Activists have staged a lock-on outside BAE Filton (South Gloucestershire) this morning. The entrance to a complex of businesses that trade arms to Turkey have been shut down.
Four people continue blocking the entrance, with their hands locked together inside steel tubes. A tailback of BAE employees and others attempting to enter the site is being dealt with by police.
British Aerospace and Engineering (BAE) has a large base in South Gloucestershire. In 2017, the company agreed to a £100 million deal with the Turkish Air Force to develop a new fighter jet.
Many of the businesses that sell to the Turkish regime have presence in Bristol. That, along with BAE, includes Lockheed Martin, Qinetiq, Leonardo, MBDA and Airbus.
Today morning, the protestors held up banners saying “Fight Fascism, support Rojava”. One protester said:
“We’re here to protest the arms companies here that have been supplying arms to Turkey who are currently invading Kurdistan in north east Syria. Kurdish people have been on the front line of the fight against Isis. We are now all abandoning them and allowing Turkey to continue with their genocide. It’s about time we stood up and stood by the Kurdish people.”
“I’m lying outside the office of BAE in Bristol; there is also MBDA here and Airbus who supply … parts of weapons and aircraft to the Turkish state, who are currently launching an invasion against Kurdistan in northern Syria. We’re here to support those people who are living there and those who are working there and fighting their revolution.”
A third protester said:
“We’re blockading the offices of BAE and MBDA who are arming the genocide of the Turkish state. As we speak, they’re blowing to smithereens villages in Syria and northern Kurdistan. We’re here in solidarity with the Rojava revolution. We understand that they can’t be left alone, they’ve fought so hard to keep the world safe from Isis. We can’t now abandon them as the US government has done.
“It’s time for everyone to step up and act in solidarity with the people of Rojava. We’re not going to stand by while they commit genocide, we’re going to stand with our friends in the YPG and the YPJ.”
Another banner read “Remember Anna – keep fighting”, in reference to Anna Campbell, who travelled from Bristol in 2017 to join with the Women’s Protection Unit (YPJ) fighting the revolution in the autonomous area of Rojava. Anna was killed by a Turkish airstrike in northern Syria in March 2018.
Mikey, a friend of Anna’s who is now in Rojava, sent this message on 7th October:
“There are 12,000 IS prisoners in SDF territory. If Turkey invades we could potentially see the death of democracy and the rebirth of the Islamic State. This cannot be allowed to happen after everything that has been achieved here. We have already lost too many comrades, friends and loved ones in the defence of humanity and against tyranny and genocide. We must resist and do whatever we can to put an end to the Fascist Turkish invasion.
“To my friends and loved ones living in the UK, we need you now to help the people of north east Syria.”
Another Bristolian activist in Rojava said this morning.
“The main thing we really need here is a no fly zone, so please if anyone wants to yell at their nearest politician about that, that would be great.”
BAE is the world’s fourth largest and the UK’s largest arms company. Turkey is a priority market for UK arms deals, and UK government officials have made regular visits to the country.
The blockade ended with no arrests.
Photo credit: Bristol Kurdish Solidarity Network