Raytheon & Shannon - good v bad direct actions?

For several years the presence of the US war company Raytheon's plant in Derry has been a focus for anti-war protests in that city including direct actions. Raytheon makes the Patriot, Tomahawk, Cruise and Sidewinder missiles, the small Derry plant didn't manufacture the weapons but rather was part of the process of producing the software that made them function.  Rather oddly this was sometimes used to defend the company, as if the assembly line worker attaching fins to a rocket was somehow more responsible for the children it killed when dropped on a house that the software programmer who wrote the code that guided it to its destination.

In the last year the company has abandoned Derry, two high profile direct actions against it in 2006 and in 2009 were probably part of the decision to get out of town.  A curious feature of these actions is the relatively high profile played by members of the same organisation in direct action at Raytheon whose organisation (the SWP) attacked those who were to the fore in direct action as used at Shannon airport in southern Ireland in 2002-2003.  It seems odd because in every aspect the two sets of actions are comparable, presumably the logic deployed must be similar to the logic that saw software development as OK but screwing fins on missles as bad?

Shannon at the time was (and still is)  refueling US war planes en route to and from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Like those who carried out some of the direct actions at Shannon most of those involved in the direct actions at Raytheon where also eventually found not guilty.  I wrote the article below last week in response to one such court case from the Raytheon actions.


Raytheon 9 women found not guilty

On January 12 2009 9 women entered Raytheon in Derry with the intention of bringing down the mainframe (and halting production in Britain and Ireland) as a direct response to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. The 9 women didn't make it to the mainframe but did chain themselves to the inside doors and were charged with "Burglary, Criminal Damage and Assault." Days after the Israeli military assault on the Freedom Flotilla which left at least 9 activsts dead the 9 women have been found not guilty by the Belfast High Court.

In negotiating with Chief Inspector Chris Yates during their occupation of Raytheon the women made it clear that they were there to highlight Raytheon's participation in war crimes and that they would only come out if the police agreed to investigate the extent to which Raytheon was implicated in the war crimes being carried out in Gaza using weapons created and supported by Raytheon. The PSNI agreed to do so although there so no evidence of any subsequent investigation.

Raytheon, whose premises in Derry (now closed) has been the site of previous occupations and direct action protests, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction and a key supplier of Israeli weaponry, including the devices for deploying “white phosphorous”. In August 2006, 9 male protesters, also known as the “Raytheon 9”, were charged with criminal damage after deliberately sabotaging the mainframe computer. This direct action was a direct response to the Israeli Defence Forces targeting of residential apartments in Qana, Lebanon, when 28 civilians were killed with a Raytheon “Bunker Buster” bomb. In June 2008 that “ Raytheon 9” were acquited unanimously by a Belfast jury after it accepted that the action was being done in order to prevent further loss of life. In legal terms this is a legitimate defence against the charge of Criminal Damage. During the same trial, representatives from Raytheon had to admit that they had continued to supply weaponary to Israel in spite of evidence that it was being used to commit war crimes.

Five men who acted in solidarity with the Raytheon 9 women were also arrested. Of these Kieran G. was found guilty of impersonating a police officer and given a conditional discharge. James K. was fined £75 for spray painting. The not guilty verdict against the 9 and the minor findings against these two was described as "a good result all round. Resisting War Crimes is still no crime" by one supporter after the verdict.

Statement issued by the women as they entered the Raytheon premises:

FROM NINE WOMEN WHO HAVE CHAINED THEMSELVES INSIDE THE RAYTHEON BUILDING AT SPRINGTOWN TODAY (JANUARY 12th) AT 2.30PM

We have taken this action in an effort to prevent or delay war crimes being committed by the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza with the use of Raytheon weapons and to try to force a criminal investigation into the activities of the Raytheon company in Derry and elsewhere which, we believe, amount to complicity in war crimes.

Like millions of others, we have watched television pictures of innocent people being slaughtered since the Israeli assault on Gaza began on December 27th, and have wanted it to stop. But nobody with the power to make it stop seems willing to intervene to do so.

Lawyers and international human rights organisations have declared that the Israeli bombing and shelling of Gaza involves war crimes. The bombing of a UN-sponsored school on January 6th, killing at least 40 civilians, including children, has merely been the worst of these war crimes.

Raytheon is one of Israel’s main suppliers of the weapons being used in the attacks on Gaza. The company is either aware or doesn’t care that its weapons are being used to commit war crimes.

Raytheon is aiding and abetting Israel in committing these war crimes against the people of Gaza. We are trying to stop them.

We hope that we encourage others to take similar action against other Raytheon plants and against arms companies generally.

We call for a criminal investigation into the activities of the Raytheon company in Ireland, Britain and elsewhere with a view to the prosecution of Raytheon executives for complicity in war crimes.

We call on all political parties, community groups, trades unions, churches and others in the Derry area to say clearly that we do not want a company involved in war crimes in our town and to declare that Raytheon should get out.

STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE WOMEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER LEAVING THE BUILDING AT SIX PM.

A deputation from the Derry Anti-War Coalition is to meet with senior PSNI officers this week to present evidence which, they say, warrants a criminal investigation into the Raytheon company.

The coalition says that an agreement by the PSNI to formally consider the evidence was one of the reasons for ending the protest at Raytheon in which nine women chained themselves together inside the building.

A spokeswoman for the nine said: "While inside the building, we had a series of discussions with the Foyle commander of the PSNI, Chris Yates. As a result of these discussions between ourselves and Chief Inspector Yates, it was agreed that he would accept delivery of our dossier of evidence and arrange that it be studied to determine whether a basis exists for criminal charges against Raytheon.

We thank all those who gathered outside Raytheon to support our action. The Derry Anti War Coalition again calls on the local political parties to join us in demanding that Raytheon get out of Derry

 

  


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