Mitch Mitchell reports:
At approximately 6.30 this morning (Thursday), three activists climbed onto the roof at the Sodastream office at Fen Ditton, just outside Cambridge.
The protest highlighted that Sodastream is profiting from generous tax breaks and grants from the Israeli government. They use land stolen from Palestinians and exploit Palestinian workers by paying them less than Israeli workers.
Sodastream announced yesterday that they are thinking of moving their main factory from an illegal settlement in the West Bank in late 2015. Even if this does go ahead, their new factory will be close to a planned township where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcibly transferred against their will.
The company is fast becoming an international pariah. Financier George Soros has withdrawn his investment in Sodastream for humanitarian reasons. The John Lewis Partnership are no longer stocking the company’s products and they have been forced to close their flagship UK store in Brighton. Their net income is reported as being down 42%.
The three protesters, now dubbed “The Fen Ditton Three”, unfurled a large banner on the roof and let off smoke bombs. At first, the police response was muted. Later in the day, an inspector turned up, accompanied by two C.I.D. officers. Just after lunch, the police deployed a helicopter.
At around 2.30, the three were cautioned by the police and the decision was taken come down. Once back on the ground, the police arrested them and took them to Parkside police station in Cambridge where they are being charged with aggravated trespass. The police inspected the roof to ascertain whether there was any “criminal damage”, which there was not, and confiscated their ladder as “evidence”. At the time of writing (8.15pm) they are still at the police station awaiting being interviewed.