Author Archives: bristoldefendantsolidarity

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BDS fundraiser 09.12.17

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Witness callout: Bristol antifascist demo, 10th September

solidarity with arrested antifascists:

Several antifascists are facing trial as a result of participation in the antifascist demonstration in Bristol on 10th September. They need witnesses. If you were witness to any of the police’s actions on that day, particularly surrounding any of the arrests, please get in touch. Having witnesses to support defence cases is very important, and can mean the difference between freedom and prison for a comrade.

Contact us by email at bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net or on 07746741104. We can give advice if needed on making a statement and being a witness.

Court report and thoughts from BDS

Trial report – Direct action against Cardiff arms fair 2017.

A woman from Swansea who took direct action and made hoax calls to try and stop an arms fair in Cardiff was sentenced on 25.10.17 in Cardiff Crown Court. The judge gave her a 12 week suspended sentence for 18 months and she was ordered to pay £2000 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

Members of Bristol Defendant Solidarity joined with many other supporters to accompany D through the legal process and were there throughout the trial to show that she was not alone. A defiant demonstration of our solidarity took place on the first day on the steps of the court.

Here’s some of our observations and thoughts.

Firstly, it’s excruciatingly hard to sit through the patronising pronouncements and finger wagging words of a judge whose authority we do not accept or recognise. It’s infuriating that they have the power to decide the punishment we supposedly deserve and to take away our liberty. Everything in the court is designed to make us feel small, powerless, disciplined and fearful of the consequences of our actions.

So it was very inspiring to hear the defendant, D, clearly tell the judge and the jury that she was not sorry for her actions and that she remains committted to direct action against war and the arms industry. Her explanation of how she could not stand by while arms dealers furthered their profits by marketing mass murder was very powerful. She admitted making the calls, but argued that she was acting to prevent a greater crime by aiming to stop the selling of arms used for “mass indiscriminate killing of civilians”. The judge had ruled the previous week that such a defence is not admissible. Evidently they won’t allow their courts to be used as a means to turn the tables and put the arms industry on trial. But D had a good go at it anyway!

Her moving account of witnessing first hand the destruction wreaked by these weapons in Palestine and her motivations for doing all that she can to stop arms sales brought tears to many eyes. She told the court of her experiences driving an ambulance of medical supplies to Gaza after the Israeli bombing.

“I saw kids my grandchildrens’ age being teargassed on a daily basis” she said. “I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives. That strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade.”

The jury, sadly, were apparently unmoved and clearly suffering from a case of too much respect for the law. They dutifully followed the directions of the judge and on day two their “Guilty” verdict was reached in fifteen minutes and was unanimous. A further reminder, as if we needed it, that what’s right and what’s the law are two very different things. Their courts are not places of justice, they are places of law and of punishment.

Forced to wait until the next day for the judge’s deliberations and sentencing (all part of the punishment!), D and her supporters made final preparations for prison. There was a lot of sadness at the prospect of D being locked up away from us all and her family, but also anger at the power being wielded over us and the stress and pain caused by the state’s legal attack on our comrade.

Day three and the tension was unbearable waiting for the judge’s sentencing. The public gallery was packed and there were plenty of raised fists for D as she looked back at us all from the dock, her prison bags packed and ready by her side. The judge took her time but eventually came out with it – a suspended sentence and an order to pay £2000 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

D was not going to prison. There was much elation and an impromptu demo outside the court. Celebrations (and fundraising!) will continue as will our resistance to the Cardiff arms fair, the arms industry and war.

Throughout it all D remained really strong, defiant and absolutely solid. She puts this down to the “amazing support” she received and knowing that she was not alone. We would do well to remember that there are thousands of people on the receiving end of the “justice” system who are not lucky enough to be able to access the solidarity and support offered to D. So many people fighting back in different ways will never gain the sympathy of the judge as seemingly happened in this case.

So when we get a “win” in court (which in this case was not going to prison!) let’s keep an eye on the bigger goal of doing away with the police and court apparatus of repression, the primary weapons of the state against us all.

The Cardiff arms fair:
The Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) took place at the Motorpoint arena on 28th March this year. It is an opportunity for the arms industry and government representatives to conduct their murderous “business as usual”, leading to the arming of brutal regimes everywhere with all the latest tools for repression and wars. It was forced to move from Bristol in 2014 as a result of determined demos and actions and activists in Cardiff and beyond are aiming to do the same there. Get involved and help shut them down next year!

Lastly, supporting D, alongside several other comrades with impending trials, has used up a lot of much needed BDS funds. If you can help in any way with fundraising and/or donations for our ongoing solidarity work, please get in touch:
bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

After trial statement of D

It has been evident to me for a long time that war and internal
oppression has been the main cause of death and misery among the
ordinary people of this World. The Arms Industry is the most profitable of all global industries. Arms manufacturers are dealers in death, reaping vast profits by sacrificing people like you and me, motivated purely by greed. The development of the
F-35 jet fighter cost £288 billion (The Economist). A hospital costs on average £75 million, a school £35 million. Since 2001 when the US declared a ‘war on terror’ arms sales have been rising at an alarming rate.

My name is D. Murphy. I live in Swansea, I have children, grandchildren and now a great-granchild and have worked for over 20 years in the voluntary sector. I have been a long-time campaigner against the arms trade and have gone down every avenue available to me to voice my opposition to it. In the early days this was signing petitions, writing to my MPs, leafletting and picketing Parliament and arms companies and the banks who invested in them, going on marches and demonstrations etc. But I have realised no one is listening.

In 2009-10 3 of us from Swansea drove an ambulance with medical aid to Gaza in Palestine as part of a humanitarian convoy. I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war, where the Israeli government had carried out a sustained bombing campaign of a city no bigger than Swansea. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives and the senselessness of it all. That experience strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade.

Most people will know that since 2014 a coalition of Gulf states led bySaudi Arabia has been waging war on the desperately poor country of Yemen (where I spent a day when our flight stopped over there). The result of this war has been over 5,000 civilian deaths and 20,000 casualties and a cholera epidemic raging with nearly half a million affected and over 2,000 deaths.

The British Government is arming Saudi Arabia in a special government to government contract. And BAE Systems is the main supplier. Saudi is then using British weapons for mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen which is a war crime. ’Made in Britain’ bombs have been found amidst the rubble of a housing complex where 67 civilians were killed.

Meanwhile, British Aid organisations can’t bring aid into that country because of the destruction of ports, roads and airports by the Saudi coalition. What irony. According to the UN the whole country is on the verge of famine with over 20 million people in need of aid.

All of this leads me to where I am today and why I took the action I did at the DPRTE, Defence Procurement Research Technology and Exportability, Arms fair in Cardiff on the 28th of March this year. Its very name cloaks what it really is. On its own website it claims to be the “UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event”. According to the dictionary ‘defence procurement’ is ‘the action of acquiring military equipment and supplies’. It is an Arms Fair, no matter how the arms dealers try to disguise it. The UK Ministry of Defence is directly supplying Saudi and DPRTE is an Ministry of Defence Arms Fair. DPRTE is sponsored and attended by most of worlds largest arms companies all of which supply arms currently being used in Yemen. BAE Systems as always were present.

I joined about 70 protestors outside the Motorpoint Arena, and from early morning we protested with banners, placards, leafletting and chanting, but as on other occasions the arms fair went ahead. After nearly 20 years of protesting against the arms trade nothing we did seem to be making any difference.

On that day I acted in the only non-violent way open to me. I acted not out of a desire to do harm but precisely to PREVENT harm to innocent civilians in Yemen and by seeking to get the event peacefully and safely evacuated. I wanted to stop the fair, to stop the selling of arms. That was my intention.

Yesterday I was found Guilty by a jury in Cardiff Crown Court and today I was given a 3-month sentence suspended for 18 months. I said when I was first arrested that it was the Arms Dealers who should have been arrested in my stead, and I still believe it’s the Arms Dealers and the UK Government who should have been in the dock on trial for their complicity in War Crimes.

My resolve in opposing the Arms Trade has only been strengthened by this experience and I hope to see a huge protest outside next year’s DPRTE Arms Fair at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

My thanks for all the support I have been shown – Solidarity is a Weapon.

d. Murphy.
25/10/17

Witness Callout – Bristol Antifascist Protest (October 2015)

Poster for the protestWere you at College Green on 17th October 2015? Several people were arrested and we need to find witnesses for the defence.

If you saw any what happened during any of the arrests, please call Bristol Defendant Solidarity on 077467 41104, or email bristoldefendantsolidarity (at) riseup.net

Please share this callout!

Important Advice for Anarchists Travelling To/From the UK

Police in the UK are allowed to question anyone entering/leaving the country about “terrorism” – without the right to silence. We have spoken to a number of anarchists who have been questioned under these powers, known as “Schedule 7”. Because of a lack of information on the law, most of those stopped have given more information than they had to. This includes people from outside of the UK who have not even heard of “Schedule 7” before. For this reason, we strongly recommend any anarchists travelling to/from the UK read our briefing beforehand – https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/defendant-solidarity/resources-and-advice/schedule-7/.

If you have been questioned under “Schedule 7”, please contact the Network for Police Monitoring, so they can keep track of how the police are using this power. Website: https://netpol.org; Email: info (at) netpol.orgUK Border