The Turkish President is due to meet Theresa May today.
Friends of a female British fighter who was killed by Turkish forces have occupied the roof of an Airbus facility in Filton. They are protesting the company’s ongoing sale of military hardware to the Turkish armed forces, who on the 15th of March killed Bristolian Anna Campbell in an airstrike near the town of Afrin, Syria.
As well as producing civilian aircraft, the Airbus plant in Filton manufactures the wing for the A400M multi-role transport military aircraft for transporting troops and equipment. Turkey has currently has four A400M planes, of a total order of 10.
The action coincides with a meeting in London between Turkey’s President Erdogan, and Prime Minister Theresa May.
Along with the killing of Anna, the rooftop occupiers are highlighting others killed in Kurdish regions of Syria. Hanging from the Airbus factory are three large banner portraits of women who have been killed fighting with the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) of North Syria/West Kurdistan.
The YPJ, and the men’s units the YPG, are widely seen as the most effective force in the defeat of ISIS in the region. They make up the armed forces of a movement that has a stated aim to establish a new and inclusive form of democratic government in a country and region torn apart by sectarian violence and instability. However, following the victories over ISIS the YPJ/YPG has been subject to intense attack from Turkey, a member of the NATO alliance including the UK and the USA who previously supported the YPJ/YPG.
The friends of Anna have occupied the Airbus factory to highlight Bristol’s role in the global arms trade. Liz, one of the rooftop occupiers explained: “The Bristol arms industry wants to pretend that the people it kills don’t have stories. So we have brought them the face of our friend, and the heroes who inspired her. The women of the YPJ have been critical in liberating the world from ISIS, and have been repaid with betrayal. We are here to shout their names from the rooftops. Anna Campbell, Sara Merdîn, Serhildan, Arîn Mîrkan, Barîn Kobanê, we honour you and we miss you.”
As previously reported by the Cable, Bristol is one of Europe’s major aerospace hubs with a number of companies in the Filton supplying the Turkish regime with missiles, fighter jet components and other technology. Turkey has been designated a ‘priority market’ by the UK government with £650 million worth of arms licensed for sale to the regime since July 2016.
A rooftop occupier, Paul, said:“As evidence mounts that Erdogan’s government are recruiting former ISIS and al-Qaeda fighters, Theresa May is sitting down with this known human rights abuser to sell him more weapons. She is complicit in the death of Anna, YPJ fighters and hundreds of Kurdish civilians. It’s simple, we have to stop arming Turkey. Now.”
The trio have not said how long they intend to stay in occupation, but they are believed to have camping equipment with them. They will be sending out updates on #ErdoganNotWelcome in protest of the Turkish leader’s visit.
A protest is also being held in central London by Kurdish community groups and supporters to call on the UK government to cease arms sales to Turkey.