Sisters Against Arms Trade picket Henlow

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Protest group Sisters Against the Arms Trade are blockading a weapons factory in Henlow.

More than 15 women blocked the gates tbefore the factory could begin work this morning. They are calling for an end to the UK’s military intervention and an end to Assad’s bombardments and starvation sieges. A sign outside the factory reads ‘No missiles will be produced here today’ and workers cannot enter.

The factory, on Bedford Road in Henlow is owned by MBDA, manufacturers of the Brimstone missile.

A spokesperson from Sisters Against the Arms Trade said: “We stand against all bombardment of Syria and the Kurdish areas. Syrian women are the forgotten protagonists in the Syrian struggle for self-determination. It is the call of Syrian women that we echo today for dignity, self-determination, and food not bombs. The only people who have benefited from the UK’s decision to bomb Syria are weapons manufacturers. MBDA have seen record profits from their deadly business.”

Aleppo has been subject to intense bombardment by Assad’s forces, with hundreds killed in the last week alone. Women in the besieged town of Daraya are facing starvation and have issued an urgent call for help:

“There is no food at all in Daraya. There are cases of malnutrition and we have resorted to cooking soups made purely of spices in order to stave off hunger. We call on the United Nations and all humanitarian and relief organizations to enter the town immediately and deliver humanitarian aid.(4)”

Over 470,000 people have been killed since the war began (5), and an estimated 4 million are living as refugees. In November 2015, Parliament made the decision to bomb Syria despite widespread condemnation by the British public, and just over a week ago voted against a proposal that would have seen the UK accept 3,000 Syrian children from refugee camps in Europe.

A Sisters Against the Arms Trade spokesperson added: “Syrian women are bearing the brunt of war, siege, starvation and exile in refugee camps across Europe, besieged towns and cities, and suffering from or resisting ISIS and other forces which have co-opted Syrian resistance to dictatorship for their own interests. We call for safe passage and support for all refugees and for an end to the war profiteering arms trade”

A spokesperson for Syria Solidarity UK said, “With the UN failing to deliver, others have a duty to protect civilians. The UK, the US, the Netherlands: all of them have a proven ability to carry out air drops, but all they drop in Syria are bombs. The UK already has the necessary capacity nearby in Cyprus. The UK should stop making excuses and start saving lives.”

One of the activists blockading the factory said “Because the government continues to enable arms companies to profit from war, it is up to people in the UK to resist.”