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    PLOUGHSHARES WOMEN FREED http://www.inlap.freeuk.com/ploughsh.htm In a historic verdict, after a brilliantly-argued seven-day trial where their case was
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2008

      In a historic verdict, after a brilliantly-argued seven-day trial
      where their case was grounded upon international law, the
      four `ploughshares' women Andrea Needham, Lotta Kronlid, Joanna
      Wilson and Angela Zelter were cleared of charges of having caused two
      million pounds worth of damage to a British Aerospace Hawk jet
      (Report in Daily Telegraph, August 1, as well as front page of the
      Guardian). The media generally obfuscated the issue as `conscience
      before the law', however to quote KM: `the Seeds of Hope women were
      quite clear... that they weren't "breaking the law for a higher end"
      but rather fulfilling their legal duty/availing themselves of their
      legal right to stop crime. It is precisely because they were so clear
      on this... framing their action in legal as well as moral terms, that
      the women were allowed to present the jury with evidence of the real
      crime taking place'. He added that `section 3 of the Criminal Law Act
      belongs to us all: "A person may use such force as is reasonable in
      the circumstances in the prevention of crime..."'

      The Ploughshares women argued that International law was binding on
      all states and was valid in Liverpool Crown Court; that Indonesia is
      a systematic and persistent violator of international law and uses
      BAe Hawks to carry out these violations, including: violations of
      East Timor's right of self-determination, the illegal occupation of
      East Timor, violations of the Nuremburg Principles including crimes
      against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; human rights
      violations and the use of torture; and violations of the Hague
      conventions and the 4th Geneva Convention. It was further argued that
      the British government and British companies are complicit in these
      crimes in that they knowingly `sell Hawk aircraft and other weapons
      and torture equipment' (A.Z.) and hence are in breach of
      international laws themselves. A.Z. used to much effect the Zyklon B
      case where two German industrialists were found guilty of war crimes
      during the Nuremburg tribunal, having provided gas to exterminate
      people in the concentration camps.

      The women argued at Liverpool that it was every citizen's right and
      duty to try to uphold international laws and prevent war crimes, and
      that the Ploughshares act of disarmament did in fact prevent one
      plane from being used to commit war crimes. The Tokyo War Crimes
      Tribunal was referred to as having stated that `anyone with knowledge
      of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it, is a
      potential criminal under international law unless the person takes
      measures to prevent the commission of crimes.' The women's defence
      centred around the failure of the British democratic political and
      judicial system to uphold international law: `We, as global citizens,
      took responsibilty for this failure.... We disabled a Hawk jet and
      reclaimed international law for ordinary children, women and men, for
      global citizens rather than global corporations.'

      The following letter signed by the four women appeared in the Daily
      Express (6 August): `In his piece, Martyrs who Forego the Pain of
      Martyrdom, Peter Hitchens says that, in our action of disarming the
      Hawk warplane destined for Indonesia, we have `seriously damaged the
      law.' In fact, we presented a legal defence - that of using
      reasonable force to prevent crime. The judge allowed this defence to
      be put to the jury and the jury, having studied the evidence,
      accepted it. We were acquitted. The jury found that the action we
      took to prevent the Hawk killing people in East Timor was justified
      in law.

      The law is being broken, but not by us. The law against genocide is
      being broken by British Aerospace in selling Hawks to Indonesia's
      brutal dictatorship. We have been held accountable by the courts for
      our actions, but British Aerospace and the British Government are
      flouting the law with impunity. We took full responsibility for our
      actions, but British aerospace and the Government are ignoring their
      responsibilities by selling weapons which they know will be used to
      kill civilians in an illegally occupied country.

      Along with thousands of other people, we had tried every conceivable
      means to stop this illegal deal. The campaign was ignored and the
      planes were about to leave for Indonesia when we took our action.
      Would it have been more responsible passively to have watched the
      planes leave for bombing raids in East Timor?

      We have been called vandals and it has been suggested that this
      verdict gives a green light to random destruction of property.
      Vandalism is purposeless property destruction. This is certainly not
      something we would advocate. Our action was a creative and peaceful
      response to a serious crime. It was carried out because of compassion
      and with the sole purpose of saving lives.'

      As regards why the many attempts to stop the Hawk sales have failed
      to-date, in A.Z.'s experience persons had difficulty in
      distinguishing between what was legal and what was official: `The
      fact that an export license has been issued by the Department of
      Trade and Industry, even though the UN, EU and British regulations on
      arms controls have been breached, has led to an assumption of

      In October the women intend to lay informations against BAe, to try
      and prevent the remaining Hawks from being exported, and want as many
      co-informants as possible, preferably several thousand. Eminent
      persons are needed for this, can you help?. There is no cost or legal
      risk: to be a co-informant one signs a document that specifies the
      alleged offense and sets out information on the crimes concerning
      which the court is being asked to start proceedings. Please apply if
      interested, with any checques & donations to `Seeds of Hope Private
      Prosecution', Angie Zelter, c/o 48 Bethel Street, Norwich, Norfolk
      NR2 1NR.

      Documents are available from Amnesty International on Indonesia &
      East Timor, eg `Twenty years of violations', Amnesty's 1995 statement
      to the UN.



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