Across Italy anti-war activists have blocked trains transporting U.S. Military equipment. The protests continued over a number of days and organisers say about 1000 activists were involved at different points throughout the country. 120 stopped a train moving from Vicenza to the US base near Pisa, forcing the train to take a different route. A spokesperson for the group known as 'I Disobbedienti'- the Disobedient- said "We are guarding all the train lines being used by the American Army to transport material from war this is serious because they're using the civilian transport network. There are 26 trains expected, and we want to block them because we don't want this war".
Britain is one of the main players in this war and anti-war activists there have been targeting military bases up and down the country. In early March 8 anarchists in Cardiff invaded the BAE Systems munitions factory at Glascoed in Wales. They scaled a 3m high fence with the help of a homemade rope ladder. Splitting into three groups and dressed in appropriate white overalls they proceeded to make an inspection of the site. After some time they were caught and escorted from the site, only to return later to make several large holes in the perimeter fence. Some of the group, once again, gained entry to the site.
The activists were arrested but released without charges, as BAE did not wish to press charges. The Cardiff Anarchist Network reports "The arms trade is so ashamed of the bloody business of death and destruction in which they deal that they are scared even to prosecute a rag-tag bunch of anarchist protestors for trespass and criminal damage, fearing the negative publicity it would garner them. Lessons of us all? Don't be scared of fences &endash; jump 'em and expose the dirty dealing of BAE and the arms trade worldwide".
Some people engaged in direct action by doing nothing. In the UK one in three reservists either asked to be excused from duty or failed to answer their call up papers. This is the highest percentage of 'refuseniks' in British Military History. In Pittsburg, US, a marine recruitment office was smashed during a breakaway from an anti-war march.
Two train drivers in Motherwell in Scotland refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition. The two are the only pair of drivers who were trained to take trains on the route from Glasgow to the Glen Douglas base on Scotland's west coast, and so were in a good position to strike directly at the build up to war. In Italy and Greece dockers refused to load military supplies and in Brazil dockers boycotted all British and US ships for a day.
Greenpeace sent the 'Rainbow Warrior' to block a section of the Rota naval base in Spain to prevent the US warship Cape Horn leaving for the Gulf. In Turkey they blocked the entrance to the Iskenderun Harbour with a truck in order to prevent a convoy of trucks carrying US military equipment from leaving. Two activists chained themselves to the top of the truck and four locked themselves behind the wheels. In Derby in England 14 activists entered the military port, occupying tanks and jeeps which were about to be sent to the Gulf.
The biggest bomber base in the UK, which is used for direct air raids on Iraq, is located at Fairford in Gloucestershire. Peace activists have been engaged in a steady campaign against its presence. The fence has been breached many times. On one occasion landing lights were destroyed on others the gates and parts of the fence were torn down. Activists who brought bicycles through the fence and cycled them up and down the runway blocked the runway at RAF Lakeheath. The runway at RAF Brize Norton was also blocked. 7 peace activists blocked the entrance to the Trident Refit Factory in Derby.
In January 70 activists blocked the enterances of the Northwood Military HQ. Three activists were arrested trying to break into the secret US spy base at Menwith Hill. A former British marine was arrested while trying to block the gates at Portmouth naval base. Anti-war demonstrators managed to get inside the RAF base at Feltwell, which is used in surveillance operations. In the Netherlands a member of the Plowshares group, armed with a sledgehammer, smashed three satellite dishes at a NATO airbase.
These are some of the many direct actions that have occurred in the last few months. In some cases a few people have struck, in others hundreds or thousands. On their own, none can stop the war. But each make it more difficult for the war machine to operate. We are faced with huge military power and the organisational force of state. Yet despite these obstacles we can have an effect. We are the fleas on the back of the dog. We are disobedient. We will not make it easy for them.
More details on these and other Direct Actions
against the war at
This edition is No75 published in March 2003