Judge favours business interests of war criminals over right to protest

Oct 19, 2020 | 1 comment

Five Palestine Action activists pleaded not guilty today at Stafford Crown Court for the actions that they took against Elbit Systems. The activists were accused of criminal damage, aggravated trespass and a trade union law that permits the rights to work, during their three-day occupation of an Elbit Systems UAV engine factory in Shenstone back in September. The five activists are on one trial facing these charges together.

The Elbit 5 activists asked for the conditions preventing them from travelling within a certain distance to all Elbit Systems sites to be removed based on their right to protest and freedom of expression. The judge said that in order to protect the interests of the business involved Elbit Systems, they ruled that they would not grant the activists their right to protest. The judge concluded that the interests of Elbit Systems ability to profit from war crimes and the protection of their property, was more important than both the right of the Elbit 5 activists to protest and their freedom of expression in this country, as well as the lives of Palestinians that Elbit oppresses and murders. 

The activists targeted Elbit Systems as it is Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer, and markets its weapons on the international market as “battle-tested” or “field-tested”, that is on a civilian population in Gaza that consists mostly of children and refugees. The roof of the Shenstone factory was occupied as it plays a key role in the production and distribution of engines for Elbit drones that are deployed in the skies of Gaza and elsewhere. Activists smashed windows, lights and air-conditioners as to prohibit the production of engines for Elbits military drones for as long as possible, while throwing red paint down the front of the building as to symbolize the blood of Palestinians which Elbit Systems profits from.

Palestine Action has been involved in a number of actions against Elbit Systems over the past few months, notably targeting their London HQ offices in Holborn with protests and red paint, as well as a number of bus and bus-stop Ad-hacks highlighting the complicity between UK institutions, Elbit Systems and Israel;s colonial and apartheid regime in Palestine. The Elbit Minister for Strategic Affairs has recently met with the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab demanding the shutting down of Palestine Action and restricting of the freedom of speech and freedom of expression for BDS activist groups across the country. Activists from across the country have been joining Palestine Action as to develop a campaign of sustained direct-actions against Elbit systems for their complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people. 

In light of the decision that protects war crimes over the right to protest, Palestine Action now calls on everyone to join us, to join the movement, to take direct action to throw red paint over their sites and to shut them down. 

An Elbit 5 activist quote:

“We cannot rely on the UK establishment, who have shown not only today but for over one-hundred years, that they favour colonisation, military occupation and war-profiteering. They will continue to allow war criminals to operate here in the UK in direct opposition to international law and human rights. It is for people across this country to use their privilege, to take a stand, to put themselves on the line. Now is the time to take power into our own hands and to shut elbit down”