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
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:
This guest post comes from Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK and focuses on the UK drone industry. You can find out more at www.dronewars.net.
Drones, or as the industry prefers to call them unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are the latest ‘must have’ weapon system and many countries are seeking to acquire or develop various types of military drones. While Israeli and US companies dominate the drone export market(and are also involved in lobbying efforts to ‘relax’ the international controls on their export), drones are increasingly been seen by the UK arms industry as a growth area and already a number of smaller niche companies have been swallowed up by the big guns.
Campaign Against Arms Trade, Unit 4, 5-7 Wells Terrace, London, N4 3JU
Tel: +44 20 7281 0297
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