The eight activists from Peru, Chile, Bahrain, Belgium and the UK who were arrested for taking action at the DSEI arms fair last September were found not guilty on the ground of trying to prevent a greater crime.
The judge delivered the verdict at Stratford Magistrates Court after concluding that throughout the trial, “clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing” at DSEI had been presented.
The Crown Prosecution Service tried to appeal the decision; and yesterday it was announced that the judge had rejected the appeal.
Win or lose, we have throughout remained wholeheartedly at peace with our actions to try and shut down the fair. We choose to remain on the side of history that rejects the facilitation of torture and mass indiscriminate killing for corporate profit. As ever, our only regret is that we didn’t stop the arms fair. As fresh evidence continues to emerge of the suffering caused by arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and other brutal regimes, the UK government’s position grows increasingly untenable. From the statement by the defendants
Eight people are on trial this week (11-15 April) for trying to stop one of the world’s biggest arms fairs. The trial is taking place at Stratford Magistrates Court from 10am each day and anyone can watch the trial from the public gallery. Join and share the Facebook event for updates and follow #StopDSEI.
The government is capitalising on public fear to hold back peaceful dissent in the UK and deepen its ties to repressive regimes around the world.
In liberal-democracies like the UK, conservative state powers face a potential barrier: how can they advance militarist agendas, and hold back effective protest movements that challenge their power, whilst still projecting the image of a nation that values freedom and critical debate?
Under the climate of fear that comes with recent terrorist atrocities, policy initiatives pushed under the guise of national security have increasingly far reaching consequences. In times of perceived insecurity, issues become “securitised” when they are presented as a universal threat that requires an extreme response from the state. As we become desensitised to the creeping militarism and surveillance this brings, we are told to let go of our civil liberties and to be more suspicious of those around us.
According to its website, DPRTE (the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition) is the “UK’s Premier Defense Procurement Event” and is now being hosted annually at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. They hosted the arms fair in Cardiff for the first time in October 2014, with exhibitors including BAE Systems, the world’s 3rd largest arms producer, whose weapons are currently being used in the Saudi attacks on Yemen.
There has been active opposition to DPRTE since 2013. The arms fair had originally been hosted at the UWE campus in Bristol, but was driven out by determined resistance; and has now moved to Cardiff. The protests involved a variety of actions, including blockading the UWE north entrance, causing queues trailing back along the A4174.
What you can do:
Join the comms blockade on Wednesday 10 February and contact Motorpoint Arena asking them not to host the arms fair.
Protests are being organised and supported by:
Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd supported by the Anarchist Action Network, Smash EDO, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and South Wales Anarchists
What is is: In March 2016 the Home Office, along with the arms industry trade body ADS, are organising “Security and Policing 2016”. They are offering a “discreet environment” for 400 companies who supply police, prisons and the Ministry of Defence to exhibit “the latest developments in the UK security market”. The government’s arms sales unit, UKTI DSO, is responsible for inviting international delegations. Last year, visitors browsed the stands of major weapons manufacturers such as BAE Systems and Heckler & Koch, and surveillance companies such as Gamma Group and The Hacking Team.
In mid September 2015 we were arrested for seeking to prevent the setting up of the DSEI arms fair. DSEI (“Defence Security Equipment International”) is one of the world’s largest arms fairs. Operating every two years in Newham East London, DSEI exists so that buyers and sellers can come together, network and make arms deals. Over a week, many people sought to blockade the setting up of the arms fair using a variety of tactics. Some of us are accused of putting our bodies in the way of vehicles or of locking our bodies together to block access roads. Whilst outside the Excel Centre (where DSEI is held) we were being detained and arrested by police, inside businessmen prepared to sell weapons designed to torture, maim and kill, for corporate profit.
If you know someone who was arrested during the arms fair protests, email Green and Black Cross gbclegal[@]riseup.net. The Green and Black Cross website has a lot of useful information on knowing your rights; what to do if you get arrested, and how to support someone who has been arrested.