Posts Tagged ‘TPNW’

For Refugee Rights and Against Trident

Sunday, February 27th, 2022

For Refugee Rights and Against Trident. I covered two marches in London on 27th February 2016, the first calling for safe passage for refugees seeking protection in Europe and following this a much larger march against government plans to waste £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons.

European March for Refugee Rights

The European March for Refugee Rights was part of a day of protests in cities across Europe demanding action by governments to provide secure safe passage routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe. They want an end to deaths at borders and drownings and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

Among those taking part were people who had been to aid refugees in Lesvos and at the Calais camps and others who had volunteered with Medicins Sans Frontiers in Syria. The protest was supported by many groups including the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Solidarity with Refugees, London2Calais, Migrants’ Rights Network, SOAS Solidarity with Refugees & Displaced People Soc, Wonder Foundation, Calais Action, UK Action for Refugees, Refugee Aid Initiative, No Borders and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.

This was a short march taking place unusually inside Hyde Park, gathering at Hyde Park Corner and walking up to Speakers Corner where there was a rally. This made it possible for those taking part to join the Stop Trident Rally which was starting from Marble Arch, and going down Park Lane on its way to Trafalgar Square. Some of the marchers decided to form a block to march in front of the main Stop Trident banner and march on to Trafalgar Square.

Stop Trident march stewards tried briefly to stop them but then gave up and halted their march for around ten minutes to create a gap between the two groups.

European March for Refugee Rights


Stop Trident March

According to CND there were 60,000 people marching from Marble Arch to a mass rally in Trafalgar Square, and although their estimate may have been a little on the high side, this was definitely a very large protest, starting with a densely packed crowd on Park Lane. When the rally began in Trafalgar Square the tail of the march was still around half a mile away, and I think many gave up before reaching the rally as the streets leading to it became blocked.

Few people outside the military and arms manufacturers – probably the most powerful of all lobbies in the country can really believe the expenditure of £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons is either necessary or cost-effective. The huge majority of nations in the world have no nuclear capability, and by December 2021, 59 states had ratified or acceded to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force on 22 January 2021.

Lindsey German, Stop the War, Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, SNP First Minister, Scotland and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas hold the Stop Trident banner

A national survey by Survation at the start of 2021 for CND showed 59% of the public supported the UK government signing up to the TPNW, including 50% of Conservative voters and 68% of Labour voters. An even higher 77% supported a ‘total ban on all nuclear weapons globally’ with majority support from young and old, in all regions of the country, from Conservative as well as Labour voters, leavers and remainers. The government remains resolutely opposed to the treaty.

This widespread opposition to nuclear weapons isn’t largely a matter of their cost but on both moral and pragmatic grounds. As CND say, using nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic global damage; these weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing and “it is clearer than ever that real security for Britain requires addressing the risks posed by the climate emergency and pandemics on a global scale.

Stop Trident March


Stop Trident Rally

Trafalgar square was unusually packed for the long rally that followed the march, with people listening and applauding a long list of speakers, including Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Leanne Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Kent, Christine Blower, Mark Serwotka and Tariq Ali, as well as many less well-known names. There were many marchers who found it impossible to get into the square.

Nicola Sturgeon First Minister Scotland

All the speakers opposed the spending of an estimated £180 billion or more on renewal of Trident which they dismissed as out of date, totally irrelevant to our defence and a complete waste of money which could be put to so much better use providing proper jobs and services.

It was a long wait, around two hours standing in the cold for the final speech by Jeremy Corbyn who had earlier in the day been speaking in Sheffield and whose train had been a little delayed. He was greeted by a tremendous response from the crowd, and gave a rousing speech to end the protest on a high note. Despite the dismissive remarks from many political commentators on the media, Corbyn is one of the most powerful political speakers of current years.

Stop Trident Rally


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End Nuclear Weapons Now

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Six years ago on 24 January 2015 I photographed a large protest in London calling on the UK to end its huge and pointless investment in nuclear weapons, calling for Trident to be scrapped and not replaced. We waste many billions on procuring and maintaining nuclear weapons – currently around £3 billion a year according to government estimates – on weapons that hopefully will never be used as the consequences would be too disastrous and also ultimately futile as it would lead to retaliation that inevitably would entirely destroy a small and densely populated country like ours.

Our nuclear weapons take up around 6% of the defence budget but offer no defence but are entirely a matter of prestige, something we use to continue to justify our continuing permanent seat on the UN Security Council as founding members under the 1945 UN Charter – along with China, France, Russia and the United States. And along with direct expenditure on the weapons we have also paid more for our electricity as the military nuclear weapon programme has depended on expensive civil nuclear power to provide materials.

Thanks to a sustained campaign by The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and others, the UN in 2017 adopted the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and last October this had been signed and ratified by the required 50 nations and so entered into force on 22 January 2021. Ireland and Austria are so far the only major European countries to have signed up, along with Mexico, but the majority of Caribbean and South American countries have ratified it (and most of the others signed but not yet ratified) among with others from around the world. Altogether 137 countries have now signed up, though 86 have yet to ratify. ICAN were awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its acheivement.

So far none of the nine states which actually have nuclear weapons – Russia, USA, France, UK, China, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea (in order of the number of warheads they hold) – have signed the up to TPNW. Nor have any of the other 27 NATO countries – essentially a part of the US military empire, many with US nuclear weapons on their soil. Only around another 20 states have yet to sign the TPNW.

ICAN has a list ‘What makes nuclear weapons the worst’, which makes the following points.

1 A single nuclear weapon can destroy a city and kill most of its people. Several nuclear explosions over modern cities would kill tens of millions of people. Casualties from a major nuclear war between the US and Russia would reach hundreds of millions.

2 The extreme destruction caused by nuclear weapons cannot be limited to military targets or to combatants.

3 Nuclear weapons produce ionizing radiation, which kills or sickens those exposed, contaminates the environment, and has long-term health consequences, including cancer and genetic damage.

4 Less than one percent of the nuclear weapons in the world could disrupt the global climate and threaten as many as two billion people with starvation in a nuclear famine. The thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by the US and Russia could bring about a nuclear winter, destroying the essential ecosystems on which all life depends.

5 Physicians and first responders would be unable to work in devastated, radioactively contaminated areas. Even a single nuclear detonation in a modern city would strain existing disaster relief resources to the breaking point; a nuclear war would overwhelm any relief system we could build in advance. Displaced populations from a nuclear war will produce a refugee crisis that is orders of magnitude larger than any we have ever experienced.

6 Whether or not they are detonated, nuclear weapons cause widespread harm to health and to the environment.

7 Spending on nuclear weapons detracts limited resources away from vital social services.

ICAN: catastrophic harm

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons includes a comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities. These include undertakings not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, deploy, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. It also has provisions for assistance to individuals affected by nuclear weapons testing and for environmental remediation.

Public opinion in the UK in a recent Survation Poll conducted for https://cnduk.org/tpnw/ CND showed 77% of the UK public support a total global ban on nuclear weapons and 59% want the British government to sign the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty.

CND Scrap Trident rally at Parliament
‘Wrap Up Trident’ surrounds Defence Ministry
Christian CND against Trident Replacement


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