Mass blockade hits drone factory

Activists block factory of Israeli drone company.
Activists block factory of Israeli drone company.

Hundreds of cyclists and their supporters who blockaded a Midlands factory in protest at its sale of drones used by the Israeli military have vowed “We’ll be back.”

The Big Ride for Palestine staged four feeder rides from London, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield which converged on Birmingham for a festival in Sparkhill Park. The peloton then moved off en masse to a rally at the factory gates of UAV engines, in Shenstone near Lichfield.

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Shutting down the DSEI arms fair for good

Vyara Gylsen was one of the campaigners who was arrested for protesting outside DSEI last year. Her charges were eventually dropped, but not until after two court dates and seven hours in a police cell. In this piece she reflects on the reasons she protested and the recent acquittal of eight other anti-DSEI activists.

stop-dsei

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) just won’t quit wasting public money to prosecute peace campaigners acquitted of obstruction to the highway outside DSEI 2015.

Earlier this year, eight activists were acquitted for blockading DSEI on the basis that they were seeking to prevent greater crimes such as torture and the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in places such as Yemen, Kurdistan, Palestine and Bahrain.

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University of Southampton ends its investment in arms companies

Last week, the University of Southampton joined the growing list of Universities who have decided to take a stance against investments in the arms trade. In this article Sebastian, Odell of Southampton University explains what’s happened and how students forced the university into taking action.

Southampton students take action against BAE.
Southampton students take action against BAE.

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Keep BAE Systems out of schools

Should arms companies like BAE Systems be involved in educating children?
Should arms companies like BAE Systems be involved in educating children?

The idea of Europe’s biggest arms company running a school may seems like something out of an Orwellian nightmare. However, it may be about to happen in Barrow, Cumbria, where BAE Systems is on the verge of taking over the faltering Furness Academy.

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UK must stop arming Israel

Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham
Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham

Last month Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, pronounced on Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine: “They have been supplying them, they have been supporting them… They cannot deny their responsibility for the acts that these people are carrying out.”

He is right, but the same could be said of the UK’s support for Israel in the bombardment of Gaza.

Since 2010 the UK government has licensed £42 million worth of military equipment to Israel, including targeting systems and drone components. Even the UK government’s own review found 12 licences for components that may well have been used in the bombardment of Gaza.

The government’s response to its own review was shocking. It said it would suspend the licences only if ‘significant’ hostilities resumed. Yet even when Israel renewed its attacks on Gaza, with a further seven days of conflict, it did not do so. Continue reading “UK must stop arming Israel”

Peace activists raise questions about trident at Rolls Royce AGM

Activists raise questions at Rolls Royce' AGM
Activists raise questions at Rolls Royce’ AGM

This morning a group of peace activists from Sheffield used Rolls Royce’ AGM as a chance to challenge the board about their involvement with the development and production of propulsion systems for Trident submarines.

The activists highlighted the fact that power of a Trident submarine is 1000 times more destructive than the bomb used at Hiroshima and asked what the company’s response would be to a Trident nuclear strike, and what they anticipated the impact would be on shareholders.

The activists also held up banners that said “No More Trident” and “Trident Kills.” They asked further questions about alternative uses for Roils Royce engineering expertise, such as green energy to sustain the planet, and whether taxpayers would have to pay for Rolls Royce’s lost investment, if Trident was not replaced.

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Open letter to David Cameron: Time for a wider discussion on national security

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing with respect to the National Security Strategy (NSS) review and the Defence and Security Review (DSR), both of which are scheduled to be published following the 2015 General Election. We do so in light of the report of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (DC), Towards the Next Defence and Security Review, (HC 197), published on 7 January, to which several of us submitted evidence, and the Government’s response, published on 26 March. We understand that the recommendations of this report will be the subject of a parliamentary debate in the coming months.

We urge you to ensure that the NSS and DSR processes help to shape the UK’s strategy in the world in a coherent manner. In summary, we believe:

  1. At this time of flux, there is a need to address some fundamental questions that have been neglected in the past, in particular the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and threats to security.

  2. There is a need to be honest about the UK’s capability to contribute to tackling security challenges, and the Government needs to be prepared to change its approach, not simply focusing on dealing with the symptoms of insecurity.

  3. This discussion needs to be frank, inclusive and (as far as possible) take place in the public realm.

  4. The DSR needs to sit clearly and transparently within the NSS, with its decisions justified by reference to the NSS.

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Disarming DSEI and ending the arms trade

Activists putting the arms trade on trial
Activists putting the arms trade on trial

This morning saw the start of a private prosecution launched by anti-arms activists against two arms companies for promoting illegal torture weapons at the DSEI arms fair last September. There was a crowd of supporters to greet the activists, but neither of the arms companies in question, Magforce International or Tianjin Myway International Trading bothered to turn up for the hearing.

Following an adjournment, the date of the trial itself has been set for 26th November 2014. The case is being led by a group of individuals who were charged with obstruction related offences for protesting outside the DSEI arms fair in 2013.

Shut down DSEI

One of the accused companies, Magforce, sells weapons to countries on the Foreign Office’s list of countries with the “most serious human rights concerns”; including Central African Republic, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. However, it’s not just Magforce and Tianjin that need to be held accountable, it’s the entire DSEI arms fair.

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