Five nonviolent protestors who face court this week have said that they showed “exactly the same commitment” as US President Barack Obama, whose work towards “a world without nuclear weapons” won him the Nobel Peace Prize.
The five were arrested at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, Berkshire in October 2008 after lying down in one of the entrances and successfully preventing vehicles driving in for more than an hour. The UK's nuclear warheads are developed and maintained at the base.
The protestors, who are members of Trident Ploughshares, will be tried at Reading Magistrates' Court on Wednesday and Thursday this week (21 and 22 October).
“Despite all the concern about nuclear proliferation and talk of a nuclear-free world, this government is developing a new generation of nuclear weapons” said defendant Emma Sangster, “I believe we all must do what we can to stop this process.”
She will be joined in the dock by Renate Zauner, Barbara Dowling, Jean Oliver and David Polden.
The defendants allege that the activities at the Aldermaston base contravene the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have submitted to the court a report by Dr Nick Ritchie of the University of Bradford to underpin their claims.
“If I simply watch while crimes against humanity and war crimes are being prepared at Aldermaston and don’t act, then I am co-responsible for the preparation of these crimes and for the possible deaths of millions of people” explained Zauner.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is planning to push ahead with the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system, in the face of opposition from churches, faith groups, NGOs and trades unions. Recent months have seen a spate of opinion polls showing the majority of the British public to be against the plan.
During the Parliamentary recess in September, the government announced an extra £1 billion per annum of taxpayers' money for Aldermaston, despite the recession.