Arrests after new airbase protest

FOUR peace protesters were arrested after they scaled the perimeter fence at RAF Mildenhall and unfurled a banner on the runway.In a statement, the activists said they had visited the U.

By James Mortlock

FOUR peace protesters were arrested after they scaled the perimeter fence at RAF Mildenhall and unfurled a banner on the runway.

In a statement, the activists said they had visited the U.S. airbase – one of the most important outside America – as part of a Week of Action to protest against the war in Iraq.

But Ministry of Defence (MoD) police said the protest was contained within minutes after the campaigners were spotted climbing over the fence.


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However, flying at the base – which is home to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing – was immediately halted when the protesters were spotted by USAF security personnel.

But a spokesman for the MoD Police said flying activity was resumed within minutes of the protesters being detained. He stressed: "The incident was closed down extremely quickly – within a very few minutes.

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"The four were quickly spotted by USAF security personnel. We believe they went over the fence rather than through it."

Rachel Green, an anti-war campaigner involved with the Week of Action, said the banner laid out on the runway displayed the message "Stop Killing Each Other".

She said: "The invasion of Iraq is not only morally perverse; it is widely accepted to be illegal under International Law. Nobody likes Saddam Hussein, but bombing innocent people, and laying siege to their cities is no way to create liberation, and certainly does not constitute a humanitarian operation."

The protester said the campaigners wanted British and American forces brought home: "We don't want them to die – any more than we want them to kill – in our name."

The Week of Action will involve a series of peaceful, anti-war protests to demonstrate local activists' sustained objection to the war. Further, as yet undisclosed, events are planned for each day of the week.

The MoD Police spokesman said the four people arrested during the protest – two men and two women – were being held on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

Yesterday's incident was the latest in a series of anti-war protests at RAF Mildenhall and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath over the past few months.

Earlier this month, peace campaigners grounded fighter jets at RAF Lakenheath after they got in, rode bicycles on to the main runway and chained themselves together with locks fastened around their necks.

In January, protesters broke through security fencing at RAF Mildenhall and staged a protest on the runway.

Staff from the base refused to comment on the security implications raised by yesterday's incident.

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