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Anti-nuclear protestors arrested at NATO sites

Published on 18/04/2005

18 April 2005

BRUSSELS – Hundreds of ‘bomb-spotters’ were arrested as they attempted to stage symbolic inspections of NATO headquarters and other key military sites in Belgium on Saturday.

Protestors likened nuclear armaments maintained by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Belgium to an illegal stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

One protest spokesman compared the surprise ‘inspections’ to those undertaken by the United Nations in pre-war Iraq.

Some 1,000 demonstrators from across Europe descended upon NATO headquarters in Brussels, SHAPE headquarters near Mons in Wallonia, and the joint Belgian-US Air Force base at Kleine Brogel in Limburg, where NATO tactical arms are stored. A smaller group of protestors also attempted to enter NATO’s satellite centre in Gooik in Flemish Brabant.

They were supported by Belgian citizens’ action groups l’asbl Bombspotting and Forum voor Vredesactie, as well as international environmental NGO Greenpeace.

“According to international law, using or threatening to use nuclear arms is illegal,” Greenpeace said in a statement, citing the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty has been signed by 187 countries and is up for review for the first time in four years at an international conference from 2 to 27 May in New York.

Green Party Groen!, Flemish Independence Party N-VA and the Flemish regionalist Spirit Party, whose leader Geert Lambert was one of the demonstrators, also supported the protests.

Belgian police, who reported no violence during the demonstrations, arrested some 500 protesters, who were all released within a few hours of being detained.

But this did not please all the self-styled ‘bomb-spotters’.

“Actually, we would like one of the arrests to lead to a court case … breaking into bases like these would certainly warrant it,” Karine d’Hensies, who demonstrated at SHAPE headquarters Saturday, told La Dernière Heure newspaper

Some 150 people were arrested for gaining access to restricted areas at SHAPE.

D’Hensies lamented the fact, however, that such arrests are never really followed up.

“If they were, the illegal building up of nuclear arms could finally be countered,” she said. “But that’s not what the authorities want.”

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject : Belgian news