A court has jailed an activist in the UK for 27 months, after they were involved in shutting down an arms company that indirectly supplies weapons to Israel.
Scientist Rebellion: not just about the climate crisis
Scientist Rebellion is an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion. It describes itself as:
a growing climate activist group with 1,000+ scientists and academics across 32 countries. Members range from science students and professors to IPCC contributors and leading climate-related scientists.
However, Scientist Rebellion doesn’t just deal with the climate crisis. It also supports non-violent action in other areas – one of these being Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people. As the Canary has documented, for 75 years the Israeli state has repressed, violently occupied, and dehumanised Palestinians. Its forces have killed countless people. Most recently, Israeli authorities have killed at least 112 Palestinians this year alone.
The UK government is complicit in Israel’s apartheid. In this instance, it’s allowing UK-based arms companies to supply Israel’s security forces with equipment. So, activists have long taken direct action against these companies. Palestine Action is one such group. It has repeatedly shut down the factories of companies like Elbit, as well as its supply chains. One of these is a company called APPH.
Opposing Israel’s apartheid and complicit companies
Palestine Action took control of APPH’s factory in June 2021. Activists covered the building in red paint, and scaled the roof:
They also destroyed equipment so it could no longer be used to kill Palestinians:
Palestine Action explained why it occupied APPH:
APPH are a supplier of drone landing gear to Elbit Systems, through the latter’s Leicester-based subsidiary UAV Tactical Systems. UAV Tactical Systems hold multiple drone export licenses to Israel, and whose flagship drone (the Watchkeeper) is based on the ‘combat-proven’ Hermes, infamous for patrolling the skies of Gaza. Elbit have repackaged this as the Watchkeeper for export to Europe and the British military. APPH furthermore produce the landing gear for BAE Systems’ Hawk jet, used by Saudi Arabia in their assaults on Yemen, and a number of other fighter jets and military helicopters.
However, the British state has not taken this dissent lightly.
Activists: facing jail time
Cops and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged three people over the June 2021 APPH incident. Now, one of the activists, who is also from Scientist Rebellion, has been imprisoned.
The group said in a press release that its:
co-founder and human rights activist Mike Lynch-White was today [Wednesday 17 May] sentenced to 27 months at Chester Crown Court for peacefully disrupting the production of military components manufactured in the UK and supplied to Israel.
He and his co-defendant Charlie Thomas had both been charged with criminal damage after climbing onto the roof of Runcorn-based factory APPH, a supplier of drone parts to Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest defence contractors.
Authorities have already detained Lynch-White for almost three months on remand. The CPS has also charged him in relation to two more non-violent protests, with the climate-focused groups Beyond Politics/Burning Pink and Heathrow Pause. Courts are yet to sentence him over these.
Palestine: showing solidarity
Lynch-White said in a statement:
I have seen how the Palestinian people are at best second class citizens on their own ever-shrinking lands. Clearly, this is apartheid. We have denounced and defeated it before and we must again.
Do not be brow-beaten into silent complicity by claims that supporting the near defenceless Palestinian people is antisemitic. The far-right government of Israel is doing this, not the Jewish people.
This is not complicated: stand with the defenceless, not the powerful.
It is unclear what the fate of the two other activists is yet. As the Canary has documented, the state increasingly criminalising protest is becoming a lot more common and authoritarian, with the Tories’ Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts (PCSC) Act. However, all this pales in comparison to the horror the Israeli state inflicts on Palestinian people, day in, day out. So, regardless of the consequences, activists in the UK will continue to show their solidarity with those living under apartheid – even if, like Lynch-White, it means a prison sentence.
Featured image via Scientist Rebellion