Action against the arms fair in 2011December 19, 2011
Arming repressive regimes. Boosting arms company profits. Displaying the latest killing technology. The world’s biggest arms fair – DSEI – took place in East London in September 2011.
In 2011, we witnessed more of the horror that comes when the UK arms repressive regimes — armoured vehicles used to suppress protest in Libya and Bahrain were sold by the UK, along with crowd control equipment and tear gas.
Stop The Arms Fair coalition called an amazing day of action on 13th September. Following a kayak blockade of a warship at DSEI on the Saturday, the day of action included rolling die-ins and blockades of the arms fair gates, a colourful protest and lobby at parliament, a huge die-in outside BAE Systems, and protesting the arms dealers as they were wined and dined at the National Gallery.
For photos and reports see:
- Press coverage of the arms fair
- Grassroots coverage of the day of action
- a timeline of the day along with photos (Indymedia)
- Demotix article and photos for the National Gallery demonstration.
Loads of creative action took place against the arms fair in September 2011. To get a flavour, have a look at the list of what was advertised in advance…
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13th September was the Day of Action against the arms fair:
- The main access route is the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which many of the 25,000 delegates use on the days of the fair. The DLR is one of the only places where us members of the public are visible to the arms dealers at DSEI. A loud conversation with a friend or a chat with a friendly arms dealer; putting the arms trade on trial or hosting a comedy gig in the carriage – the possibilities for creative action are endless. There have been calls for staggered actions on the DLR. [More info]
- Meeting Point: Bank Junction, EC2 , 8.30am riding to the ExCeL Centre. Bring noise, colour and contempt. [More info]
- Activists will be at Custom House DLR station and on the trains from 10am. Last DSEI we visited the banks, the backers of the arms trade. Offices were invaded and windows smashed. This year we are returning to the belly of the beast and confronting the arms dealers directly. In previous years people have locked on to trains, climbed on their roofs, pulled emergency alarms, occupied stations and generally caused disruption and chaos.Tell the dealers what you think of their deadly wares and show their journey to DSEI will not be an easy ride. It’s time to stop the arms dealers in their tracks and make DSEI 2011 a year to remember. (You may want to bring a scarf, gloves and a change of clothes in this unpredictable climate). DSEI, Defence Systems Equipment International, the world’s largest arms fair, takes place every two years at the ExCeL centre in London’s docklands. Over 1200 arms companies will be hawking their deadly wares to 25,000 buyers from around the world, including delegates from some of the world’s most repressive regimes. This year, for the first time, the UK government will be inviting paramilitaries and border security forces. For more information on DSEI and the many reasons why we have to shut it down see www.dsei.org Follow @disarmdsei for updates, #stopdsei
- Meeting Point: Old Palace Yard, Houses of Parliament from 10.45, ready to join the CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) action from 11.00am. LGBTQ action “Operation Hello Sailor” is calling for sailors from any era… but plastic cutlasses only (“you could put someone’s eye out with that!”). [More info]
- 2011 is the first time that parliament is in session during DSEI. We want to use this opportunity for as many people as possible to challenge MPs on the reality of the government-supported arms trade – all at the same time. [More info]
- Clarion organize and run the DSEI arms fair, among others– this is DSEI’s central command! The arms fair goes on behind closed doors – so we will bring it out into the open! Food Not Bombs will set up a (flat-packable) cardboard model of the arms fair, complete with cardboard stalls, cardboard guns and cardboard bombs, outside Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. “Top Drawer”, a retail event also run by Clarion, will be going on in the Exhibition Centre that day – we’ll tip off their customers about Clarion’s involvement in the arms trade.
- Child-friendly action at Millennium Bridge [More info]
- This year, the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) will showcase a large exhibition of Unmanned Systems, or ‘drones’ – the robotic military planes that are used in targeted killings and are killing civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen. The indiscriminate nature of drone attacks is breeding anger and resentment amongst ordinary people in those countries. Perhaps most crucially, the fact that drones enable bombing raids to happen without danger to the pilots’ lives, is driving a new, robotic arms race founded on the misguided belief that a new super-weapon will resolve conflict in human relationships. [More info]
Click here to download a PDF of all the public actions (if you print it off on A3 paper it folds into an events booklet).