Six activists arrested for blockading Downing Street on 7 October 2011
Photographs from the action can be seen here or watch the video:
Six anti-war activists, associated with the pacifist Catholic Worker movement, were arrested Friday morning October 7th after a nonviolent resistance action in Downing Street, London to mark the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. A dozen other anti-war activists gathered in support of the action and against the war, reading the names of Afghan and British war dead around a banner which read:
Mourn the Dead. Heal the Wounded. End the Wars!
Red paint was poured on the pavement outside the gates to symbolise the blood of the 25,000 civilians and 2,500 soldiers who have been killed or wounded in the last decade. The activists then blockaded the entrance to Downing Street for an hour before they were arrested. The six are: John Lynes, Ciaron O’Reilly, Maya Evans, Ben Griffin, Chris Cole and Martin Newell.
In a jointly prepared statement the six declared:
Today, 7 October 2011, marks ten years of non-stop war. For a decade British, US, Australian and NATO forces have been engaged in an on-going war in Afghanistan which has caused the deaths of thousands , wounded countless numbers, destroyed local communities and uprooted families.
The war has been going on so long we have forgotten the reason it started. Was it to capture Bin Laden? To remove the Taliban? To bring peace and human rights to the people of Afghanistan? To make the world a safer place? All these reasons – and more – have been used to try to justify the death and destruction.
The reality of course is that war cannot bring peace, nor armed violence solve political problems. Just the opposite in fact. Ten years is much more than enough time to learn this lesson. Let us bury the dead, heal the wounded and end the war.
By coincidence today also marks the 500th day of US Army Specialist Bradley Manning’s imprisonment. Bradley has been accused of releasing footage of a US helicopter gunship massacre of civilians in Iraq (see the footage at http://www.collateralmurder.com). We call for the immediate release of Bradley Manning and also for the release of British military refusenik Michael Lyons.
The six were arrested, handcuffed, transported to West End police station, held for 11 hours under suspicion of “causing criminal damage”.
Next Court Appearance – Nov 1st. 2011
Those awaiting an initial court appearance on November 1st are presently bailed away from Westminister. The defendants include Fr. Martin Newell and Ciaron O’Reilly who are live in community members at Giuseppe Conlon Catholic Worker House in Harringay, London, Veterans for Peace member Ben Griffin who is a British veteran of wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, John Lyons an 82 year old Quaker from Hastings who has been active in CPT teams in Palestine, Maya Evans from Hastings and Peace News and Chris Cole, an Oxford based Catholic anti-war activist, father of three who runs the Drone Wars website.
Independent Catholic News
London Catholic Worker
See also this more complete, if shakier, video report of the action: