Monday, 21 December 2009

Support Elijah Smith - political prisoner detained without trial for 11 months and counting

During the brutal and criminal invasion of Gaza at the start of the year, members of the anti-militarist direct action group Bristol Decommissioners undertook the following act of resistance;
On January 17th 2009 the bombs had already fallen relentlessly for three weeks on Gaza. Massive demonstrations had been held locally and worldwide to protest against the Israeli attacks. MP’s said talks were going on and Tony Blair went to Israel to shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister. The body count was nearing 1400 and 300 of those were children. With UN compounds and schools bombed, emergency vehicles attacked and indiscriminate weapons such as white phosphorous being used against civilians. A growing sense of helplessness was pervading the anti-war/peace movement.

On the night of the 17th a ‘citizens decommissioning’ took place at weapons manufacturer EDO/MBM/ITT in Moulsecoomb, Brighton. Just after midnight Robert Stafford age 28, Elija Smith 41, Tom Woodhead 25, Ornella Saibene 40, Bob Nicholls 53 entered EDO’s premises with the aim in Elija Smith’s words to ’smash it up to the best of our ability’. Once inside the building they barricaded themselves in and set about their mission.

Machinery used to make bomb release mechanisms ( these carry and eject missiles from fighter planes and unmanned ‘drones’) and an assembly area for the electronic components were put out of action. EDO make a VER2 mechanism which is designed for the F16 fighter and used by the Israeli Defence Force.

The six caused £300,000 of damage but more importantly stopped the supply chain that the war machine needs. The decommissioners were peaceably arrested and charged with criminal damage and conspiracy.
Five of the six anti-militarists are "under very strict bail conditions." The sixth, Elijah Smith, was remanded in custody and still languishes in jail. As the Bristol Anarchist Black Cross report;
20 December marks 11 months on remand for EDO Decommissioner Elijah (James) Smith. That’s 11 months locked away in a shitty little cell, deprived of all his freedom, and without any opportunity to argue his case in court. 11 months in prison without actually being found guilty of anything.

Elijah and the other 5 Bristol anti-militarists face a major trial in May 2010. Whilst the other five face stringent bail conditions, they are at least not locked up in a cell. Elijah however faces another 5 months locked away before getting into court. Compare and contrast this treatment of a man accused only of property damage, with the treatment of the cop who assaulted Ian Tomlinson, moments before he died, at the G20 protests in London on 1 April 2009 – who remains uncharged, at liberty and on full pay. British justice, what a farce.
Elijah Smith is a former British soldier who has taken a courageous stand against the arms trade. Nobody was injured or harassed during the action, which was one of property damage, and he and his co-defendants did not resist arrest.

Both Bristol ABC and the EDO Decommissioners are urging supporters to write to Elijah in solidarity. The address for letters is Elijah Smith VP 7551, HMP Lewes, 1 Brighton Rd, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1EA.