29th January 2015
Protesters outside Barclays Bank again
Campaigners from towns across East Kent targeted Barclays Bank again today to protest against their investment in the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems1. Elbit is a world leader in the manufacture of drones and a major supplier of weapons to the Israeli army. It proudly advertises its weapons as ‘battle tested’.
The results of that ‘testing’ during the summer of 2014 could be seen in the massive destruction of Gaza. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed, mosques, schools, hospitals, apartment blocks and even UN relief compounds were targeted. 2,150 Palestinians lost their lives, of which over 500 were children. International organisations spoke of war crimes2.
Those gathering outside Barclays today were part of the East Kent Campaign Against the Arms Trade local group. They distributed more than 200 leaflets to passers-by and collected over 100 signed postcards to be forwarded to Antony Jenkins, the CEO of Barclays Bank. The postcards asked how Barclays’ investments were consistent with its ‘Code of Conduct’ which calls on staff to “act fairly, ethically and openly in all we do3
The campaigners have vowed to keep up pressure on the bank to sell its shares in Elbit Systems and withdraw support from a military company which continues to be responsible for war crimes. The protesters are supported in their aims by nearly 2 million people around the world4, among them Palestinian students in Gaza who last October called on fellow students to boycott Barclays5
“As Palestinians we suffer immeasurably from attacks by drones supplied by Elbit Systems. Barclays and other companies linked to the arms trade with Israel are profiting directly from Israel’s massacres… We call on governments around the world to do the very least they can to stop Israel from carrying out more massacres of our people by imposing a military embargo on Israel. Such steps would be in line with growing public support for our struggle and for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign,”
Abdulrahman Abunahel from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
1. Barclays Bank holds $3 million of shares in Elbit Systems despite claiming to have divested from the arms industry.
2. See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/11/israeli-air-strikes-gaza-continue-us-barack-obama-offers-broker-ceasefire
3. See http://www.barclays.com/about-barclays/barclays-values.html
4. Avaaz petition: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/israel_palestine_this_is_how_it_ends_loc/