When asked, they say they are having to do this, since even after a year of protesting at the company gates, the local media still are not covering this as an issue.
The campaign holds regular monthly demonstrations, [These are normally held on the 2nd monday of every month]. This month was the year anniversary of these activities and to mark this event, comedian Mark Thomas joined the picket / demo while he was here in Nottingham to present his show at the Playhouse.
It was a nice day and with the entertainment on offer, numbers where well up on some of the previous events there. People had initially gathered at a wooded area a short distance from the factory. Mark entertained the assembled throng with the usual mixture of funnies and then telling all of some of the facts of concern about the arms industry at large. With his speech obviously well received he said: "I've been to a lot of demonstrations against arms companies and normally it's kind of me and about three Quakers and a dog and a couple of crusties. I really hope the campaign can grow and grow and actually get a result here".
People then got themselves together, plackards banners etc, and held a short march to the gates of the UK headquarters of Heckler & Koch, based within the Easter Park Industrial Estate on Lenton Lane, Nottingham. [NSAF Ltd, Unit 3, Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2PX, in fact]. Map: http://tinyurl.com/cywx8x
It is hoped that with the 'boost' provided by this event, that more people will add this to their calender of things to do, and hence keep up the momentum on this issue.
One would have thought that a city infamous for its gun crime would be a poor location for a warehouse full of guns. Not according to H&K, who do great business equipping war-mongers on any side.
Proud owners of H&K weaponry include the brutal militias of Darfur - the Janjaweed. Funnily enough, despite the outcry against the massacres in Darfur, they obviously weren't quite bad enough to stop selling weapons to the perpetrators. Even a recent arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against a senior Sudanese politician accused of selling H&K weapons to the Janjaweed hasn't seemed to stem the flow of H&K guns to a militia accused by everyone including the US of committing genocide. (H&K guns also fill the arsenals of the US Dept of Homeland Security, US Navy Seals & the FBI amongst others).
H&K have a 'strategic partnership' with the world's largest mercenary company Blackwater. H&K supply the guns to the Iraqi and Afghan puppet governments, and Blackwater provide the training.
There was a plan for H&K to produce special edition 'Blackwater' weapons - complete with the Blackwater logo on them. However, after Blackwater made the headlines for killing 17 innocent Iraqis (not the first time that Blackwater have killed innocent Iraqis, but the first time that it made the news in a major way), the plan was shelved.
Interestingly, local media also came under pressure; Trent FM, who had shown some enthusiasm about reporting these demos, received a word in their ear from both H&K's press office as well as the police, warning hacks that it would be 'irresponsible' to publish the fact that H&K has a warehouse full of weapons in Nottingham, as it may prompt criminals to try and steal them.
In response the campaigners pointed out to the radio station that H&K's address was published at Company House, as well as in several business directories. About the radio station being leaned on, the campaigners said that "If the security policy of H&K and Notts police relies on no-one finding out the company's location, then clearly it is they who are irresponsible, not our campaign and not the media. A large warehouse stocked with high-power assault rifles and submachine guns with inadequate security to prevent a robbery is clearly a significant danger to the public, and publicisng such a danger is very much in the public interest."
The H&K warehouse, located at Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham, is next to the 'Trent Vineyard', an evangelist church that held the funeral of Danielle Beccan, a 14 year old girl who was killed in a drive-by shooting. At her funeral service the then mayor of Nottingham said, "Guns have no place at all in our community - not in Nottingham, not in my city nor any other city in Britain."
One campaigner said: "The arms trade relies on secrecy. Most people abhor the idea of factories and warehouse making and selling weapons around the world, and arms companies know this. By lifting the lid on the business, anti-arms protesters can make a put the pressure on the government/corporate killing machine to stop killing for profit." [schNews]
As you can see from the front board, Unit 3 is simply 'let'. One feels that they might just be a little embarrassed about their presence on the Easter Park Estate. Previous occupants had been the Royal Small Arms Factory. Even during wartime, they had a sign on the gate, saying who they were! Another example might be British Aerospace Works at Filton, Bristol. Again, they say who they are on the gate. This lot still remain shy of folks knowing of their activities.
In my opinion, lights need to be shone into dark corners .
Next month: 8th June
12.30pm Spread the Word, stall flyering etc in Market Square
4.00pm Picket at the gates of Easter Park Industrial Estate, Lenton Lane
7.00pm Campaign meeting @ Sumac Centre for those who would like to get involved
Campaigning against Heckler & Koch Weapons in Germany and the UK ]feature]
and ..... on German Indymedia at:
Shut Down Heckler & Koch Campaign
Poster / Flyer PDF of H&K leaflet
transcript of speech delivered by Shut Down H&K at
SHUT DOWN H&K ONE-YEAR-ANNIVERSARY DEMONSTRATION
Monday May 11th 2009, 16:00
Lenton Priory Park, Nottingham
Thanks all for coming down. It’s a fantastic turn-out; the best turn-out we’ve ever had. Welcome; this is the one-year-anniversary demonstration of the campaign against Heckler & Koch.
I’d like to start out with something that’s in the news at the moment. For the last 26 years, there’s been a civil war raging in Sri Lanka. The number of casualties is clocking up to about 100 000 now. Earlier this year in January, the government of Sri Lanka retook the northern town of Kilinochchi. I’ve got a picture here that I just printed out on my way. This is a picture of a street scene in Sri Lanka, and there’s a government propaganda poster, and on this propaganda poster there’s some Sri Lankan army commandos and there’s a slogan that says “Greetings, and thanks for winning the battle of Kilinochchi heroes! Now let’s win the rest!”
And that’s what’s happening in the news right now – the government forces are winning the rest. Today, the normally circumspect UN described the situation described the situation in northern Sri Lanka as a bloodbath with the “large-scale killing of civilians”. This is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. What are the weapons in the poster? The weapon in the poster is the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun – a bestseller. Many, many sold around the world.
So how do you think the employees of Heckler & Koch up the road feel about that? Because I’m willing to bet it doesn’t really trouble them in the slightest.
Another story that’s in the news right now, in Pakistan in the Swat Valley it’s really kicking off between the Pakistani government armed forces and the Taliban. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing for their lives. Here’s a picture taken from the Swat Valley in Pakistan earlier this year. The guy in the foreground is brandishing a Heckler & Koch assault rifle – the G3, their other bestseller.
But not only are the Taliban armed with Heckler & Koch weapons, but the government are armed with Heckler & Koch weapons too, so it seems that no matter who loses, Heckler & Koch wins.
Do I think this bothers those employees in that company up there? I don’t think they’re losing any sleep about it.
But it’s not just killing: In the Bosnian war the UN reported that an estimated 20 000 women were raped at gunpoint by Bosnian Serb soldiers as part of a deliberate plan to ethnically cleanse or destroy communities. The report concluded that “weapons assumed a symbolic role in the violent repression of women”. And what were these weapons? Amongst their arsenal the Bosnian Serbs were equipped with Heckler & Koch guns – Heckler & Koch guns that were made in the UK.
What Heckler & Koch are selling is not only tools of killing – they’re also tools of rape. Do you think that bothers them? How can they justify this?
Well, they’d tell us that countries need weapons to defend themselves in today’s modern dangerous times. Well hell yeah they’re dangerous – they’re dangerous because of people like Heckler & Koch pumping out weapons.
They’d tell us that they don’t break the law. Alright, maybe they don’t break the law. It’s perfectly legal to sell grenade launchers to America to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.
They’d tell us that they didn’t sell to the bad guy – they didn’t sell weapons to the Taliban or to the Janjaweed. So they didn’t, but they’ve still got those weapons. They keep themselves at arm’s length; they don’t have to sell directly. They can license other countries to do the selling for them; that’s what they do. They license countries like Turkey or Pakistan to make the weapons for them, and then they sell the weapons on to the bad guys. That way, they can keep their hands clean.
They’d tell us that these weapons are old weapons. Yeah, the weapon in the picture of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades guy there, and the gun in the hand of the Taliban, they’re old weapons; they’ve been knocking around for a while. The weapons Heckler & Koch make, they last for decades. What precautions do you think Heckler & Koch are taking to make sure that the weapons they’re pumping out now don’t end up in the hands of rapists or militias or child soldiers in another few years? None! Nothing! They can’t do anything to prevent that, because that’s the nature of the arms industry and it always has been the nature of the arms industry, and they know that.
It may not bother them but it bothers us.
The first line of defence of the arms industry is secrecy. They do their best to keep these dirty dealings as secret as possible. But that’s a battle that we’ve won. When we started this campaign, they managed to smother it and keep it out of the press, but we’ve kept on; this time, we’re getting in the press. And not only that, we don’t even need the press to tell the people of Nottingham. We’re giving out thousands of flyers, we’re telling everyone. Everyone in Nottingham is going to know about this place.
The second line of defence of these arms companies is to keep themselves at arm’s length from what’s going on. So they license other countries to make their weapons for them. But we’ve made the case that they are culpable. We’ve laid out the charges against them. I think we’re winning that argument, but let Heckler & Koch speak up; let them come and give their justifications for what they’re doing, because up until now they’ve been strangely silent on the whole subject.
And the third battle; it’s for us now to take them down. We’ve exposed them, we’ve made the arguments, and now it’s up to us to shut them down. So thank you all for coming down here and for making this our biggest demonstration yet, and let’s keep going!
transcript of speech delivered by Mark Thomas at
SHUT DOWN H&K ONE-YEAR-ANNIVERSARY DEMONSTRATION
Monday May 11th 2009, 16:00
Lenton Priory Park, Nottingham
Hello everyone. First of all I just want to say I’m just bowled over to be here actually, ’cos when I got the e-mail going come down, we’ve got this demonstration against Heckler & Koch, I mean a lot of demonstrations against arms companies are normally kind of me and three Quakers and a dog and a couple of crusties, and I’m just gobsmacked to see so many people, it’s just fucking brilliant, and well done!
Kirk’s right, you know, the thing about the arms trade; the arguments that the arms trade will always provide are spurious at best. You can see that obviously it’s an industry that’s apart from others by the very simple fact that they make things specifically designed to take human life. No other industry does that. Now I know other things take human life, but they’re not designed intentionally to take human life. Car manufacturers don’t say “well if we extend the bumper we can get another couple of people on the zebra crossing!”
You know, the weapons manufacturers are made specifically to take human life, and there’s lots of myths that are put around about the arms trade. The big myth is that somehow it’s good for business – that somehow this is good for Britain, it’s good for the economy. Well there’s two things that we need to say about that; one is that the arms trade is heavily subsidised. It’s subsidised through BERR these days, but it’s actually subsidised through the Export Credit Guarantee Department, who literally pump in millions each year, of taxpayers’ money, into the defence industry, to ensure that those companies are profitable.
And the way that it works is, the government underwrites – they provide insurance essentially – for companies exporting arms abroad, so that if the people they’re selling to default and don’t pay, then we taxpayers end up forking out for those companies. Saddam Hussein very famously defaulted. We armed Saddam Hussein, but not only that; the British taxpayer paid for Saddam Hussein’s weapons. We supplied those weapons and we paid for them, and that was a direct pump-priming of the arms economy. Saddam Hussein defaulted on about 640 million quids’ worth of arms, and we paid for it, and then we turned round and said he was mad!
So you first of all have to understand that actually this argument that it’s good for the economy is spurious. Secondly, sometimes things that are good for the economy aren’t good for us. Sometimes we have to say, actually this idea of growth isn’t the be-all and end-all. And economic growth as a measurement of happiness, success and well-being... is fucked.
Because economic growth is just the measurement of economic activity; of the creation of jobs and exchange of wages. Actually, a car crash is good for economic growth! If you look at all the people who are employed on a car crash, if it’s a good one – you know, if there’s three cars on a motorway or something like that – you’ve got police officers who are called to the crash, you’ve got the ambulance drivers, you’ve got the fire brigade people who all come out.
You’ve got the people who make the cones who section off the lanes of the motorway; you got the fluorescent jacket manufacturers. Then you’ve got the tow-away trucks, the repair trucks, getting it back into the garage, the insurance company, the refit, those little pine things that hang from the mirror, the glass, all of that is economic growth.
If you’re really lucky, it’s a proper accident so someone has to go to hospital, so it’s an ambulance, an ambulance driver. You get to hospital, it’s doctors nurses, cleaners, porters, admin staff, all the people who make the pills, the bandages, the needles, the sutures – that’s all employment. If you’re really lucky, you bring in the greeting cards industry: “Sorry to hear about your injury, hope you get well soon,” little helium balloon, “Come out of the coma dad,” all that kind of stuff.
If you’re really lucky, it’s a fatality, so you got coffin-makers, undertakers, choirs and vicars. But you don’t see a car crash and go “Ooh look, the economy’s looking up!” Economic growth is not the be-all and end-all. And we have to make a stand on this, and we have to take a moral stand on it. And I’m just really delighted with the turn-out here.
I think the important thing to remember about Heckler & Koch is that in the true nature of globalisation, they contract out and sub-contract out their work. So no matter what they say that actually their weapons are approved for export under the British licensing system, they have given manufacturing license to people to people in Pakistan; to arms manufacturers in Iran. And I know this ’cos several years ago, I posed as an arms dealer and contacted those people.
It’s very easy to pose as an arms dealer: You just need a false business card, a hooky e-mail address, and you can just phone up with a bit of blab. And I should say, it was only when I became an arms dealer I found out the third excuse for arms dealing, which was if you talk to arms dealers, the great excuse they come up with; “Well if you think we’re bad, you should see what the French get away with!”
However, when I was working with front companies, we just phoned up and made some requests to these companies in Pakistan and Iran and said “Can you get us Heckler & Koch machine guns, and can they go to Zimbabwe?” The answer which came back from Iran – from the Iranian arms manufacturer – on headed notepaper which across the top had the words “In the name of God”, was yes; yes we can do it. The answer from Pakistan – yes; yes we can do it.
The answer from all these companies that Heckler & Koch licensed their production to is yes, we will get the arms wherever they need to go, and Heckler & Koch directly benefit. There is a financial link between giving another company the right to manufacture your products and benefiting from a payment of it, and them selling on to oppressive regimes that are committing acts of barbarity.
So even if Heckler & Koch produce the bits of paper that say we’re clean, they are not! They are part of the chain – they are part of the arms manufacturing system, and you are right; Kirk is right: There is one thing to do with this, and that is shut them down!
There’s very little I can add really, apart from just to say thank you for inviting me, and I’m just really impressed with everyone just being out here today, and thanks a lot and good luck and I really hope the campaign can grow and grow and actually you can get a result here. Well done.
Photographer - Media: One Eye on the Road. Nottingham. UK
Member of the National Union of Journalists [No: 014345]
"It is not enough to curse the darkness.
It is also necessary to light a lamp!!"