Thousands of campaigners will gather at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston this Monday, on the 50th anniversary of the historic first march from London, on Easter weekend 1958. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament expects up to 5,000 activists from across the country to ‘surround the base’ and join MPs, veteran campaigners and celebrities in the biggest protest at the Berkshire site in 20 years.
The ‘Bomb Stops Here’ protest of 24th March will celebrate 50 years of campaigning against nuclear weapons. Coaches from more than 50 locations will bring activists from as far as Aberdeen and Penzance, with many international campaigners also coming to Britain together with a Japanese delegation including survivors from the nuclear attacks of 1945.
The Japanese delegation will march, together with veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, on Easter Sunday from the former US Cruise Missile base at Greenham Common to AWE Aldermaston, where they will hand in a letter. On Easter Monday they will speak at Aldermaston alongside designer Vivienne Westwood, MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Jon Trickett, MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jill Evans, original marchers including Walter Wolfgang and Pat Arrowsmith and a survivor from the 1945 atomic bombings.
Campaigners will carry ‘lollipop style’ placards of the CND symbol, like those used on the first march. The symbol – which is now universally recognised, was first used in public on the march 50 years ago. Activity will be centered at six of the gates to the weapons-making complex, with each gate themed to mark a particular decade of anti-nuclear campaigning, from the 50s onwards. The gates will be run by CND’s national (Scottish and Welsh) and regional sections and, in the tradition of Greenham, one will be a women’s gate. Speakers will address each gate in turn, either from a float or by foot party, before the crowd of thousands spreads out along the fence-line to surround the four and a half mile perimeter fence. Other entertainment will include music and theatre. At 2.30pm, the gates will be symbolically sealed, and a ‘moment of noise’ will follow.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Public opinion nationally and internationally is turning against nuclear weapons. These are weapons of mass destruction which can kill hundreds of thousands of people with each bomb dropped. They represent death and destruction for humanity, not a way forward for peace and security. We call on our government to end Aldermaston’s role as a factory of death – not to pour billions into redeveloping it to make new nuclear weapons.
“The majority of Britons don’t support the costly replacement of Trident yet £5bn is being spent to upgrade Aldermaston. Parliament has not yet taken a decision to build new warheads. Why then are vast sums being poured into the Atomic Weapons Establishment in pre-emption of this? Our government must turn away from nuclear weapons. They are not what the people want.”
The protest takes place between 12 noon and 3:30 pm on Easter Monday. A media briefing followed by an opportunity to interview some of the speakers will take place at 11:00 am at Mackie’s Café – see note 6 for maps. Other interviews can be arranged throughout the event. The optimal gate for media to film at is Home Office gate. Call Ben Soffa, CND Press Officer on 07968 420859 for details.
Notes to Editors:For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.
Speakers: Kate Hudson (Chair of CND), Vivienne Westwood, Jeremy Corbyn MP (Vice-Chair of CND), Jon Trickett MP (Compass group of MPs), Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party, SE England), Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru, Wales), Bruce Kent (Vice President of CND), Pat Arrowsmith (organising secretary of first march), Walter Wolfgang (organising committee of first march and Labour National Executive member), Andrew Murray (Chair of the Stop the War Coalition)
Timings: 11 AM – Press briefing, Mackie’s Café, Paices Hill (A340) 12 noon – Protesters assemble at gates. Entertainment and speakers begin. Keynote speaks on both float and foot start at opposite ends of the site. 2 PM – Start surrounding base, spreading out from gates. 2.30 PM – Base surrounded, gates will be symbolically sealed with a ‘moment of noise’ from all present. 3 PM – Protesters return to gates, with ‘local’ gate-based activities continuing, coaches start to pick up participants.
A More4/Populus poll of February 2007 showed 72% of the public either supporting scrapping Trident now, or to keeping the current system, but not currently committing to having nuclear weapons in 20 years time.