, but most prominent among them were the youth.

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Forthcoming Events:

Vigil against Star Wars

London CND and Labour CND are organising a Vigil Against Star Wars in Parliament Square, on the island inside the Square, to which all concerned are invited. The slogans of the vigil are: Stop the Nuclear Arms Race; No British Bases for Star Wars.

The organisers say that the US "missile defence" (MD) programme violates the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), a cornerstone of nuclear arms limitation agreements. The United Nations is calling for full and strict compliance with the AMB Treaty.

CND is urging the coming British government to declare its support for the ABM Treaty and make a clear commitment that neither Fylingdales, Menwith Hill nor any other facility in Britain will be used to develop or support the MD programme.

The Vigil is being held on Tuesday, May 29, 2001, from 5-7 pm. Subsequently, a vigil will be held on the last Tuesday of every month (June 26, July 31, …) between the same times.

For more information, contact London CND on 020 7607 2302, Labour CND on 020 7820 9709, or e-mail

Public Seminar on NATO, the Balkans and the New World Order

The Committee for Peace in the Balkans is holding a Public Seminar on Tuesday, June 26. The subject of the Seminar is: NATO’s war crimes tribunal: the ICTY’s assault on national sovereignty. The ICTY is the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Alice Mahon with Mark Littman QC will present the seminar, which is to be held on 7pm at the House of Commons, details to be confirmed.

For further details, contact the Committee for Peace in the Balkans, telephone: 020 7582 6263, email:; website:

Article Index

Second Inquest on Deptford Fire-Bombing after 20 Years

The Metropolitan Police have announced that they are to recommend a second inquest into the deaths of 14 West Indian youth in the fire at 439 New Cross Road, South London, on January 18, 1981.

It is reported that a forensic scientist taking part in a new investigation has concluded that the fire was arson, and that it started in an armchair by a window. Previously, the police had held that since the evidence pointed to the armchair as the seat of the fire, it could not have been arson.

More than 50 young people had been at a party when the blaze took hold. The police at the time had refused to treat the crime as a racist attack, spreading rumours that the West Indian youth "may have started the fire themselves" or that it was "an accident". In 1983, an inquest returned open verdicts on those who died, and in 1985 the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that the file on the deaths was being closed, saying that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of the fire, and in the wake of a review of the original investigation in the light of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a review which began in 1997, the officers from Scotland Yard’s Racial and Violent Crime Task Force have met the victims families to tell them that there are grounds to support an application for a second inquest.

George Francis, chairman of the New Cross Fire Parents Committee, said the news was "light at the end of the tunnel" for the families. He said, "It is a great relief for us because it has been going on for two decades."

It should be remembered that at the very time that the firebombing took place in 1981, the British Nationality Bill was going through parliament. It is this Act which deliberately mixes up the notions of nationality and citizenship, and demonstrates the racist nature of the British state which will not grant equality in law to all nations and nationalities.

WDIE joins with all those who are continuing to demand justice for the death of the young West Indian people 20 years ago, and for an end to all state organised racism and violence.

Article Index

Universities Restrict Students over Fees Payments

Two universities in the West Midlands have informed students that they will be sanctioned over non-payment of fees. The University of Central England has told students that they will not be able to attend lectures, have exams marked and they will not be able to use university facilities unless fees are paid.

Similarly, Coventry University has announced comparable measures on May 15. More than 600 students have still not been able to pay fees in Coventry and they have already been excluded from lectures as a result.

The number of students from working class backgrounds who cannot survive without grants and fees being paid has drastically risen. Driven by Tony Blair’s "Third Way" politics, New Labour introduced payment of fees and extended the loans system. The intention has been to make most students fend for themselves.

Withdrawing from its obligation for higher education, the government is passing over responsibility piecemeal to the private sector for funding. The demand remains for society to fully fund education and make it free at the point of delivery for all. Grants need to be restored and fees should be paid without the need for loans.

The National Union of Students is renewing its call for more flexibility, allowing more time for bills to be settled. Area Convenor for the NUS, Nick Parrott, says he hopes a compromise can be reached.

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