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Activists on trial for opposing Raytheon

June 8, 2007 | Page 7

SANDY BOYER, the co-host of WBAI's Radio Free Eireann, and SHAUN HARKIN, of the International Socialist Organization, report on the trial of antiwar activists in Northern Ireland for protesting the U.S. weapons-maker Raytheon.

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THE MASSACHUSETTS-based Raytheon Company is a leading U.S. military contractor, with annual revenues of around $20 billion--90 percent obtained from defense contracts.

The world's third-largest missile manufacturer, Raytheon's deadly products include the Tomahawk, Sidewinder and Patriot missiles, plus so-called "bunker-buster" bombs. These weapons are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the Middle East, by the U.S. and Britain--and Raytheon's guidance systems are used in many of the missiles and bombs used by U.S. and Israeli forces.

In 1999, Raytheon opened an office in Derry City in Northern Ireland. Ironically, Raytheon was brought to Derry during the Northern Ireland "peace process," and trumpeted as an example of what the "peace dividend" would produce for a population with some of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.

What you can do

Send messages of support to the Derry Antiwar Coalition; e-mail [email protected] or call 011-44-7771-781958. You can also sign an online statement of support.

For more information, visit the Raytheon Nine Web site, and watch Eamonn McCann speaking about the Raytheon protest in a speech posted at YouTube.


In the event, Raytheon created only around 40 jobs. Local politicians--despite Raytheon's complicity in George Bush and Tony Blair's war crimes--balked at forcing the company out, for fear that U.S. investors would be sent the wrong message.

In August 2006, disgusted by Israel's U.S.-backed invasion of Lebanon, antiwar activists in Derry protested, occupied and "decommissioned" the Raytheon facility. Now, nine members of the Derry Antiwar Coalition (DAWC) who participated in the occupation face possible jail sentences.

Supporters of the Raytheon Nine are calling for all charges to be dropped. A rally is planned on June 5 at the preliminary inquiry of their trial at the Derry Court House.

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EAMONN McCANN, one of the Raytheon Nine, is a founder of the 1960s civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and the author of several books, including War and an Irish Town. He writes regularly for numerous publications in Ireland, is chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust and a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and was the candidate for the Socialist Environmental Alliance in Northern Ireland's recent National Assembly elections.

Eamonn explained why he and the other activists protested Raytheon: "Every day brought reports of Israeli attacks, allegedly on Hezbollah positions, but, as was clear from the news footage, bringing death and agony to terrified civilians."

A DAWC meeting "voted to picket the Raytheon plant on August 9, and, if possible, to occupy and try to 'decommission' the premises," he said. "In the event, nine of us managed to gain entry. Computers and papers were hurled from the windows. The mainframe was disabled."

Eamonn points out that evidence has emerged that Raytheon armaments were used in the missile strike that killed at least 28 people in Qana in southern Lebanon--one of the worst massacres of the Israeli onslaught. "The evidence can be viewed at, which displays a close-up photograph of the fuselage of a bomb retrieved from the Qana carnage," he wrote. "The markings identify a Raytheon bomb: MK-84 guided bomb unit BSU-37/B."

Colm Bryce, another member of the Raytheon Nine, said that activists have been "protesting Raytheon since it came here in 1999. They said they weren't doing any military work. However, former employees have told us they were doing military work.

"At the height of the Lebanese war, we found out that U.S. cargo planes were rushing bombs to Israel. We felt this sort of thing is happening all the time--just like the U.S. military uses Shannon airport here in Ireland to transport troops to Iraq all the time. It felt unbearable.

"This is not about us. This is about what's going on in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan day in and day out. We want to put Raytheon and the war on trial."

The Raytheon Nine have received support from throughout Ireland and across the world. Signers of a statement of support include Noam Chomsky, British writer and performer Mark Thomas, Irish musician Christy Moore, British Member of Parliament George Galloway, Salma Yaqoob of Britain's Stop the War Coalition, and many others.

Larry Kirwan, leader of the band Black 47, put the fight for the Raytheon Nine in context.

"Black 47 has spoken out against the war in Iraq since it was a mere gleam in the eyes of Messrs. Bush and Cheney," he said. "Many of our fans in the service are now suffering the consequences of this ill-advised invasion.

"The Raytheon Nine are not criminals; they are merely focusing attention on this current administration's failed Middle Eastern policies. Had the millions of us in the U.S. who saw through Bush/Cheney's lies engaged in similar nonviolent activities, we would not be in dire position we find ourselves in Iraq today."

As Eamonn McCann puts it, "If the Raytheon Nine are branded criminals, then we are being asked to accept that it is a crime to occupy the office of an arms company, but not a crime to occupy a country; that it is a crime to drop computers from an office window, but not a crime to drop missiles on innocent people.

"The Raytheon Nine will face the court as the accusers of Raytheon, not the accused, and will use the trial to highlight the war crimes of the U.S. and UK governments."

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