Putting the arms fair on trial
The 2013 DSEi arms fair was challenged and impeded with daily direct action. Hundreds of people took part, and thirty faced arrest when they placed their bodies in the way of the arms fair’s deadly business. Some have already been cautioned, or issued with fines. Others have pleaded not guilty – and plan to put the arms fair on trial!
Support the defendants
Five Christians whose action blocked the Custom House entrance to the arms fair on 10th September have pleaded not guilty.
- Their trial is scheduled for 3-4 February at Stratford Magistrates’ Court.
Nine protesters arrested at the Occupy vs the arms fair protests on 8 September have pleaded not guilty and also have trial dates in February at Stratford Magistrates’ Court.
- 20 February 2014. Stratford Magistrates’ court. One case, for obstruction of the highway at eastern gateway.
- 21 Feb 2014. One case at Stratford Magistrates’ court: obstruction of the highway at eastern gateway.
- 25 Feb 2014. Two cases at Stratford Magistrates’ court: obstruction of the highway at eastern gateway; obstruction of the highway at Seagull Lane.
- 26-28 February. Stratford Magistrates’ court. One case for five protesters. Three for obstruction of the highway at Seagull Lane, two for obstruction of a police officer.
Watch a video interview with a protester; read the defendants’ statement and read the open letter from groups in Palestine in solidarity with the activists. See the public letter in their support signed by individuals including Caroline Lucas MP, Michael Mansfield QC and Mark Thomas, and over 30 civil society organisations, published in the Guardian on 1 November 2013.
One protester has pleaded guilty - “Guilty of acting in solidarity with those struggling against oppression and facing brutal repression for doing so in Bahrain, Turkey and other countries.” The magistrate said she spoke “with dignity and passion” and gave her a a conditional discharge and order to pay total costs of £100.
Messages of support for the protesters on trial
I want to thank everyone who took part in the peaceful protests against the arms trade in London. It is a disgrace that business people are able to freely trade weapons in the centre of London, and profit from atrocities that are carried out in other parts of the world. Thank you to everyone who took a brave stand against it. Civil disobedience is a really important part of our democratic tradition, it enables citizens to have a voice when politicians fail to do the right thing. There are countless examples of brave people who are attacked and punished for their actions, but are vindicated by history.
How telling it is that while killers wear sharp suits and gaddabout in opulence the innocent face law suits scraped together based on such threadbare charges. It is the arms trade that should be on trial. There is no doubt that the business of the DSEI is to increase the power of unscrupulous companies, brutal regimes and adds to the sum of human suffering on earth and the instability of our democratic systems. It is a shameful thing that our Government is so glad to host it and so loathe to regulate it. I have nothing but admiration for those on trial for recognising DSEI for what it is and drawing attention to it. Thank you all so much for your commitment and courage.
I am so proud of the women and men who held up the arms fair by occupying the area: what a wonderful diverse group of people; from Priests to down and outs to teachers to parents to …well it goes on and on. They came from everywhere on the social spectrum united in one way; by their love of humanity and desire to expose what is done with guns, tanks and worse (torture tools…) SO I WANT TO SAY THAT THE WOMEN AND MEN WHO WERE ARRESTED STOPPING ARMS DEALERS FROM GOING ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS, ARE NOT ONLY OUR HEROS, BUT THEY ARE WHAT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING. THEY ARE THE SHINING LIGHTS THAT GIVE US ALL HOPE AND INSPIRATION AND THE LAST THING THAT SHOULD HAPPEN IS SOME KIND OF PROSECUTION BY THE STATE… So here I am humbly sending you all tons of love, strength and solidarity. May the Judge be a goodun & Long May U All Run
With your peaceful action you have spoken up bravely and conscientiously against this industry of despair which promotes and profits from conflict and repression. Thank you for putting your commitment to what is right into real action to expose the illegitimacy of the DSEI fair and put them on trial. I speak for many when I say I am inspired and deeply grateful. You have my heartfelt support for the upcoming court appearance. ”Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men’ – Martin Luther King
I support all anti-weapons activism. These people are on trial for standing up for the rights of all people on the planet and being unfairly and viciously over charged by the arrogant British authorities. Let them go free with out sentence. They are innocent victims, the system is the guilty party.
Well done on braving a thoroughly corrupt market, that holds in high esteem arms over quality of life, justice and peace. You are more courageous than most and are taking on risks that many of us, including me, cannot face. It is bizarre how we have removed ourselves from what matters in life, to trading and highly valuing what destroys life – weapons and arms.
I just read about what you have done through an Occupy mailing list and wanted to say how awesome I think you are for what you have done. It’s unjust that those at DSEI can get away with murder scot free, while you are being prosecuted for highlighting the law-breaking and injustice that goes on inside. You absolutely rock and solidarity with you all, especially on the 4th.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the women and men(?) who did what they could to highlight the hypocrisy of the British government’s rhetoric to human rights and to its feigned condemnation of dictatorships around the globe, by focusing attention on the weaponry the British Government allows to be bought and sold on their isles. This weaponry is increasingly utilized to violently control people around the world who are largely fighting for their human rights and for their right to have a say in the economic direction of their countries. The activists did what they could non violently and peacefully and I would like them to know that they have my deepest respect and my most sincere good wishes that the judge recognizes that you are acting for the betterment of society at large and will let you go with minimum fuss.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so honourable, honest and decent as one of the ’accused’ – a young person with a strong moral compass, ethics intact, and high principles and code of behaviour. And I am sure the others being ’prosecuted’ are the same. The only crime they have committed is to stand up to the bully-ing war machine they were born into. What next? Old Military generals putting new born babies on trial for daring to have been born innocent. I still have faith in the justice system. Please could we start to apply it to some actual criminals, instead of prosecuting people who dare to stand up to all the institutionalised crimes they see all around them.
I live in Newham and the irony was not lost on me that an arms fair was taking place in Excel when 9/11 took place. Our Governments need to work against conflict. As a doctor I am concerned with promotion of health not killing and torture and I have clinical experience of the effects of torture on people. I support the protesters who were trying to prevent the illegal sale of instruments and means of torture.
To all activists against Arms Fair, Thank you for all the actions taken by you to highlight the obscenity of the Arms Fair. As an 89 year old, all my life against War,and not able to go to protest at the event, you are acting for me and I praise you for that. Continue the good work, which though most people don't realise, is for the good of all. STOP THE SELLING OF ARMS.
To all of you who are facing court action Thank you for your commitment to stopping the arms fair as part of the struggle to stop the arms trade. It is a reflection of the systemic corruption of the state we live in that it is you facing legal action, rather than those who are selling the weapons of death with the active support of their governments. Your actions not only focused attention on the fair, like never before, but are hopefully the prequel to stop its return in two years. In solidarity, Andrew Feinstein