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Anti-War Activists Disrupt NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh

Trident Ploughshares Press Release 17 November, 2009 - For immediate release

Just after eight thirty this morning, several members of Trident ploughshares blocked the entrance of the Edinburgh International Conference Center for quarter of an hour as Parliamentarians from NATO countries met for the final session of the assembly. Foreign Secretary David Milliband and the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen were due to speak following a minute’s silence. The protesters wore shirts emblazoned with the images of wounded and traumatized Afghan children, graphically demonstrating the fact that NATO’s war in Afghanistan is killing innocent civilians and traumatizing children in violation of international law. They recited the names of Afghan civilians who have died since the war began. Several protesters were blocking the entrance to the Conference Centre so that Parliamentarians could see them on their way into the session or from the escalators inside the building. Police arrested six of them.

The protesters called for an immediate moratorium on drone and air strikes, an end to NATO’s war in Afghanistan, withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, investment in humanitarian aid, disarmament of NATO nuclear weapons, a halt to the expansion of and the dissolution of NATO.

A statement from Trident Ploughshares read:

We Will Not Be Silent Action at NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Today the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is having a one minute silence which it claims is a ‘mark of respect to all those who have been affected by the conflict in Afghanistan.’ This hypocrisy must not go unchallenged. NATO is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Its war has forced five million people to flee to refugee camps. To claim to “respect” those affected while planning to send in yet more troops, which will inevitably lead to more civilian deaths, is an affront to the Afghan people and an insult to the families of those who have been killed. But we will not be silent. In the name of the innocent civilians who have died in this tragic and foolish war we call for an immediate moratorium on drone and air strikes, an end to NATO’s war in Afghanistan, withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and investment in humanitarian aid, a halt to the expansion of and, finally, the dissolution of NATO.

Since the US/NATO war in Afghanistan began eight years ago more than 7,000 civilians have died and countless innocents wounded and traumatized. On Friday Gordon Brown announced plans to send 5,000 more NATO troops into the conflict in which more than 200 UK soldiers have died. And Barack Obama is poised to announce that the US will send some 34,000 troops. Every time air and drone strikes kill civilians more people will turn against NATO and the UK and the US. Eight years of war have failed to accomplish anything. Stepping up the war is folly and will only increase terrorism. Troop increases and the creation of a larger Afghan police and army will not bring peace to Afghanistan. We should be putting more resources into humanitarian aid, building schools and hospitals, providing doctors and teachers. That is the way to build peace, not by sending in more troops.

We also call upon NATO to disarm its nuclear weapons. Trident - with around 160 warheads, each ten times as destructive as the Hiroshima bomb - is assigned to NATO, and the US deploys hundreds of nuclear weapons at bases across Europe under the NATO alliance. This is in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which nuclear weapons states are obligated to bring to a conclusion negotiations for disarmament of nuclear weapons. NATO’s policy of deterrence threatens global peace and security. As long as NATO continues to rely on nuclear weapons for security other countries will want them too. Moreover the people of Scotland and our Scottish Parliament have rejected Trident. It is encouraging that Obama and Medvedev announced plans for a new START Treaty for reductions of strategic nuclear weapons. But we must go further. The only way to ensure peace and security is to abolish nuclear weapons.

We believe that the peaceful world we seek cannot be achieved through the warmongering that characterise NATO, but only through a spirit of co-operation and dialogue between nations. We cannot stand idly by as NATO leaders plot further bloodshed and destruction. 17 November 2009



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