GLASGOW PALESTINE ACTION SHUT DOWN DRONE MANUFACTURER
A group of activists from Glasgow Palestine Action network shut down Thales UK, the weapons systems manufacturer, in Govan, Glasgow. The activists climbed onto the factory roof, and blocked the doors, during the early hours of the 23rd September. Activists blockaded both entrances, lying on the ground attached to arm tubes, and
occupied the roof.
The action is in response to the recent Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and the UK economy’s ever growing military industrial cooperation with governments that flout international law. In just over 7 weeks, Israel, armed with weapons supplied by the UK, killed more than 2000 innocent
Thales was targeted for their close relationship with Elbit Systems, Israel’s
largest military company and the world’s largest drone producer. In a joint venture, Thales UK is working with Elbit Systems to make the next generation of ‘Watchkeeper’ drones, a contract worth £1 billion. These drones are based upon the Hermes 450, which was documented killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza in 2008-2009. The drones are marketed as ‘field tested’ – which means they have proven effective at killing Palestinians.
Fiona McDermot, one of the roof occupiers, explains: ‘Drones are a key part of Israel’s military arsenal. By allowing this factory to export drone components and other arms to Israel, the UK government is providing direct support and approval to Israel’s massacres.’ Leena O’Hare said: ‘The UK government, and by allowing Thales to operate with Elbit systems, have blood on their hands. Last year alone the UK government had 381 extant arms licences to Israel, worth almost £8 billion. We demand that the Scottish government puts pressure on the UK government to end arms
sales to Israel. And also takes active steps towards ending the production of weapons systems in Scotland that are connected to apartheid, colonialism and genocide. Another Scotland is possible!’
The White Poppy Initiative
The White poppy was an initiative of the Co-operative Women’s Guild and was first worn on Armistice Day in 1933. The White Poppy has become a symbol of our inability to settle conflicts without resorting to killing but more importantly of hope and commitment to work for a world where conflicts will be resolved without violence and with justice. Last year Scottish WILPF asked all members to buy three white poppies, one to wear and to send one to their MSP and one to their MP. This year we have a stall in the Scottish Parliament for the week of the 3rd to 7th of November to
distribute White Poppies to MSPs, staff and visitors. As well as the stall in the Scottish Parliament we will be selling white poppies at all EWJF events and at October’s Radical Voices. White poppies can be purchased can be purchased from the Edinburgh Peace and Justice centre.
Doves of Peace Campaign
The Moderator of the General Assembly has urged congregations across Scotland to display their collective desire for world peace through an innovative doves of peace campaign. The Rt Rev John Chalmers will be presenting doves – originally made from pieces of glass picked from the rubble of past invasions of Bethlehem, now from recycled glass – to those he meets during his Moderatorial year. Mr Chalmers said: “For me this dove holding an olive branch in its mouth is a symbol of hope and it is
my prayer that a just peace will reign for Israelis and for the Palestinian people, whether in Gaza or in the place where this symbol was first conceived and where the glass doves are being crafted.” The glass doves and a variety of other recycled glass products from Bethlehem are available from Hadeel store, at 121 George St, Edinburgh.
Thousands protested for peace before NATO Summit
Protesters marched through Newport in early September and joined a counter-summit with speakers from the USA and Russia to discuss opposition to the nuclear-armed military policies of NATO. There was a protest in Newport on the Thursday. CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, who will be part of the delegation, said: ‘Far from promoting security, NATO is a destabilising global force. Its war of aggression in Afghanistan has killed tens of thousands and left that country fragmented: the ripples of which are being felt across the region. Through its insatiable expansion into eastern Europe, capitalising on the vacuum left following the collapse of the USSR, NATO has contributed to heightening tensions around Russia and Ukraine, and risks provoking a new Cold War. It’s time to say No to NATO.’ In Scotland there was a solidarity vigil at the North Gate of Faslane on Friday. The UK’s Trident submarines which each carry 40 nuclear warheads each 8- 10 times the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb are based there, but are assigned to NATO. According to the NATO Strategic Concept 2010 these nuclear weapons provide the ultimate guarantee of the security of NATO member countries, and their strategic interests. Strategic interests refers to insuring access to oil, also a key reason for the UK’s involvement in the war on IS in Iraq.
The People’s March for the NHS
The Peoples March for the NHS which has crisscrossed the country for 300 miles arrived in London on the 6th September for a huge rally in Trafalgar Square. Beginning in Jarrow on August 6th, the demonstration followed the same route taken by Jarrow marchers campaigning against unemployment and extreme poverty in 1936. Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) have been supporting the march and the campaign against the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which would lead to health and social services being permanently provided on a market basis across the EU, including in the UK. In her speech at the rally in Trafalgar Square KONP chair Sue Richards stated: “To the Prime Minister David Cameron, I say: you have made a lot of mistakes. Your biggest mistake was to think you could take the NHS away from the people of this country. They will tell you next May just how wrong you were. “Join Keep Our
NHS Public. Get involved and save the NHS from privatisation. Start petitions, set up pavement stalls, do whatever it takes to make saving the NHS the top issue in next year’s general election.”
Carbon Bomb Blows Up Near West Point Military Academy (West Point, New York 2014)
On Tuesday before the Climate March, a 30-foot carbon bomb blew up in the airspace over the Hudson River in front of West Point Military Academy. An inflatable bomb pressurized with carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen contained in outer shell of silver radiant barrier foil, the carbon bomb was manufactured by the inflatable fabrication group Tools for Action. Lettering on the side of the bomb read, “US Military: Largest consumer of oil, largest emitter of CO2.” The carbon bomb was transported down the river by a flotilla of canoes midway through a two-week journey traversing the Hudson River down to New York for the upcoming climate mobilization. At West Point, the Sea Change Flotilla was
joined by former military service members from Veterans for Peace, who
then carried the carbon bomb in the Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming contingent at the Peoples Climate March on September 21.
“The primary culprit in all this heating the planet is not you or I because we don’t recycle quite enough. It is the US military, the biggest user of fossil fuels and the largest emitter of CO2 on the planet – not to mention its ongoing wars waged for resources and power” said US Army veteran Tarak Kauff. As the United Nations prepared to meet in New York on September 23 to discuss climate change, one subject that was not to be on the negotiating table is the emissions of the US military. Although the US military is assumed to be the largest emitter of CO2, the military is not required to report their emissions to the UN. It has been estimated that the US military is responsible for five percent of total global greenhouse emissions.
“In the dialogue around stopping climate change, too much emphasis is being put on ethical consumerism,” said Katherine Ball of Tools for Action. “Does it really matter if we try to fly less if the US Air Force continues to burn one-fourth of the world’s jet fuel? We have to address the systemic causes of climate change: the most eco-friendly thing you can do is be anti-war.”
For decades, the US military has been fighting wars to secure oil resources. These wars have taken many forms: from the CIA-planned coup in Iran in 1953 in order to prevent the newly elected prime minister from nationalizing the nation’s oil, to the full-scale invasion of Iraq in 2003 in order to – among other things – up the production of Iraq’s vast oil fields. In 2003, as the military prepared for the Iraq invasion, the Army estimated it would consume more gasoline in only three weeks than the Allied Forces used during the entirety of World War II. The Guardian estimates that throughout the entire Iraq War, the US military’s carbon footprint was between 250-600 million tons. “Military interventions for oil are just the tip of the iceberg. The military is gearing up to fight ‘climate wars’ over resources destabilized by climate change: water, arable land, food. It is a vicious cycle: In fighting these climate wars, the military will release emissions, which will cause more climate change, which further destabilize resources and cause more climate wars, which will cause more
emissions…” Artúr van Balen of Tools for Action said.
The People’s Climate March (Edinburgh and around the world)
This report is by P&J volunteer Tracy Buckley who represented the P&J to help organise the march.
After weeks of tedious planning by a group of passionate, dedicated souls the People’s Climate March took over the city of Edinburgh in an energetic display of peaceful protest. The historical event began at 1:30pm, Sunday, 21st September with a family-friendly picnic in Princes St Gardens. By 2:30pm, The Mound was unrecognizable beneath the vibrant banners and enthusiastic activists waiting for the city march to commence. The young and the old, environmentalist newbies and wisened activists (and everything in-between), all joined hands and hearts for a greater
What did we want? To get an important message to governments around the world that what is happening to our climate is not ok and that we need to do something about it NOW for the future of this planet, its people and its creatures! Informative and inspiring speeches by Prof. Jeremy Kidwell and Scientist Aaron Thierry (who were also key organizers of the event) were used to ‘rally the troops’ which were then led out onto Princes St by the Protest in Harmony choir.
So how many ‘troops’ were there? One police-man was quoted saying there were ‘at least two thousand’, while Grian A. Cutanda (another key organiser and crowd-counter) simply lost track as there were just so many participants!
Due to such an extraordinary turn out, more police were brought in to control traffic, half of Princes St was shut down and pedestrian and vehicle traffic was significantly disrupted!
The event concluded with voices from the crowd; all were encouraged to say their bit about why climate change is an issue for them because this march was for the people – while it started off timid, the enthusiasm to speak grew and soon there was a line of people – (even as young as 11 years old) to share their concerns! We even had the lovely MSP Alison Johnstone speak on behalf of the Green party!
So all in all, the march worldwide was a success, receiving press in multiple
newspapers across the globe and being dubbed the “Largest March in Climate Change History” by AVAAS and similarly in the Guardian newspaper. A big thank you to all who attended, especially all those who volunteered (including the organisers group – you all know who you are!) – This event wouldn’t have had the same spectacular results, coordination and participation had it not been for all of your hard work and support!
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) – Edinburgh Group News
The Group continues to focus on challenging the sponsorship of the Edinburgh International Science Festival by the arms company SELEX ES. Representations are being made on the way the Festival Board’s ethical policy is skewed to make cooperation with a company whose core purpose is to profit from arms exports, often to human rights-abusing regimes, appear legitimate through a common support of scientific and technical advancements. Copies of the paper petition and the statement for groups and agencies can be obtained by emailing email@example.com, or by phone from David Turner (0131 669 1308). The next CAAT group meeting is on Monday 13th October in the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh at 7pm. A warm welcome is given to all those interested.
Edinburgh CAAT Seeks Volunteer Development Worker
The group is looking for a Volunteer Development Worker to help promote CAAT’s aim to end arms trading by the UK and, ultimately, all nations. The person appointed will be deeply concerned about how arms exports fuel wars and conflicts, aid repressive regimes and create more poverty worldwide. There is an urgent need for the recruitment of energetic and enthusiastic people, especially those of younger age, for local campaigning and networking with other groups.The Development Worker role includes minute-taking at quarterly meetings and distribution of information. An annual honorarium of £500 is paid to the
Development Worker, in quarterly instalments. An application form and job description are available from Marianne Ferguson Rice
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or from David Turner (Tel No 0131 669 1308).
Trident Nuclear Weapons Base Blockaded in Post Referendum Protest
On Monday 22nd September, four days after the historic referendum and two days after a hundred people gathered at Faslane for a picnic and a Yes or No Trident Has Got to Go, Trident Ploughshares partially blocked the north gate to Faslane Naval Base, sending a strong message that the overwhelming desire of Scotland to be rid of nuclear weapons must be honoured. Five activists, including Peace and Justice Centre Coordinator Brian Larkin locked on to each other while displaying banners that read Scrap Trident and Scotland YES Trident NO. Traffic waiting to enter the base was gridlocked. The demo was reported on Radio Scotland and STV News and the action was covered by The Herald and The Scotsman.
The activists were Brian Larkin, Janet Fenton, Brian Quail, Jane Tallents and Jean Oliver; A member of the Peace Camp was also arrested at the South Gate. All were held in custody for 32 hours and released the following day without charge.