Arms trade

1 October 2022News

Palestine Action campaigners charged with burglary and 'blackmail'

A five-week trial involving members of the direct action group Palestine Action (PA) is due to start at Snaresbrook crown court on on 10 October.

The eight Palestine Action activists (including cofounders Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard) have been charged with burglary, criminal damage and ‘blackmail’ – for which the maximum sentence is 14 years.

The charges relate to the first six months of PA action against the British subsidiary of the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems,…

2 August 2022Comment

Johnson was an international criminal, not just a liar, argues Milan Rai

All year, it has been infuriating to watch the debate about Boris Johnson as pressure built up against the British prime minister until he was finally forced from office on 7 July by his own party – which believed he would damage its chances of winning the next election.

Johnson was sacked by the Conservatives for his personal weaknesses, such as dishonesty and irresponsibility. This was what the media also focused on. Near the liberal extreme, the Guardian editorial on his…

1 August 2022News in Brief

The woman who is likely to be the next prime minister of Britain approved £289m of UK exports with potential military use to Russia before the invasion of Ukraine, Matt Kennard of Declassified reported on 28 July.

Liz Truss (now foreign secretary) was secretary of state for international trade from July 2019 to September 2021: she was in charge of regulating the export of British arms and ‘dual use’ (possibly military) equipment.

According to Kennard, Truss approved…

1 August 2022Feature

Humanitarian crisis set to worsen despite truce, as British arms sales to Saudi Arabia continue

After seven years of war which have plunged the country into the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet, Yemen has just enjoyed a four-month truce, likely to be extended for several more months. In another hopeful sign, there is a chance that Yemen’s ‘floating time bomb’, a huge, crumbling oil storage ship just off the coast (see pic), may be drained of oil soon.

However, the British state continues to arm Saudi Arabia, despite overwhelming evidence of Saudi war crimes since the…

1 June 2022News

Protest calls for 'Windmills Not War Machines'

On 22 April, Earth Day, a local anti-militarist action group in North Carolina, USA, held a two-hour blockade of the construction site for a 1.2mn square foot jet engine manufacturing plant belonging to Pratt & Whitney (wholly owned by Raytheon Technologies, the second largest war corporation in the world). The ‘Reject Raytheon Asheville’ protest, called ‘Windmills Not War Machines’, was one of over 30 events in a week of mobilisation around the US sponsored by the War Industry Resisters…

1 April 2022News

Home raids as more charges dropped

Palestine Action (PA) has organised at least five more actions in the last two months. PA activists have had charges against them dropped – and they’ve also had house raids.

The first action in the latest run came on 24 January, when PA raided the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. UAV is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company that produces 85 percent of Israel’s military drones, used in attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

PA activists occupied the…

1 April 2022News

New group targets missile maker

On 7 March, a new direct action group, ‘Block Lockheed’, did what it said on the tin and blockaded the Lockheed Martin UK factory at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, England.

Lockheed Martin says it is ‘a global security and aerospace company’ which is ‘the leading provider for offensive and defensive weapons systems’.

Among other things, it builds the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile for the US and UK nuclear arsenals.

Block Lockheed shut down the access road…

1 April 2022Review

Declassified UK, 2021; 26m; available on YouTube: www.tinyurl.com/WartonsWar

In their classic 1988 book Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky write that: ‘A propaganda system will consistently portray people abused by enemy states as worthy victims, whereas those treated with equal or greater severity by its own government or clients will be unworthy. The evidence of worth may be read from the extent and character of attention and indignation.... While this differential treatment occurs on a large scale, the media,…

1 February 2022News

Israeli drone maker sells UK factory as campaigners acquitted in two cases 

Palestine Action (PA), the direct action group, has claimed three recent victories, including winning both of its first two court cases.

On 10 January, the Israeli drone-maker Elbit Systems announced that it had sold off a UK factory which had been disrupted over a long period by PA.

Just 10 days later, three PA activists walked free from Birmingham magistrates court after the crown prosecution service (CPS) dropped charges of criminal damage, aggravated trespass and resisting…

1 February 2022News in Brief

On 7 December, Irish Nobel Peace Prize-winner Mairead Maguire launched the ‘Downpatrick Declaration’ at the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, in northern Ireland. The peace statement, supported by a wide range of individuals and groups, condemns ‘NATO’s “War on Terror”’.

It calls on governments in Ireland and the UK to ‘stop producing weapons of war’ and to live up to their commitment to ‘exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences on political issues’ (words…

1 October 2021News

Fortnight of protest against UK arms fair

Before the start of the DSEI arms fair in East London on 14 September, there were several arrests as many protesters attempted to blockade the two service roads used by vehicles carrying military hardware into the ExCeL Centre.

A great variety of groups organised a great variety of actions against DSEI this year, though numbers overall were smaller than in recent times.

This year, the mostly autonomous protests were co-ordinated by a coalition called ‘Stop the Arms Fair’ (STAF…

1 October 2021News

Rebecca Elson-Watkins is a Londoner, an activist and a writer. She's probably on some sort of watchlist as a rabble-rousing peacenik.

As part of the two weeks of protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair held in London’s ExCeL Centre, Stop the Arms Fair organised a Festival of Resistance on 11 September. They were joined by activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR), Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), Trident Ploughshares and others – there were even jointly-produced flyers available in the information tent (along with copies of PN). The XR activists I talked to all spoke…

1 December 2019News in Brief

The Metropolitan police more than doubled their spending on policing the protests against the DSEI arms fair in East London, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The cost this September was £2.4m, whereas it was only £978,000 the last time in 2017.

The Met spent £21m dealing with XR in October, much more than the £16m it spent in April.

By 10 October, XR itself had raised just over £2.5m in 12 months, according to the Financial Times.…

1 December 2019News in Brief

Some of the most influential professional engineering and science organisations (PESOs) in the UK have promoted fossil fuel and arms companies to schoolchildren – without discussing the ethical issues involved.

That was the finding of an investigation of 20 PESOs by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) this October.

Separately, in November, SGR released a poll of climate-related attitudes among scientists, some working in fields connected to the climate crisis.…

1 December 2019News

More licences granted for military equipment to Saudi-led coalition

On 26 September, the secretary of state for international trade, Liz Truss, told parliament that the government breached a court of appeal ruling by granting further licences for military equipment to the Saudi-led coalition for use in Yemen.

This followed revelations the previous week that the government had breached the ruling on at least two occasions.

We are always being told how rigorous and robust arms export controls supposedly are, but this shows that nothing…