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.
Following five days of disruption to the set up of DSEI, Saturday 12th September brought together the different themes from throughout the week, and a huge range of groups and individuals, to stand united against the arms fair. It was a packed day of workshops, speeches, performance, and effective action. There was far too much activity to fully report on here, but the below hopefully gives a flavour of the day.