Dutch military police arrested 25 people nonviolently protesting against nuclear weapons and carbon dioxide emissions at Volkel Air Base about 80 miles south of Amsterdam on Aug. 8 and 9, according to Dutch News and Nukewatch.
Eric Martin, an author and protestor from California arrested on Aug. 8, told Sojourners in an email that the protesters were “pilgrims” from many nations meeting at Volkel “to uphold the laws of international treaties and the call of the prophets.”
“We came armed with prayer and song, bread and Bibles. The military runway transfigured into an altar, signs of peace disrupting the nuclear nest,” he wrote. “We hoped to enflesh in our worship a no to the death of children and creation, a yes to community and the living God of love.”
Coordinated by the Amsterdam Catholic Worker community, the multi-day peace camp at Volkel air base ran from Aug. 4-10 and focused on “climate and a future without nuclear weapons.”
On Monday, about 60 activists demonstrated in front of the airbase’s entrance. The protest lasted 78 minutes to symbolize the 78th anniversary of the U.S. dropping nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“We have to take some responsibility for these U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in Europe, because they threaten genocidal violence and they destabilize the reckless and expanding war in Ukraine,” said Ellen Grady, a Catholic peace leader from Ithaca, New York, in a news release before traveling to the protests.
According to John Laforge at Nukewatch, the U.S. citizens taken into custody on Tuesday included both Grady and Martin as well as Susan Crane of California, Jackie Allan and Mark Colville from Connecticut, and Theo Kayser of Missouri. In addition, Johannes Oehler from Germany and Margriet Box, Frieda Gas, and Nikki Apeldoorn from the Netherlands, were detained.
The U.S. protesters arrested on Tuesday ranged in age from 27 to 81; all are experienced nonviolence leaders, and most are Catholic. In 2017, Pope Francis said the threat of the use of nuclear weapons “as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.”
According to several document leaks through the years, the Volkel and Büchel Air Bases in the Netherlands maintain nuclear weapons as part of NATO’s nuclear sharing program. Nukewatch estimates the bases house somewhere between 15 and 20 U.S. hydrogen bombs. Government officials have not confirmed the presence of hydrogen bombs at the bases.