Anti-arms trade campaigners in Nottingham handed out hundreds of leaflets to people attending a health conference next door to arms company Heckler & Koch on Wednesday 26th September. The conference, called Good Health in Hard Times, took place at the Trent Vineyard church, which occupies Units 1 & 2 at Easter Park – an industrial park on Lenton Lane. The arms company, which makes submachine guns and assault rifles, operates from the unmarked warehouse at Unit 3.
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A group of performance artists and activists has come up with a bold plan to rid the world of the scourge of Heckler & Koch weapons – to seal the factory inside a concrete sarcophagus. Just as a the damaged nuclear reactor at Chernobyl was encased in concrete to protect the world from radioactive emissions, so the Zentrum für Politische Schönheit (Centre for Political Beauty) intends to seal off Heckler & Koch’s main factory in Germany in order to prevent its harmful products from escaping and causing further loss of life.
Campaign Against Arms Trade has produced a map of the arms trade in the UK. The aim of the project is to map the whole UK arms trade, allowing people to find where their local arms companies are and take action against them. Currently the map only shows companies that exhibited at the latest DSEi arms fair but more companies will be added in the coming months.
At the moment there are eight Nottinghamshire-based companies on the map, including Infrared Security Solutions and Heckler & Koch. Notts Anti-Militarism’s own Map of Militarism shows a few more arms companies in the area, but the CAAT map is a collaborative project, and people are encouraged to submit information so that the map grows over time.
As well as showing arms companies, CAAT’s map shows demonstrations. It currently includes information on two protests against Heckler & Koch – the regular monthly picket which will take place on Monday August 13th, and a bike tour in which young Christian activists from SPEAK will ride from RAF Waddington to Heckler & Koch on Saturday August 11th.
The map is still under development. It should soon be possible to add photos of companies and demonstrations to the map. If you would like to add a company or a demonstration to the map, you can do so via the CAAT website.
Police in Germany have once again raided the headquarters of arms company Heckler & Koch, this time amid allegations that the company has been bribing Mexican officials to get lucrative arms deals. Around 300 officers raided company premises on November 10th, as well as the homes of several H&K executives.
According to the Stuttgart prosecutor, H&K bribed Mexican officials from 2005 to 2010, and possibly bribed German officials too. The company was also raided last December by police investigating H&K’s illegal sale of weapons for Mexican states that are known to commit serious human rights violations.
The arms company has an international sales office in Nottingham, at Unit 3, Easter Park on the Lenton Lane industrial estate. Local campaigners believe that the company’s business is unethical and that it should be shut down.
When Libyan rebels stormed Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli in August, they seized a stockpile of brand new Heckler & Koch assault rifles, which they promptly turned against government forces. Now German prosecutors have launched an investigation into how these weapons came to be supplied to the Libyan dictatorship.
H&K, which now finds itself the under investigation for possible violation of the War Weapons Control Act, has admitted that the weapons came from a tranche of 608 rifles and 500,000 rounds of ammunition that the company supplied to Egypt’s autocratic regime in 2003.
The company has an international sales office in Lenton, Nottingham. Local residents are calling for it to be shut down, pointing to the company’s long track record of supplying arms to authoritarian regimes, including several of those that have brutally suppressed the popular uprisings of the ‘Arab Spring’.
A spokesperson for the Shut Down H&K campaign said “This company’s business is immoral, and its employees are complicit in the abuses of the repressive regimes that they help to arm. We should not tolerate such a company to operate in our city.”
With security forces in Bahrain attacking protesters and dragging doctors from their beds, it has emerged that Nottingham-based arms company Heckler & Koch has supplied 13 000 rounds of small arms ammunition to Bahrain. The ammo was for H&K rifles and submachine guns, which have been used by Bahraini police against the democracy movement in the last few weeks.
Although the sale took place before the current wave of unrest began, H&K cannot have been unaware of the repressive nature of the Bahraini regime. In 2009, the year the ammo was supplied, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reported that Bahraini police were carrying out abductions, torture and beatings of political activists.
By arming repressive regimes such as this, H&K is complicit in the human rights abuses they commit. The company has an international sales office in Nottingham, which has been the target of numerous protests in the four years since it was discovered by local anti-arms-trade campaigners.
On Febuary 27th, as pro-Gaddafi militias and mercenaries were patrolling the streets of Tripoli, a video was posted to YouTube showing Saif al-Gaddafi, son of Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi, rallying supporters and promising to send them weapons to fight the protesters.
In the video, Saif Gaddafi can clearly be seen toting a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle. In a subsequent interview, Saif was asked by Channel 4 Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller about the “AK-47″ he was brandishing in the video. Showing his pride for the weapon, Saif replied “That was not an AK; that was a Heckler.”
On March 17th, BBC TV’s prime-time magazine programme The One Show aired a report about Nottinghamshire’s hidden arms companies.
In the wake of revelations about the UK selling arms to repressive regimes such as Libya and Bahrain, the One Show decided to do a report looking at the UK’s arms trade. The report was based around the Map of Militarism produced by Notts Anti-Militarism. Kirk Jackson, from Campaign Against Arms Trade and Notts Anti-Militarism, took One Show reporter Simon Boazman to a few of the local arms companies, including small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch, the target of a long-running local campaign.
A Nottinghamshire businessman has been implicated in an international arms trafficking racket. Guy Tinsley, director of Cotgrave-based Easy Tiger International, was recorded in a series of phone conversations arranging the illegal import of AK-47 magazines into the US.
In 2008, Tinsley was acting as buyer for a US-based firearms wholesaler called American Tactical. He brokered deals to buy tens of thousands of Chinese AK-47 magazines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from German arms dealer Karl Kleber.
These deals were illegal because US law prohibits the import of firearms or ammunition from China. But that didn’t seem to trouble Tinsley. In a series of phone calls in early 2008, he told Kleber that he didn’t care where the ammo came from, and they discussed the markings that had been stamped on the magazines to falsely indicate that they had come from Bulgaria.
Across the Middle East and North Africa, people have risen up to try to overthrow their undemocratic governments, and these uprisings have been met with state-sponsored violence and repression.
Now Notts Anti-Militarism can reveal that several of these repressive regimes have been armed by a company with an international sales office in Nottingham: Heckler & Koch.
In Libya, forces loyal to 42-year dictator Muammar Gaddafi have been slaughtering civilian protesters in the streets. According to Jane’s Infantry Weapons, Libya’s armed forces are still equipped with Heckler & Koch G3 rifles.
They bought these rifles from the Greek state manufacturer, which was in turn licensed by Heckler & Koch. The company has used the type of deal many times in order to profit from arms exports that would not be allowed in its home country.