Ireland: Anti-war activists acquitted, arms manufacturer exposed

Issue 

The six anti-war activists who occupied arms manufacturer Raytheon's offices in Derry and destroyed its computers — part of the Raytheon 9 who took part in the action — have been acquitted by a jury in Belfast on June 11.

The Derry Anti War Coalition has called on the office of the attorney-general and the crown prosecution service, in light of the jury's verdict of "not guilty" to criminal damage charges, to institute an investigation into the activities of Raytheon at its various plants across Britain, with a view to determining whether arms manufacturer is a criminal enterprise.

After their acquittal on three charges of criminal damage to the computer equipment and office of Raytheon, the world's largest supplier of Guided Bomb Units, Colm Bryce and Eamonn McCann spoke to supporters and press outside the court.

Bryce stated: "The Raytheon 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon.

We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the 'kill chain' that Raytheon controls."

Bryce said that the Raytheon 9 "wish to dedicate" the victory "to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the 30 July 2006 due to a Raytheon 'bunker buster' bomb".

"Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on 9 August, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it."

Bryce commented: "This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt."

"Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt", Bryce argued. "The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had 'aided and abetted' the commission of crimes against humanity was 'not an issue' for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled."

"They are war criminals, plain and simple", Bryce insisted. "These crimes continue daily and hourly in the Middle East. It is up to those of us who oppose those wars of domination and occupation to build a movement that matches the enormity of what is being done by Western governments."

Bryce argued that "the very least we can do, to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East is to dissociate ourselves from the corrupt governments of the US and Britain."

McCann told the press and supporters: "The outcome of this case has profound implications."

"The jury", he said, "has accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that: the Israel Defence Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006; that the Raytheon company, including its facility in Derry, was aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; and that the action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes."

"We have been vindicated", McCann stated.

"We reject entirely and with contempt the statement by Raytheon this evening suggesting that the result of the trial gives them concern about the safety of their employees. This is an abject attempt to divert attention from the significance of the outcome. Not a shed of evidence was produced that we presented the slightest danger to Raytheon workers."

McCann commented: "There is now no hiding place for those who have said that they support the presence of Raytheon in Derry on the basis that the company is not involved … in arms-related production. We have established that not only is the Derry plant involved in arms-related production, it is also, through its integration into Raytheon as a whole, involved in war crimes.

"We call on all elected representatives in Derry, and on the citizens of Derry, to say now in unequivocal terms that the war criminal Raytheon is not welcome in our city."

Bryce called for continued anti-war mobilisations and said opposing war "means opposing the visit to Belfast of the world's biggest war criminal, George W. Bush on 16 June."

[Abridged from Ireland Indymedia, http://indymedia.ie. For more information, visit http://raytheon9.org.]