Demonstrators gathered to give the arms dealers a fright on Halloween
On Friday 17th October 2014, Smash EDO campaigners supported a demonstration outside Elbit’s UAV engines arms factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. The demonstration was attended by over 80 people who demanded a military embargo on sales to Israel and from Israeli companies and the closure of the factory.
During July and August 2014, 2,150 Palestinians were killed as Israel carried out another massacre of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip. Entire neightourhoods were destroyed and mosques, market places, UN relief compounds and schools were deliberately targeted. There was no safe place for the 1.7 million people in Gaza to take shelter from the Israeli bombardment. Continue reading
On the 8th of October, DPRTE – “The UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event” was held in Cardiff’s Motorpoint arena. A demonstration had been called by Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network and South Wales Anarchists to oppose it, starting at 8.30am to coincide with the start of delegate registration, when the those buying and selling weapons and toys of war would be entering the arms fair.
Food not Bombs Cardiff gave vegan breakfasts to passers by and the demonstrators. Food not bombs are a group who draw attention to food waste, and also the absurd fact that under capitalism we can afford to go to war but yet so many are going hungry and in many parts of the world people are starving to death.
A few people had tried to storm the arms fair, getting very close to the entrance before being kicked out by security. At around 9am 3 men in suits entering the arms fair were covered in red paint. Two people were arrested and subsequently kept for 12 hours. They were both charged with criminal damage for staining the suits.
Protesters continued to have a frank exchange of views with delegates at the fair for the remainder of the day.
The arms industry benefits from perpetual war that haas become the norm. Arms dealers make money from the deaths of innocent people. They came to Cardiff, a city that had a small taste of what it is to be in a militarised zone with the NATO Conference coming to south Wales just a month ago. If DPRTE come back next year people will be there to oppose them again. We don’t want these dangerous psychopaths in our city, buying and selling weapons that kill people.
Barclays Bank have a long history of profiting from suffering and war.
In the 70’s and 80’s they invested heavily in Apartheid South Africa, giving credence to a brutal, racist regime. Following an international boycott movement they pulled out in 1986.
Today, Barclays PLC are a share-holder in Elbit, an Israeli company which manufacture drones used extensively in the recent bombings of Gaza. They also invest in Exelis, EDO MBM’s parent company, as well as BAE systems, General Dynamics, Caterpillar, Meggitt and Raytheon.
• In 2012 and 2013 drones killed more people in Gaza than any other aircraft.
• In 2009′s ‘Operation Cast Lead’ attack, a third of the 1417 Palestinians killed were killed by drones.
• In 2014, 2143 Gazans were killed and 11,100 left wounded or disabled. Elbit drones were involved in many of these attacks.
Al Mezan, a Palestinan Human Rights Organisation found:
“When Israeli forces started to use drones the number of people killed increased. The people who manufacture the drones facilitate more attacks because drones are cheaper, they are in the sky all the time, and they (the air force) don’t have to plan the attack properly beforehand.”
Barclays has tried to absolve itself of any responsibility by saying its shares in Elbit are held on behalf of clients and to “hedge exposure”. Yet Barclays is profiting from holding shares in Elbit on behalf of its clients and the practise of “hedging” is simply another form of financial investment. By trading and holding shares in Elbit Systems, Barclays is deeply complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment. Until Barclays agree not to trade in Elbit share we refuse to bank with them.
Campaigns like this have success. A campaign against Deutsche Bank led to the bank pulling all funds out of Elbit. And shares in Elbit fell by 3 percent following Sweden’s largest pensions fund divesting from Elbit.
During the South African apartheid era, Barclays owned a South African subsidiary bank that made loans to the apartheid government and purchased millions in South African defence bonds. In solidarity with those being oppressed, British students closed their Barclays student accounts and encouraged others to do so. This caused Barclays share of the student market to drop from 27% to 15%. Encouraged by the students’ action, local councils, teachers associations and charities followed suit until Barclays permanently closed its South African subsidiary, having lost millions of pounds in closed bank accounts.
The drones which Elbit manufacture are unmanned aircrafts armed with missiles, controlled using joysticks from the safety of a military base. The drone’s video camera sends visual feedback to the soldier operator who choses a target on screen then fires.
The surreal detatchment of killing from afar has caused some Israeli soldiers moral misgivings. Last month, forty-three Israeli military reservists declared they would no longer serve in the Israeli army citing amongst others, incidents they witnessed involving drones.
Said one soldier:
“Once when I was the unit representative, there was someone suspicious next to a weapons warehouse in Gaza and we thought he was our target. It had taken us a long time to find him. Judging by his location, the time and similar data, we concluded it was him. After we assassinated him it turned out that he was a kid. My job there was supposedly technical. The atmosphere was that of an office. In real time you can see maps and images from the helicopter, but you’re sitting in an office so it’s very easy to feel detached and distance yourself. Nor was it my job to ask questions. I was told what was needed and that’s what I did. I remember an image on the screen of him in an orchard, and the explosion on the screen, the smoke clearing and his mother running to him, at which point we could see he was a child. The body was small. I realised we had screwed up. It got quiet and uncomfortable. Then we needed to carry on as there were other things to do, though the mood was grim. I don’t know of any investigation of what had happened, or if it was reviewed at a later date.”
The Palestinian survivors of drone attacks tell a different story. This is a message from Ridda Abu Znaid, who watched as her sister and cousin were killed by an Israeli drone strike in the Gaza strip in 2009. She speaks to those who profit from manufacturing the weapons used in Gaza:
”If they just knew for a second what a weapon can do, what it costs us, I think they would stop. I think they have no souls. When they look at the TV and see the news did they see the people killed by these drones, how did they feel? If they just came here for one night and heard the bombing and the planes and the drones – I don’t know what they would feel – I think they should come here and live our experience in war and they would understand.”
On Wednesday 8th September activists in Brighton demonstrated against Exelis’ supply of weapons to Israel, while direct action was taken in Cardiff against the DPRTE arms fair.
In Brighton over 30 people attended a demonstration calling for Exelis to Stop Arming Israel. They were met by A heavy police presence:
In Cardiff people gathered to resist the DPRTE arms fair
at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. Cardiff Food Not Bombs set up a stall outside the Arena giving out free food for the public and a protest was held outside for the duration of the day. As delegates were waiting to register for the event they were soaked with red paint, reminding those present of the blood of the victims of the arms trade. Two people were arrested for criminal damage.
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