Posts Tagged ‘CAAT’

DSEI Arms fair protest 2017

Sunday, September 5th, 2021

Police surround protesters who are stopping a lorry going into the arms fair

Tomorrow, Monday 6th September 2021 sees the beginning of the protests against DSEI 2021 Arms Fair taking place at the Excel Centre in East London. Protests there will continue until 17th September, the final day of the arms fair.

No Faith In War’ protesters block the road by abseiling down from a bridge

I hope to be able to be there and photograph some of the protests, as I have in several previous years. The more dedicated activists will be staying at a protest camp close to the fair, but I will only visit the site for a few hours, making my way across London and then back home – a journey of roughly and hour and a half each way.

Women hold the London WILPF banner in front of a line of coffins on the blocked road

The Arms Fair is certainly one of the largest in the world, and attracts both buyers and sellers from many countries including some of the world’s most repressive regimes. Although the government claims to restrict the sale of British made weapons and equipment to some of the more reprehensible dictators, in practice these controls are ineffectual and somehow don’t seem to apply to some of our largest business clients.

These limited restrictions of course do not apply to those foreign nations and companies who have many stalls inside the fair and can do whatever business they like. In recent years this has been shown to include selling weapons that are outlawed by international agreements.

The protests are organised by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, CAAT, though many other groups also take part. You can find details of the events on their web site. The big day of action, Tank the Arms Fair, is on Tues 14th September, the first day of the fair.

The pictures here come from 2017, the last time I was able to photograph some of the protests. The fair – which the London Mayor and the local council have clearly stated their opposition – takes place every two years. I missed the 2019 protests as I was in Cumbria.

You will find much more about the protests and many more pictures from 2017 on My London Diary at these links:

Wreath for victims of the arms trade
#Arming The World
DSEI East Gate blocked
Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate
DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate
Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI
Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances
No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Merchants of Death

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

At the end of the month that this protest tour took place, the UK government issued its UK Defence & Security Export Statistics for 2018. These revealed that UK arms sales in 2018 amounted to £14bn, making the UK the world’s second biggest arms exporters, with around half the sales of the USA. Britain had 19% – almost a fifth of global arms sales – well ahead in 2018 of competitors Russia at 14% and France with 9%.

Most UK sales are to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE in particular purchasing large quantities of UK arms. Over the 10 year period covered by the report, the Middle East accounted for 60% of UK arms sales, though in 2018 it was around 77%. One factor in that increase was the war in Yemen.

According to CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade),

The UK has licensed over £4.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015.

The weapon categories include approximately:
£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
£1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)

https://www.caat.org.uk/campaigns/stop-arming-saudi/arms-sales

UK weapons used in Yemen include Typhoon and Tornado aircraft and ALARM missiles from BAE systems, Paveway bombs from Raytheon, PGM500 bombs and Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles from MBDA as well as UK-made cluster bombs which were exported from the UK in the 1980s. There are more details about the companies currently exporting arms to Saudi Arabia on the CAAT site.

As well as protesting, CAAT took the government to court over British-made arms being used in Yemen, and on 20th June 2019 the Court of Appeal ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen was unlawful. The government are fighting this decision, taking it to the Supreme Court but had to apologise in September for “inadvertantly” breaking the ban over two export licences.

I joined the tour late after being held up by overcrowding led to a slow queue to get into the tube station and then down to the platforms due to Pride, and the crowds around Lower Regent Street made it impossible for the tour to visit the offices of Lockheed Martin. But I was present for the visits to G4S, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, as well as for the speeches about Lockheed Martin – with each company being presented with a ‘blue plaque’ for their sins.

The highlight of the tour was the stop outside Buckingham Palace, where the plaque (complete with spelling mistake) was simply for their support of King Hamad in his violent repression of the people of Bahrain. But in the speeches we heard how the Royal Family played an important role with their visits backing arms sales around the world. Prince Andrew has been in the news recently for other reasons, but here was singled out for his services, in arms sales to corrupt regimes. Since it wasn’t possible to approach Buckingham Palace more closely, the blue plaque for the palace was left on the Victoria Monument facing it.

More from the tour at London’s Sinister Arms Trade


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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