The activists who were trying to bring a private prosecution against arms companies that exhibited at the DSEI have unfortunately had to discontinue their legal action. You can read their statement on the Arms Dealers on Trial website.
This week we (a group of those arrested at the DSEI arms fair 2013) have begun private prosecution proceedings against arms companies who exhibited at DSEI 2013. French company Magforce International and Chinese company Tianjin MyWay International Trading will be summonsed to appear at Thames Magistrates Court to answer information about alleged crimes including the unlawful promotion for sale of leg irons, electric stun batons and electric stun guns.
Yesterday (Tuesday 18 February 2014) the CPS dropped its charges against the activists arrested during the day of action against the DSEI Arms Fair on 8 September 2013. Different activists had been charged with different offences including obstruction of the highway and obstructing a police officer.
The five Christians whose action blocked the Custom House entrance to the arms fair on 10th September have been found not guilty of aggravated trespass.
Christian protesters blocked the main visitors entrance for an hour on the opening day of the arms fair – one of many effective direct actions during the week.
It was the video evidence supplied by the police for purposes of prosecution which helped the five win the case, ironically. They had not received clear instructions as to what to do when they left the Excel ground, it was decided. You can read more about the outcome of the trial here.
Whatever happens in court, it’s the arms companies and the UK government who are the real criminals. The activists from the Occupy vs the Arms Fair day of action stand in solidarity with the Christian activists charged with similar offences who are first to have their trials on 3 and 4 February 2014.
We’ve been chasing arms dealers wherever they seek to do business. Now it’s time to party!
When tackling the systems that perpetuate conflict, repression and inequality, change doesn’t come quickly, so it’s important to remind ourselves of our achievements along the way.
2013 was a brilliant year for anti-arms trade activism: Arms trade networking events were challenged wherever they took place; a wide range of groups took part in an amazing week of action against the world’s largest arms fair, and people took part in solidarity actions with communities impacted by conflict and state repression.
Hundreds of people have come out in support of the people on trial for taking action at the DSEi arms fair. Below is an open letter from groups in Palestine in solidarity with the actions taken. MORE...
Arms dealers heard from the head of GCHQ but protesters had their giant eyes on them!
Arms dealers arriving at the Tower of London for a swanky reception on Wednesday 6 November got a little bit more than they bargained for.
Instead of friendly stewards and helpful Beefeaters, they found a ribald collection of ghosts and ghouls. Zombies rubbed shoulders with scythe wielding “Deaths”, masked executioners discussed the finer points of law with a high court judge (always ending with, “Send them to the Tower!”). Even the Queen was there, the Tower being a Royal Palace and Fortress after all, passing judgement on the arms dealers.
In September 2013 thousands of people took action against the DSEi arms fair and it faced daily direct action. 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 are set to go to court on 4th November, and plan to put the arms fair on trial!
This letter of support for the protesters on trial was published in the Guardian on 1 November 2013. MORE...
We will defend our right to challenge the arms trade!
A group of activists (mainly women) were charged after taking part in the ‘Occupy v the Arms Fair’ day of action on 8 September, which was part of the week of action against the DSEI Arms Fair at the Excel Centre, London. Our intention was to stop the arms fair from setting up by blockading roads used to transport military equipment and weaponry into the Excel Centre.
The Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair takes place at Excel every two years. It is supported by the UK government, including the UK Trade & Investment’s Defence & Security Organisation, which heavily markets the arms industry abroad. This support takes many forms political, financial and logistical (including inviting official government delegations), and is part of the government’s ongoing subsidy for UK arms manufacturers. Some 30,000 buyers and sellers, many from countries with horrifyingly oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Israel, and Colombia, attended the arms fair this year. For the UK government and the companies involved, conflict means profit.
That the arms fair takes place at all is a travesty, but we repeatedly hear that arms dealers breach even the laws we do have on the restriction of weapons and torture equipment. Illegal cluster bombs and munitions have been promoted at previous DSEI events and again in 2013 illegal torture equipment was promoted at DSEI. Right now, the government is pushing for military action against Syria, potentially without UN backing and potentially contrary to international law. Such military action will inevitably result in innocent people being maimed, psychologically scarred and killed. We took our action to prevent the greater crimes of torture, killing of innocents, and to stop potential breaches of international law, including crimes against peace.
We, and other human rights defenders, anti-militarists and activists for peace opposing the arms trade will not quietly shut up and let the killing happen. We will defend our right to challenge violence at home and abroad, especially where this is subsidised by the UK government whilst it is simultaneously imposing a vicious austerity agenda at home. Arms subsidies, and the more than £100bn projected cost of replacing the Trident nuclear missile and submarine system should be redirected to renewables, the NHS, schools and socially useful green infrastructure which would provide decent jobs for people. We demand investment in caring not killing.
We stand in solidarity with other ordinary people arrested for actions against the DSEI arms fair, and with people all over the world fighting for their rights, fighting against State and corporate repression, fighting for economic justice and the simple right to live in peace.
DSEI defendants’ group