FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hammered by the Swedes

Using hammers and bolt cutters, peace activists repeatedly broke into weapon plants and damaged weapons in Sweden.  Activists from the Swedish group OFOG/Avrusta admitted damaging twenty high explosive grenade launchers as well as internal parts to a Howitzer 77.  Five people were arrested.  Two remain in jail. Two activists who were arrested and released were re-arrested after they returned to the weapons plant to do more damage.  A fifth person was arrested Saturday in another break in.  All are facing trial on charges from criminal damage to trespass at places of national security.

Members of the Swedish peace and disarmament group OFOG/Avrusta say they have been preparing for more than a year to carry out the actions.  OFOG, which loosely translates as the word mischief, is a network of activists working for a nuclear free and demilitarized world.  Avrusta is Disarm in English.  The group released information to the press announcing their actions and posted videos of their entry and damage on You Tube. See: http://www.ofog.org/avrusta_aktionsvideo

At about 2:30 a.m. Thursday morning, activists approached the BAE Systems weapons facility in Karlskoga, Sweden, about 240 kilometers away from Stockholm.  According to statements to the press, they used bolt cutters cut open a hole in the security fence and entered.  They left behind a banner welcoming others which said “The door is open – you are free to start disarming.”  The activists used hammers to damage internal parts like cooling aggregates and hydraulic cylinders for the Howitzer 77.  A fully operational Howitzer 77 can fire 6 rounds every second for 20 minutes and has a firing range of 30 kilometers.  Inside, media reports note that the duo managed to affix a poster to the door which said “In this factory are manufactured weapons that are used to wage wars – Disarmament is underway.”  Disarmament activists, Cattis Laska, 24, and Pelle Strinlund, 37, were arrested and charged with trespassing and criminal damage.  Laska is a youth leader and Strinlund is a writer.  Both remain in jail pending a hearing.

Simultaneously, other activists entered a weapons facility run by Saab in Eskilstuna, Sweden, about 135 kilometers away.  According to OFOG/Avrusta, they damaged twenty grenade launchers with hammers and then alerted guards to their presence.  Anna Andersson, 26, and Martin Smedjeback, 35, were arrested and charged with trespass, severe criminal damage, and entering a protected national security area.  Andersson is a web developer.  Smedjeback is a trainer in non-violence.  Both were released from jail on Friday.

The weapons damaged in the Saab plant were described as Carl Gustav type grenade launchers.  These are shoulder mounted anti-tank weapons which can fire high explosive rounds.  The weapons were reportedly found in boxes labeled for delivery to “US” and “New Delhi.”  BAE has a long term contract with the Indian government for howitzers and grenade launchers, according to reports in the Hindu Times.

After being released from jail Friday, Andersson indicated she was glad to be going to trial.  “I look forward to a chance to ethically and legally argue for our actions in court.  I hope one day the arms manufacturers will be charged for the criminal damage that Swedish armaments cause in wars and conflicts around the world.”

In a surprise move early Saturday, Andersson and Smedjeback returned to the weapons plant where they were arrested again.  They now remain in jail.

Also early Saturday morning, a fifth member of the group, Annika Spalde, 39, cut her way through the fence around a weapons plant in Karlskoga and hung a banner encouraging more disarmament actions.  She was later arrested.  She is charged with severe criminal damage and trespass in a place of national security.  Spalde, who was later released, is a deacon in the Swedish church, an author and peace activist.

BAE Systems, owner of the Karlskoga plant, describes itself on its website as “the premier global defence and aerospace company” with 100,000 employees world-wide and annual sales of $31.4 billion.  BAE authorities confirmed the break in.  Curiously, BAE press people in the US reported “very minor” damage while the BAE security manager in Sweden told the press there that he estimated damage at 50,000 euros and was not certain whether the damage would create delays in scheduled deliveries of the weapons or not.

Saab, owner of the Eskilstuna plant, proclaims it serves the global market with products, services and solutions ranging from military defence to civil security.  It says it has 13,700 employees and world-wide sales of $2.5 billion. Lasse Jonsson, spokesperson for Saab, told the media, “They have scrapped a quantity of weapons’ spare parts that awaited export. Only after the police investigation has been completed will we be able to calculate the exact extent of the damage caused.”

Maja Backlund, spokesperson for OFOG, was quoted in the Hindu Times: “Civil disobedience and action are most vital parts of democratic development. Our colleagues who breached the Saab factory managed to damage 25 grenade launchers of the Carl Gustav brand that are in extensive use in Kashmir and other war zones in India.”  OFOG also claims that some of the weapons damaged were of the same type as used by the U.S. military in Iraq.

Members of OFOG claim Swedish weapons exports have risen 88 percent since the US invasion of Iraq.  They further claim that the Swedish government is violating its policy of peace and neutrality by supplying warring countries with arms.

Deacon Spalde insisted these actions were necessary. “When your government supports an illegal war and sells arms to dictatorships, it’s time for ordinary citizens like us to take action.”

OFOG/Avrusta said “This action is the first disarmament campaign in the 21st century in Sweden.”  At this point, the campaign says it consists of activists willing to risk arrest and another fifty support people.

“Our activists have prepared themselves for more than a year for this campaign,” said a group member who asked to remain anonymous.  “They are ready to serve time in prison if Swedish society should fail to see that nonviolent civil disobedience to suspend the disastrous Swedish arms exports to wars and dictatorships is less of a breach of law than these amoral arms exports.”

More disarmament actions, OFOG/Avrusta promises, will be forthcoming.

BILL QUIGLEY is a human rights attorney and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  Bill and others at Loyola are helping the Catholic Legal Immigration Network represent dozens of mothers arrested in Laurel, Mississippi.  He can be reached at: Quigley77@gmail.com

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail