We won't let the weapons industry silence us!
Kristina Johansson & Martin Smedjeback
On 29 October 2012 two peace activists from the Swedish anti-militarist network Ofog were in the district court of Malmö. The arms company Aimpoint demanded €40,000 in damages from them.
In 2008 Ofog held a rally outside of Aimpoint's Malmö base. The two activists climbed over the fence into the arms company's grounds to show their opposition to Swedish arms exports. The police arrested them quickly and calmly on the other side of the fence. Aimpoint chose to close their production that day because of the protest, and are now demanding that the activists should pay the company’s costs for lost production and security. We believe that this is a way to intimidate activists into silence.
'Aimpoint's claims are deeply immoral and aim to silence the activists' criticism of Aimpoint', says defence lawyer Magnus Lundh.
Aimpoint manufactures red dot sights, over 400,000 of which have been sold for military use. They have been sold to the U.S. Army who have used them in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to Saudi Arabia, who use them in the repression of its own people. We can only imagine how many people have suffered from the weapons produced at Aimpoint. What we do know is that the business of Aimpoint is part of the cynical and constantly-growing Swedish arms exports.
Sweden is widely known as a neutral country and as a voice for peace. It has successfully managed to hide the fact that it is the biggest weapon exporter per capita in the world. Over the last ten years arms exports increased by 350 per cent, and customers include countries at war and dictatorships. It is less well know that Swedish companies and the government try to scare the opposition into silence. The case of the activists from Ofog is a clear example of this tactic. That two people climbing over a fence are now being held financially responsible for the company's decision to shut down production for a day is absurd in itself. Seen in a larger context, the case is also important for the Swedish judicial system, as it could have serious consequences for values such as freedom and democracy.
The Swedish government and its arms industry are the real criminals. Sweden exports weapons to countries that violate human rights, as well as to countries involved in armed conflicts in violation of their own parliamentary guidelines, which are supposed to restrict weapons exports.
The sentence will be announced on 26 November and the process might continue if the Supreme Court accepts an appeal. You can help us to spread the word about what is going on in Sweden in general, and about this court case in particular. Twenty-one laureates of the Right Livelihood Award have already signed a petition in support of the two activists. We encourage everyone to participate in stopping Swedish arms exports - we will not be silenced!