Courts throughout the UK are prosecuting individuals whose only crime is to refuse to fill out the 2011 census form because of the involvement of arms giant Lockheed Martin. The refusers face a fine and possible jail sentence for their actions.
Lockheed Martin is based in the US and was contracted to process census data from England and Wales. The refusers say that it is unethical for a weapons manufactuer to be involved in the census, especially as Lockheed Martin has exanded into the security and surveillence industry and personal data could therefore be at risk.
A careers fair at the University of Edinburgh was closed down last week after the organisers’ decision to invite the world’s largest arms firm to the event triggered a nonviolent protest by students. The students laid down in front of the stall run by BAE Systems in a symbolic die-in.
Yesterday I took part in an action which managed to close down arms factory EDO/ITT/MBM for a day. The extremely heavy policing stopped us from blocking the road to the factory, but tens of police vans in our way meant our actions had the desired effect: to close the factory and maximise economic damage to an arms company that the Smash EDO campaign hope to drive out of Brighton.
The action (tagline: “If I had a hammer…”) was inspired by the acquittal of the Decommissioners, who caused £300,000 worth of damage to assembly lines during Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2009. By aiming to “besiege” the factory by blocking its access roads, protesters stood in solidarity with Palestinians who live under siege. The hope is that more civil resistance to EDO’s presence in Brighton will prove the final straw for this arm’s companies operations in Brighton.
Rhiannon Rees recalls her busy week of meetings and actions in October 2010.
Peace campaigners in the London area have had a busy week, and I have been fortunate to get around and meet some fantastic people. Last week was also ‘Quaker Week’, and I went to two of the talks at the Quaker Centre in Euston that illustrated how Quakers are involved in working for peace.
Tuesday 5 October: Andree Ryan spoke at the Quaker Centre about the time she had spent as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Israel/Palestine. These are trained volunteers of all faiths, who spend several months living and working alongside Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, observing and reporting on the daily brutality and hardships of the Israeli occupation and helping to negotiate some mitigation of the hardships and defuse some tense situations by their presence. The programme is co-ordinated by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) under the auspices of the World Council of Churches.
Inspired by the courage of the Ecumenical Accompaniers, I took the rather less brave step of joining the monthly vigil against Trident in Parliament Square, which is organised by London Region CND and takes place from 5-7pm on the first Tuesday in the month. Since the Peace Camp was ejected and the green has been blocked off by hoardings, we have to display our banners on a narrow strip of pavement close to the rush-hour traffic, but we gave out 350 leaflets and I hope reached some MPs. Continue reading “Diary of a peace campaigner”
At the start of 2010, Kaye Stearman looks back on events of the past year and what was achieved.
8 November 2008 – CAAT’s National Gathering at Conway Hall in central London sees the launch of the new “Armed & Dangerous” campaign to focus on the support given to arms exports by United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).
24 November – CAAT holds its first demonstration outside UKTI DSO headquarters at Kingsgate House, Victoria Street, Westminster. Is it right for civil servants to act as arms dealers?
27 December onwards – Israel launches an armed attack on Gaza which continues for three weeks. CAAT highlights how British weapons and components are deployed and calls for a complete ban on British arms exports to Israel. Continue reading “Looking back with CAAT”
Battlefield dispatch from General Whitewash and his brigade of rebel clowns:
Today at 17:00 hours a highly militarised clown battalion laid siege to the BAE Systems stand at the Edinburgh University Careers Fair on Chambers Street. In a bid to disrupt the recruiting efforts of the world’s third largest arms company these brave clowns performed great feats of surrealist mayhem.
Their derring-do extended to other stalls when they were alerted to the presence of such villains as Shell, RBS and Procter & Gamble, all of which futilely attempted to conceal their misdeeds – which range from massive environmental and social degradation (here’s lookin’ at you Shell and RBS) to the routine torturing of animals for cosmetics’ testing (hello Procter & Gamble!) – behind nice and shiny PR smokescreens. Good thing these clowns come fully equipped with bullsh*t detectors!
Back at the BAE stand, company reps were definitely not overheard explaining to students how the company equips F-16 warplanes used by the Israeli army to reduce Palestinian and Lebanese villages to rubble. Like lightening clowns were despatched, heavily armed with sarcasm and fluorescent clothing, to make sure potential graduate employees were fully educated in the glorious history of BAE’s deadly dealings. Continue reading “Clown Army descend upon BAE careers fair!”
Barnaby Pace updates us on the current wave of anti-arms activism to sweep the nations universities: –
Since 12.30 yesterday a number of Warwick students have occupied our SO.21 lecture theatre. We are demanding firstly that the university help the victims of the Israel-Palestine conflict by sending textbooks and computer equipment, restoring the ability of students in the region to use their right to education. The university should inform students about the issues by funding a series of talks on the conflict. Importantly we feel that the university should end its complicity in the conflict by severing its ties to the arms trade. Our university promotes arms companies in an unquestioning positive light at careers events, does research for arms companies in our academic departments and has university finances invested in funds which do not preclude arms trade investments, and this is an unacceptable status quo. Continue reading “Return of Red Warwick”
On Thursday 15 January a group of Warwick University students, in opposition to the arms trade and in solidarity with Gaza, protested at a recruitment event run by BAE and Warwick University Careers Service.
Why BAE? Is it especially unethical? Just look at their record. BAE is the third largest arms manufacturer in the world. So much has come to light in the last few years with the discoveries, investigations and court cases surrounding the Al-Yamamah arms deal to Saudi Arabia, in which BAE systems was the primary supplier of weaponry. It is alleged that BAE paid over £1 billion in bribes to members of the Saudi regime.
But this case is not unique – BAE is currently being investigated over bribery allegations Arms companies are often not willing to disclose who their customers are (especially for arms components); this may be common practice among many businesses, citing “commercial confidentiality”. However, most businesses do not need to hide that they sold fighter jets to Robert Mugabe (as BAE and Rolls Royce have) or torture equipment for Guantanamo Bay (BAE subsidiary Hiatts). Nor are reputable business alleged to give a cool £1 million in bribes to the late, but not lamented, General Pinochet (BAE again). All good reasons for protesting and the inclusion of Israel in its (very colourful) list of customers made action particularly important at this time for us. Continue reading “Warwick’s unethical career services”