Anti-war protesters camp outside RAF Mildenhall
Stars and Stripes August 15, 2006
RAF MILDENHALL — It was a drizzly morning and protester Mell Harrison sipped her hot tea next to the perimeter fence of RAF Mildenhall Monday.
“We have to stay at least 18 inches away from the fence,” Harrison said, as she glanced toward the flight line where two security forces vehicles parked.
Harrison, the eastern region officer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and about 10 other protesters set up camp a few feet from the air base along the A1101 carriageway Sunday night.
They believe that the air base, mostly populated by American forces, is being used as a refueling point for aircraft allegedly transporting weapons to the Middle East for use by Israel against Hezbollah.
“We are peacefully monitoring [the United Kingdom’s] and [the United States’] involvement in genocide,” she said.
“They are fueling the conflict in the Middle East,” said Pete Lux, a protester also camped outside the base.
Last month, President Bush apologized to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for using Prestwick Airport in Scotland as a refueling point for aircraft delivering missiles to Israel, according to the BBC Web site.
In the midst of criticism from peace protesters, two aircraft flights were diverted from Prestwick Airport to this Suffolk air base two weeks ago, said base spokesman 1st Lt. Jamie Humphries, who added that he did not know the contents inside the aircraft or their destination.
Unknown cargo coming in and out of the base was one of the reasons that protesters decided to camp out.
“We wanted a visual protest,” said Harrison, who also said she is gathering evidence to prove that the U.S. is transporting weapons via the U.K. to the Middle East.
Other anti-war groups are monitoring air traffic at RAF Brize Norton and Prestwick Airport as well, Harrison said.
“We don’t know what passes through here, and I think that we have the right to know,” Lux said.
Demonstrators plan to stay camped outside this base, “for as long as it is sustainable,” Harrison said. Also, the ongoing protests outside RAF Lakenheath will not stop, she added.
Humphries said that the base would respect any demonstrator’s rights, as long as they conduct peaceful protests.