Raytheon – Defend the right to protest

Socialist Party Statement 18th August 2006 The bail conditions placed on the nine anti-war protestors who occupied the Raytheon factory in Derry are a serious infringement of the right to free speech and to peacefully protest. One of the conditions set by the court was that the nine would not take part in meetings or activities of the anti-war movement, public or private.

If this restriction is allowed to stand it could set a dangerous precedent for similarly severe restrictions being imposed in the future. There have been many cases where, under the anti-union laws, injunctions have been served on strikers to try to restrict their rights to picket. The restrictions imposed on the Raytheon protestors go much further. If they were applied to strikers they would not only limit the right to picket, they would effectively ban them from any participation whatsoever in their strike.

It is important that this ruling is opposed. Just as strikers have defied injunctions, the Socialist Party would fully support any of the Raytheon nine who defied this ban on participation in peaceful anti-war meetings.

The Raytheon nine are being charged with scheduled offences and their case may be heard by non-jury Diplock courts. This is out of proportion to the action they took in occupying this company.

Raytheon is a major arms company. It supplies guidance equipment for many of the missiles that have been used recently by Israel in the destruction of large parts of Lebanon. The actions of those who disrupted it for a day were peaceful compared to the death and destruction that is assisted by the Raytheon products.

From a tactical point of view, the actions of the protestors in smashing computer equipment were nonetheless inadvisable. A few thousand pounds worth of computers is nothing to a company that earns its profits in the billion dollar global arms market. The destruction of the computers is now being used by the State to justify the harsh treatment of the protestors and the restrictions on the right to protest represented by the bail conditions.

The Socialist Party is opposed to the armaments industry. We think that the industry should be taken over by the state and that the machinery, technology plus the skills of the workforce should be turned to producing products that are socially useful.

Our opposition to Raytheon and what it currently produces does not extend to the workforce in Derry who are only trying to earn a living in an area where jobs are hard to come by.

Rather than calling simply for Raytheon to close – and for it’s workforce to lose their jobs – we demand that it should be taken into public ownership and that the high tech skills be turned to producing things that will enhance the lives of people, not bring destruction and death.

This attempt to criminalise anti-war activists and limit the right to protest must be opposed.

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