1117 arrests at Belgian NATO base

5 October, 2002

From: Pol D'Huyvetter


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According to the police 1117 non-violent activist were arrested and held on the NATO nuclear base of Kleine Brogel in the northeast of Belgium on Saturday October 5th 2002. An unconfirmed number of 10 B-61 US tactical nuclear bombs are deployed on the base.

Especially the high numbers of people arrested during this single action is significant. As far as we know this is the largest number of people arrested ever during a demonstration in Belgium. The numbers also illustrate a growing anti-nuclear movement which has been succesful in using the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding the illegality of nuclear weapons. There were also groups who travelled from as far as the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Finland to be part of this event. And once again a significant number of Members of Parliament participated.

In total 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. Despite a heavy police and military presence of over 2.000 personnel, and a prohibition on gathering in groups of more than four people, several hundred people managed to 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 which stared at noon 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

Voor Moeder Aarde vzw
p.a. Gents Ecologisch Centrum
K. Maria Hendrikaplein 5
B-9000 Gent
Tel +32-9-242 87 52 of rechtsreeks 04
Fax +32-9-242 87 51

(See also: Over 1000 Activists Arrested in Belgium )


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