The Treaty and the Banner – and another kind of treaty

[from Kingston Peace News]

It seems that governments are addicted to power, almost by definition.  Thus when the whole world longs to be free from the threat of annihilation that is implicit in the continued existence of weapons of nuclear mass destruction, the nuclear nations cling to their bad-boy status.  In defiance of the spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Britain and France have agreed to collaborate on nuclear weapons technology, by sharing research facilities for the next 50 years!  How ironically appropriate that they have named this irresponsible retrograde treaty after a Celtic war god.  Teutates (Tutatis of the Asterix comics) is not funny any more.  However, collaboration at dinosaur government level is being matched by international cooperation among peace campaigners.

I was privileged to be one of eleven campaigners on the Christian CND journey to Valduc and Paris, linking with local and international activists to protest the Teutates Treaty.   Valduc is the French nuclear weapons facility, hidden away in forests about twenty miles from Dijon.  It is more remote than Aldermaston but of similar size and we think around 1000 people work there.  Just as at Aldermaston or Burghfield, the workers are all inside while the protesters bring their message to a highly defended but otherwise deserted gateway.

Police presence was quite intensive – it was only thanks to patient negotiation by local activists that we were allowed to walk past and no photography was allowed.  However, also thanks to our friends at Dijon, we had a TV journalist walking ahead of us.  Her film and subsequent interview got us three minutes on television  The odd thing about this coverage is that the rather oppressive police presence, in cars and motorbikes etc, is not visible.  We were supposed to walk past without stopping but at the gate they let us stop for one prayer. Then we all got back in our van and went to a local village, an agreed place to do the TV interview. One police car followed us around for hours.

The real Anglo-French solidarity

The first thing you see in this footage is our “Aldermaston to Valduc – Nukes are Immoral” banner.  This was made by a member of Wimbledon CND.  I first saw it on our recent (KPC) trip to Burghfield – we were encouraged to sign it for solidarity with French activists for the visit to Valduc.  It got signed by more people at the National Justice and Peace Network Conference and all these messages were taken right to the gates of Valduc.  And it gets better: on 6th August – Hiroshima Day – we were able to introduce the idea of the banner in our report to all those participating in the international “Non aux armes nucleares!” vigil and fast at the Mur de la Paix in Paris. Many more people spontaneously signed it.  Now it is a truly international symbol of solidarity for peace.

We carried the banner amongst many others in the subsequent demonstration walk and ‘die-in’ at the Eiffel tower and then we took it to the UK Embassy, where, however, an intensive police presence prevented any demonstration or contact with the embassy.  I think the banner is back in Wimbledon by now.  Well done to whoever had this idea.

Another idea is in hand: in response to the manifestly bad government-level Teutates treaty we shall have an equivalent document: a treaty for cooperation between peace activists of Britain and France.  The “Eirene Treaty” is in preparation.  Eirene was a Greek goddess, their personification of Peace.

For more photo coverage see

Youtube video about the trip with commentary from Angela Rayner:

French language video about the fast and die-in in Paris:

Photos of the trip to Valduc:

Photos from the fast at Burghfield: