17 March 2004: for immediate use


Large numbers are expected to attend a mass non-violent blockade of Menwith Hill US military base on Friday 19th March. The event – BLOCK THE BASE – aims to block all four entrances to the base, moving only for emergency vehicles. Protesters hope to both disrupt the base’s activity, which was central to the Iraq war and mark the first anniversary of the beginning of the war on Iraq.

The action is one of a series of events to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the illegal war on Iraq and the ongoing illegal occupation.

Kate Hudson, Chair of CND said

“It is vital that we highlight the role of Menwith Hill in waging this illegal war. The base is illegal and unaccountable and we need to raise awareness of its role and its place on UK soil. The British people were out on the streets protesting against this war a year ago and it is right that a year on CND should mark this with protests at political and military centres in the UK. On Friday we blockade Menwith. On Saturday we march in London. And we must continue to protest until we are told why we went into an illegal war, on what justification and on what evidence.”

Neil Kingsnorth of Yorkshire CND explained

“Although no planes ever take off from the Menwith Hill air force base, it is absolutely key to US war-fighting. The base is used for advance battle planning, finding targets to hit and monitoring battles as they take place. The base even won an award for its role in the first Gulf war. Without Menwith Hill modern war-fighting would be very, very different.”

Mark Thomas, creator of TV’s “Mark Thomas Comedy Product” has spoken out urging people to attend the event. He said,

“By allowing America to construct its Star Wars programme using the UK as one of its key ‘intelligence’ and tracking sources, the government makes Menwith Hill and the surrounding area a target for attack. Menwith Hill is a vital part of Bush’s war machine. It is a lie to claim its role is “defensive”, it has helped pilot the bomber into Iraq.”


Notes to editor:
1. For further information please contact Ruth Tanner CND’s Press & Communications Officer on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. Comment available from Yorkshire CND’s Development Worker Neil Kingsnorth – 07818 411823 or 01274 730795
3. The start time has not been advertised for tactical reasons. Journalists can be informed of the time if they wish by asking Yorkshire CND as soon as possible. Otherwise, they are advised to arrive before 9am if they want to experience direct action and by 12 noon if they want pictures of the day in general. The day will finish at 5pm at the latest but it is expected to end before that.
4. Protesters are expected to arrive in Leeds from across the UK and beyond this Thursday where they will join in direct action training before heading for the base on Friday morning.
5. One group from Leeds – the Peaceniks – are known to be planning to come dressed as Menwith Hill golf balls and another group from Calderdale plans to come as a “giant golf-ball shaped cheesecake”.
6. As well as direct action, the event includes music, entertainment, a drumming workshop, speeches and food.
7. The blockade has gained the interest of Liberty – the human rights group – who this week joined Yorkshire CND in demanding that police do not exploit terrorism laws to police the event. Liberty has said it will consider taking legal action if terror laws are used inappropriately at the event.
8. CND, the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain are holding a national demonstration on Saturday 20th March to mark the 1st anniversary of the Iraq war. The demonstration is calling for an end to the lies surrounding the war. The demonstration will assemble at 12 noon at Speaker’s corner in Hyde Park and march to Trafalgar Square for a rally.