Derry Women on Trial in Belfast & EDO Decommissioners on Trial in Brighton
I have just spent the last two days in a Belfast court attending the trial of 9 women and 2 men from Derry. Charges on 3 other men were dropped the Tuesday morning we drove up from Dublin.
The nine women moved from protest to resistance during the Israeli attack on Gaza in the January of '09. It was a powerful experience to listen to their testimony to why they have risked their liberty to bring down the mainframe computer of the Derry Raytheon plant during the Israeli '09 war on Gaza.
Raytheon is one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world and was invited to Derry as part of the North's "peace dividend", opened by Nobel Peace Prize winners Hume and Trimble, go figure! Raytheon weapons have been used extensively by the state of Israel in killing civilians in Lebanon and Palestine. The 9 women had attempted to enter the Raytheon plant in Derry with the intention of pouring water into the mainframe computer and having a direct effect on Israel's ability to butcher men, women and children in Gaza. during the attacks of Jan '09.
The 9 women knew from the previous trial of the "Raytheon 9" that the August '06 action undertaken during Israel's attacks on Lebanon - that by disabling the Raytheon mainframe computer in Derry it had knock on effects on other Raytheon computers through the UK.
The women also knew from prosecution witnesses at that trial that Raytheon has an ongoing commitment to maintaining the equipment they have sold to Israel and which has been used repetitively to murder from the air in Gaza.
While the 3rd. week of this trial unfolded in Belfast, the events in the Mediterranean Sea were also unfolding. Events where nine solidarity activists were murdered and dozens wounded by Israeli commandos in international waters. From my christian paradigm those killed, wounded and imprisoned activists were practising the acts of mercy..."bringing building supplies to the homeless, medical equipment to the sick and food to the hungry" Matthew 25:31-46. Israel (like the U.S. with their sanctions on Iraq in the '90's) have criminalised practising the acts of mercy. Indeed, the state of Israel has made practising the works of mercy toward the people of Gaza a capitol offence.
The Derry defendants have been making the long daily commute from their homes to the Belfast court for the last 3 weeks. It was a privilege to travel back with them to their hometown and experience their community of resistance.
I have attended dozens of anti-war trials over the last 3 decades and have always found them to be sacred times and spaces...the fragility and strength of the defendants, the demonic slickness of the arms corporations & military, the weird rituals and costumes of the courts and the prosecution's desperate attempts to strip such compassionate actions of any context. As the late Phil Berrigan once said to me "Brothers and sisters in jail, or on trial, for peace and justice sake speak to our conscience, which is how God speaks to us!"
In the Irish anti-war scene there is a marked lack of solidarity from the more moderate "mass rally" protest leadership & movement for those who take nonviolent resistance. Unlike the Rossport campaign that has been built on nvda and prison solidarity, the anti-war scene seems to be one of groundhog day rallies, posturing & political manouverings between small left groups. Hopefully the Palestinian solidarity movement can move beyond this dynamic, but there seemed to be no mention at the rally in Dublin last Monday of the trial in nearby Belfast of those who resisted Israel's weapons manufacturers. What gives? If we are serious about resisting war in the imperial heartland we have to move from protest to nonviolent resistance. There isn't much resistance, because in our atomised society & protest movements there isn't much solidarity
I know from my own resistance experiences, trials and a couple of years in prison - that the more solidarity the resister experiences, the easier the resistance is to undertake and sustain!
Next week (June 7th.) 6 activists go to trial in Brighton/England for their nonviolent disarmament actions at EDO - another weapons supplier to the Israeli military. 3 local activists have also been charged and are also on trial. One of the defendants Elijah John Smith has been kept in jail by the British state since the action in January 09.
Sometimes it is the case that folks who would like to offer solidarity don't now how to....it's up to the movement to make it as easy as possible for folks to express their solidarity.
A simple act of solidarity you could do would be to send a letter or postcard of solidarity to
HMP Lewes ,
1 Brighton Rd,
also check the following website for more backgorund information and updates
If you know anyone in Belfast encourage them to get along to the closing stages of the Raytheon trial of the Derry women in Laganside Court 13.
There will be folks returning from the Gaza convoy after time in Israeli jails, bashed and injured. It's important to reach out to hese folks with whatever solidarity we can muster...it's only limited by our imaginations. There are folks still in jeopardy on the "Rachel Corrie" heading towards Gaza that we need to stand with. And of course there are the folks in Gaza that need to know that the killing and wounding of our friends will not kill our movement of nonviolent solidarity with them.