CRIMES ISSUE DODGED IN EDO COURT CASE
Round Three in the ongoing court battle between anti-arms trade
activists and Brighton bomb-builders EDO MBM (see
SchNEWS 492), which saw the Attorney Generals office launching
into the battle like a laser-guided legal missile, as a top barrister
was dispatched to pull EDO MBMs fat out of the fire. In the
three day court hearing November 2-4th, activists attempted to include
in their defence evidence of EDO MBMs complicity in war crimes.
The court was shown graphic images and eyewitness statements of
atrocities caused by air strikes in Palestine and Iraq.
EDO MBM manufacture guidance systems for the Paveway series of
laser-guided bombs, which were the most used weapon in Operation
Shock and Awe, the forty-eight hour bombardment which
kicked off the invasion. They also manufacture parts for the Hellfire
air-to-ground missile, a favourite for both US and Israeli forces
to carry out targeted assassinations.
The defendants argued that their actions in protesting outside
the factory had been to prevent or detect crime. They
did this by arguing that not only was the Iraq war illegal, but
that war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention occurred during
the aerial bombardment of the civilian population. Evidence of war
crimes by the Israeli armed forces using EDO MBM equipment was also
Funnily enough the government didnt really want there to
be a full and fair investigation into the legality of the war ("Why
do people keep banging on about it, cant they just accept
it and move on?" - TB) and the judiciary, in the shape of Judge
Wallace, were only too happy to oblige.
The Attorney-Generals office applied to advise
the proceedings. Its always in the details; by becoming a
party to proceedings they might have had to disclose
some of what they knew about the war, but in an advisory
and supposedly neutral capacity they could freely intervene in the
case with the sole purpose of ensuring that the legality of the
Iraq invasion is never questioned in the UK courts.
At an earlier hearing they convinced the judge that they should
be able to frame the hearing, i.e. they get to decide what questions
the court should ask! And strangely they had all the right answers.
Unsurprisingly, the Judge took the opportunity to kick the whole
question of war crimes into touch (not much chance of a mention
on the honours list if he held that hot potato too long). One excuse
was that while waging an aggressive war is a crime, it is not a
crime in domestic law so while the British state
is quite happy to put the likes of Milosevic and Hussein on trial,
it cannot tolerate having those standards of behaviour applied to
their own actions. Anti-EDO activists hit the conceptual brick wall
of trying to argue that our own leaders might be war criminals.
How can Tony Blair be a criminal? hes a friend of Bonos!
Yet another reason for throwing out the defence was that protesters
actions had not been direct enough! That if the protesters had genuinely
believed a war crime was imminent theyd have taken more militant
action. And if thats not incitement then what is? One logic-stretching
trick was comparing the defendants to a schizophrenic who was stalking
someone to prevent a crime. The judge accepted that evidence of
involvement in war crimes is hard to come by, but claimed that action
to prevent crime could only occur in the context of knowing when
and how the crime was to be committed. In other words activists
could not merely know that EDO have supplied weapons used in air
strikes - they would have to identify which specific bomb, sold
on which particulardate was going to be used in which targeted assassination
or air strike... mmm, tricky!
The issue of war crimes committed in Palestine with EDO MBMs
products was brushed over. This is despite repeated international
condemnation of Israels policy of targeted assassination,
which has repeatedly caused civilian deaths as Israel uses Hellfire
missiles and guided bombs to kill its enemies in the West Bank and
In an extravaganza of weasel words the Attorney General claimed
that civilian casualties were allowed under the terms of the Geneva
Convention provided they were not part of a systematic policy and
occurred in pursuit of a military objective. He then went on to
argue that as military objectives were state secrets,
protesters could not realistically form a view of whether war crimes
were being committed another brilliant Catch 22. According
to the A-G, civilian casualties were regrettable and
maybe on occasion tragic but never war crimes.
Activists will soon be back in court over the issue of whether
or not the use of Protection of Harassment act to shut down protests
is legally valid. www.smashedo.org.uk
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For Making Medicine
Geordie grandmother Patricia Tabram faces up to 14 years in jail
for production of cannabis that she uses to ease the symptoms of
her arthritis. She was arrested after police found four cannabis
plants in her house. Two years ago Mrs Tabram was in a neck brace,
used two walking sticks and was on a cocktail of prescription drugs,
but since she started using cannabis, the sticks and neck brace
have gone, and she no longer uses any prescription drugs, and she
has been able to sleep soundly for the first time in years. The
prosecution would like to see the cannabis eating granny "tucked
up by Christmas". So much for the festive spirit! www.newsoftheweed.com
LOSING THEIR FACULTIES?
EXCLUSIVE: NEW TERRORIST TRAINING CAMPS DISCOVERED IN Uk
Ever thought about the morality of Universities investments?
Well, its time we should, because as the purse-strings on
government funding for universities have become tighter they are
increasingly turning to the corporate sector, including the arms
industry, to sustain themselves financially. The fact that 67 UK
universities currently hold significant investments in arms companies
is glaring evidence of the growing connection between academia and
the arms trade. These diversifying universities include Oxford,
Cambridge, Sheffield, Manchester, Southampton, Swansea, Birmingham,
Leeds, York and University College, London. Such bastions of learning,
supposedly renowned for their commitment to internationalism and
human progress, are in fact making big bucks from sustaining international
terror and perpetuating human suffering.
This relationship has also meant that arms companies are investing
in universities, which involves the sponsoring of departments and
research: the friendly weapon-lovers are increasing the role they
play in our education system. For example, according to People and
Planet, GKN, an arms company that supplied water cannon and armoured
vehicles to the brutal Indonesian Suharto dictatorship, paid Cambridge
University £750,000 in 2000 for a ten-year GKN professorship.
Universities are also helping the arms industry with recruitment;
for example, last year BAe Systems, the UKs largest arms exporter,
tried to recruit 900 graduates from UK universities. So, while once
they were concerned about educating students to high ideals and
then lamented when they went off to become disillusioned and dashed
on the corporate rocks, some universities now feel it entirely acceptable
to train them to go straight off to collaborate with companies who
contribute to the production of weapons designed to cause death
Arms companies are subsidised by public money to the tune of £890m
annually just short of the £950m which will be raised
each year by top-up fees, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
It seems that public money can be found for weapons, but not for
education. Education for all Blair recites, but education
by whom and for what ends?
The investment links between our teachers and the state-sponsored
terrorists brings into question the undemocratic nature of universities,
as the decision to invest directly in an arms company rests predominantly
with the financial officer of the university. The students and staff
at most universities have no knowledge of these investments and
have no say in these important decisions. Some faculties have taken
action against immoral investments, such as the University of East
Anglia who, backed by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, secured
an ethical investment policy for the universitys charitable
funds which excluded arms companies.
*To discover if your local university has connections with the
arms trade, and to get involved in a campaign against it, then look
up CAATs new University Clean Investment campaign:
BOWLING FOR COLOMBIA
Indigenous people on squatted farms in Columbia came under government
attack on 9th November. Over 500 police with ten armoured personnel
carriers tried to forcibly remove hundreds of protesters occupying
the 2,000-acre Jabo farm near Caldono, 200 miles south west of the
capital, Bogota. The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca have squatted
the farm as part of their campaign to reclaim land. Guambianos,
Kokonuko and Nasa indigenous people, some of Colombias 800,000
poorly treated tribespeople, as well as thousands of peasants demanding
land, have occupied haciendas (areas of rural property) in several
parts of Cauca since the 12th of October under the slogan Freedom
for Mother Earth aimed at forcing the government to comply
with various long standing yet so far unfulfilled commitments to
deal with land ownership.
Starved of resources and largely subsisting on a diet of little
more than potatoes and rice and caught in a war not of their making
they have vowed to occupy the farms until the government creates
the funds and legal powers to give them land. They are demanding
a national agrarian reform program to make more lands available
to poor farmers. The government, however, have other ideas.
The repression started yesterday and intensified today,
said one of the Indian leaders, Feliciano Valencia. He said at least
35 Indians were wounded. Following clashes the Nasa communities
burned the riot police shields and other war gear they had recovered
from government forces in a ceremonial fire.
The situation appears to be approaching a stand-off as Columbias
hardline administration, rejected talks unless the Indians leave
the farms. The police have not yet launched an all out attack and
there are hopes that a compromise can still be reached. Three more
farms in Cauca state have been re occupied in the past few days.
The families on the land are calling for solidarity letters, phone
calls and emails to the Colombian Embassy to make it politically
more difficult for the government to allow the police and army to
attack the settlements. Communications can be addressed to: The
Embassy of Colombia, 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X OLR. Tel: 0171
5899177. Email: email@example.com
* Colombian trade unionist and Coca-Cola worker Euripides Yance
will be speaking at a protest to highlight Coke's complicity in
the murder of trade unionists in Colombia. It's at Coke's bottling
plant in East Kilbride, Glasgow, on Sunday 20th November. Assemble
at Hairmyers train station at 12.30pm.
Up The Tooting Popular Front
Charles Clarke has ordered the extradition of Babar Ahmad to the
US to face trial on alleged terrorism offences. Babar Ahmad is a
British citizen from Tooting, South London. In December 2003 he
was arrested by Anti-Terrorist Police who broke into his house in
a pre-dawn raid. He was brutally assaulted in front of his wife
and sustained over 50 injuries to his body, two of which were life-threatening
(See Schnews 474). After six days of intensive
investigation he was released without charge, only to be later rearrested
after he attempted to claim damages from the police for their abuse.
Mr Ahmad is accused of running websites that supported terrorists
and urged Muslims to fight a holy war, but the Home Office refuses
to give this British citizen, allegedly committing crimes whilst
in Britain, a trial in er, Britain, preferring to hand him over
to the US under the 2003 Extradition Treaty - under which the US
government does not have to prove to the UK that there is a prima
facie case to answer. Nice, no wonder the posting on his website
says, This decision should only come as a surprise to those
who thought that there was still justice for Muslims in Britain.
The Muslim Council of Britain said it was very disappointed
in the ruling and his family said they would appeal the extradition
order in the High Court. A family spokesman said, In effect,
this sends a message to British Muslims that there is no legal and
democratic means to air your concerns. We held protests, wrote letters,
lobbied MPs and compiled petitions of over 15,000 signatures...
If the floodgates for extradition are allowed to be opened, it will
be British Muslims that will be targeted - the very people the British
government was hoping to win support from in the fight against terrorism.
Milan Rai was sentenced on Wednesday to 28 days imprisonment for
refusing to pay £2000 compensation to the British
Government for spray-painting the Foreign Office with the words
Dont Attack Fallujah. Black Watch Out on November
3rd 2004, just days before last years devastating US assault
on the city
* Send letters of support to him at: Milan Rai, HMP Lewes, Brighton
Road, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1EA
* See www.j-n-v.org
GIVEN THE IRAN-AROUND
A Brighton-based Iranian asylum seeker, wanted by his government,
Amir was arrested last week and told he would be deported. Amir
was involved in the impeachment of an Iranian official and fled
the country after arrests and threats to his life. Hes already
been found guilty whilst absent and faces a two year jail sentence
when he returns. A friend who merely assisted him through passport
control received a term of imprisonment. At his Immigration Appeal
Tribunal, the Judge stated that I have no hesitation in accepting
the core of the Appellants evidence. Appeals by his
MP managed to get the Home Office to stay the removal for three
days, but then in direct contradiction of that stay, there was an
illegal attempt to deport Amir - only stopped when a legal representative
intervened at the airport.
Amir is currently being held at a Heathrow deportation centre and
his future is uncertain. Human rights abuses are common in the Iranian
judicial system, and the courts are not, as accepted by UNCHR and
other international bodies, independent of the Executive. Amir,
if returned to Iran, is in real danger of being tortured and his
life will be in danger.
* Meeting on Friday 18th at the Cowley Club, Brighton at 6pm to
build a network for action should a date be set for Amirs
* Keep Amir in the UK campaign - 01273 540 717, firstname.lastname@example.org
SchNEWS in brief
- Close Down Campsfield - 12 years Too Long! Demo against Campsfield
Detention Centre, bring Instruments, placards and banners. With
speakers including former detainees. Noon at Campsfield House
Immigration Removal Centre, Langford Lane, Kidlington near Oxford.
Also bike ride leaving from Martyrs Memorial, St Giles,
Oxford on Nov 26th at 11am sharp. www.closecampsfield.org.uk/images/CCC12YEARS.pdf
- A Court in Nigeria has ruled that the use of toxic flares that
burn off natural gases, a by-product of oil extraction is illegal.
This is one of the main complaints of communities living near
the oil fields that their health is affected: see last
weeks SchNEWS & www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12779
- In Brazil the president of the Foundation for the Conservation
of Nature, Francisco Anselmo de Barros, died after setting fire
to himself in protest against alcohol factories that were damaging
the Pantanal marshes.
- Eyewitness Fallujah Speaking Tour, US activist Rahul Mahajan
who was in Fallujah during last years siege is on a tour
of the UK 18-28th November. Full dates see www.rememberfallujah.org
or contact Voices in the Wilderness on 0845 4582564
- On Monday Greenpeace blockaded the entrances to Downing Street
with several tonnes of coal to protest at Tony Blairs crap
efforts to combat global warming. There are unconfirmed reports
that naughty anarchists tried to barbeque a few MPs on the coals
later in the day. www.greenpeace.org.uk
GREENWASH AND GO
Wanna get the inside track on the hot topic for todays
consumers or learn How to get your brand to speak your
values? Then all good corporate PR flunkies should look no
further than the How To Communicate Your Corporate Values
To Consumers conference taking place at the Marriott Regents
Park Hotel in London on 22-23rd November 2005.
The brochure includes gems like Marketers always talk about
giving consumers that warm feeling, but how does that
work in practice when your product sits on the shelf next to all
the others? and worries about The challenges larger
companies face when it comes to keeping it real for
The usual round up of corporate villains are paying £895 plus
VAT to learn how to grab hold of some of that fat ethical
pound. Some of the lowlights include a session on The importance
of language: how to promote your brand better using a sustainable
message (Top Tip: A white lie never hurt anyone) and a discussion
of how Brand value is at risk from climate change (Top
Tip: brand awareness among consumers is low when theyre underwater).
Talking of climate change BP will be on hand to teach How
to market your values better. If anyone fancies going along
to discuss how they can be better reached as a consumer, the conference
website has all the details www.ethicalcorp.com/consumer/venue.shtml
SchNEWS warns all readers - crime doesn't pay but war crimes
give you a fat lip on the way out. Honest.
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