On Saturday 21 May Christian CND joined others from the peace movement at RAF Lakenheath to protest the return of American nuclear weapons to the Suffolk base. Around 250 people had travelled from across the country to speak out against the move.
There were around 100 nuclear weapons stored at Lakenheath, which is a US Air Force base, until they were removed in 2008 after decades of protest. The news that they could be returning was broken after a small insert into a report on NATO defence spending. There has been no debate in Parliament or any announcement by the government.
Prior to the protest we joined friends from the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship for a short time of prayer, reflection and singing. We were also joined by friends from the Battersea and Milton Keynes Peace Pagodas who shared some chanting with us. A message was also read from the Bishop of Manchester in support of the demonstration.
‘In a time of conflict it is important that those of us committed to peace do all that we can to help de-escalate the situation. As part of that, we are called to speak out when actions are taken which threaten to exacerbate international tensions. The return of nuclear weapons on British soil represents a very dangerous development; one that must not go without challenge or protest.’Bishop David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
During the speeches of the main event the lack of accountability and transparency in the decision to bring the nuclear weapons back was highlighted. There were also stories from those who had been campaigning against nuclear weapons for decades, one speaker who had been on the first Aldermaston march and another who had previously broken in to RAF Lakenheath and been arrested.
There are sure to be further demonstrations at Lakenheath in the future – and Christian CND will continue to make our voice heard for peace and disarmament, especially in these very challenging times for peacemakers. Please join us in praying that those making decisions about the placement of nuclear weapons would not return them to Lakenheath, but would instead engage in meaningful negotiations towards nuclear disarmament and genuine peace based on security rather than threats of violence.