Yearly Archives: 2000

Court Invitation

Catholic Peace Action

7 May 2000

Dear Friend,

22 May Court Invitation

From our witness at the MoD on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March, Scot Albrecht, Angela Broome and Dan Martin were eventually charged with writing ‘…upon a building without the consent of the owner.’

We entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ on 5 April.  Our day in court is Monday, 22 May, at 2 p.m.  The court is Bow Street Magistrate’s, near Covent Garden station (WC2).  We will meet outside the court for a few prayers and sharing of information at 1:30.  Please come if you can.

Unusually, we can now offer the whole Lenten MoD witness on video tape.  Maria Albrecht recorded the Ash Wednesday and St Patrick’s Day events, and will add a concluding few minutes to the tape during the prayers on the 22 May.  If you would like a copy of the tape, send œ7 to Maria and Scott Albrecht, 9 Vesta Ave., St Albans, Herts, AL1 3PQ.

We send heartfelt prayers of solidarity and gratitude to Virginia Moffat (wife of Chris Cole) and the many others who will continue the resistance on the same day we are in court.  (see following article).  May the Spirit of love and justice continue to transform our lives and world.

Catholic Peace Action

Dan and Carmel Martin, and Pat Gaffney

Time to Act

On 22nd May, my husband Chris, our daughter Beth & I will be heading to Aldermaston to join in the Trident Ploughshares week of action at the base. I am hoping to join in the planned blockade of the gates and am expecting to be arrested and probably charged with obstruction of the highway or some similar “crime”.

It is not often that I choose to make an act of civil disobedience, so when I do, the question of “why do it?” is always a very important one. Why bother sitting in a hard road in front of the gates of a nuclear weapons manufacturer ? Why put up with the  (minor) discomfort of arrest and tedious wait in a prison cell? Why risk a court appearance and a criminal record? And why this action and not another?

The answer to these questions is not a simple one, but it has it’s roots in my teenage years. I grew up in the height of the Cold War, when the threat of nuclear war felt so real that I would lie in bed sweating some nights if low flying aircraft went overhead. At the age of 15, like most of my friends I believed nuclear weapons to be wrong. We all knew about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and had enough knowledge of science to realise that the weapons we had then were even more deadly than those first bombs 35 years before. At the time my reasons for being opposed to nuclear weapons were 90% sheer terror (I truly believed Reagan, Thatcher and Brehznev were quite capable of ordering a nuclear war), and 10% muddled pacifism and a vague feeling that we shouldn’t inflict such a weapon on our so called “enemies”. I never did anything about it, and was content to express my views in discussions at school and home. I didn’t consider myself “political”, never joined CND or attended a protest (probably due to my father’s dire warnings about being photographed by MI5) and remained for many years one of the silent majority opposed to nuclear weapons.

It took until my 20’s, with the Cold War was seemingly over, and the threat of nuclear war apparently receded, for my terror to reduce enough for me to consider the arguments for and against nuclear weapons rationally. Over a period of several years and a great deal of wavering,  I came to two conclusions. The first was that the tenative pacifism of my teenage years was an essential part of my Christian faith and not an optional “nice idea”. The second was that whilst all weapons are evil, nuclear weapons are particularly so, their capacity to wipe out the whole of humankind  making them a blight on God’s Creation. Again, as a Christian, I have no choice but to be wholly and absolutely opposed to them.

Ten years after I reached these conclusions, my opposition to nuclear weapons has been limited to supporting the actions of others, and attending the odd vigil or protest.  But ever since I was pregnant with Beth, when Chris and I saw the chilling site of Trident passing down the Firth of Clyde one beautiful sunny morning, I have felt that sooner or later I should take some action. Since that day I have been greatly inspired by the regular TP2000 actions at Faslane base and the acts of disarmament made by TP2000 members and affiliated groups. I have thought about going up for a camp, but the practicalities of the distance, taking time off work and camping with a small child have put me off. 

Now I am pregnant with our second child, who is due to arrive in August, the week of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries. Once again I am overawed by the miracle of new life growing within me. And once again I am struck by the fact that nuclear weapons such as Trident bring the very opposite of that miracle to the world, the threat of death, not just for a few but for the whole world.  The presence of Trident in the world never seems more sacrilegous than now and so this feels a good time to act.  The proximity of Aldermaston to London means getting there will be more convenient, and the fact that I am due to go on maternity leave shortly means I will have more time to deal with possible court appearances.

So on the day that Dan, Angela and Scott are in court explaining their recent actions at the MoD, I will be placing myself in front of the gates at Aldermaston. By doing so, I will be acting in solidarity with my friends in court and with others so that on that day there will be no business as usual.  I will be reminding the makers of Trident and other nuclear weapons of the fate of the children.  The children of now, who starve in the world because we waste billions of pounds on a pointless arms race that can only end in destruction for everyone. And the children of the future, who deserve to grow and live in peace without the threat of such violence hanging over them.

Recently we have seen that the Western nuclear nations, and in particular, the United States, seem on the brink of increasing their nuclear armouries once more.  If anything the current situation feels as terrifying as the 80’s but today I can face that fear with faith and hope.  In the last 20 years we have seen momentous political changes in places where it felt no change would ever come.  The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid, the freeing of East Timor, have all happened because individuals were willing to take risks to confront an implacable and overpowering evil.  The experience of such changes convinces me that nuclear disarmament is not an impossible goal.  It will come about when enough ordinary people are willing to take actions to challenge the status quo. It is time for me to join in. It is time for me to act. I have been silent for long enough.

Virginia Moffatt