After an opening protest in Manchester’s Exchange Square on December 27, which attracted several dozen people despite minimal public transport, actions included a women-only vigil in six inches of snow outside the factory, a picket by Greater Manchester Respect and a Naming of the Dead ceremony at seven on a Monday morning. A small number of protests had to be cancelled because of the heavy snow and resulting public transport cancellations.
Students from Manchester Metropolitan University also organised a die-in in Piccadilly Gardens, using panstick and copious fake blood to attract attention to the fate of the thousands of civilians killed by British, American and Israeli forces around the world. However an attempt to take the message into the Arndale Centre was countered by city centre police.
The series of actions also seems to have provoked a response from Brimar’s management. An email from Managing Director William O’Brien to Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which had constructed a memorial outside the factory gates, claimed that “we have explained in a face to face meeting with the Target Brimar campaign organisers (including showing them UK export licence documentation) to explain that no Apache helicopter components produced by Brimar have been sold for use by Israeli forces. As a result the campaign’s assertion that Brimar components were used in Apaches that were part of the operation last year in Gaza is simply not correct.”
Target Brimar responded with a statement pointing out that the licenses shown to them by Mr O’Brien dated from after the Apache helicopter upgrade programme – in which they accuse it of involvement – and were therefore not relevant. A spokesperson for the campaign also stated that Brimar’s denials did not chime with its failure to question a Guardian newspaper article and reports by Campaign Against the Arms Trade of its involvement in the Israeli Apache programme. However, Target Brimar went on to say that it continues to investigate the conflicting accounts of this particular contract and that significantly, in the meeting between the company and campaigners, Brimar had admitted selling parts for military trainer jets to Israel, as well as asserting that the company was proud of the components it manufactured for use by British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 22 Days closed on Sunday 17 January with around 25 people marching to the Brimar factory to decorate the locked gates and fence with the names and pictures of dead civilians and other items. As the group left two Oldham police officers tried to force two young participants in the demonstration take the items down from the fence, and when they refused threatened them with arrest for criminal damage. After the rest of the demonstrators made it clear that the two police would have to take the entire group into custody, and a confirmation from Brimar’s security that they would not press charges, the attempt at intimidation crumbled.
Target Brimar is planning activities around the anniversary of the US and British invasion of Iraq in March.