( – promoted by buhdydharma )
On August 9, 2006, during the waning days of Israel’s offensive military operations in Southern Lebanon, a group of anti-war protesters from the Derry Anti-War Coalition occupied the Raytheon Munitions Plant in Northern Ireland.
OUR MOTIVATION was to prevent war crimes. Israel’s bombardment was causing carnage and destruction in Lebanon, and we knew they were using Raytheon manufactured bombs.
We were particularly outraged by the bombing of the town of Qana. Israel dropped a bomb on one complex there, killing 28 people, the majority of them women and children, crushed and suffocated beneath the rubble.
We believed this required an immediate response. We decided to take action to disrupt, delay and hamper Raytheon’s ability, in whatever way possible, to deliver weapons of mass destruction to Israel and participate in war crimes.
The civil disobedience of the anti-war activists shut down production at the Raytheon plant for three crucial days near the end of the offensive.
The “Raytheon 9” were eventually arrested and charged with Criminal Damage. Six of those nine protesters were finally put on trial in May of this year.
During their three-week trial in Belfast, the Defendants argued that it is not a crime to resist a war crime. On Wednesday, the jury agreed.
There were jubilant scenes in a Belfast court today as six Derry anti-war protesters were unanimously acquitted of destroying property belonging to multinational arms company Raytheon.
As the Crown Court jury of four men and seven women were led from Court 14 at the Laganside complex, the six men and their supporters who had packed the public gallery clapped and cheered in appreciation of the not guilty verdicts.
The six, 65-year-old author and journalist Eamonn McCann, from Westland Avenue, and his co-accused James Anthony Kelly (47), of Rathkeele Way, Eamon O’Donnell (53), of Campion Court, Colm Donal Sarto Bryce (42), of Westland Avenue, Sean Heaton (35), of Circular Road, and 42-year-old Kieran Vincent Gallagher, of the Craft Village, all Derry, were each acquitted of causing criminal damage to the building and offices of Raytheon and an employee’s car on August 9, 2006.
Regardless of anyone’s feelings about the propriety of Israel’s military conduct in Southern Lebanon in the Summer of 2006, this court ruling is a major victory for worldwide anti-war forces in the continuing fight to hold arms makers and their clients accountable for their actions.
It is also a wonderful affirmation of the truly life-and-death power of citizen activism.
We know that towards the end of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict in the summer of 2006, Raytheon rushed so-called bunker-buster bombs. They delivered a rush-order, of these bombs just a short time before the war ended so that Israel could continue bombing.
Israel had dropped so many bombs over southern Lebanon, south Beirut and elsewhere that they were actually running out of supplies. Raytheon rushed two Airbus transport planes from the United States to Israel in order to replenish supplies, even though, at that point, it was known that their munitions were being used to bomb civilians, to target ambulances and civilian infrastructure. So this is a company which is knowingly involved in war crimes.
Although we will never know just how many Lebanese are still alive today because a few brave citizens in Northern Ireland shut down the bomb making plant in their neighborhood, the vindication of the Raytheon 6 remains a shining example of the kind of amazing global impact local activists can make.