On 30th April 2014 anti-militarists brought tone deaf voices, a sound system, harmonicas, out of tune guitars, a ukelele and an accordion to make a noise outside the EDO MBM Exelis arms factory in Brighton and call for its closure.
We had an amazing drones awareness-raising day on the Level in Brighton as part of the international weekend of solidarity that has been called for by the people of Afghanistan as they celebrate New Year. Kite flying is loved in Afghanistan but was banned under the Taliban. Nowadays Afghans see UK and US drones flying in their skies.
A sound system played Afghan folk music whilst we chatted to passers-by about the horrors of drone attacks. There was free cake and onion bhajis (cakes not cluster munitions, bhajis not bombs!) and, of course, kites to fly.
We hope that our action today will help pave the way for a new wave of resistance against arms companies in solidarity with the victims of the drone attacks.
The US and UK have used armed drones in Afghanistan for over 12 years. In the last 5 years there have been 547 UK drone strikes on Afghanistan, which is now the “drone capital” of the world. Read more in our article about drones.
This weekend was also the 11th anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Here’s an interview with local activists Jo Wilding and Riad El-taher about the devastation caused by the invasion – see here
International weekend of action in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan
Come and fly kites, learn about drones, eat cakes and play musical instruments this Sunday, 23rd March at 2pm at The Level in Brighton!
An international weekend of solidarity has been called for by the people of Afghanistan as they celebrate New Year. Kite flying is loved in Afghanistan but was banned under the Taliban. Nowadays Afghans see UK and US drones flying in their sky.
It’s been over 12 years since the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, ironically named “Operation Enduring Freedom” by the US government. The country has been left in devastation, and there are over 3 million Afghan refugees.
The US and UK have used armed drones in Afghanistan for over 12 years. In the last 5 years there have been 547 UK drone strikes on Afghanistan, which is now the “drone capital” of the world.
What are drones?
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are aircraft either controlled by “pilots” from the ground or, increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. They fall into two categories: those that are used for surveillance and those that are armed with missiles and bombs.
The UK-operated Predator and Reaper drones are armed with Hellfire missiles and Paveway bombs, which are remotely controlled some 5,500 miles away in RAF Waddington, near Lincoln, to attack people and buildings in Afghanistan.
Drones enable western powers to wage attacks without ever declaring war and without setting foot on enemy soil. Drone warfare allows countries such as the US or UK to attack without any risk to their own troops. Western governments hope that there will not be any public resistance to these attacks, whose nameless victims are thousands of miles away. Often drone technology enables their attacks to be secretive, such as in Yemen and Somalia, and the killings don’t make Western news headlines. And with no pilots in the skies, no-one is held accountable for murders by drones.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have all suffered strikes by US or UK drones controlled from thousands of miles away. In Gaza, Palestine, Israeli surveillance drones are a daily presence in the sky and more people are now killed by drones than by any other weapon. Although ground troops have been withdrawn from Gaza, the massacres continue by using drones instead.
The connection with Brighton…
The EDO arms factory sits on Home Farm Road in Moulsecoomb, Brighton. EDO MBM have been involved in research and development of weapons systems for drones for at least a decade.Their parent company produces the bomb rack for the CIA Reaper drones used to carry out illegal assassinations, such as in Pakistan and Yemen. EDO MBM specialise in developing miniature and micro weapon systems. In 2012, one of EDO’s directors stated that “flexible responses require new approaches to the delivery of small non-traditional weapons from non-traditional airframes involved in the kill chain”. EDO also worked jointly with Raytheon Systems in the development of the Paveway bomb, which is fired from drones.
Join us in our campaign!
Smash EDO campaigns against Brighton’s arms factory and also against the whole arms trade.
Anti-militarist activists today blockaded a NATO conference at a stately home in the Sussex countryside. Meanwhile, banners were hung off road bridges close to the venue to greet delegates as they arrived at Wiston House in Steyning.
Protesters succeeded in blocking the front entrance for more than an hour, leading to chaotic scenes on the A283, as cars queued to get into the estate.
An event official told protesters: “If you stop the event from happening, delegates won’t be here to see you protesting so you won’t get your message across to them!!”
Activists also picketed the rear entrance, with police being forced to escort cars into the conference. One protester was arrested and roughly handcuffed by three large policemen for reasons which are unclear.
Leaflets were also handed out to locals in Steyning town centre, where the campaigners were followed by intelligence gathering police.
NATO is holding a “Post 2014 Strategic Narrative Conference” from Monday 17th to Wednesday 19th March. Its aim is to set the agenda and content for the 2014 NATO Summit, in Newport, Wales, in September.
Chloe Marsh of anti-arms trade campaign Smash EDO said: “Senior NATO and member state officials, parliamentarians, and defence and security experts – responsible for untold death, illegal torture flights, and wars purely to protect Western interests – are gathering right now in Steyning. We are here to oppose them.”
NATO’s “strategic narrative” is essentially the lies with which it aims to hoodwink the public and justify its next imperialistic invasion. The conference’s official website even admits that it is planning “the elements of a proactive communications strategy to convey NATO’s post 2014 strategic narrative and validation of the utility of military force to member state politicians and publics.”
Michelle Tester of Smash EDO said: “some of us have visited regions that have been targeted by NATO. We have seen buildings devastated by bombings and we have met local people who have lost friends and family. We oppose the demonisation by western governments and the media of people from countries that are the victims of NATO’s invasions.”
First of all, a big thank you to everyone who has donated money to the campaign. We are so grateful for your generosity and support.
Here’s a few upcoming events:
FLY KITES NOT DRONES! 2PM, SUNDAY 23RD MARCH ON THE LEVEL (wind permitting!):
A drones awareness-raising event where we will fly kites, give out cakes and
give info about:
- EDO’s complicity in marketing drone technology
- The changing and horrifying tactics of war (constant drone presence in the
sky in places like Gaza, and drone attacks on people in countries like Yemen)
- How you can get involved with campaigning against drones.
MIDDLEMAN PRESENTS: SPIT SHAKE SISTERS and BEATNIK HORRORS - SMASH EDO
FUNDRAISER! SATURDAY 5TH APRIL, 7.30PM AT THE COWLEY CLUB:
you are cordially invited to middleman’s VERY FIRST EVENT! here to raise money
for smashEDO to help them pay off court fines for their amazing efforts to
STOP ARMS MANUFACTURING. if you believe in the stop war efforts this will be a
brilliant way to show support while enjoying a night of brilliant and loud
rock music from the SPIT SHAKE SISTERS and BEATNIK HORRORS!!
all we ask is a three pound donation on the door!
MOBILISATION AGAINST THE NATO SUMMIT IN WALES: SEPTEMBER 2014:
This year NATO will have their next summit at Celtic Manor Resort, in Newport,
south Wales. In early September 2014, “world leaders” – all directly
responsible for untold death, illegal torture flights, and wars fought purely
to protect Western business interests and resource supply routes – will gather
on the edge of this historic Welsh city.
See the call-out by Stop NATO Cymru:
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