War Protesters on Trial

Raytheon Company, based in Waltham, Massachusetts is a leading US military contractor. With annual revenues of over $20 billion a year, 90 percent obtained from defense contracts, Raytheon is the world’s third largest missile manufacturer. Among the company’s deadly production arsenal are the Tomahawk, Sidewinder, Patriot and ‘bunker buster’ bombs – all weapons being used to devastate Iraq and Afghanistan by the US and Great Britain today. Additionally, Raytheon supplies guidance systems for many of the missiles and bombs used by US and Israeli forces in the Middle East.

In 1999 Raytheon opened an office in Derry City, Northern Ireland. Ironically, Raytheon was brought to Derry during the Northern Ireland ‘peace process’ by Nationalist and Unionist politicians and paraded as an example of what the ‘peace dividend’ would gain for a population with some of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. In the event, Raytheon created only around 40 jobs. Local politicians–despite Raytheon’s complicity in Bush and Blair’s war crimes–have balked at forcing the company out for fear that US investors would be sent the wrong message.

In August, 2006, disgusted by Israel’s US backed invasion of Lebanon, antiwar activists in Derry protested, occupied and ‘decommissioned’ the Raytheon facility there. Now, nine members of the Derry Antiwar Coaltion (DAWC) who participated in the occupation face possible jail sentences.

Supporters of the Raytheon 9 are calling for all charges to be dropped. A rally is planned on June 5th at the preliminary enquiry of their trial at the Derry Court House.

Eamonn McCann, one of the Raytheon 9, is a founder of the 1960s civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and is the author of several books, including War and an Irish Town; writes regularly for numerous publications in Ireland; and is chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and was a candidate for the Socialist Environmental Alliance in Northern Ireland’s recent National Assembly elections. Eamonn explains why Raytheon was targeted:

“Every day brought reports of Israeli attacks, allegedly on Hizbollah positions but, as was clear from the news footage, bringing death and agony to terrified civilians.”

Eamonn says a DAWC meeting

“voted to picket the Raytheon plant on August 9th and, if possible, to occupy and try to ‘decommission’ the premises.

“In the event, nine of us managed to gain entry. Computers and papers were hurled from the windows. The mainframe was disabled.

“Last month came evidence that Raytheon product had indeed been used in the Qana killings. The evidence can be viewed at www.tyros.leb.net/qana2, which displays a close-up photograph of the fuselage of a bomb retrieved from the Qana carnage. The markings identify a Raytheon bomb: MK-84 guided bomb unit BSU-37/B.”

Eamonn adds:

“If the Raytheon 9 are branded criminals then we are being asked to accept that it is a crime to occupy the office of an arms company, but not a crime to occupy a country; that it is a crime to drop computers from an office window, but not a crime to drop missiles on innocent people.

The Raytheon 9 will face the court as the accusers of Raytheon not the accused, and will use the trial to highlight the war crimes of the US and UK governments.”

Colm Bryce, also of the Raytheon 9 and the Derry Antiwar Coalition tells us:

“We’ve been protesting Raytheon since it came here in 1999. They said they weren’t doing any military work. However, former employees have told us they were doing military work.

At the height of the Lebanese war we found out that US cargo planes were rushing bombs to Israel. We felt this sort of thing is happening all the time. Just like the US military uses Shannon airport here in Ireland to transport troops to Iraq all the time. It felt unbearable.

This is not about us. This is about what’s going on in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan day in and day out. We want to put Raytheon and the war on trial.”

What you can do to support the Raytheon 9:

“Black 47 has spoken out against the War in Iraq since it was a mere gleam in the eyes of Messrs. Bush and Cheney. Many of our fans in the Service are now suffering the consequences of this ill-advised invasion. The Raytheon 9 are not criminals; they are merely focusing attention on this current administration’s failed Middle Eastern policies. Had the millions of us in the US who saw through Bush/Cheney’s lies engaged in similar non-violent activities, we would not be in dire position we find ourselves in Iraq today.”

– Larry Kirwan, leader of Black 47

The Raytheon 9 have received support from throughout Ireland and across the world. Among those who have signed the statement of support are Noam Chomsky, Mark Thomas, Christy Moore, George Galloway MP, Salma Yaqoob (Stop the War Coalition UK) Ibrahim Mousawi (Lebanon), Caoimhe Butterly, Richard Boyd Barrett (Irish Anti-War Movement) and many others.

Send messages of support to the Derry Antiwar Coalition at colmbryce@googlemail.com

Sign onto the statement of support at: www.petitiononline.com/dawc/petition.html

Visit the Raytheon 9 website: www.raytheon9.org

See Eamonn McCann speaking on Raytheon action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmTJbEYsN4A

Sandy Boyer is co-host of WBAI’s Radio Free Eireann and has led campaigns to free Irish political prisoners including the Guildford 4, Birmingham 6, and Roisin McAliskey. Boyer has contributed articles on the Irish struggle to publications in Ireland and the US including New Politics, The Irish People, Fortnight, Fourthwrite and The Blanket. He can be reached at: abyer3@nyc.rr.com

Shaun Harkin, originally from Derry, is a regular contributor to Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review. He can be reached at: shaunharkin@gmail.com