In 2016 the European Union took the unprecedented step of setting up a military research programme worth 90 million euros, the so-called Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR). This is only a first step. For the next ten years, the European Commission proposes the establishment of a European Defence Fund which would allocate more than 40 billion euros to the research, development and procurement of weapons.
These steps signify a fundamental change to the European project. Although arms companies have received EU funding before, this has always happened through the ‘back door’ by way of a security research programme. The establishment of a EU military research programme points towards an unprecedented acceleration in the militarisation of the EU.
On 21 October, activists invaded the former Manston Airport, in Kent, in broad daylight and occupied the roof of the WW2 control tower. Arms company Instro Precision rents the top floor for R&D and customer demonstrations, and it was seeking to expand by moving its whole operation to the airport from its current base in nearby Broadstairs. Thanet District councillors were due to vote on the planning application later the same day. Activists – who had already occupied the company’s facilities in February and July this year – were determined to stop the move and the expansion from happening.
Why? Because Instro is owned by Elbit Systems, the largest supplier of drones to Israel, meaning we can be almost certain that Elbit’s technology was used to commit likely war crimes in the massacre of Gazans by Israel in 2014. Not only that, but Elbit is also a supplier of arms to the regimes of Saudi Arabia and Turkey – both known to have supported ISIS financially or militarily. In other words, Instro-Elbit is fueling some of the worst conflicts and
facilitating some of the worst oppression in the Middle East. Continue reading “Stop Elbit victory: No arms company expansion in East Kent!”
Two rooftop protests and no arrests. East Kent CAAT reports on the campaign against Israeli arms manufacturer Eblit System’s factory in Broadstairs, and asks: just what does Elbit have to hide?
Last year, we found out that we had an Elbit factory on our doorstep – Instro Precision, based in Broadstairs. This year we shut it down – twice. Both times, we put four people on the roof, D-locked a neck to the main gates, draped banners down the building, turned away deliveries, leafletted the local population and alerted media outlets. The workers were told to keep away for the day – both days.
In February, they tolerated the bad publicity and loss of business. Not one of the protesters was arrested. We wondered why: it is hardly usual for blockaders to be allowed to shut a factory down.
So we thought we’d see how much Elbit and the police would tolerate.
On 17 February 2015, members of East Kent Campaign Against Arms Trade were among several groups who staged a rooftop occupation of a local arms factory. The action was hugely successful, receiving widespread media coverage and extensive local support. You can see a video report of the day here. Here, one of the activists gives her account of the day.
For 13 hours last Tuesday, we occupied the rooftop of a factory owned by the Israeli army’s drone supplier, Elbit Systems. We hung enormous banners advertising Elbit’s role in Israel’s war crimes, took phone calls from the press and pitched a tent against the cold.
This blog comes from Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK, who was among four protesters that were arrested at RAF Waddington for protesting against drone warfare.
Four protesters (including myself) were arrested at RAF Waddington for protesting the normalisation of drone warfare. In a statement released at the time of the protest, the four said:
“War we are told is no longer the hell it once was. Thanks to the marketing of drone war as ‘risk free’, ‘precise’ and above all ‘humanitarian’, war has been rehabilitated and accepted as virtually normal by those who see little or nothing of the impact on the ground thousands of miles away. Remote wars mean most no longer hear, see or smell the impact of bombs and missiles. With just a little effort we can almost believe that war is not happening at all. But behind the rebranding, war is as brutal and deadly as it has always been with civilians killed, communities destroyed, and the next generation traumatized.” (See full statement below)