Creative Action online: People show support for the victims of the Yemen war
For obvious reasons, activism on the streets is not an option at the moment but we can continue our activism in other ways (all hail the internet!). For example, we couldn’t hold our vigil for Yemen as planned at the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation, so we held an online day of action alongside activists from across Europe. Keeping it simple in terms of asks seemed to work (a maximum of two should do it).
We asked people to post about the devastating effect of the war on the Yemeni people and the UK’s complicity in it as well as asking them to write to the Attorney General to ask him to move forward with the prosecution of Airbus on corruption charges regarding a deal to supply communications equipment to the Saudi Arabian National Guard – you can still do that here.
When asking people to make posts online, including some suggested text and statistics for social media posts increases the likelihood of people taking action as it makes it easy for them to repost. Providing them with relevant information and links is also useful – they can include this info in any actions they take/posts they write.
When meetings are online, you need to facilitate them differently. During our last meeting, we used a hands up system – i.e. when someone wanted to speak, they raised their hand and the chair would give them the floor, so to speak. This prevented people speaking over each other. One person wasn’t able to get their video to work so we got them to write a letter in the chat function when they wanted to speak but obviously it is best to get everyone on camera as that aids the flow of the meeting so sending round clear instructions on how to use whatever software you are using is key.
You could also ask people who are using the software for the first time/think they will struggle with it to sign on with you prior to the meeting so you can troubleshoot any problems. Most of the packages include options for sharing your screen so that can allow you to share any websites or documents with others (and allow them to share anything relevant too).
Each group may take different approaches but it is worth thinking about how you onboard new members (this can equally apply to in person meetings too!), both in terms of how you introduce them to your group and its purpose when you can’t meet them in person and also in terms of security, particularly if your actions involve non-violent direct action. We’ll be sharing more tips on that in the next week or two so stay tuned!
The Three Counties Defence and Security Arms fair in Malvern in July hosted some of the world’s biggest manufacturers of weaponry, including BAE Systems and Thales. This is business at a massive cost – a human, environmental, and social disaster. But local activists were there to challenge it.
The organisers of the DPRTE arms fair made the decision to move their event to the ‘high security’ Farnborough International Ltd. so that they could go about their ghastly business unimpeded. On the 28th March, we set about making sure that those in attendance received the iciest reception Rushmoor had to offer.
If you wanted evidence of just how effective sustained protest against the arms trade can be, look no further than the campaign run by Birmingham Stop the Arms Fair. With the promise of a day of creative action à la prior protests in Cardiff and Bristol, Birmingham NEC were pressured into stating that it was ‘more appropriate for DPRTE to be hosted at a more self-contained venue.’ The fact that this arms fair cannot be held in public space anymore is testimony to the general antipathy the general public holds for this amoral trade. It is for this reason that DPRTE 2019 now finds itself behind the chainlink fence of the ‘high security’ Farnborough Exposition and Conference Centre.
In 2015, a group of eight activists were arrested while taking action against the DSEI arms fair, and later acquitted as a judge ruled they took action to prevent a greater crime. The Winter Oak reports on the CPS challenge to their acquittal- you can read a longer version of this article at winteroak.org.uk.
In late 2016, Auckland Peace Action (APA) organised a successful week of action against the New Zealand Defence Industry Association’s annual weapons expo in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Arms dealers found themselves locked out of the venue by the blockades. You can read more about their actions on the Peace Action Wellington blog, and in APA’s report.
Tom Anderson – an anti-militarist writer from Shoal Collective – interviewed Valerie Morse from APA about the group and the week of action. This interview is the second in a two part series about anti-militarism in Aotearoa. See part one here.
Journalists within Saudi often face persecution, but two Saudi nationals based in the UK have started a new media channel with the aim of “building bridges between the people of Arabia and the people around the world”. Their first post to inaugurate the channel is a report on a recent meeting on arms sales to Saudi in Bolton.
You can watch their video report of the event below, and follow them on twitter @Mngro_com.