.Merchants of Death

Hatem Ahmad Hatem Al-Hissi aged 2, Jenna Hamed Naser Al-Asatal aged 1, Esraa Mu’ayyad Yousef Abu Marzouq aged 12, Hayat Abdullah Musa Al-Asatal aged 6.

This is just a tiny fraction of the names and ages of children who have been killed in Gaza by weapons stamped “Made in USA.”

They were read on the sidewalk outside of the Raytheon corporate offices in Arlington, VA, during the run up to the opening session of Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal on Nov. 12. This was a people’s tribunal, which tried several large corporations for war crimes. These corporations produce weapons that our government uses to cause death and destruction all over the world, but especially in the Middle East. These corporations profit through the suffering of innocent people.

The organizers of the tribunal have spent the last couple of years gathering evidence through interviews with victims, analysts, lawyers and stakeholders. A series of videos are being released weekly over the next four months that will show how Raytheon, General Atomics, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are complicit in crimes against humanity.

These compelling videos will expose these corporations’ need to be held accountable for their crimes. More than 1,700 people worldwide registered for the opening session (watch the videos at merchantsofdeath.org).

The sidewalk outside of Raytheon has been privatized. What is usually a public place for citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights has been sold to this private corporation by Arlington County. Nonetheless, that did not deter us. We had a large Merchants of Death banner and many other signs. We read names of children who were killed in conflict. After asking us to leave [and we refused], we were put under arrest. We are from several states, and our ages ranged from 28-77 years old.

As a grandmother, it is the suffering of the children that inspires and motivates me to take action. When we know what is happening and we accept responsibility as Americans, we have no choice but to act. Some lobby, some write, some offer nonviolent direct action. All of us can participate and, when we do, we make a difference.

Joy First is a grandmother and long-time peace activist.


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