Disarm08 - a week's activism against the Bofors arms industry
From the 12th to the 19th of June the peace action camp Disarm08 took place in Karlskoga, the heart of the Swedish weapons industry. Karlskoga is the home of the two big companies BAE Systems Bofors and Saab Bofors Dynamics (together known as ”Bofors”). Weapons produced in Karlskoga are used in wars all around the world and Sweden is today the 9th biggest seller of weapons in the world.
During the camp discussions and lectures where held and people from Sweden, Finland, Canada, Colombia and Germany met and exchanged experiences. The overall theme for the manifestations and actions during the camp was to perform a crime scene investigation. Weapons produced in the factories are not only morally wrong but also used in wars breaking international law and sold to countries not respecting human rights, even though Swedish law prohibits this.
During the week a total of twelve activists went into the special security area surrounding the weapons factories to perform civil weapons inspections. With the demand that production should be closed until proven unharmful and that sales of armaments should be open to public debate, the activists searched buildings for illegal activities.
Also, on Tuesday the 17th, a manifestation with speeches, music, street theater and performances from a clown army, was held outside of the main office of Bofors. On the last day of the camp, three activists occupied an office, refusing to leave and claiming that production of weapons can not go on undisturbed. A few hours later, two activists entered the security area to decorate a tank with a peace message, writing ”you can change” and painting a weapon broken in half on the tank.
In total 14 activists were arrested during the camp and await probable trials. During the whole camp the dialogue with the police was good and a Saturday June 14th public meeting on the main square in Karlskoga brought many interesting meetings with the people living and working in Karlskoga.
The camp was the second in two years in Karlskoga and part of the Disarm campaign, of which also ongoing discussions with the arms industry as well as regional and state authorities are a part. Since last year's camp, 19 activists await charges for peaceful actions where the security area was breached. The Bofors companies have also demanded some 175 000 Swedish crowns (SEK) - some 30 000 USD, in various supposed damages, from the campaign.