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Bridget Evans

  • Judy Small

    And they're fighting for their families
    They're fighting for their friends
    And they won't stop, no they won't stop
    Till this nuclear madness ends
    Till this nuclear madness ends

    There's a woman in Great Britain, Bridget Evans is her name
    And she's out on Greenham Common and things will never be the same
    And this is not just Bridget's fight, there's women by the score
    By the hundred, by the thousand, and there'll be ten thousand more

    And Bridget's left her husband and her kids at home in Wales
    And she hears what people say of her, that she's gone off the rails
    And she says that men have left their wives and marched off to their wars
    And how can her fight for humankind be any lesser cause

    And Bridget's been to prison for they say she breached the peace
    When she sat inside a sentry box and sang to the police
    And her song is growing louder as it echoes off the sun
    That Bridget won't leave Greenham till the battle has been won

    There's a woman in Great Britain, Bridget Evans is her name
    And she's out on Greenham Common and things will never be the same

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1986:] Written 1984. The protest of the women at Greenham Common in England, against the siting of US nuclear missiles there, has inspired women from all walks of life all over the world to get involved in the struggle for peace. Bridget Evans is one or any of those women - she is indeed one of the heroines of our time. (Judy Small Song Book 52)

  • [1988:] Some peace groups are famous, [like] the Women of Greenham Common who have kept a brave protest vigil through five hard winters outside the sinister fence of the American base for Cruise missiles in Berkshire. (Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War, 1998 edn., 408)

  • [1999:] The shabby caravans, garden chairs and camping paraphernalia seem out of place at the new-look Greenham Common. A shiny corporate sign at the main gate proclaims that it's now called New Greenham Park, part industrial estate, part common land. But 12 years after the Russia-America INF treaty consigned the Cruise missiles there to the dustbin, and long after most of the protesters packed up and went home, three women remain.

    The campaign started in 1981 with a march from Cardiff to protest at plans to house US missiles at Greenham. It peaked in 1983 when 50,000 women embraced the base and began to decline in 1987 after the treaty was signed and ideological splits between different groups appeared. The last missiles were removed in 1992.

    The three women left behind have squatters' rights over their patch of land because they have lived there for over 12 years. The mutual hostility between them and the women who moved on is thinly disguised.

    'We don't have much in common,' says Di Macdonald, an ex-Greenham woman who now works for the Network Information Project which gives details about nuclear weapons to journalists, MPs and local government officers. 'I don't think they ever thought any but a small, elite group were proper Greenham women.' Sarah Hipperson, 71 and one of the hard core, is eager to demolish this theory. 'We're non-violent, anti-nuclear, anti-racist, non-aligned, autonomous, welcoming women who are heterosexual, lesbian, celibate, black, white, disabled,' she intones.

    Nevertheless: 'Being arrested once as a symbolic act is one thing. Taking it on as a life process, as I have done, is something else entirely.' The low numbers don't worry her. 'The nature of the human race is that there are some who can take on a task not for themselves but for the rest.' Unlike those who left with the missiles, Hipperson believes there is still work to be done at Greenham. She and the others want to see a standing circle of stones erected as a memorial. So far the local council isn't buying that one but the struggle continues.

    For many of the women once at Greenham, the fight carries on elsewhere. This week, the Ploughshares women swam out to a Trident nuclear submarine from a shipyard in Cumbria and attacked it with hammers and crowbars. Others have mounted new campaigns at places like Menwith Hill, the biggest US spy base in the world. There are no weapons here; instead, concealed under futuristic oversized golf balls, is the defence communications network that will allow the US to dominate space.

    The Menwith camp was set up in 1994 by Helen John, one of the original Greenham women. Parked by the satellites is her caravan, painted in rainbow hues, with a cheery 'Visitors welcome' daubed on the side. The peace posse have, she says, renamed the base 'WoMenwith Hill'.

    So far, so familiar, one might think, but appearances can be deceptive: John is quick to point out the difference between those still at Greenham and the work she and other women in the peace movement are doing now. First, there is the matter of numbers: 'Our campaign links up with peace activists all over the UK and in America.' Second - and more importantly - the camp is still getting up the military's nose. Until last year, there were 11 caravans at Menwith but a High Court judge booted the rest out and today, in a test case to determine the women's right to protest under new European human rights laws, he might rule that their ramshackle 'office' must go too.

    So what else is new? According to John and Macdonald, the most significant development has been in the form of the protest itself. These days, gathering detailed information and using it to challenge the military and the Government is more important that any symbolic protest. The modern peace protester is more likely to spend her time poring over technical military information than counting warheads as they come in and out of the camps or pinning flowers to fences.

    She is also no longer expected to abandon all worldly goods until global peace comes to pass. These days, the protests at nuclear bases like Aldermaston and Burghfield usually take place one weekend in four to allow protesters to 'have it all', committing themselves to a cause without sacrificing career and family.

    But does the new improved model actually achieve anything? Though the Greenham women were given no credit for the removal of Cruise, they were justified in claiming it as a victory. Macdonald believes that while the new campaigns are not as high-profile, the 'drip, drip' approach is having the desired effect on the protesters' key target, the Government.

    'In its Strategic Defence Review last July, it agreed to halve the number of nuclear warheads on submarines. Without our campaigns, this might not have happened. The Government knows Big Sister is watching and that if they put a foot as terribly, terribly wrong as they did with Cruise, we won't keep quiet about it.' (Guardian, 4 Feb)

  • [1999:] The Greenham Common airbase - home of anti-nuclear protests in the Eighties - is being redeveloped as a high-tech business park. The former airfield, stripped of cruise missiles and US marines, has been turned into a 150-acre enterprise zone which the backers claim is 'an attractive proposition of inward investment'. Arms manufacturers are thought not to be welcome. (Observer, 23 May)

Quelle: England, Australia

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