Nottingham’s fight against the arms trade

Well done to Kirk Jackson of Shut Down Heckler & Koch who, on 18th February 2010,  climbed the roof of NSAF Ltd. and others who on the same day successfully blockaded the premises of Nottingham’s notorious small arms dealer in Lenton. The name NSAF Ltd. who are H&K’s dealer operating in UK, is no doubt taken in name from ‘Nottingham Small Arms Facility’ which has seen a few changes since it emerged out of Royal Ordnance Factory Nottingham, including ownership by the UK’s more well-known arms-dealing company BAe Systems. Small arms (which are not that small and include machine guns) are responsible for a vast numbers of deaths and injuries in conflicts across the world and are responsible for 9 out of 10 of all civilian deaths in conflict zones. H&K are in the business of arming regimes that are well known to commit gross violations of human rights.

Actually our local dealers of death are not as notorious as they should be, operating as they do from an unmarked unit in Lenton Lane, opposite Games Workshop.  The Shut Down Heckler & Koch campaign has demonstrated at the gates NSAF’s premises on dozens of occasions. Plus in 2008 a big Nottingham Market Square demonstration and ‘die-in’ Full Circle was held in conjunction with No Borders Nottingham to highlight the link between the arms trade and refugees, and to call for an end to the exporting of arms and the deportation of asylum seekers to countries where things have been made a lot worse by the semi-automatic weapons made by H&K. In spite of extensive press work, the campaign has failed to get more that a footnote in the Evening Post, and police interference is strongly suspected for this.  The campaign’s activities have at last got the press coverage it deserves as a result of Kirk’s conviction on May 20th at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court for ‘aggravated trespass’, a case in which the bosses of NSAF Ltd. complained of loss of business.

Heckler & Koch is one of the world’s biggest producers of small arms, including pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles and grenade launchers. The company’s main base is in Germany but it has an international sales office / distribution depot in an unmarked warehouse in Nottingham. Heckler & Koch has a long history of profiting from the sale of weapons to repressive regimes and conflict zones, and the company is continuing to do so.

As part of his 2002 television series, comedian and activist Mark Thomas showed just how easy it was to get HK arms shipped to Zimbabwe during the supposed embargo, a grim example of the reality of the ‘Full Circle’, since there are many refugees and asylum seekers from there who are seeking sanctuary in Nottingham but are under continual threat of removal by the same government that sanctions and protest companies like NSAF. Zimbabwean protesters were amongst those who demonstrated in Nottingham Market Square In the 2008 event, and a letter of thanks to the campaign was also received from the Nottingham Zimbabwe Community Network who compared the Full Circle protest to action taken by South African workers who had refused to offload a Chinese arms cache that was destined for Zimbabwe earlier in the year.

Kirk’s was given a twelve month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £350 court costs. Overall, the six activists have been left with a total of £825 in fines plus costs but this is a fraction of the cost to the company of being closed down for a day. On an average working day, Heckler & Koch’s Nottingham unit exports over £35 000 of arms and makes more than £12 500 profit. If you would like to help the activists to pay their costs, you can donate via the Shut Down H&K website.

1 Comment

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One response to “Nottingham’s fight against the arms trade

  1. mansfieldmutineer

    I’ve never liked the concept of things like this “costing the company money”. Or that being closed for a day means the company has “lost” money. I don’t believe that the act of ceasing to make profit for day should be considered a cost or a loss. This is based on the notion that the company was going to make a certain amount of money that day, and that is merely an assumption. If that assumption is wrong, that is not a cost or a loss, it is simply profit the company wanted to make and did not.

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