We’re riding across the county of Kent because the Middle East is burning, and local companies are adding fuel to the fire. We have 5 big arms companies in Kent – and quite a few small ones as well. Nearly all send weapons to Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest weapons’ importer, currently waging a brutal and illegal war in Yemen. Most send weapons to Israel, illegally occupying and besieging Palestine; and most send them to Turkey – busy repressing the Kurds while the world turns a blind eye. Weapons also leave Kent for Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, UAE, Indonesia, Colombia and many other countries where conflicts are raging.
We want to raise awareness across the county of Kent that weapons and weapons components are ending up in the hands of some of the worst regimes around the world; and ending up fuelling the conflicts that are destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.
In particular, we want to stop the expansion of one of the worst companies in Kent – Instro Precision, owned by Elbit Systems.
We’re biking against the arms trade
An arms company, like any business, needs to sell as much of its product as it can. But unlike other businesses, an arms company’s product is one which is designed to kill. So arms companies seek out conflicts, and seek out customers who do a lot of killing: that’s good for business.
By selling the weapons which are used to kill, Kent companies are participating in the war crimes being carried out by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel – among other countries. They are profiting from death and repression around the world.
We want to see an end to the arms trade. We think that there are more useful and less destructive roles for the highly skilled employees working within these companies.
…and BAE Systems
BAE Systems is the 3rd largest arms company in the world and has a terrible history of supplying authoritarian regimes – like Saudi Arabia – with weapons. They provided Saudi Arabia with 200 Tactica armoured vehicles which were used to suppress a pro-democracy movement in Bahrain in 2011; and they have continued to supply the Saudi regime while it is engaged in an illegal war against Yemen. They export weapons to over 100 countries in total, including Israel, Turkey, Libya, Iraq, Colombia, India, Pakistan – all of which have on-going conflicts.
…and Babcock International
Babcock is one of the world’s largest arms companies and is involved in the construction of both the Astute and Vanguard nuclear submarines. It has substantial relationships with Israeli arms companies, like Elbit Systems, whose weapons have been responsible for some of the worst attacks on Palestinians, in particular in Gaza. Babcock also has a current contract to provide training for Saudi national technicians – even while Saudi Arabia is engaged in an illegal war against Yemen.
Meggitt is heavily involved in exporting lethal weapons parts to Israel – including bomb components, drone components and aircraft components. Meggitt’s air data systems are found on killing machines such as the Apache gunship, which was used by Israel in the Gaza strip.
Meggitt also sends weapons components to Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. All of these countries are currently engaged in war or oppression. In Turkey, the brutal campaign against the Kurdish population has led to the displacement of about ½ million people. The Turkish Government’s actions have been condemned by human rights organisations.
… and Amphenol
Amphenol products have been marketed to Israel’s military sector and have helped to support the brutal occupation of Palestine. The company also sends weapons parts to China, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, UAE – and beyond.
Amphenol is Raytheon’s main supplier of connectors – something which the local MP, Julian Brazier, thinks is a ‘great example of successful British business’. This is not something we can be proud of: Raytheon has a grizzly history of supplying brutal regimes, and its Paveway IV guided bombs have been sold to Saudi Arabia and used in its airstrikes on Yemen. Human Rights Watch has investigated a number of airstrikes by Paveway bombs and found them to be probable violations of international war.
…and Instro / Elbit
Instro is owned by the Israeli arms giant Elbit Systems. Elbit makes 85% of drones used by the Israeli military and their Hermes drones were one of the two main unpiloted aircraft used to attack people in Gaza during Israel’s 2009 Operation Cast Lead. Instro itself makes a component for drones.
The company also exports weapons components to countries around the world which are engaged in conflict or repression – e.g. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, India and Pakistan. It is currently seeking to expand its operations and move to Discovery Park in Sandwich.