A15 Sydney Targets Weapons Supplier Thales, as Governments Continue to Support Israel’s Genocide

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Thales trade

Three pro-Palestinian activists locked on at the front entrance of the Rydalmere site of weapons manufacturing company Thales early Monday morning, to shut down its operations in an effort to harm the global supply chain that’s providing weapons to the state of Israel to perpetrate genocide.

The nonviolent direct action on unceded Dharug land was part of the A15 global day of coordinated economic blockades aimed at “choking the arteries of capitalism and jamming the wheels of production in solidarity with Palestine”, and it saw 50 such actions transpire worldwide on 15 April.

Hannah, an A15 Sydney spokesperson, told Sydney Criminal Lawyers on Monday that peaceful protests for Palestine have started to lose their impact and there’s “an increasing need for an escalation in tactics”, so as to “cause economic pain and disruption to companies like Thales”.

A15 Sydney is comprised of different pro-Palestinian groups. And it asserts, as do its partners across the globe, that Thales and other weapons manufacturers shouldn’t be conducting business as usual six months into a genocide. And since governments are doing nothing, these grassroots activists are.

Demonstrators locked on at 5.30 am on Monday, and Hannah advised that when NSW police descended upon them, officers aggressively issued move on orders to those supporting the blockaders, and after the trio were removed, they were taken to Gladesville police station.

Thales trade

Taking on responsibility

“We are here because Thales is fully, in fact, not only implicated, but profiting from the genocide in Gaza,” A15 activist Lilli said on early Monday morning, as she was standing on a ladder locked-on out the front of the facility. “They have also been profiting from the genocide in West Papua.”

“They are doing that through a variety of ways: exporting arms, exporting ammunition and also, just doing deals with Israel,” the ardent antiwar activist continued. “And the community is ready to step up in this way.”

At the time Lilli was standing atop a ladder putting her liberty on the line on 15 April, the Israeli-perpetrated mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians continued on through its 191st day, with the entire 2.3 million Gazans being purposefully starved, as they now slip into famine. 

In chorus with its global partners, A15 Sydney is calling out western powers on not only standing by as the Netanyahu government commits the most heinous atrocities of the post-WWII era, but on further facilitating it via the provision of weapons and the cover excuse of self-defence.

“If we’re going to continue to let corporations operate within these structures that allow them to profit from war and death and devastation and oppression,” Lilli made clear, “then people are going to rise up and stop them.”

Manufacturers of death

A15 Sydney explained in a media release following the action, that Thales is a multinational company, with a local Australian subsidiary. It’s also one of the nation’s largest weapons contractors and it’s amongst the globe’s top ten arms manufacturers.

“We are here in solidarity with the Palestinians, who have been fighting for their land and have been under occupation for the last 76 years,” explained Zuzia, while attached to the gate. “Companies, like Thales, are implicated and directly connected to the warfare… against the population of Gaza.”

According to the group, Thales operates U-TacS with Elbit Systems, the notorious Israeli weapons company that is Israel’s largest drone supplier, and this joint venture consists of developing drones for the global market, which will be tried and tested, and then used ongoing, on Palestinians.

“Thales also supplies the Indonesian forces with Bushmasters and FZ35 missiles”, which are then used on West Papuans fighting for independence, which is a situation that has been growing increasingly volatile as the world’s eyes are all focused upon Gaza.

“Our government is giving money to these companies and, as a community, we don’t want to see this happen,” Zuzia added. “I am civilly disobedient to say that I don’t want my government to fund bombs.”

Thales trade

NSW protest-crushing laws

Tom, another of the trio of blockaders, was locked onto a barrel, not far from where Lilli was positioned, and the activist stated, “That they were sending a strong message to this weapons manufacturer, Thales, that we don’t stand for sending arms to the genocidal Zionist entity”.

And for his trouble, Tom, along with his two fellow demonstrators, was arrested and then taken down to the Gladesville copshop for charging.

Charges laid included obstructing traffic, under section 6 of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (Cth), which carries a maximum penalty of a $440 fine. And this was the regular offence applied to obstructions of roads prior to the draconian 2022 NSW antiprotest regime being rolled out.

And the other offence was aggravated unlawful entry on enclosed lands, contrary to section 4B of the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (NSW), which is another draconian antiprotest law rolled out by the Baird government in 2016, which, in these circumstances, carries a fine of up to $5,500.

The law, which has since been beefed up to involve gaol time for aggravated trespassers on agricultural lands, was part of a suite of antiprotest laws then premier Mike Baird passed, after promising them to the mining industry. And section 4B represented a tenfold increase in penalties.

The occupation has to fall

“We are here to protest in front of Thales, which is a company co-operated and owned by France. And what they do is, they send weapons to kill the Indigenous civilians of Palestine,” said an A15 activist, wearing a keffiyeh standing on Victoria Road in Rydalmere early Monday morning.

“Forty thousand people have been murdered, and this company, along with other Australian companies and worldwide capitalist companies” have destroyed all the infrastructure in Gaza, they continued.

The Sydney A15 agitators – as all those across the planet joining in on the day that saw demonstrators escalating their tactics to put an end to the ongoing catastrophe in the Gaza Strip – are community members who don’t want to live in a society that is actively aiding genocide.

And despite a concerted effort from western governments, and their compliant mainstream media, to attempt to play down the magnitude of the atrocities taking place in Gaza, the citizens of the globe are well aware of what’s transpiring and if it doesn’t end, more A15s will soon be forthcoming.

“Our money should not be spent on weapons to kill other human beings,” declared another keffiyeh-cloaked activist on the roadside on Monday morning. “What is their fault? They have no fault. This is their land.”

“Israel is a barbaric illegal entity, and it should be dismantled,” they concluded. “Brick-by-brick, wall-by-wall: the occupation has to fall.”

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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