A victory for the Raytheon 9
In a victory for antiwar activists everywhere, by a unanimous verdict of the jury, the Raytheon 9 were found not guilty June 11 of three counts of criminal damage at the Raytheon offices in Derry, Northern Ireland.
The Raytheon 9 are members of the Derry Antiwar Coalition who, in August 2006, responding to Israel's savage war on Lebanon, organized an occupation of a local facility of Raytheon--the U.S.-based weapons maker and world's largest producer of guided missiles, including the missiles used to attack the civilian population in Lebanon. Following the protest, they were arrested and charged with vandalizing the building.
Two of the defendants,and , addressed their supporters and the press outside of Belfast's Laganside Court following the verdict.
THE RAYTHEON 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces, using weapons supplied by Raytheon.
We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the "kill chain" that Raytheon controls.
This victory is welcome, for ourselves and our families, but we wish to dedicate it to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the July 30, 2006, due to a Raytheon "bunker-buster" bomb.
Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on August 9, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it.
We said from the beginning that we came to this court not as the accused, but as the accusers of Raytheon. This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt.
Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt. The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had "aided and abetted" the commission of crimes against humanity was "not an issue" for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled.
They are war criminals, plain and simple. They have no place in our society and shame on all those in positions of power or influence who would hand them public funds, turn a blind eye to their crimes, cover their tracks or make excuses for them.
These crimes continue daily and hourly in the Middle East. It is up to those of us who oppose those wars of domination and occupation to build a movement that matches the enormity of what is being done by Western governments.
We hope that this victory gives courage and heart to all those involved in that movement and the many more who need to be for us to achieve our aim of stopping these wars. Until then, the very least we can do to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East is to dissociate ourselves from the corrupt governments of the U.S. and Britain. That means opposing the visit to Belfast of the world's biggest war criminal, George W. Bush. on June 16.
We feel totally vindicated by this decision and wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who gave us support, especially to our families and friends, to the members of the Derry Antiwar Coalition and the Irish antiwar movement, to our excellent legal teams. Of course, we particularly want to thank the jury, who listened intently through three weeks of evidence before ensuring that justice was done today.
THE OUTCOME of this case has profound implications.
The jury has accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that: the Israel Defense Force was guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006; that the Raytheon company, including its facility in Derry, was aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; and that the action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes.
We have been vindicated. We reject entirely and with contempt the statement by Raytheon this evening suggesting that the result of the trial gives them concern about the safety of their employees. This is an abject attempt to divert attention from the significance of the outcome.
Not a shed of evidence was produced that we presented the slightest danger to Raytheon workers. The charge of affray was thrown out by the court without waiting to hear defense evidence.
Our target has always been Raytheon as a corporate entity, and its shareholders and directors who profit from misery and death.
There is now no hiding place for those who have said that they support the presence of Raytheon in Derry on the basis that the company is not involved in arms-related production in Derry. We have established that not only is the Derry plant involved in arms-related production, it is also, through its integration into Raytheon as a whole, involved in war crimes.
We call on all elected representatives in Derry, and on the citizens of Derry, to say now in unequivocal terms that the war criminal Raytheon is not welcome in our city.
We call on the office of the attorney general and the Crown Prosecution Service, in light of this verdict, to institute an investigation into the activities of Raytheon at its various plants across the UK, with a view to determining whether Raytheon is, as we say it is, a criminal enterprise.
We believe that one day, the world will look back on the arms trade as we look back today on the slave trade, and wonder how it came about that such evil could abound in respectable society. If we have advanced by a mere moment the day when the arms trade is put beyond the law, what we have done will have been worthwhile.
We took the action we did in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of innocents in Qana on July 30, 2006. The people of Qana are our neighbors. Their children are the children of our neighbors. We trashed Raytheon to help protect our neighbors. The court has found that that was not a crime. This is what the Raytheon case has been about.
We have not denied nor apologized for what we did at the Raytheon plant in the summer of 2006. All of us believe that it was the best thing we ever did in our lives.