Let’s stop the expansion of the bomb factory
To stop the bomb production and prevent the expansion of the RWM factory in Sardinia is more urgent than ever! This plant keeps on supplying with lethal weapons also countries engaged in bloody conflicts, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, even knowing that their bombs have already been used in indiscriminate bombardments on Yemen.
The campaign STOP RWM has to face large expenses both for the administrative appeal and to provide legal defence of the activists. To go further in this fight we need the support of everybody.
YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE TO LEGAL EXPENSES WITH A DEPOSIT TO THE IBAN:
IT86 F076 0104 8000 0003 3854 282
ACCOUNT BELONGING TO: ITALIA NOSTRA ONLUS SEZ. DI SANT’ANTIOCO
CAUSAL: LIBERAL PAYMENT FOR THE LEGAL EXPENSES TO OPPOSE THE RWM EXPANSION
OTHERWISW YOU CAN PARTECIPATE THROUGHT THE CROWDFUNDING:
ON THE WEBSITE: BuonaCausa.org
The campaign against the production of bombs made by RWM has regained momentum in 2015, when a journalistic investigation showed how aircraft bombs used to destroy civilian homes in Yemen had been produced by the factory RWM in Sardinia (municipalities of Domusnovas-Iglesias): the identification code of the factory was printed on the bombs. The company RWM, that has controlled the establishment in Domusnovas-Iglesias since 2010, is a property of the arms multinational Rheinmetal, headquartered in Germany; its most important contracts, of hundreds of millions of euro, up to 2020 regarded the supply of aircraft bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, engaged in a bloody war against Yemen.
In the night between 7th and 8th October 2016 a whole Yemenite family of six people was exterminated with one of these bombs made by RWM in Sardinia and dropped by a Saudi aircraft. For this reason following a criminal complaint lodged by the European Centre for constitutional and human rights in Berlin, the Yemenite NGO Mwatana for Human Rights and by the Italian Network Peace and Disarmament, both the company’s stop management and the governmental agency UAMA (which authorized the exportation of the RWM bombs) are under investigation.
In January 2021 at last the Italian government revoked these outrageous export permits. Nevertheless RWM is not resigned: on one hand they presented an appeal against the decision of Italian government, on the other hand they try to address their exportations to other countries, such as Turkey, also engaged in bloody wars.
Expansion of the factory
If initially the fight aimed at closing and reconverting the factory of bombs at Domusnovas-Iglesias, today we have to fight in order to prevent the expansion of this factory on all the surrounding territory. In fact RWM Italia is in a phase of rapid expansion: since 2018 it has started a great plan of plant expansion and production enhancement of the devastating weapons. The plan has been fractioned into numerous different projects (more than 20), all of them presented with simplified procedure and approved by the municipalities of Domusnovas and Iglesias. Iglesias approved also some extremely relevant projects, such as the doubling of the production lines, aiming to triple the production of the weapons (New Departments R200 and R210, approved on 9th November 2018), and the new area to test explosives (Campo Prove R140, approved on 8th July 2019). These are unfortunate decisions that we must oppose by every means. Such provisions were taken in a clearly illegitimate way, resorting to arbitrary acts that have favoured the factory scandalously. All that with the guilty acquiescence of the public powers both political and administrative, who omitted to exert the necessary control for the safety and health of environment and the population.
Among the various strategies to block this huge enlargement plan of RWM weapon production, various administrative appeals have been presented (available at the section “Documenti”), signed by several environmental, pacifist, cultural associations and trade unions, among which the association Italia Nostra, holder of the above bank account used for fundraising.
The first of the appeals presented, filed in January 2020, was dismissed by the TAR (Regional Administrative Court) in July 2020 on the basis of misconceptions and partial considerations, so we need to reassert our reasons by challenging the sentence to the Council of State, with an appeal filed at the end of February 2021 (available at the section “Documenti”).
The administrative justice is expensive, presenting appeals requires considerable costs since when depositing them, and you have to add the payment of the lawyers. All that means a considerable financial effort that up to now has been supported by free fundraising. It was possible to appeal to the Council of State against the outrageous sentence of the TAR just thanks to the extraordinary support received through the ongoing fundraising campaign, for which we thank everybody supporting.
At what point we are
On July 2019 the Italian government suspended (without annulling them definitively) the permits to export RWM bombs to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for 18 months; the moratorium expired at the end of December 2020. RWM reacted to the suspension in an apparently contradictory way: on one hand they denounced a serious state of crisis (even if their profits and revenues further increased in 2019) and in August 2020 they put a part of their employees in redundancy fund; on the other hand they carried on their plans with great energy working uninterruptedly at their building sites and their expansion plans, even in the covid emergency period, so much that the works seem very close to their conclusion (see the photographic documentation). The company aims to get around the blocks and widen its exportations toward other counties at war, such as Turkey, which since 2019 they have supplied with large quantities of high penetration bombs.
In the meantime the company also tried to intimidate some activists accusing them of defamation on cause of the opinions they expressed, and opposing the dismissal of its baseless and specious accusations. Anyway in an audience in February 2021 the Judge for Preliminary Investigations decided that the accusations had to be dismissed.
The RWM did not even later give up on its plans as a result of the Italian government’s decision (January 2021) to cancel the shameful export permits toward Saudi Arabia and UAE, but on the contrary the company presented an appeal asking the urgent suspension of that fair decision. The 21st April 2021 the Administrative Tribunal (TAR) of Lazio has rejected the request for suspension brought by RWM, while the appeal they lodged against the government’s decision will be discussed later: for the moment the ban of bomb export toward Saudi Arabia and UAE is in force.
In February the company announced acquiring an order of weapon supplies from an unspecified European country, and the following month it restarted production at the establishment of Domusnovas-Iglesias, calling its employees back from redundancy fund for some months.
We are afraid that the company can achieve its plans, overcoming export blocks and / or meeting new countries to supply with its deadly warheads, multiplying the volume of the bombs produced thanks to the new structures, that by now are almost ready. In order to prevent this nightmare scenario we have to oppose now with all our energies.
Why are the permits
for the expansion of RWM in Domusnovas/Iglesias
The various appeals against the expansion of RWM in Domusnovas/Iglesias illustrate widely the numerous reasons for which the building permits given by the municipality of Iglesias are illegitimate (all the appeals can be found in the section “Documenti”).
Regrettably in July 2020 the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) of Sardinia rejected the first of the appeals using incorrect arguments, often without going into the substance of the complaints, or misreading the content (whose text can be found in the section Documenti).
For these and other reasons the judgment of the TAR issued in July 2020 is unacceptable, and was challenged by an appealto the State Council.
Below we illustrate synthetically the principal objections (in red) that we moved, and the motivations on which the TAR rejected them (in blue), in July 2020. In the following our observations point out the incoherent and absurd elements of a sentence blatantly favourable to RWM.
A) PLANTS DESTINED TO AN ILLICIT PRODUCTION OF WARHEADS DESTINED TO COMMIT “WAR CRIMES”
The Italian Constitution (art.11), the law 185/1990, the ONU Arms Trade Treaty – ATT, 2.4.2013, forbid armament exportation toward countries at war , while the European Parliament Resolution, 4.10.2018 (on the basis of a report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, August 2018) denounces the serious humanitarian crisis in Yemen, as a consequence of the offensive by the Saudi-led coalition, that can be counted as war crimes.
We remember that in this war the use of ordnance produced by RWM in Domusnovas-Iglesias was proven.
After these considerations the Italian government first suspended the sale of the ordnance produced by RWM to Saudi Arabia, engaged in the conflict against Yemen, then the government emitted a permanent ban in January 2021.
Nevertheless the TAR Sardinia dismissed as irrelevant the reference to the Italian Constitution, to the legislation in force and to the international accords concluded by Italy, which forbid the supply of armaments to countries at war. So the TAR failed to take a position on this matter counting it among moral or political principles.
On the contrary it is evident that legislation and the supranational acts mentioned, a part from any other considerations, forbid to authorize building that have as their designated use the production of ordnance for committing “war crimes”, according the European Parliament qualification.
The contested measures are therefore to be cancelled without further exam just for this primary breach of function, being destined to a finality inadmissible for the current legislation.
B) ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT (A.E.I.)
The building permits were released without an Assessment of Environmental Impact (A.E.I.), which is compulsory in case of chemical industries producing explosives. Such assessment is also necessary for the proximity of a protected naturalistic zone (SIC Marganai – Monte Linas).
During the procedure it was possible to ascertain that the RWM produces in its industrial plant in Domusnovas-Iglesias some explosives of the type PBX, for which it has obtained specific licences from the Ministry of the Interior, and that in the production process at least one chemical conversion process is implied.
Even so, the TAR Sardinia held that RWM plant is not to be considered a chemical industry producing explosives, and consequently it can be exempted from the Assessment of Environmental Impact (A.E.I.), since “the only chemical reaction occurring is not functional to the production activity”.
The reaction mentioned by the sentence regards the polymerization of the plastic matrix enfolding the explosive, which takes place in the course of the production process, keeping the explosive safer and less sensitive to accidental initiation – according to the company itself.
So, despite the ambiguous formula used by the TAR in its sentence, the RWM plant of Domusnovas-Iglesias must be considered a chemical industry producing explosives and has compulsorily to be submitted to A.E.I.
C) EXPANSION PLAN SPLITTING
The overall plan has been fractioned into several minor interventions (more than 20), presented in independent and unrelated way, in order to simplify illegitimately the authorization procedures and elude controls.
The TAR Sardinia held that the “splitting” procedure of the expansion plan is to be considered legitimate because the RWM plant of Domusnovas-Iglesias must not be considered a chemical industry producing explosives (sic!), always on the basis of the considerations presented above.
The argument is inconsistent: the procedures of “splitting” building interventions are illegitimate, regardless of the buildings typology that are being authorized (housing, commercial, touristic, industrial etc), as TAR Sardinia had acknowledged in previous sentences.
The fact that the RWM of Domusnovas-Iglesias is considered or not “a chemical industry producing explosives” has nothing to do with the expansion plan “fractioning”; the plan “fractioning” into multiple requests of building permit, presented in an unrelated and simplified way, remains anyway an unlawful procedure.
D) TRANSPARENCY OF PROCEDURES
The municipal authorities prevented the population, both as individuals and as associations, to know the administrative acts and take part to the decision-making procedure.
The TAR Sardinia rejected this legal challenge, merely specifying that the regional legislation allows to take part to the service conference for authorizing the works only to the stakeholders and to the interested parties.
The judgment ignores however that the claimants, as public stakeholders, have been prevented from having sight of the procedural documents and from presenting written observations, which must on the contrary be allowed on the basis of the legislation regarding the access to public documents and transparency (law 241/90). The sentence endorses something unacceptable, that is the documents regarding the plant expansion were made inaccessible and in fact sealed, preventing any objections for possible irregularities and abuses.
E) ZONE WITHOUT URBAN DESTINATION
The area destined for RWM plant expansion hasn’t got an industrial-type urban use. So it is not possible to authorize the building of industrial plants without an urban planning variation – to submit to SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) – approved by the municipal Council.
The judgement of TAR does not enter into the substance of the dispute and it merely observes that also in areas without urban destination it is allowed to construct buildings with a volume of 3 cubic meters per 100 sqm of the property surface.
The dispute did not regard the entity of the volumes to build, but the change of urban destination, that in fact transforms an agricultural and woodland area (the Regional Landscape Plan classifies it as a woodland area) into an industrial one without a ruling of the Municipal Council and without the prerequisites.
F) EXTERNAL SECURITY PLAN
The RWM plant of Domusnovas/Iglesias does not have an adequate security plan, required for installations “at risk of major accident”, as a bomb producing factory obviously is.
It is not possible to authorize plans for the expansion of a high-risk plant which hasn’t been equipped with adequate security measures, not even achieved in its existing configuration. For the RWM plant it is still in force a nine year-old security plan for outdoor areas (it dates back to 2012, and we are now in 2021 !), based on a main production of explosives for civil use, which was totally abandoned at the end of 2012. Safety rules foresee that the security plan for outdoor areas must necessarily be revised every time there are variations in the productive process (such as the passage from a civil use production to a production exclusively for military use), and anyway it should be revised at least every three years.
So the security plan of the factory is totally inadequate and illegal in its present version, also without considering the ongoing expansion.
In its judgement the TAR completely misrepresents this dispute, merely specifying that the company had correctly communicated its intentions to widen the plant at Domusnovas/Iglesias, and that the security plan will have to be adapted when the new plants will be built and come into operation.
However the dispute did not concern the safety of the new plants, but the total safety inadequacy of the present plants before any expansion.
For these and other reasons the judgement of the TAR Sardinia given in July 2020 is unacceptable, and it was necessary to challenge it with an appeal to the Council of State.