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War Resisters International held a demonstration outside Revenue & Customs headquarters in Westminster on Thursday (17th). It was a funny sort of demo: After withholding PAYE taxes since 2007 in protest against the government's military policies, the WRI activists were being forced to cough up by the tax office.
Deciding that if you're going to be threatened into paying your share of the bomb bill, you may as well do it with a bang, the anti-warmongers insisted on paying up in person and staging a demo outside at the same time.
At around half past two, around ten people congregated outside the HQ with banners and placards stating “FUND WELFARE, NOT WARFARE”, “WAR TAXES PAID UNDER PROTEST” and “NO TAXES FOR WAR”. At the same time a few other demonstrators went into HMRC to pay the war taxes that have been withheld for the last five years under protest.
The protesters managed to gain entry into the ground floor reception but could go no further as they were stopped by security. Typical of the tax office, nothing is easy, and the protesters were informed both that the police were on their way, and that they had to go to a different branch of the HMRC in Euston (would they call the cops there too?). The demo ended a couple of hours after it started.
SchNEWS spoke to Javier, a spokesperson from the WRI group, who nodded to the fact that the scale wasn't up to what he'd have like: “It was an emergency action and we only had 3 days to organise it, so with that considered I feel the outcome and support network was good but it could have been much better with more time”.
So it was a small demo, but it sure ain't a small issue. How much of yer tax money goes on the military? According to the handy calculator here, which wouldn't let us choose lower than 10 grand a year (so unfortunately is not representative of many SchNEWS readers and writers), on even that sort of slave wage 68p a day goes on defence. Over a year that's just about £250. Genuinely shocked. If you earn the average of £26,500 that's about £630 a year on the bombs and bullets.
For news and updates from War Resisters International network go to www.wri-irg.org
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