Palestine Action Scotland have shut down the Edinburgh factory of Leonardo UK, occupying the roof of the site forcing its closure and preventing the operations of a company deeply complicit in the brutalisation and murder of Palestinians. At 5:00am this morning, four activists entered the site, despite the high security and double fence, and have begun dismantling the site – taking apart electronic equipment, air conditioning systems, windows, while covering premises in trademark red paint, symbolising the blood spilt with Leonardo weapons. The activists intend to maintain the occupation for as long as possible at the factory of Leonardo UK, 2 Crewe Road North, Edinburgh EH5 2XS, to cause maximum disruption against the company which supplies a range of military equipment and targeting systems for Israel’s occupation forces.
Scotland is world famous for its breathtaking beauty, rich history, and impossibly cute cows. It’s also known for its community spirit, evidenced by a new government initiative: a combined rent freeze and eviction moratorium, designed to help people through the current cost of living crisis. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said the legislation is a response to the “humanitarian emergency” caused by skyrocketing energy prices, among other factors, Sky News reports. The program will remain in effect until at least March 31, 2023. “This Program for Government is published in the context of the most severe cost crisis in many of our lifetimes. It is a crisis pushing millions into poverty and poses a genuine danger, not just to livelihoods, but to lives,” Sturgeon said in a press release.
On 6 September 2022, as part of their new programme for government, the Scottish Government announced a rent freeze and eviction ban effective immediately until March 2023. Further clarity has yet to be brought in around key questions such as whether the freeze will apply retroactively, whether purpose-built student accommodation will be part of it, how it’ll impact tenants who pay rent and energy bills together, or how it will be implemented. Crucially, we’re concerned that this freeze applies primarily to private tenants as social housing tenants’ rent is increased once a year, on the 1 April, missing out many tenants who are struggling. So we’ve run you through the headline victory and our many unanswered questions. But how did we get there?
Rubbish has started piling up in Edinburgh at the start of an 11-day strike by refuse workers over pay, with city residents being told to store rubbish in their houses and gardens. All bin and recycling collections have been suspended in the Scottish capital for the duration of the strike, which began at 5am on Thursday and will continue until Tuesday 30 August. Street cleaning and the removal of waste from public litter bins has also been cancelled, with all recycling centres also closed and flytipping reports going unanswered. Edinburgh City Council’s official advice to residents is to “stock up on strong black bags” and store their extra rubbish in their gardens, garages or driveways.
Glasgow, Scotland - Palestine Action Scotland have made their way back on the roof of weapons company Thales’ factory in Glasgow. A team of activists scaled the roof at dawn, and began causing severe damage to site facilities, forcing workers to evacuate the building. Their occupation is ongoing, rendering Thales’ conveyor belt of weapons inoperable. Thales is one of the world’s largest arms companies, producing military drones, armoured vehicles, missile systems and more. Amongst the assorted warfare-related hardware made by Thales, the Watchkeeper drone project stands out. The project seeks to further the policing and surveillance of captive populations belonging to the nations of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. Watchkeeper UAVs have also been trialled over British waters by the UK Border Force, monitoring the flow of refugees seeking to enter Britain.
Glasgow, Scotland - Climate activists deflated the tires of 40 SUVs in a wealthy Glasgow neighborhoods today as part of an ongoing campaign to demand a ban on the “polluting” vehicles in cities. The activists, who are members of new campaign group Tyre Extinguishers, targeted the North Kelvinside area in the city’s West End in the early hours of Friday. The group placed fake parking tickets on the windscreens of SUVs targeted stating the “luxury lifestyle choice” of its owner had been “disarmed.” The action is part of a growing Scotland-wide campaign against the vehicles which they say are “unnecessary” and “dangerous” in cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. Earlier in the week another group, the Deflationists, targeted over 50 of the four-by-four vehicles in two areas in Glasgow.
This morning, Palestine Action Scotland made its debut – as activists took to the roof of weapons company Thales’ Glasgow factory. A team of six activists scaled the site in the early hours of the morning and are currently occupying the building, rendering it unusable and forcing workers to evacuate. Inside the factory they have dismantled and destroyed factory equipment and facilities. Thales is one of the world’s largest arms companies – producing armored vehicles, missile systems and military UAVs (drones) – in particular, the Watchkeeper drone, used for surveillance and combat on captive populations. Today’s action has begun the campaign to end Scottish complicity in the apartheid, dispossession and ethnic cleansing enacted on Palestinians by the Israeli occupation.
Late last year, a Scottish court quietly refused what seemed like a routine extradition. It wasn’t that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose drawn-out efforts to avoid the American prison system have grabbed international headlines for years. Instead, it was that of a relatively unknown Scottish man, Daniel Magee, who’d allegedly shot a security guard in Austin, Texas, in 2016 before fleeing to his native country. The refusal to send a prisoner back is not unprecedented — but what has raised eyebrows in the legal community is the reason: An Edinburgh judge decided that poor conditions in Texas prisons might constitute an international human rights violation. “This is the first case I know of where this specific argument about prison conditions has succeeded — normally, the courts are very sympathetic to deporting people,” said University of Nottingham criminologist Dirk van Zyl Smit.
Craig Murray was released from Saughton Prison on Tuesday. This is what he was imprisoned for: Craig Murray, an ex-British ambassador and blogger, has been sentenced to eight months in prison after being found guilty in March of contempt of court during the 2020 trial of former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond. He was given three weeks to turn himself into police, pending his appeal. Judge Lady Dorrian issued the sentence, she said, despite Murray’s health issues. Murray faced up to two years in prison and unlimited fines. Murray must surrender his passport making it impossible to travel to Spain on May 20 to testify in the case of UC Global spying on WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy in London.
The Ontario-based Aamjiwnaang nation is surrounded on all sides by petrochemical facilities, and members had long suspected that the facilities in “Chemical Valley” had exposed them to potentially dangerous chemicals. The data, which had been held secret for many years, was disclosed by the environment ministry following questions from Global News. The Aamjiwnaang people, situated along the Michigan border, think that the government of Ontario has been disrespectful by withholding the data from them. “This is just the continuation of the Canadian legacy of putting Indigenous people, people of color, at a lower place,” Janelle Nahmabin, also known as Red Cloud Woman and chair of Aamjiwnaang’s environment committee, told Global News.
Glasgow, Scotland - Hundreds of international scholars have begun a fightback against pro-Israel lobbyists who have been scoring increasingly high-profile victories on UK campuses as they seek to curb academic freedoms under the guise of stamping out antisemitism. Glasgow university officials have found themselves in the eye of a storm this week, accused of “capitulating” in two separate cases that have undermined academic research into the activities of Israel and its supporters. More than 500 scholars from around the world, including a Nobel prize winner, Royal Society fellows, and former and current presidents of major academic bodies, signed a petition delivered to the university this week in protest.
We had a phone call this morning from HMP Edinburgh, asking us to briefly relapse our retirement again to put out a request on behalf of Prisoner 157095 – better known to you and us as our friend Craig Murray, the only person on the planet to now or ever have been imprisoned for the undefined and extremely selectively prosecuted pseudo-crime of “jigsaw identification”. Craig is doing okay a week and a half into his eight-month sentence in Saughton and is being treated well by both staff and inmates, but was recently informed that he is not eligible for early release on an electronic tag (which might have seen him out by the end of next month) because he’s a civil prisoner rather than a criminal one.
I want to make one or two points for you to ponder while I am in jail. This is the last post until about Christmas; we are not legally able to post anything while I am imprisoned. But the Justice for Craig Murray Campaign website is now up and running and will start to have more content shortly. Fora and comments here are planned to stay open. I hope that one possible good effect of my imprisonment might be to coalesce opposition to the imminent abolition of jury trials in sexual assault cases by the Scottish Government, a plan for which Lady Dorrian – who wears far too many hats in all this – is front and centre. We will then have a situation where, as established by my imprisonment, no information at all on the defence case may be published in case it contributes to “jigsaw identification”, and where conviction will rest purely on the view of the judge.
Murray’s imprisonment for eight months by Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge, is of course based entirely on a keen reading of Scottish law rather than evidence of the Scottish and London political establishments seeking revenge on the former diplomat. And the UK supreme court’s refusal on Thursday to hear Murray’s appeal despite many glaring legal anomalies in the case, thereby paving his path to jail, is equally rooted in a strict application of the law, and not influenced in any way by political considerations.
On Monday morning, Lady Dorrian and two supporting judges will hear the application from Roddy Dunlop QC for Craig Murray to be allowed to appeal to the UK Supreme Court against both their verdict of contempt of court for jigsaw identification, and against the disproportionate sentence. It is widely expected, given the obvious animus against Murray she has shown throughout the proceedings, that leave to appeal will be refused and Lady Dorrian will commit Craig Murray to jail, probably from Wednesday 9 June. At that stage, Murray’s legal team will have to apply direct to the UK Supreme Court to grant him an appeal, but his eight month sentence will likely be served before the Supreme Court even looks at whether to consider it.