Civil disobedience/NVDA

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When we think of social change, we often think of protests, campaigns, and direct action. These are all vital ways to say “no!” to destructive practices and institutions.

Permaculture farmers in El Salvador

However, it's equally important that we are building concrete alternatives, where we say “yes!” to the vision of the world we want. Built on the same power analysis as our nonviolent direct action, “constructive programmes” can be powerful acts of resistance. Constructive programmes demonstrate the radical alternatives – to militarism and the causes of climate change, for example – that our world desperately needs, and puts them into practise in the here and now.

For Gandhi, a nonviolent revolution without a constructive programme was impossible; direct action and social change had to be embedded in empowered and vibrant communities that were bringing their own radical and egalitarian visions of life. Along with protest and direct action, he called for communities in India to start building the world they wanted to see, to build a new world in the shell of the old.

Sarah Robinson

In early November over a hundred activists from several European countries blockaded the entrances at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency in Brussels where arms manufacturers were meeting European policy makers behind closed doors.

The conference was invite-only but the activists turned up without an invitation to let the arms dealers know that they were not welcome.

Ariel Gold, CodePink

RE/MAX, one of the world’s largest real estate companies, is contributing to the Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Denver based RE/MAX International oversees more than 100,000 franchises in over 100 countries across the world, including Israel. RE/MAX Israel sells homes in all of the major settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and even has an office in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

From 14th-20th November 2016, Auckland Peace Action – a grassroots group based in Auckland, New Zealand – disrupted a weapons expo and military conference held in their city with a 'Week of Peace', with activists blockading the entrances to the exhibition centre and meeting a visiting US warship with a peace flotilla. In 2015, the same expo was held in Wellington, where it faced similar resistance. The event links the arms industry with government agencies, and it's principle sponsor is Lockheed Martin.

On 16th and 17th November, over 500 arms dealers planned to meet for an annual gathering at the Viaduct Events Centre, and were met by a blockade of the entrances, with more than 100 people linking arms and disrupting several entrances to the building, despite violence from police and security. Aukland Peace Action estimated that only 130 delegates made it into the conference. The blockade included participants from a wide number of groups, including Pacific Panthers, No Pride in Prisons, Auckland Action Against Poverty, the Student Housing Action Group, Save Our Homes, Peace Action Wellington, the Quakers, Pax Christi, Racial Equity Aotearoa, Asians for Tino Rangatiratanga, the Health Sector Workers’ Network, Palestine Solidarity Network, West Papua Action Auckland, union members, climate activists, environmentalists, faith-based activists.

War Resisters' International sections Vredesactie and Agir pour la Paix were joined by activists from across Europe earlier this month in a blockade of the annual European Defence Agency conference being held in Brussels. Arms dealers were meeting with policy makers to lobby for subsidies and to push the European Union further down the road towards militarisation. Using lock-ons, human chains, ribbons and banners to stop the arms dealers from getting inside, protesters succeeded in causing major disruption to the conference and bringing greater public attention to an issue of growing concern.

See more photos here.

Hanna Sofie Utsi

Translated from the original Swedish into English by Anna Björklund

Huge machines gouge wounds in the earth, and tears run down my cheeks. The police have cleared away the local population, Sami, and activists.

My tears are of anger, sorrow, and despair, but not of hopelessness. Not in the least. The fight for Gállok and the Sami is far from over. It has only just begun.

In Spain, members of MOC Valencia occupied the Russian consulate, hanging banners and dropping rubble in the floor, in protest at the ongoing bombardment of the eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo. The activists were dressed in white overalls and helmets, in solidarity with the rescue teams in the city. The action was supported by activists outside, where more rubble was dumped.

Read more (in Spanish)...

Ferrovial is a Spanish multinational company, with a broad range of interests - they are involved in the construction of the Gugenheim Museum in Bilbao, the construction of the M3 motorway in Ireland, and manage toll roads across Europe. Ferrovial owns 90% of the company Broadspectrum, which runs Australia's offshore immigration detention centres in Papua New Guinea.

A coalition of activists in the USA are preparing for protests against Urban Shield, a police training event and trade expo. Urban Shield brings together police departments from across the US and globally for intensive training " to learn how to better repress, criminalize, and militarize our communities." The event has been held annually in Alameda County since 2007, and recieves government funding.

In the UK, WRI affiliate Trident Ploughshares have held a month of nonviolent action against the construction of nuclear weapons at Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment. WRI affiliates from Finland, Germany and Belgium joined Trident Ploughshares for an international blockade, which led to the construction gate being blockaded for over ten consecutive days. Other actions included a successful attempt by faith groups to blockade every entrance, and a mad hatters tea party!

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The Eurosatory arms fair took place in Paris this month. The 'Defence and Security' fair, one of the largest in the world, takes place every two years. For many years, opposition to Eurosatory took the form of one woman, Yvonna Kressman, faithfully standing outside on her own, over decades. Gradually the word has spread, and this year campaigners from Germany, England, Belgium and the Netherlands joined French antimilitarists and others to make sure it wasn't “business as usual” for the arms trade. There was significantly more disruption, protest and awareness-raising than ever before.

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