War Starts from Europe

14-15 November 2008: European day of action against military infrastructure

In the previous two articles we have looked at how Europe is part of the war machinery, by looking at the various infrastructures and military bodies used for military interventions. So as we are now clear how these interventions are implemented, we can start to do what we can to disrupt them! Groups all around Europe are campaigning against militarism, each group choosing their own way of acting depending on their own context and their own group principles and strategies. Within the groups involved in the call for the day of action, the common starting point is undertaking nonviolent direct action against militarism.

A European antimilitarist network

There are many experiences, through the years, of regional antimilitarist actions so this latest effort is nothing new, but it's an important effort in keeping alive the antimilitarist movement in Europe -- re-energising it and expanding it, getting to new countries and movements.

The process of co-operating regionally has always been an aim of antimilitarists in Europe, but these more concrete plans started at the WRI 2006 Triennial Conference in Germany 2006, "Globalising Nonviolence", where some of the groups participated in a working group on nonviolent citizen interventions facilitated by Vredesactie (WRI's affiliate in Belgium). After the confe- rence,Vredesactie held a meeting in Brussels, to continue the process of working together regionally -- it was here where a more concrete plan was designed, with, the idea of supporting each other's actions, creating a common space on the web for sharing resources on military infrastructure and the transport of weaponry and to share action strategies and reports from actions done by the different groups. The website www.mcmilitary.org was created, a Wiki which makes it possible for different groups to post on it. Groups present were from Belgium, the UK, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and France.

Campaign examples

These are examples of campaigns carried out by the network

  • Faslane 365: This was organised by Trident Ploughshares and others in Scotland, with the aim of blockading the base at Faslane, where UK's Trident submarines are based every day for one year. During the year of blockades, the campaign managed to bring activists from all over the UK and also from many other countries in Europe to do their own blockades. Each group had its on style, showing the diversity of the movement.
  • Bombspotting: This Belgian campaign started as a local campaign of mass nonviolent action against nuclear weapons. In March 2008 the campaign organised the NATO Game Over action, a nonviolent action at the headquarters of NATO, involving around 300 internationals in a total of around 1000 people taking part. There were 500 arrests and 50 activists managed to climb over the fence of the NATO headquarters. This was an important occasion for the network to come together in an active way.
  • Reclaim the base (State of Spain): For a number of years the groups around Alternativa Antimilitarista MOC in the State of Spain have been active following the WRI initiative on reclaiming the bases. Every May in what they call Mayo Caliente (Hot May), they carry out nonviolent direct actions at military bases around the country, with a special focus on bases which are part of the NATO structure.
  • Disarm: The Swedish antimilitarist group ofog organises a Disarm Camp during the summer in Sweden, during which they carry out nonviolent action against Swedish weapons manufacturers.

Call for a decentralised day of action

As result of NATO Game Over, there is a proposal for a joint decentralised day of action, focusing on the role that Europe plays in military interventions. The dates set for the action are 14-15 November 2008. Each group should choose their own target for their action -- it can be a military base, the facilities of weapons manufacturers, defence institutions, etc. The character of the action should be decided by each group, the only requirement being that it has to be nonviolent. But we encourage groups to do actions that can directly disrupt the normal functioning of military-related activities.

There is a website at http://europeanpeaceaction.org/ which will provide the space for groups to say what actions they are planning and for reports from the actions themselves. Also on this website you can read the call for the day of action. There is also a list-serve for discussing and sharing information about the actions -- if you want to join the list, just contact the WRI office at info@wri-irg.org

If we want to stop militarism we need to act at a local and global scale -- for this join the European day of action against military infrastructure!

For more information contact the WRI office.

Javier Garate