HMP New Hall
Dial Wood, Flockton
West Yorkshire WF4 4XX
Quaker Woman Imprisoned over Anti-Trident Protests
Sixty-seven year old Sylvia Boyes, a Quaker from Keighley, appeared on Thursday (3 Feb) at Bingley Magistrates Court. She was sentenced to 14 days in New Hall Prison for refusing to pay fines arising from a series of protests against Trident in and around Faslane Naval Base in Scotland during the summer of 2009.
Sylvia has been imprisoned on numerous ocassions for anti-Trident protests. The Court refused to allow her to give a statement of her reasons for refusing to pay £700 in fines. However she insisted the Court accept her written statement which said: As a responsible person I must act to bring about disarmament. A necessary part of that campaign is to carry out non-violent direct actions at military bases. No government can continue policies without the active or silent acceptance of its people. This includes the police and judiciary. So while I accept responsibility for my actions, I am refusing to pay fines as a further act of civil disobedience and am fully aware of the consequences.
The peace-loving pensioners’ actions were part of the ongoing campaign by Trident Ploughshares, a network of global citizens committed to bringing about the disarmament of Trident. Sylvia, stated in Court: I know that this country’s continued possession of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity. All nuclear weapons are weapons of mass murder and destruction and while in narrow terms of the law this is debateable, each Trident warhead with its explosive power of eight times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, would cause immediate death and destruction followed by the long term horrific effects of radiation, causing cancers, tumours as well as long term genetic damage to future generations. Britain has around 160 of these warheads.
To use Trident as a threat of murder and destruction (deterrence) is to dehumanise people and create enemies. I believe in a common humanity. I cannot accept this violent means of successive government’s policies. In a world where there is so much hunger and poverty, to misuse resources on nuclear weapons is a crime in itself. In no way can the causes of very real conflicts be dealt with by the threat of murder and destruction. Nor can our security be maintained by such threats.
Sylvia is the second peace activist sentenced to prison in as many weeks. Eighty-one year old Georgina Smith was jailed a week ago for 45 days for refusal to pay a £3000 compensation order for her part in painting the Scottish High Court, also in protest against Trident.
Cards and letters can be sent to the address above.
Sylvia requests that friends not send money or flowers, but if anyone wants to make a donation to some good cause instead that would be fine with her.
The UK Government continues to deploy four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered submarines. Each one, fully armed, carries 48 nuclear warheads on 16 Trident II missiles (the latter leased from the US.) Each UK Trident warhead has been estimated to have an explosive power of 100kT, approximately 8 times that of the US bomb that flattened Hiroshima in Japan on 6 August 1945, killing 140,00 people due to the initial bomb blast and the longer-term effects of radiation. Any actual use of a Trident nuclear weapon would be a war crime and a crime against humanity, most likely indiscriminately killing many hundreds of thousands of civilians and causing massive radiological contamination of the environment.
A colossal waste of public funds
It has been estimated that replacing the UK Trident system will cost taxpayers up to £97 BILLION over its lifetime (Source: Greenpeace UK). The existing Trident system costs around £2 BILLION/YEAR to maintain. Trident Ploughshares believes that this money ought to be used for programmes of social uplift, such as providing healthcare, university and school education, and public and social services, and protecting the environment and tackling climate change.
Senior woman anti-nuke campaigner jailed for 45 days in Scotland - 27 Jan 2011
Five activists walk straight into Faslane nuclear weapons base - 18 Aug 2009
Summary of the week long disarmament camp at Coulport - 31 Aug 2009
Faslane rock painting duo fined - 18 Mar 2010