At mid-day on Friday November 13th, around 25 anti-arms-trade protesters gathered in the Arboretum park in Nottingham to take part in a unique, eye-catching demonstration against local arms company Heckler & Koch.
A 25-foot long model of a H&K weapon had been built from a frame of willow wood, covered and painted black, and bearing the legend popularised by Brighton’s anti-arms-trade campaign Smash EDO: “Every bomb and every bullet fired is made somewhere… Find it… Resist it!”
This gun was carried by the demonstrators in a long march from the Arboretum to the gates of Easter Park – the Lenton Lane industrial site that contains H&K’s warehouse. In returning the gun to the company that produced it, the demonstrators made a highly visible statement that H&K’s dirty business is not wanted by the people of Nottingham.
This demonstration was organised by the Nottingham Arms Dump project, independently of, but in solidarity with the long-running Shut Down H&K campaign, whose monthly picket took place four days earlier. For the first time, there were two demonstrations against Heckler & Koch in the same week!
Despite the fact that this was a peaceful demonstration, H&K’s landlord, the car insurance company LV=, asked police to prevent demonstrators from delivering the gun to the gate of Heckler & Koch. The Shut Down H&K campaign has called for a boycott of LV=, which knowingly profits from the arms trade.
The 25ft gun was modelled on the Heckler & Koch MP5. Developed in the 1960s, this submachine gun remains one of H&K’s bestselling products. Among the infamous users of the MP5:
- Indonesia’s feared special forces unit Kopassus, which has been accused of many human rights abuses.
- Thailand, which until 2003 used the MP5 to execute prisoners in Bangkwang prison.
- The Sri Lankan army, which was recently accused of war crimes as it moved to crush Tamil resistance in the north of the country.
- Children in Iraq trained to fight by Al-Qaeda.
Anti-militarists hold Heckler & Koch and its employees responsible for the death and destruction that has been caused by weapons such as the MP5, and will continue campaigning against the company’s UK office until it has been shut down.