Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ENGLAND - Catholic priest, former British Marine and Catholic Worker arrested in "Peace Break In" at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters

Catholic Priest, former British Marine and Catholic Worker

Arrested in "Peace Break In" at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters.




 Two Catholic Workers were arrested Monday, December 29 at 8 a.m. after cutting through a perimiter fence at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters in suburban London


Fr Martin Newell 41 and Susan Clarkson 62 are from the London and Oxford Catholic Worker commmunities where they live and work with refugees from wars in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa.  While the two were arrested praying inside the base, other members of Catholic Worker communities held vigil at the front entrance reading the names of British and Afghan war dead. 





Former British Marine Les Gibbons was arrested while engaging armed guards, M.O.D. police and other Base employees making there way to work at the base.  During the arrests, sirens and public address messages from within the base could be heard announcing "Operation Round Up" and a return of all staff to buildings as the base's security response was put in place.


Northwood Military Headquarters is the command centre for all British forces deployed abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It is a 43 acre site in suburban London accommodating over 2,000 military and civilian personnel.  In recent weeks, two British soldiers commited suicide in Basra while the 136th. British soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on Christmas Eve.  The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimates over 750 Afghan civilians have been killed by Western forces in 2008.


The anti-war direct action followed a weekend of reflection and liturgy by Catholic Workers from London, Oxford, Dublin, Southampton and the CW farmhouse who live and work with refugees, street homeless and traficked women.  A mass was held outside Northwood on Sunday's "Feast of the Holy Innocents" that commemorates the massacre of the children by King Herod who saw the birth of Christ as a threat to his power.


The Catholic Worker is an international pacifist movement focused on work with the homeless and nonviolent anti-war activity.  The Catholic Worker has sustained a constant peace presence and nonviolent resistance at Northwood Headquarters since the initial 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan.  The entrance sign to the Northwood base, that had been stained by red paint during previous actions, had been removed by military security seemingly tuned into the rhythms of the liturgical calender!




For more information/Text solidarity Ph. 07983 477 819 (outside UK 0044 7983 477 819)

For interview with Fr. Martin Newell on release Ph. 079 3122 1965


*Donations to support those arrested as they travel through the court and penal system should be made out to "London Catholic Worker" c/o 14 Deal Street, London E1 5AH, ENGLAND


Feast of the Holy Innocents 2008

Statement of Faith


We come here today from Catholic Worker communities to witness at Northwood on behalf of all the victims of war.


We come here to pray, repent and create.


We pray particularly for all those who have died in the war in Afghanistan over the past year, especially those connected to Northwood Headquarters.  This includes all military and civillian victims, women, men but especially the children.  On 28 December the Catholic church commemorates the murder of the children by King Herod in his search to destroy the baby Jesus who Herod believed threatened his empire.


We repent of our complicity in this imperial warmaking of our government and pray to be people committed to nonviolent ways of solving conflict.  We invite all whom we meet today to reflect on this power of nonviolence.


In this place, where the military planning of the joint forces of the United Kingdon takes place veilled in secrecy and fear based security, we are here to create a new citizen's gateway through which we enter to pray and through which we invite our fellow citizens to enter and see what is done in our name.  We make our own the words of the Bible "Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight"


By coming here today we are trying to put into practice the words of Jesus whom we follow:

Love your enemies and do good for those who persecute you" which are the ways to peace.


We ask you to join us in entering this gateway to peace.


Susan Clarkson

Martin Newell cp


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs






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