Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Second South Armagh occupation

The South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee today organised a second peaceful mobilisation against the British military presence in the area on Sunday, 17 December.

A protest of around 50 locals entered the British Army base at Crievekeeran on the Culloville/Crossmaglen road, where they confronted heavily armed soldiers. Using wire-cutters, the protester occupied most of the base for over an hour, while the soldiers retreated inside an inner cordon.

Members of the committee found no evidence of demilitarisation as promised by the British government in the Good Friday Agreement and the Hillsborough pact of 6 May.

After making their point to the English soldiers, the demonstrators left the base. As they made their way out, masked RUC police who had gathered outside battened several in an entirely unprovoked and spiteful assault. An attack dog was set upon the protest and two demonstrators were badly bitten.

A photographer for the Irish News was threatened by the RUC and forced to erase his images.

The protest followed a similar event last Sunday at Glassdrummond base, three miles to the east. Toni Carragher, PRO for the SAFRC, said: ``Today's action demonstrates the futility of the British military occupation in South Armagh.''

``If the British Army cannot secure its own bases, it should abandon its pretence to be providing security for anyone.

``In reality, of course, these spytowers are merely an incitement to conflict and an invasion of our lives and homes. Their presence would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world and they will not be tolerated here.

``In addition, the outrageous behaviour of the RUC in attacking an entirely peaceful protest demonstrates the kind of conditions we are living in.

``Despite the injuries received by our members, the RUC assault only served to expose their true nature.

``We will not be deflected from highlighting the injustice of being subjected to saturation military occupation in a time of peace.''

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