Anti-Nuclear Weapons “Bombspotters” Activists Threatened with 5 Years in Prison
February 11, 2012, Seven pacifists entered into the NATO military headquarters also known as the SHAPE facility (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), in an act of civil disobedience. The Bombspotters (Bomspotters in Dutch), as they called themselves, were there to denounce the presence of nuclear weapons on Belgian soil. They recorded their act of disobedience and posted videos of their actions on the internet. They have been issued a criminal summons to appear in court on October 26, 2015 the activists face up to five years in prison and a substantial fine.
This act of civil disobedience was a part of a national campaign called NATO GAME OVER / Bombspotting. For over ten years, thousands of Bombspotters have used all legal means available (including formal complaints and other forms of non-violent direct action) to denounce the illegal presence of nuclear weapons in Belgium, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and more generally the policies of NATO and specifically NATO's nuclear strategy implementation at the base known as SHAPE.
The government of Belgium is choosing to prosecute the demonstrators under criminal statutes, while the legality of the nuclear weapons facility remains uncontested by the government. The Bombspotters insist that their actions were an act of political expression and as such do not belong in criminal court but rather in the higher court (Cour d’assises) which has competence to rule on the political charges.
Nuclear Weapons in and of themselves violate the legal parameters of war established by International Conventions of the Hague in that they are indiscriminate weapons that affect civilian and military targets alike. The illegality of Nuclear Weapons was further affirmed by the ruling of the International Court of Justice, in its opinion of 8 July 1996.
As a signatory of the Nonproliferation treaty, the government of Belgium is violating the terms of the treaty by allowing the stationing of nuclear weapons on Belgian soil. In addition, 21 April 2005, the Belgian Senate approved a resolution calling for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Belgium.
It is not debatable that nuclear weapons are a threat to all human life, and to the environment upon which all life depends. Members of IFOR’s Belgian Branch, Agir pour la Paix, were among those arrested during this action. When the state is unable to meet its international commitments, or to hear the voices of its elected representatives and, simultaneously insists on maintaining the capacity to commit a crime against humanity, that same state is not in a position to criminalize actions of conscience aimed at expressing dissent.
The IFOR Secretariat joins the Belgian branch in attempts to raise awareness about the plight of 7 activists and is encouraging members to support the Bombspotters in the following ways:
- -Through prayer and other acts of spiritual solidarity
- -Showing support at the Criminal Court of Mons on Monday, October 26, 2015
- -Sending a letter to the Belgian Embassy insisting that Belgium respect its to commitment to a nuclear weapon free world (NPT) and be part of the Austrian Pledge and insist that as a first step, the government disallow U.S. nuclear weapons to be stationed in Belgium.
- -Sending expressions of solidarity and signing on to the statement posted on the Bombspotters' website or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- -Please keep in touch via their Bombspotters' Facebook page