They brought messages of peace and condemnation through the verses of popular festive tunes with specially-modified lyrics and called for the suspension of work on existing nuclear warheads and on the construction of new facilities and research to develop a new generation of warheads at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, south-east England.
As well as serenading employees of the arms giant and fellow occupants of the building they share, participants in the protest displayed banners and distributed hundreds of leaflets to passers-by, many of whom stopped to chat and signed petitions to the Government calling on it to abandon Trident and its planned replacement and sign up to a Nuclear Weapons Convention – a global ban on nuclear arms – and wrote messages on a large Christmas card which was then handed in to the company.
One of the protesters, wearing a Father Christmas mask and hat and a white overall marked “Weapons Inspector” lay down “dead” in a plastic bodybag in front of his singing colleagues outside Lockheed Martin’s building to symbolise the victims of nuclear weapons, including the approximately two hundred thousand casualties from the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and those from any future nuclear strikes, as well as nuclear bomb test veterans and other victims of leukaemias, lymphomas and other cancers caused by exposure to radioactive discharges from AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield, Sellafield in Cumbria, Rolls Royce Raynesway in Derby and other nuclear sites, and by the widespread use of radioactive and toxic “depleted” uranium shells in recent conflicts, including Iraq, the Balkans and possibly Afghanistan.
Trident Ploughshares member Daniel Viesnik, 35, from north London said yesterday, *“Christmas is a time of year when we would all do well to reflect on what we personally can do to bring about peace and justice in the world in these increasingly troubled times.*
*“As politicians from around the world negotiate in Copenhagen for a new treaty to avert climate catastrophe, we must not forget that the many thousands of nuclear weapons that still exist in the world could wipe out humanity and destroy the biosphere in a flash.*
*“Instead of wasting tens of billions of pounds on a new generation of nuclear weapons and submarines, we should be investing in developing a sustainable, nuclear-free society, in education, in health and social care and other socially useful things.”*
*“We welcome recent initiatives by the Prime Minister, President Obama, receiving his Noble Peace Prize in Oslo today, on Human Rights Day, and others in the direction of achieving a nuclear weapons-free world, but the UK must show leadership by taking its submarines off patrol and abandoning its Trident nuclear white elephants.”*