From Glascoed to Gaza: Welsh Assembly government implicated in Israeli war crimes

The aftermath of Israeli attacks in Gaza

The aftermath of Israeli attacks in Gaza

As Palestinian survivors of the Israeli onslaught in Gaza huddle in the ruins of their devastated communities, it will be cold comfort to them to know that the weapons used against them have been developed – in part – in a country proud to be committed to a sustainable future: Wales. While the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) talks of having “a real part to play in influencing change at home and on the international stage”, the truth is that Welsh taxpayers’ money is being used to subsidize the arms industry in Wales – an arms industry that is deeply implicated in Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Israeli Hermes 450

Israeli Hermes 450

The Israeli military employ UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to target Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals. These are the Hermes 450, made by the Israeli firm Elbit Systems, using engines built in Birmingham. The pilotless drones are then brought to Parc Aberporth in west Wales for testing. This facility has been supported by £8.7m in grants from the WAG.

Israeli Apache attack helicopter

Once the “targets” have been identified, next come the bombs. The Israeli military use Apache attack helicopters, which Palestinian human rights activists have described as “a symbol of indiscriminate military violence.” The Apaches rely on transformers made by Penny & Giles Controls of Cwmfelinfach, Gwent. Then there are the F-16 fighter jets, using components made by BAE Systems, which operates a munitions factory in Glascoed and runs a military training school in Cwmbran. These same jets bombed the Shij’ia Family Health Care Centre in Gaza , which runs a mobile dental clinic wholly funded by the people of Wales through the Near East Council of Churches.

The ruins of the health care centre

The ruins of the health care centre

Incredibly, the health care centre was telephoned 15 minutes in advance by the Israelis to warn them that they would be attacked – no case of “collateral damage” there then.

Of course the Welsh arms industry doesn’t end there. With over 180 companies in the aerospace sector in Wales, we are now home to the likes of General Dynamics and Raytheon, makers of tanks, submarines, bombs, rockets and much much human misery. If only these companies would get together in one room so outraged Welsh taxpayers could show what they think of them… Well, quit dreaming. All of these murderous scum and more will be attending the Aerolink Wales 2009 exhibition, to be held at the Vale Hotel in Cardiff, on 7th April this year. The South Wales Anarchists will be there. Will you?

 

UAV Engines Ltd, Lynn Lane, Shenstone, Lichfield, WS14 0DT. Tel: 01543 481819. uav@uavenginesltd.co.uk

Penny & Giles Controls, 36 Nine Mile Point Ind. Est., Cwmfelinfach, Gwent NP11 7HZ Tel: 01495 202000. sales@pennyandgiles.com

BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions, Usk, Monmouthshire, NP15 1XL. Tel: 01291 672211.

BAE Systems: Cwmbran Training College, Beacon House, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Park, Cwmbran, Gwent. Tel: 01633 835123. trainingcollege@baesystems.com www.cwmbrancollege.com/

www.aerolinkwales.co.uk  The Vale Hotel, Hensol Park, Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JY. Tel: 01443 667800. www.vale-hotel.com

ALUN CAIRNS RESIGNS AS CHAIR OF ASSEMBLY PENSION FUND TRUSTEES

SOUTH WALES ANARCHISTS CLAIM VICTORY AS YET ANOTHER PENSION FUND SCANDAL EMERGES

 Following our revelations that the welsh arsembly members’ pension fund is being held in companies with appalling environmental and human rights’ records, chair of the pension scheme trustees, Alun ‘greasy wops’ Cairns has resigned.

another Tory twat bites the dust

another Tory twat bites the dust

End of story? Er, we don’t think so. Mr Cairns isn’t the only villain of the piece. There are, of course, four other trustees representing all the political parties who must have known as much or as little as Mr Cairns. Perhaps the lot of them should come clean and tell us exactly what they’ve been up to during their tenure as trustees? We’ll be sending a freedom of information question to the government requesting details of ‘meetings’ between trustees and Baillie Gifford Life Ltd, the Edinburgh-based partnership that manages members’ pensions. Watch this space, although we’ll probably be met with more porky pies from the freedom of misinformation team at the assembly.

But the story doesn’t end there. We’ve been in touch with the nice freedom of information officer at Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT), one of our favourite councils (see Gagged 24 and16) and we’ve learned that, coincidently, of course, Baillie Gifford, along with four other financial companies, manages RCT’s pension fund too! The assembly’s stash of £10.5 million pales into insignificance against RCT’s fund with a membership of 23,000 people. At the end of March 2008 the fund stood at £1.3 billion, with Baillie Gifford Asset Management holding £540 million.

 And, you’ve guessed it, many of the star performers in the arsembly fund feature in RCT’s. We asked specifically about money given to the arms and tobacco industries and were told the breakdown of holdings at 31st March 2007 in aerospace and defence was:

 BAE Systems            £2,908,645

Meggitt                        £3,305,736

Rolls Royce    £6,770,177

how many more Palestinian children will Israel murder?

how many more Palestinian children will Israel murder?

 

That wouldn’t be the same BAE Systems that supply Israel with parts for F-16 bombers currently being used to murder Palestinians, would it?

 

 

The breakdown of RCT’s holdings in tobacco was:

 British American Tobacco               £  6,252,715

Imperial Tobacco                              £10,838,441

Which, when added up, comes to £13 million to weapons manufactures and £17 million to tobacco barons.

By the end of March 2008 RCT’s investments in the arms trade had fallen to £9 million, following the sales of shares in arms companies including Lockheed Martin, worth £840,000 in 2006, and the sale of nearly £500,000 of shares  in our old friend, Raytheon (see Gagged 25). Investments in tobacco stood at almost £16 million.

Perhaps it’s time for the Pension Panel Members, which include council leader Russell Roberts and councillor Clayton Willis, to step up to the mark and account for their murderous investment decisions.

RCT councillor Roberts

RCT councillor Roberts

                                

RCT councillor Willis

RCT councillor Willis

     

SOUTH WALES ACTIVISTS SAY ‘SHUT ITT!’

edo1South Wales activists travelled to Brighton to take part in the ‘Shut ITT’ demonstration on 15th October 2008, which aimed to shut down the EDO MBM arms factory there. They joined 400 activists from around the country in this mass anti-militarist action.

EDO MBM Technology Ltd is owned by ITT, a US-based multinational arms dealer. They have contracts with the UK Ministry of ‘Defence’ and US arms giant Raytheon (see the article on St Athan) to supply the release mechanisms for the Paveway III guided bomb system. The Paveway bomb was the most commonly used munition in the 2003 ‘shock and awe’ destruction of Baghdad and murder of thousands of innocent Iraqis. After four years of setbacks, Paveway IV is now in full production in the UK. EDO also makes components for tanks, helicopters and unmanned combat air vehicles. Research into the company has revealed direct links between its supply of Israeli F16 bomb release units, and war crimes committed by the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories.

Before the march moved off, police read out a ‘Section 60’ notice, used to enforce the removal of face coverings. A number of arrests were made at this early stage for failing to comply with the instruction and for obstructing police in their ‘duty’.  The 400-strong march then started on its way, with the aim of reaching the factory to protest. However, as the group approached the EDO factory, its progress was blocked by a large number of police. Attempts were made to break through police lines, only to be met with batons, pepper spray used at short range and cops in full riot gear. Half the protestors then took to an elevated wooded area, giving access to the rear of the factory. Along the way there were further skirmishes with cops and their dogs. Some of the police officers present, batons drawn, appeared to be provoking protestors. In spite of this repression, the back of the factory still got covered in red paint.

The protesters eventually managed to evade all police cordons and marched into the centre of Brighton. A substantial number of activists made a break into a park, the cops having lost control. A party on the beach followed after six hours of protest. There were ten arrests, four houses searched and up to twenty protesters injured by police. For more information on this ongoing campaign, see www.smashedo.org.uk.