War in the Vale

A number of South Wales Anarchists attempted to disrupt this year’s ‘Aerolink Wales’ aerospace and defence fair, held at The Vale Hotel and Spa near Hensol on 7th April.

"Hardocre activists" "storm" The Vale Hotel...

"Hardcore activists" "storm" The Vale Hotel...

While members of the Red Choir, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, CND and Stop the War maintained a presence in a designated area at the front of the hotel, local anarchists approached the doors to attempt to gain access. However, they were prevented from doing so by police officers who described the group as ‘hardcore activists’ trying to ‘storm’ the building.

A police evidence gatherer filmed activists closely and became confrontational when protesters began to block him getting pictures. The officer was then instructed to put his camera away so as not to cause a scene! Erm, too late: the line of police at the entrance and the officers and police vehicles around the 4 Star facility had probably not gone unnoticed by its guests.

Police evidence-gatherer foiled by anti-militarist propaganda

Police evidence-gatherer foiled by anti-militarist propaganda

Leaflets were given to hotel guests and visitors, explaining that companies which supply the Israeli army who killed an estimated 1500 people in recent attacks on Gaza were showing off their wares and cutting deals in their hotel.

Many were shocked and upset to learn of what was happening in the hotel and made complaints to the manager. One guest took a number of leaflets back into the hotel to give out to other customers while another told us that when she asked hotel staff what the event was about, she was told they weren’t allowed to tell her!

Despite being informed that they were trespassing and being asked to leave by a nervous hotel manager, apparently under instruction from the police, the south wales anarchists continued to ensure that anyone going in or out of the hotel knew that profiteers from war were doing business in their hotel.

Meanwhile, as all police attention was focused at the front of the hotel, they totally missed posters and ‘blood’ covered dolls being left inside the hotel in protest against this Welsh Assembly supported arms fair. Doh! We think Aerolink 2010 may be actively looking for a new venue…

Doh!

Doh!

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Aerolink Wales 2009: Meet the arms dealers and…Ty Hafan?

With not long to go before Aerolink Wales 2009, due to take place on 7 April at the 4 star Vale Hotel and Spa, the organisers of this Welsh government-sponsored arms fair are getting excited. ‘We are looking forward to the 2009 event and providing our attendees with even more opportunities than ever before. With purchasing, research and technical, engineering and innovation representatives from some of the best known companies in Aerospace and Defence… 2009 is shaping up to be the biggest and best Aerolink Wales yet.’

Elizabeth Read had a successful career marketing financial services in the City of London before joining Ty Hafan

Elizabeth Read had a successful career marketing financial services in the City of London before joining Ty Hafan

And don’t the weapons manufacturers know it! Commenting on previous Aerolink events, the purchasing manager of General Electric engine services, part of the defence company which reported record earnings of $183 billion in 2008, is quoted as saying: ‘We all felt the day was fruitful with a number of potential opportunities.’ Opportunities (subsidised with our money, of course) to meet and do business with plenty of other weapons manufacturers and…Ty Hafan, the well-known Welsh charity which runs a hospice for dying children?!

We wondered if Ty Hafan’s presence as an exhibitor – for which it may have paid as much as £750 plus VAT – was a mistake. Not at all, according to Elizabeth Read, Ty Hafan’s fundraising and marketing director: ‘Representatives of our Corporate Partnership team are planning to attend the Aerolink Wales exhibition. We develop relationships with a number of companies in South Wales that are interesting (sic) in working with a charity. These relationships lead to various fundraising and volunteering opportunities for the staff, in particular’.

So just which of the very wealthy companies at Aerolink might Ty Hafan be developing ‘relationships’ with and, more importantly, why? Here are just a few of Ty Hafan’s fellow attendees:

White phosphorous attack on Beit Lahia school

White phosphorous attack on Beit Lahia school

Magellan Aerospace, with facilities in Wrexham, manufactures the CRV7 rocket weapon system (RWS) for the F-16 jet fighter and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Both were used with devastating effect by the Israeli armed forces in Israel’s recent aggression against the people of Gaza which killed upwards of 1500 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. Ms Read and the members of the corporate partnership team may have seen photos of the carnage after a UN-run school at Beit Lahia was bombarded with burning white phosphorous. What Ms Read and her team may not know is that Magellan Aerospace also manufacture the M156 Smoke missile that goes with the CRV7 system. ‘Upon detonation’, Magellan’s story goes, ‘the high explosive ruptures the warhead and disperses the white phosphorous to generate a white smoke cloud.’

Beit Lahia - the aftermath

Beit Lahia - the aftermath

General Electric (GE) has been supplying the Israeli army since 1950 and, given its gargantuan profits, wars in the Middle East are good for business. One of GE’s success stories is the F110 jet engine, used to power the F-16.

Gardner Aerospace, part of the Carlyle Group, helps build war planes, including the C-130 Hercules, the military transport plane used by the Israeli airforce operating from its Nevatim Airbase.

Thales is a specialist manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, which are used extensively by the Israeli airforce to locate targets prior to bombardment. While the Hermes 450, made by Israeli company Elbit and tested at ParcAberporth in West Wales, remains Israel’s UAV of choice, Thales will, no doubt, be keeping an eye out for opportunities to do business with the pariah state.

Arms manufacturers 'making a difference' in Gaza

Arms manufacturers 'making a difference' in Gaza

We wish Elizabeth Read and her colleagues a fruitful day at Aerolink. Corporations that deal in death will be grateful for the opportunity to develop relationships with a charity which helps dying children. After all, any opportunity to ‘legitimise’ their activities is always welcome. As Bob Corcoran, Chairman of the General Electric Foundation writes: ‘we look forward to working closely with schools and organizations also committed to building strong communities. The impact of these investments underscores the company’s commitment to strategic philanthropy and corporate citizenship. By applying the very best of who we are – our talent, ideas, skills, and inspiration – we will do our best to make a difference in this world.’

We’re sure you will, Bob, just as long as you can find organisations willing to accept your blood money, that is…