On Tuesday 10 December a group of peace activists gathered at the People’s History Museum. They worked with artist David Perkins to explore our peace collections and create the installation Another gentle season. You can find out more about the installation on our website, and view images of the workshop on our flickr site.
This guest post by volunteer Katy Haldenby explains why we wanted to focus on our peace collections for this latest Play Your Part pop up.
Recently, an article looking at the lenient sentencing of a group of six anti-drone protestors came to our attention. The article has strong ties between both our collection and the Snapshot on Greenham Common which ran in our Archive and Study Centre on Monday 2 December. The article described how protestors, made up from the activist groups Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Drone Campaign Network and War on Want, broke into RAF Waddington in June of this year and walked around for close to an hour distributing leaflets and planting a peace garden. RAF Waddington is the first unmanned drones base in the United Kingdom. Reaper aircrafts, stationed in Afghanistan are operated from this base. Such aircrafts carry laser guided bombs and missiles. The group of six individuals protesting against these drones were fined just £100 for various damage and compensation costs, which a member of the protest group, Anglican Pastor Keith Hebden, saw as an encouragement for others to carry out similar anti-drone activism. The judge issuing the fine commended the individuals on being ‘dutiful people’ and made note of his ‘heavy heart’ as he declared the sentence.
In Main Gallery Two, there is an area devoted to groups that have in the past protested against war, in favour of peace. Our photograph collection also documents a variety of such group demonstrations. This image from our collection is of a CND March from 26 October 1980.
In this same gallery there are also posters from another group connected to the RAF Waddington anti-drone protest, Stop the War Coalition. This Troops Out poster was produced to oppose Britain and the United States’ War on Terror in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This poster was tied to railings opposite Downing Street on 27 June 2007 when Tony Blair left office.
Further information on the groups whose members were involved in the RAF Waddington anti-drone protest:
– Stop the War Coalition
Stop the War Coalition was founded in September 2001, shortly after 9/11 when George W Bush announced the War on Terror. Since this time the group has been set on ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing troops home and forcing the British Government to change foreign policies. The group have initiated many campaigns around these issues and are committed to opposing sanctions and military attacks on Iran, supporting Palestinian rights, opposing racism and defending civil liberties. Stop the War Coalition has organised around 40 national demonstrations. (http://www.stopwar.org.uk/)
CND campaigns non-violently to achieve British nuclear disarmament and to rid the world of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. The group are also working to secure an International Nuclear Weapons Convention, which will ban nuclear weapons globally. CND’s other campaigns include opposition to NATO and its nuclear policies, and the prevention and cessation of wars in which nuclear weapons may be used. (http://www.cnduk.org/)
– The Drone Campaign Network
The Drone Campaign Network is a UK based network of organisations, academics and individuals working together to share information and coordinate collective action in relation to military drones. (http://dronecampaignnetwork.wordpress.com/)
– War on Want
War on Want fight poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalisation. The group campaign for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice. War on Want work with groups from around the world who are fighting for change. (http://www.waronwant.org/)
Do you agree with the lenient sentencing of this protest group? Do you think, like Anglican Pastor Keith Hebden that this sentence will encourage others to carry out similar demonstrations?
If you would like to find out more about our peace collections, or see our new temporary installation which was inspired by the museum’s Peace collection and called Another gentle season, have a break from your Christmas shopping and pop in to the museum!