Date(s) - 11 Oct 2014
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Boycott Barclays – Down the Drones Demo
Join our Demonstration at Barclays Bank, North Street, Brighton
Saturday 11th October 1 – 3pm
Our weekly stall will be on the pavement here from 1pm till 3pm
Why boycott Barclays?
Barclays Bank have a long history of profiting from suffering and war.
In the 70s and 80s they invested heavily in Apartheid South Africa, giving credence to a brutal, racist regime. Following an international boycott movement they pulled out in 1986.
Today, Barclays PLC are a share-holder in Elbit, an Israeli company which manufactures drones used extensively in the recent bombings of Gaza.
- In 2012 and 2013 drones killed more people in Gaza than any other aircraft.
- In 2009’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’ attack, a third of the 1417 Palestinians killed were killed by drones.
- In 2014, 2143 Gazans were killed and 11,100 left wounded or disabled. Elbit drones were involved in many of these attacks.
Al Mezan, a Palestinan Human Rights Organisation found:
“When Israeli forces started to use drones the number of people killed increased. The people who manufacture the drones facilitate more attacks because drones are cheaper, they are in the sky all the time, and they (the air force) don’t have to plan the attack properly beforehand.”
Barclays has tried to absolve itself of any responsibility by saying its shares in Elbit are held on behalf of clients and to “hedge exposure”. Yet Barclays is profiting from holding shares in Elbit on behalf of its clients and the practice of “hedging” is simply another form of financial investment. By trading and holding shares in Elbit Systems, Barclays is deeply complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment. Until Barclays agree not to trade in Elbit shares we refuse to bank with them.
Campaigns like this have success. A campaign against Deutsche Bank led to the bank pulling all funds out of Elbit. And shares in Elbit fell by 3 percent following Sweden’s largest pensions fund divesting from Elbit.
During the South African apartheid era, Barclays owned a South African subsidiary bank that made loans to the apartheid government and purchased millions in South African defence bonds. In solidarity with those being oppressed, British students closed their Barclays student accounts and encouraged others to do so. This caused Barclays share of the student market to drop from 27% to 15%. Encouraged by the students’ action, local councils, teachers associations and charities followed suit until Barclays permanently closed its South African subsidiary, having lost millions of pounds in closed bank accounts.
The drones which Elbit manufacture are unmanned aircrafts armed with missiles, controlled using joysticks from the safety of a military base. The drone’s video camera sends visual feedback to the soldier operator who choses a target on screen and then fires.
The surreal detatchment of killing from afar has caused some Israeli soldiers moral misgivings. Last month, forty-three Israeli military reservists declared they would no longer serve in the Israeli army citing amongst others, incidents they witnessed involving drones.
Said one soldier:
“Once when I was the unit representative, there was someone suspicious next to a weapons warehouse in Gaza and we thought he was our target. It had taken us a long time to find him. Judging by his location, the time and similar data, we concluded it was him. After we assassinated him it turned out that he was a kid. My job there was supposedly technical. The atmosphere was that of an office. In real time you can see maps and images from the helicopter, but you’re sitting in an office so it’s very easy to feel detached and distance yourself. Nor was it my job to ask questions. I was told what was needed and that’s what I did. I remember an image on the screen of him in an orchard, and the explosion on the screen, the smoke clearing and his mother running to him, at which point we could see he was a child. The body was small. I realised we had screwed up. It got quiet and uncomfortable. Then we needed to carry on as there were other things to do, though the mood was grim. I don’t know of any investigation of what had happened, or if it was reviewed at a later date.”
The Palestinian survivors of drone attacks tell a different story. This is a message from Ridda Abu Znaid, who watched as her sister and cousin were killed by an Israeli drone strike in the Gaza strip in 2009. She speaks to those who profit from manufacturing the weapons used in Gaza:
”If they just knew for a second what a weapon can do, what it costs us, I think they would stop. I think they have no souls. When they look at the TV and see the news did they see the people killed by these drones, how did they feel? If they just came here for one night and heard the bombing and the planes and the drones – I don’t know what they would feel – I think they should come here and live our experience in war and they would understand.”