Three Catholics stand trial for peaceful protest against nukes

By staff writers
18 May 2011

Three Christians, including a Catholic priest, are preparing to stand trial following a peaceful protest against nuclear weapons at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston in Berkshire, England.

Father Martin Newell, Susan Clarkson and Chris Cole will all appear at Newbury Magistrates' Court at 9.30am on Tuesday 24 May.

The three Roman Catholics created a gate in the outer fence of the Aldermaston base in September 2010, saying that they were inspired by the teachings of Jesus. They are are charged with criminal damage and criminal trespass.

A group of Christians opposed to nuclear weapons have declared 24 May to be a day of fasting and prayer in support of those who are standing trial.

In a statement released at the time, the three activists said, “We come today, to the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, to open a new gateway into this tightly guarded factory of death".

They explained, "We come inspired by the message of Jesus in the Gospels: to love our enemies, to be peacemakers and to live and act nonviolently at all times".

Their statement concluded, "We believe that AWE Aldermaston and its extensive and expensive new development programme needs to be exposed for what it is: a factory for the creation of weapons of mass destruction which have the power to destroy this beautiful world, given to us by God, our loving creator, to care and tend.”

The three defendants will argue that their actions were reasonable, appropriate, and legitimate given that AWE Aldermaston continues to research, develop and test nuclear weapons. The action was also part of worldwide celebration of the 30th anniversary of the first ‘Ploughshares’ action and coincided with a Trident Ploughshares Summer Camp.

Susan Clarkson and Chris Cole live in Oxford, while Martin Newell lives in London. Newell and Clarkson are part of the Catholic Worker movement.

[Ekk/1]

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