Over 1000 Activists Arrested in Belgium
7 October, 2002
from: Voor Moeder Aarde
Over 2000 activists took part in the "Bomspotting" nonviolent direct action at the Belgian Airforce Base of Kleine Brogel, organised by For Mother Earth and Forum voor Vredesactie, yesterday. Despite a heavy police and military presence, and a prohibition on gathering in groups of more than four people, several hundred people managed enter the base. Once inside the base, the activists sat down and began to picnic.
This action of civil disobedience is necessary because NATO and the Belgian government continue to store illegal nuclear weapons at the base. The preparation and training for the use of these nuclear weapons cannot continue when there are uninvited people in the base.
In total 1117 people were arrested inside the base, and in the surrounding area. Many hundreds more joined a support demonstration in the nearby village. Amongst those arrested were anti-nuclear activists from the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Britain and France. They were joined by several members of the Belgian and Dutch parliaments, including members of three of the parties which make up Belgium's coalition government. The action remained entirely nonviolent throughout, and everyone was released by 10pm.
The Bomspotting action is one of several actions taking place around the world, as part of the "Keep Space for Peace" week of actions against the militarisation of space, and the "Nuclear Weapons Abolition Days" actions against nuclear weapons in Europe.
For more information on the action, and the "From Bomspotting to Bomstopping" campaign, visit http://www.bomspotting.be
1117 arrests at Belgian NATO base
5 October 2002
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Over a thousand anti-nuclear protesters were arrested Saturday trying to storm a Belgian air force base believed to hold U.S. nuclear warheads.
Police said 1,100 demonstrators were arrested trying to get in the heavily guarded base located near the town of Peer, 89 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Brussels, protesting the use of nuclear weapons.
The action was part of an annual protest against the use of the weapons, which activists claim have been stored on the base since the Cold War.
The ecological group Mother Earth which partly organized the protest said they believed some 10 B-61 nuclear bombs were deployed at the base.
"We as citizens have the right to protest against our government and on a base which holds illegal nuclear weapons," the group said in a statement.
"We want to make the use of nuclear weapons unnecessary," said activist Hans Lammerant on VRT Television.
Police also detained several members of the Belgian parliament, many of whom were Green party members and part of the Belgian coalition government under Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
Some 1,800 police and military personnel were deployed to prevent activists from storming the base, officials said.
"September 11th changed everything ... the security of the base is paramount," said Peer Mayor Theo Kelchtermans, who oversaw the security operation.
Some 840 protesters were arrested last year in a similar demonstration.
5 October 2002
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian police on foot and horseback came out in force on Saturday to arrest more than half the protesters at an air force base where nuclear bombs are allegedly stockpiled.
As a helicopter hovered overhead, police in riot gear arrested 1,117 out of an estimated 1,700 people taking part in the peaceful "Bombspotting" protest at the base near the town of Kleine Brogel near the Dutch border, a police spokesman said.
A few politicians were also handcuffed during the annual protest against the alleged stockpiling of 10 U.S. B-61 nuclear bombs at the base.
Police released the protesters shortly afterwards.
Protesters -- some wearing gas masks, others carrying banners -- tried to enter the base and occupy it to demand the removal of the bombs.
Organizers of the protest invited people to bring sandwiches for a picnic in case they managed to get into the base.
"As long as we occupy the base, the planes carrying nuclear weapons cannot take off," their Web site said.
Belgium's government has neither confirmed nor denied the presence of the bombs at the base.