Posts Tagged ‘Thales’

No To Arms Fair At Twickenham

Saturday, January 27th, 2024

No To Arms Fair At Twickenham: This Monday, 22nd January 2024, Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised their third annual protest at Twickenham Rugby Stadium which was hosting the International Armoured Vehicles Fair for the third year in a row from 22-25th January. The arms fair claims to be the largest of its type in the world, attracting around a thousand delegates from over 40 nations,

I came to the bus stop outside Twickenham Station to find several people clearly on their way to the stadium, and found more on the bus when it arrived – the bus more or less emptied when we arrived at the stop in front of the stadium. We walked across the road and joined a hundred or so who had already come to protest.

I had to leave after around an hour for a meeting, and people were still arriving to the protest which had another couple of hours to run. This was a considerably larger protest than in the two previous years having become more important because many of the companies selling weapons inside are suppliers of weapons which are being used now to kill Palestinians in Gaza.

Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign is an active local group campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, justice and freedom against Israeli occupation and apartheid. Their numbers at this protest were swelled by others who had come from other areas of London to tell the Rugby Football Union to stop hosting arms fairs. As well as the International Armoured Vehicles Fair this week they are also hosting the International Military Helicopter conference from 27th to 29th February 2024.

Many of the posters and placards at the protest called for an end to the Israeli genocide taking place in Gaza now, and there were others more specific to Twickenham, calling for fair play and an end to the promotion of killing by the Rugby authorities.

At the centre of the protest was a large poster with the heading ‘MERCHANTS OF DEATH’ naming companies taking part in the arms fair, including BAE Systems, Elbit Systems and Thales, with cartoons of arms dealers making vast profits from war. Most of the companies involved supply Israel with armoured vehicles and other weapons used in its devastating assault on Gaza and used to repress, terrorise, abduct and kill civilians and children in Palestine as well as in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere around the world. And as some posters and speakers reminded us, Israeli arms manufacturers proudly boast ‘OUR WEAPONS ARE FIELD-TESTED’ – on Palestinians in the killing fields of Gaza and the West Bank.

Standing around the poster were members of Richmond & Kingston PSC, holding up their hands in white gloves stained with fake blood, with one holding a Palestinian flag. Others held posters and banners, ‘CEASEFIRE NOW’, ‘WAR KILLS PEOPLE & PLANET’, ‘STOP BOMBING CHLDREN’

Shortly before I had to leave a group arrived carrying cloth bundles stained with red dye, representing the children killed by the Israeli attacks. A report by Save The Children from Ramallah on 11th January began with the following:

More than 10,000 children have been killed by Israeli airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza in nearly 100 days of violence, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, with thousands more missing, presumed buried under rubble, Save the Children said.

Save The Children

By now the number will be many more. As one poster stated: ‘TWICKENHAM DON’T SIDE WITH GENOCIDE’.

More pictures

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds: Sunday 3rd July 2016 was a busy day for me, photographing young people demanding the right to vote, a board remembering murdered MP Jo Cox, a picket against sponsorship of the London Transport Museum by one of the largest arms companies in the world and then the always controversial annual Al Quds Day march and its Zionist counter-demonstration.

16-17 Year olds demand the vote – Trafalgar Square to Parliament Sq

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

Many young people who were not old enough to vote in the EU referendum were outraged at not being able to take part in the vote which will impact their future more than that of older generations.

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

They point out that many of those who did vote will die before the worst effects of Brexit are felt, and that it was the vote of the eldest in the population to leave Europe than swung the vote. Young people, including those too young to have a vote were strongly in favour of staying in Europe.

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

The march by several hundred people, mainly 16-17 year olds, called for a lowering of the voting age to 16. Most of the speakers at the rally in Parliament Square were teenagers.

More pictures at 16-17 Year olds demand the vote.

Jo Cox banner of love – Parliament Sq

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

People were still coming to sign and write tributes on a giant board in Parliament Square to Labour MP Jo Cox, brutally murdered on 16th June on the street in Birstall where she had gone to hold a constituency surgery.

Cox, who had worked for some years at Oxfam GB as head of policy and advocacy had become an MP in 2015 and had founded and chaired the parliamentary group Friends of Syria, campaigning over the Syrian Civil War, and supported Palestinian rights and the BDS campaign. She was one of few MPs who stood up and campaigned for refugees and their rights.

Her murderer, a constituent with far-right white supremacist obsessions, shot her three times before multiple stabbings. He was sentenced to life with a whole-life tariff.

Jo Cox banner of love

Arms dealers out of LT Museum – London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

I stopped briefly outside the London Transport Museum to talk with and photograph campaigners from the London Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) who were holding a picket to demand the museum end its sponsorship by Thales, the worlds 12th largest arms company. Thales supplies missiles, drones and other military products, selling them to repressive regimes around the world including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Colombia, Kazakhstan and the UAE.

More pictures at Arms dealers out of LT Museum.

Al Quds Day March – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands, mainly Palestinians and Muslims from around the country, as well as other supporters of Palestinian freedom marched from the BBC to a rally at the US Embassy.

The final Friday of every Ramadan was designated Quds (Jerusalem) Day by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 as a day when Muslims around the world would demonstrate their solidarity in support of the Palestinians and call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The London march takes place on the Sunday following.

A few supporters of Israel tried to protest against the march, holding Israeli flags and shouting at the marchers, but police kept them away.

Some of the marchers came with flags and t-shirts supporting the Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group, Hizbullah (Hezbollah). Since 2019 this entire organisation has been proscribed in the UK, but in 2016 we still followed the EU in making a distinction between it as a political party with MPs in the Lebanese government and as a terrorist group.

Among the marchers were a group of Neturei Karta Orthodox Jews whose religious beliefs reject Zionism and the Israeli state. Their posters say Judaism is ‘G-dly & Compassionate’ while Zionism is ‘G-dless & Merciless’ and that ‘Jews True to their faith will Never recognise ZIONIST occupation’ and other similar statements.

At the US Embassy a large force of police separated their rally from a counter-protest by Sussex Friends of Israel, the Zionist Federation and the Israel Advocacy Movement. They displayed placards demanding ‘Peace Not Hate’ and Israeli flags.

This group reserved its loudest and most angry shouting for the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Jews who came and stood facing them from a wall in front of the US Embassy.

Much more on My London Diary:

Al Quds Day March
Supporters Stand Up for Israel

G8 Protest Day 2 – 2013

Monday, June 12th, 2023

G8 Protest Day 2 – 2013: What a difference a day makes. The previous day police had raided the squat where many of the Stop G8 protesters had been staying, tazering many of those inside, injuring a man who was trying to climb down a ladder from a roof area, and finding little evidence of intended wrong-doing. They had done their utmost to prevent peaceful protest, searching hundreds on the streets and making 30 arrests, many following incidents where police had rushed in and forcefully grabbed protesters.

G8 Protest Day 2

The police actions had made the news headlines, not always in favour of the police actions. Many of those reporters who had been on the streets and seen what was happening shared some of my opinions over their heavy-handed and anti-democratic behaviour and some of this got through past the usual editorial pro-police line.

G8 Protest Day 2

Police too had failed to find any evidence that this would have been anything but a peaceful protest without their provocations, and perhaps the media were rather disappointed to realise that senior officers had before the event been lying to them, spreading unsupported rumours. And although some of the officers on the ground had clearly been enjoying being given the licence to have a go at the protesters, I think there were plenty who had been rather embarrassed.

G8 Protest Day 2

Whatever the reasons, the police acted very differently when the Stop G8 protests continued on their second day, touring the offices of arms company and holding peaceful protests against them.

G8 Protest Day 2

A group of protesters were dressed in black robes with ghost or skull masks and carrying mock scythes as well as a black banner with the message ‘Think we’re SCARY? You’ll find ‘ARMS DEALERS INSIDE‘. Others had changed into white plastic overalls suitable for what they said was a ‘weapons inspection.’

Others carried banners about arms companies including BAE where this tour began and Brighton-based EDO or to the continuing Campaign Against the Arms Trade protests over the huge DSEi arms fair held in London’s Docklands. BAE with offices in Carlton Gardens is the third largest arms company in the world and notable for several corruption cases – and they have been fined £48.7m by the US government for braking their military export laws.

Outside BAE and at each of further stops there were short speeches with details about the immoral (and sometimes illegal) activities of the company. After a little street theatre the protesters moved on peacefully. Occasionally where they were blocking roads the police came and politely asked them to let cars through, and the protesters obliged. They also at times tried to protect the protesters from traffic, but otherwise stood back and watched. Quite a few of the press who had turned up at the start soon left, seeing the event was proceeding peacefully.

The next stop was the offices of Thales, the world’s 11 largest arms company with a wide range of surveillance equipment, drones, armoured vehicles, missiles and more. From there they returned to Lockheed Martin where police had harassed them the previous day. On the other side of Piccadilly Circus in a street close to Leicester Square they protested outside the offices of Northrop Grumman UK, one of the world’s largest defence contractors and the largest builder of naval vessels.

A short distance further on at Strand they protested briefly at the officers of missile developer MBDA and then went to protest outside Charing Cross Police station where those arrested for protesting the previous day had been taken. The final stop on the tour was in Chandos Place, at the offices of QinetiQ, a major defence contractor which manufactures drones and armed robots used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I left to go home. As I noted, “As yesterday, the intention of those taking part (or at least the vast majority) had been to have a visible and audible but peaceful protest which was a clear statement of their views, and today the police had not interfered with this.” But I don’t think this protest made the news.

More at G8 Protest Against Arms Dealers.