Victory to the Palestinian and Kurdish liberation struggles! Report from Nottingham

On 7th of April 2018 Nottingham RCG organised a rolling picket of banks and shops which support the states of Israel and Turkey, in solidarity with the Palestinian and Kurdish liberation forces under attack in Gaza and Afrin.

The picket was attended by supporters of Nottingham RCG and the Nottingham Kurdish Community. The demonstration attracted lively support from members of the public throughout the demonstration who stopped to sign petitions and buy copies of FRFI, to film speeches and vocalise their support.

Comrades set up a stall in Nottingham’s market square to rally support for the picket, where a reactionary event celebrating the RAF centenary was already underway. Comrades responded on the megaphone by making it clear that the RAF was formed so that British imperialism could defend its global position and develop imperialist colonialism in the face of increasing resistance – citing for example the 1936-39 Palestinian uprising against British occupation which was met by the RAF launching bombing attacks which at times destroyed entire villages. This attracted many people to sign petitions in solidarity with Kurdistan and Palestine, and to pledge a boycott of Israel and Turkish tourism.

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The first business targeted with the picket was Cooperative Travel, where members of Nottingham Kurdish Community and the RCG lead loud chants against the racist, oppressive Turkish state. Comrades gave out information on Turkey’s recent attack on the Kurdish city of Afrin, and encouraged the public to deny economic support for Turkey through tourism.

Next the picket moved to HSBC, a major war profiteer. For example, as of 2017 HSBC owns £180 million of shares in BAE Systems, a key company involved in manufacturing components for the F-16 fighter jets used by Israel to attack Palestinians in Gaza and which is building the Turkish army’s next generation of fighter jets. Holding a large banner in support of the people of Palestine and Kurdistan across the main entrance of the bank, comrades raised their voices over the megaphone. Passers-by stopped to join the picket, and two women who had been listening left to go to Barclays  to shut down their accounts.

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Barclays was next, the biggest banking investor in the global arms trade with 4.25% shares in BAE Systems. Activists staged street theatre outside the city centre branch in protest against the violence that Barclays funds in the Middle East with its support of the arms industry.

The final target for the picket was Marks & Spencer, a company which is a key member of the British-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and a long-time supporter of Israel. In 2014 M&S chiefs attended events in London organised by David Cameron to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Not only does the company support Zionism economically, but also politically – its founders were involved in drafting the Balfour Declaration and collaborating with Chaim Weizman, who would go on to become the first Prime Minister of Israel.

Comrades made sure the public heard the demands of the boycott loud and clear:

End all British arms sales to Turkey and all British military and political collaboration with the Turkish state!

Victory to the Kurdish-led resistance!

Stand in Solidarity with Gaza. Victory to the Palestinian resistance!

Boycott Israel! Zionism is Racism!