Molly Scott Cato thanks Friends for support after arrest

Quaker Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP, thanks Friends for their support following her arrest at a military air base in Belgium

Molly Scott Cato. | Photo: Bristol Green Party.

Quaker Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP, has said she was ‘moved’ by the support from Friends following her arrest for an anti-nuclear protest at a military air base in Belgium.

The Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar was detained at a police station in Belgium on 20 February after she broke into the Kleine Brogel Air Base in the east of Belgium, to protest against its stockpiling of US B61 nuclear bombs. Two other pan-European Green MEPs, Michèle Rivasi and Tilly Metz, were also arrested.

Molly Scott Cato told the Friend: ‘Once I left the police station and had my phone back, I was moved to find how many supportive messages there were from Friends upholding me and holding me in the light. I have often done this for others and wonder whether it really makes any difference, but I can tell you that when you are doing something that requires courage it is immensely reinforcing.’

The protestors held a banner on a runway which is used for F-16 fighter jets. It called for a nuclear-free Europe. The MEPs were detained for an hour at the base, and a further four hours at the police station, before they were released without charge.

Molly Scott Cato said: ‘I wasn’t required to say anything at the police station – and to do so could have put the activists who supported us at risk – but I was tempted to repeat the words of my great-grandfather at his tribunal as a conscientious objector in the first world war: “Jesus said that God is love and if God is love then we cannot kill, even in war.”’

Twelve other activists were also arrested in a demonstration outside the base, including another Green MEP, Thomas Waitz. Molly Scott Cato said: ‘What prompted us to act was the hypocrisy of politicians who claim they believe in multilateral disarmament but then ignore the UN process underway to achieve just that. We wanted to increase public awareness about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and foster a democratic dialogue about what a defence policy based on real human security would be like.’

In an article in The Independent on 22 February, the MEP, who has previously pledged support for the Extinction Rebellion movement, said out of the ‘15,000 nuclear bombs still in circulation in the world… about twenty nuclear bombs are still present at the Kleine Brogel military base’. She highlighted the motion passed in the European Parliament in October 2016 in support of the UN-sponsored Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, saying it had ‘already been signed by EU member Austria and twenty other countries, while fifty more are on their way to signing’. She asked: ‘So why aren’t our politicians ensuring that the UK is signed up?’

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