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Timorese and friends held for BAe trespass

Stop the Hawks coalition - March 31, 1997

Four East Timorese refugees and a Catholic priest arrested in East Trespass at British Aerospace Warton

This Easter morning, 31 March, four East Timorese refugees, a Liverpool Catholic priest and three parishioners were arrested at British Asrospace's Warton plant in Lancashire. The eight climbed the factory fence at dawn and held an Easter Service in order to protest against BAe's current Hawk deal with Indonesia.

The four East Timorese Refugees - Moises da Costa, Ermenegildo Lopes (both currently living in Liverpool, Amorim Vieira (from Lisbon) and Acacio Marques (currently living in Oxford) - were accompanied by Fr Arthur Fitzgerald of St Michael's Parish, Liverpool, James Cookson, a Liverpool student, Lizzie Jones and Julie Currall of the Liverpool Catholic Worker community. Before being apprehended they read from the Bible, scattered poppy seeds and unfurled banners. They then gave BAe security staff an Easter egg each. They were then arrested by Lancashire Police.

[Latest news: The four Timorese are being held and will appear before a magistrate's court in Lytham St Annes Tuesday at 9.30am. Their four companions have been release.]

BAe is currently assembling 16 Hawk ground attack aircraft at BAe Warton ready for export to Indonesia. Indonesia invaded East Timorese in 1975 and has since maintained an illegal occupation, condemned by the UN. Over 200,000 East Timorese - a third of the population - have died as a result of this brutal occupation.

In July of last year, four women were acquitted by a Liverpool jury of charges of criminal damage to a Hawk - arguing that they had 'used reasonable force in the prevention of a crime' - the crime of genocide in East Timor. In the wake of this trial, local Liverpool parishioners and human rights campaigners have continued to regularly vigil and protest at BAe Warton.

'I saw the Hawks in East Timor but I didn't know they came from Britain,' says Ermenegildo Lopes. 'Now that we live here and know they are made by British Aerospace, we call on Britain to stop supporting human rights abuses in East Timor and to stop selling Hawks to Indonesia.'

Fr Arthur Fitzgerald said: 'We're here today to celebrate Easter alongside four men who have survived the genocide in East Timor. BAe Hawk jets are being used by the Indonesian regime to slaughter innocents in East Timor. This trade in death has to stop.'

At 11am Monday about fifty supporters gathered at the main gaite of BAe Warton to continue the protest. Other East Timorese refugees will be present. Spokespeople will be available at the gate for interview at 10am.