Socialist Worker

Czechs campaign to stop US missile defence radar bases

Ivona Novomestska spoke to Socialist Worker about the campaign to stop George Bush's plans to build missile defence radar installations in the Czech Republic

Issue No. 2079

Our campaign, No Bases, is very broad and colourful. It involves NGOs, people from the humanist movement, socialists, greens and trade unionists.

We have people who are 80 and very active and people who are 16 and very active. This is why the government has been so aggressive in its response to us – they can't put the movement in a box as it's just too broad.

We've organised some big events over the last month. We held a big international conference in Brdy – the area where the US military wants to centre its radar system.

People came to the conference from 16 countries. Lots of people from the Mayors for Peace group attended and the mayor of Hiroshima spoke via video to show his support.

The League of Mayors against the Radar organises around 80 mayors who oppose the radar. They have organised polls in their villages, and the results are always between 90 and 99 percent against the radar.

We also had a No to Bases bus travelling around the whole of the Czech Republic that stopped at around 50 places.

Politicians use buses during elections – but now we were using one against them.

From the bus we got another 10,000 signatures on our petition to demand a national referendum on the radar. Altogether we now have around 80,000 signatures.

On 17 November, the anniversary of the 1989 democratic revolution, we held a demonstration of around 5,000 people.

This may not sound big by British standards, but it's huge for the Czech Republic. It recalled our demands for democracy, which we were promised in 1989 but still don't have.

Our government says that this is a democracy and that the people have the power to make decisions.

But the government wants to impose the radar even though a huge majority oppose it. This is making people very angry as they are not being listened to. Politicians only like us when we support them.


But when we don't, they say we are stupid. It shows that the system is not working.

I got involved in No to Bases because I was in the humanist movement, and had campaigned against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The missile defence system is just another step in the militarisation of the world. There is a link between plans to destroy Iraq and missile defence – this is all about strengthening US power.

I'll be coming to the World Against War conference on Saturday along with Jan Neoral, one of the leading mayors in the campaign.

We're glad to be part of a global campaign against war and militarisation.

New Labour sneaks through its missile plans

Gordon Brown was hit by yet more controversy this week when his government was accused of 'sneaking out' a decision to allow an RAF base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to be used by the US for its ballistic missile defence system.

The decision to allow Menwith Hill to be used for the system had been announced on 25 July, the day before parliament closed for summer.

Just weeks before, on 4 June, the government had claimed that there were no formal proposals regarding use of the base. They claimed that discussions were still at 'an early stage'.

These manoeuvrings have been seen as yet another example of New Labour subverting democracy.

Tony Benn, president of the Stop the War Coalition, told Socialist Worker, 'The missile defence system is part of the US rearmament of the world.

'It runs directly counter to any talk of a 'peace process' in Annapolis and poses a huge threat to world peace.

'I think this will do immense damage to the reputation of the government.'

Kate Hudson, chair of CND, said that the decision would add to the fury that people already feel over the 'war on terror'.

'I think this will lead to increased anger with the government and increased campaigning,' she told Socialist Worker.

'We've run numerous opinion polls on these issues and they all show that most people think the missile defence system puts us in greater danger and makes the world more unsafe. It's shocking that MPs won't even get to have a say on it.'

For more on the World Against War conference, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, see » Iraq occupation in the eye of the storm or go to »

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Tue 27 Nov 2007, 18:48 GMT
Issue No. 2079
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