4th July 2000

By Dave Webb

Independence from America at Menwith Hill

About 50-60 people gathered outside the main gate of NSA Menwith Hill, Yorkshire England on a greyish (but not too cold) day to protest against the building of Star Wars there. The receiver dishes for the Space Based Infra Red System (to be part of the NMD system) are now in place and due to come "on-line" within the next few months. People going into the base to join in the Independence Day celebrations - fun fair, sideshows, etc. - were leafleted by demonstrators throughout the day. Every year July 4th is celebrated in the base - this year it was celebrated behind a newly erected 12ft high security fence topped by coils of brutal looking razor-wire.

The demonstration at Menwith Hill (perhaps better known for its telephone, fax and email tapping activities) was organised by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) and Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It started when a few members of CAAB turned up at the base in time for the flag-raising ceremony at 7.30am. Other groups of people slowly arrived throughout the morning and the press, radio and TV were all present. A number of interviews with demonstrators were held - some live on local radio.

Demonstrators gather outside Menwith Hill Spy Base - 4/7/00

As more people gathered musicians appeared and outbreaks of singing were heard and demonstrators were confronted at the main gate of the base by a number of Ministry of Defence police. One of the policemen had been told to film everyone who turned up for the protest (which he did). The others tried to keep te protest confined to the "designated protest area" - a small car park outside the fence.

Former CND chair Buce Kent flanked by Chrisitne Dean and Lindis Percy at the Menwith Hill base (picture by Steve Riding from Yorkshire Evening Post 5/7/00)
Former CND chair Buce Kent flanked by Chrisitne Dean and Lindis Percy at the Menwith Hill base (picture by Steve Riding from Yorkshire Evening Post 5/7/00)

At 12.30 the following Declaration was read out by all of the protestors (see also CAAB web-site):


The declaration presented to Menwith Hill Spy Base July 4th 2000
- picture by Craig Stennett
  • When, in the course of human events, a greater state imperils the safety and continuance of a lesser, under the appearance of being a protector, it becomes necessary for the greater to remove its military powers from the other’s land to its own territory. The Laws of Nature and of Nations entitle the people who seek this removal to declare the causes which impel them to make this demand.
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable Rights, that among these is the Liberty together to determine the means by which they, as a free nation, would seek to defend themselves. If another State, through its imposing military power, usurps this Liberty of choice, then the independent nation must resist and reject the usurpation; otherwise it would be acquiescing to Tyranny. The injuries and usurpations, all tending to subvert the freedom of the British people. To justify this claim, let facts be submitted to the candid world.
  • The Government of the United States has called together and sustained an alliance at place unusual, uncomfortable and distant from the British Parliament and insisted that this Alliance should prepare the barbarous act of being first to use weapons of mass destruction.
  • It has been used by this Alliance to impose upon the people of the United Kingdom an increasing levy of taxes to finance the preparation of barbarity.
  • It has placed within the boundaries of Britain weapons in such numbers and of such power vastly to exceed any reasonable need; there is no need.
  • It has combined with some within the Government of Britain to infiltrate and use for its own ends the British systems of communication.
  • It has conspired with some of the citizens of the United Kingdom seriously to distort the truth concerning threats supposed to be against the British State and people.
  • It has kept amongst us, in times of peace, military powers without the consent of British people.
  • It has with no agreement from the British people occupied many parts of our Common land as places from which to mount defence of its own territory.
  • It has combined with others to render its own military personnel immune from prosecution for crimes committed against our laws.
  • It has excited fears among our people in an endeavour to gain assent to a savage and merciless rule of warfare, which seeks an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
  • We do not wish the people of the United States to see in this Declaration any contempt for them. We are confident that the people of the United States acknowledge that what we seek is nothing less than that which their own forebears sought in declaring themselves a free and separate nation. To the people of the United States we offer nothing else but friendship and a recognition of our common dignity as human beings.
  • We, therefore, the representatives of a more gentle and peaceful persuasion, appealing to the Moral Law and Laws of Nations for the rectitude of our intentions, DO on behalf of the people of our country, solemnly PUBLISH and DECLARE, that this United Kingdom is, and of Right, ought to be free and independent in the choice of how we exercise our Right of Self-Defence.
  • We call upon the Government of the United States of America to cease from occupation of any part of British land and withdraw its military powers, as we call upon all Governments everywhere to cease their occupation and control of any foreign territories. And for support of this Declaration, we, the representatives of a more gentle and peaceful persuasion, mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour.

  • And, with specific reference to this gathering today, we, the undermentioned, do solemnly demand the return of the land, once within the boundaries of the ancient townships of Birstwith, Felliscliffe, Norwood and Menwith, now occupied by the United States National Security Agency.
  • We do also solemnly demand that any connection with or preparation for the American Ballistic Missile Defense programme at NSA Menwith Hill ceases forthwith. We declare that the American Government is in breach of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 1972 which has since kept the strategic balance of nuclear power. We will not be party to the ‘aiding and abetting’ of the said breach.
  • We use our intelligence to imagine the consequences of the space around our dear planet Earth and other celestial bodies being filled with weapons of desperate destruction. We speak from our hearts which beat in terror at the legacy we might leave the children of this world.
  • Once again, we call upon all American people connected with the workings at NSA Menwith Hill to imagine our roles reversed and to remember their own ancestors’ Declaration of Independence from our ancestors.

There was then an attempt to hand this declaration in to the base. The declaration had been carefully and beautifully scripted onto a large scroll some 20 feet long with a view to presenting it to the American Commander of the Base. However, at first no American would come to the gate to accept it. The British police at the gate offered to accept the scroll but the protestors insisted on handing it to a US citizen. For a long time demonstrators waited, blocking the entrance and singing - hoping to be able to present the scroll and demand independence from US militarism. In the past petitions, letters of protest and even flowers had not been accepted at the gate because they might contain "concealed devices". We showed that our Declaration did not conceal anything - quite the opposite - it attempted to proclaim loudly our disgust and sense of injustice at the presence of a foreign force occupying British soil that could effectively do as it wished without being able to be challenged by British citizens.

Handing in the Declaration of Independence from America at Menwith Hill Spy Base - 4/7/00

Eventually after about one and a half hours Christine Dean from CAAB was allowed in to present the Declaration to an unidentified American memeber of the base. It was not the US commander of the base or anyone of any significant rank or station.

At around 2.30pm a number of intrepid trekkers set off to walk the 60 odd miles across the Yorkshire Moors to Fylingdales - where the US Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar System is likely to be upgraded for NMD. The walkers arrived on Saturday July 8th - to join the national demonstration against Star Wars at the Fylingdales base.

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