Posts Tagged ‘ELAAF’

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria – 2013

Monday, September 11th, 2023

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria – On Wednesday 11th September 2013 protests were continuing against the DSEi Arms Fair, with East London Against Arms Fair floating a wreath on the dock in Front of the ExCel Centre and protesters still occupying a camp at the East Gate. But it was also the 40th anniversary of the US backed coup in Chile, rather now overshadowed by later the 9/11 events, and Stop The War protested at the US Embassy against any military intervention in Syria.


Wreath for Victims of London Arms Fair – Royal Victoria Dock

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

Protesters met at Royal Victoria Station for a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock organised by East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) to commemorate all those who will be killed by the weapons being sold at the DSEi arms fair taking place in the ExCel Centre on the dock, as well as those sold there at previous DSEi arms fairs.

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

The procession walked around the dockside led by a woman dressed in black carrying a white floral wreath with the message ‘REMEMBER VICTIMS OF THE ARMS TRADE.’

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

Following here people marched behind the ELAAF banner with its dove of peace. Also there to record the procession were a class from the local primary school, many of whom took photographs on their tablets and interviewed some of those taking part.

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

As well as ELAAF members there were also two Buddhist monks and some of the activists who have been occupying the roundabout at the East gate of the Arms Fair at ExCel since Sunday.

When the procession neared the end of the dockside path opposite the ExCel Centre it stopped and after a song against the arms fair the wreath was placed on the water in the dock.

As it floated away they held a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. The event ended with another anti-war song, after which everyone dispersed.

More pictures on My London Diary at Wreath for Victims of London Arms Fair.


Occupation at DSEi Arms Fair Continues – Eastern Gateway Roundabout

Protesters were still occupying the roundabout at the eastern gate of the DSEi arms fair in East London, with around a dozen sleeping there most nights, and more visiting during the day.

Some protesters had been arrested earlier in the day after blocking the entrance to the arms fair for a short time.

While I was there the protesters were handing out leaflets to the few pedestrians who left by the eastern gate, and showing posters and banners to vehicles, including several coaches that were taking visitors from the ExCel centre.

More pictures at Occupation at DSEi Arms Fair Continues.


9/11 Protest at US Embassy – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

The date 9/11, though confusing for those of us who put day and month in a more logical order was etched into our memories in 2001. For those who launched the attacks it was probably the anniversary of the defeat of the armies of Islam at Vienna in 1643.

But in terms of rather more recent American history, September 11th 2013 was the 40th anniversary of the CIA-backed military coup in which the Chilean military, led by General Augusto Pinochet, seized power from the democratically elected government and murdered Chile’s President Salvador Allende to set up a US-backed military dictatorship.

It was the Chilean anniversary that brought protesters to the US Embassy to demand that the US should not attack Syria, though the embassy flag was at half-mast for the 2001 twin towers attack.

More pictures at 9/11 Protest at US Embassy.


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King’s Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair

Saturday, November 26th, 2022

2005 seems a long time ago now, but some of the same names are still often in the news. At a rally at King’s Cross station about fire safety remembering the victims of the disastrous fire in the Underground station there in 1987 that killed 31 people there were speeches from trade unionists and politicians including MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn.

King's Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair

RMT leader Bob Crow died in 2014 but since 2021 RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has been very much in our minds recently – and like Crow putting the case for his members and the working classes effectively to the mass media, challenging the silly class-based observations of many reporters and interviewers and making clear the facts about the rail dispute.

King's Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair
John McDonnell

Trains were very much in my mind at the start of Saturday 26th November 2005, not because of strikes but because of the problems of our privatised rail system which led to me arriving in London half an hour later than anticipated. Privatisation only really made any sense when it could introduce real competition and that was never possible for the railways – and only by introducing an expensive and wasteful middle layer of companies for utilities such as gas, electricity and water. In all these sectors the results have been inefficienies, high prices and large profits at the expense of customers and taxpayers for the largely foreign companies who bought our ‘national silver’.


Kings Cross – never again! – 26th November 2005

King's Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair

So I arrived late, running up the escalators at King’s Cross and remembering the stories of those who had been caught up there in the terrible fire, thinking how hard it would be to find the way out in smoke-filled darkness. Even with good lighting and reasonably clear signage it’s sometimes difficult to take the correct route.

Outside I photographed the joint trade union protest in memory of the fire, made more urgent by the plans of the management to change safety rules which protect workers and public using the system in order to cut costs. As well as those mentioned earlier, there were also speakers from ASLEF, the Fire Brigades Union and others.

On the https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/museum/history-and-stories/historical-fires-and-incidents/the-kings-cross-fire-1987/ 18th November 1987 a fire started when a lit match was dropped on an escalator around the end of the evening rush hour, falling through a gap and setting fire to litter and grease beneath. The small fire this started quickly spread, engulfing the escalator. People were told to leave the station by an alternative escalator and trains were told not to stop at the station.

Then at exactly 7.45pm while the ticket hall was still crowded a fireball suddenly erupted from the escalator into the ticket hall, followed by dense black smoke which made it impossible to see the exits. The heat was intense, melting plastic wall and ceiling tiles which added to the blaze. It took two and a quarter hours to get the fire under control, and a further five hours to put it out completely. 31 people died in the fire including a senior fire officer who was in the ticket hall telling people to get out when the fireball burst in.

Government and management justify cutting safety as “getting rid of red tape” and simplifying procedures and 12 years after this protest we saw the terrifying consequences of their approach to safety at Grenfell Tower.

The inquiry into the fire established a previously unknown mechanism by which the fire had spread so rapidly and also found that an over-complacent management had not had sufficient concern for the dangers of fires underground. New regulations were introduced, smoking was banned and a programme of replacing wooden escalators begun (though it was only in 2014 that the last was taken out of service.) Heat detectors and sprinkler systems were installed and better communications systems, improvements in passenger flow and staff training meant that almost all of the reports recommendations were put into practice.

Things changed in later years as Government and management justified cutting safety as “getting rid of red tape” and simplifying procedures and 12 years after this protest we saw the terrifying consequences of their approach to safety at Grenfell Tower. Had the reports and the coroners recommendations following the Lakanal House fire in 2009 been implemented and the lessons learnt, the fire at Grenfell would have been a minor incident, confined to the flat inside which it started. There would have been no deaths and we would never have heard about it on the news.

Poppies and leaves in Whitehall

Workers and their unions saw clearly the dangers of this change in attitudes to safety in this 2005 protest.

more pictures


Excel and Victoria Dock – 26th November 2005

I’d hoped to go from the safety protest at King’s Cross to a lecture at the ICA, but my work finished too late, and instead deciding first to go to Whitehall where I had expected to find another protest. There were still quite a few poppies from the Remembrance Sunday event, but I found nothing else to photograph in the area.

I decided the weather would be fine to take a trip to the Royal Victoria Dock and take some more photographs around there. It was a fairly quick journey now thanks to the Jubilee Line from Westminster to Canning Town and then a couple of stops on the DLR.

I got off at Custom House and walked past the entrance to the Excel Centre, making my way to the high level bridge across the dock, which had been closed on an earlier visit but was open now. And the lift was working.

I took rather a lot of pictures both on the dockside and from the bridge which has some interesting views of the buildings around the dock and further afield, including the Millennium Dome on the other side of the Thames, Canary Wharf and the London skyline in the far distance.

I took pictures with the full range of the lenses in my camera bag, from the 8mm fisheye to the a not very impressive telephoto zoom, which I think stretched to 125mm, equivalent on the DX camera I was then using to 187mm, which give a some quite different angles of view. I would now process these rather differently, partly because RAW software has improved significantly since 2005, but also because my own preferences have changed. Most of those fisheye images I would probably now partially ‘defish’ to render the verticals straight.

The camera I was using them, a Nikon D70 also now seems rather primitive, particularly as its images are only 6Mp and only offering a ISO 200 – 1600 range. But it did the job well, and the only real improvements in later models – unless you really want to make very large prints – were in the viewfinders. The D70 viewfinder was usable (and much better than the D100 which it replaced) but still not as good as those on film cameras.

Towards the end of the time I spent there, the sky turned orange, though perhaps the photographs slightly exaggerate the colour.

more pictures


East London Against the Arms Trade – Musical Protest, Excel Centre, 26 Nov 2005

I’d photographed more or less everything I could see and was beginning to make my way back to the DLR station when “I heard the brassy notes of the red flag, and made my way towards them.”

Musicians from ‘East London Against the Arms Fair’ were treating visitors to the Excel centre to a musical welcome. They were calling for Excel to stop hosting the DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fairs which attract visitors from around the world, including many repressive regimes to come to London and see and buy arms.

London’s then Mayor, Ken Livingstone had spoken against having the arms fair in London as have the nearby London boroughs, and local residents had voted 79% against them, but the arms fairs continue every other year – with several days of protest against them.

One had taken place here in October, and the musical protest was calling for those already booked for 2007, 2009 and 2011 to be dropped. But their protest fell on deaf ears so fast as Excel’s owners were concerned and they continue, supported by the government, to be held there.

more pictures


As well as seeing more pictures on the links in this post you can also see the accounts I wrote back in 2005 by scrolling down the November 2005 page of My London Diary. You can see photographs of further protests against the DSEI arms fair by putting the four letters DSEI into the search on the front page of My London Diary.


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Stop The Arms Fair – 2017

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

The world’s largest arms fair currently takes place in London every two years, at the Excel Centre, a large exhibition centre in Custom House, East Ham in the London Borough of Newham. Organised by Clarion Events, the Defence and Security Equipment International show is “fully endorsed” by the UK Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Trade, but condemned by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and most Londoners and opposed by a week of protests organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and supported by many other groups.

Sadiq Khan has failed to stop the arms fair taking place, lacking the powers to do so despite his repugnance. Amnesty International criticise it for selling weapons of torture and those that have been shown to have been used against civilians, and CAAT point out that it is attended by official military and security delegations from countries which are noted abusers of human rights, including those on the UK’s official list of countries subject to arms embargo.

Of course with the UK the high profits to be made on arms sales often trumps such listings; Action on Armed Violence points out that “five of the UK’s human rights priority countries feature on the DIT’s ‘key markets’ directory for potential arms sales (Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia)” and that “UK export licences for small arms and ammunition have been approved to 31 destinations on the embargoed and restricted list” betwwen 2015 and 2020.

In September 2017 I photographed protests outside the DSEI arms fair on four days in the week before the fair as well as a related event elsewhere and a wreath-laying ceremony on the opening day. There are fuller accounts on My London Dairy – links at the end of this post.

No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest – ExCeL Centre, London. Tue 5 Sept 2017

The second day of protests against the world’s largest arms fair held in London’s docklands was ‘No Faith In War’, a series of events organised by various faith groups.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

Quakers held a meeting by the side of the approach road to the East Gate of Excel, and some sat on the road to block it. Eventually police lifted this woman carefully and carried herto the side of the road. Some who persisted in blocking the road were arrested and taken to police vans.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

Four people abseiled from a roadway bridge to block the road. It took police a long time to find a safe way to remove them.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

People held a mass on the roadway – police waited until they finished then made them leave.

At the west gate people walked very slowly in front of the lorries. Eventually police pushed them off the road. Some were arrested. Others had come to support them and sing hymns and religious songs. There were various other activities at both gates.

Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances – Wed 6 Sep 2017

Stop the Arms fair protesters carried out a series of lengthy lock-ons on the roads at both East and West gates blocking access to London’s ExCeL centre where preparations are being made for the worlds’s largest arms fair.

Police teams took quite a long time to carefully separate the people who were locked together to block the roads. There was also some street theatre from various groups. One pair of protesters managed to lock themselves on the roadway inside the centre gates – but police would not let journalists get closer to photograph them.

I went back to the East gate to find another pair locked on there. The protesters managed to block both entrances for several hours – and there were quite a few arrests.

Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI, London. Thu 7 Sep 2017

Veterans for Peace came to set up a banned weapons checkpoint. Police waved lorries on past their checkpoint, encouraging one lorry to drive through the protest at a highly dangerous speed, and removed protesters from the road with threats of arrest.

At lunchtime North London Food Not Bombs moved onto the road and blocked it to serve protesters with an excellent road-block picnic. After 15 minutes police moved in to clear the road, threatening the diners with arrest.

DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate – Sat 9 Sep 2017

Several hundred people listened to a programme of speakers, workshops, spoken word, choirs and groups and stopped lorries bringing arms by walking in front of them until pushed aside by police.

Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate – Sat 9 Sep 2017

Things were a little livlier at the West gate, where cyclists in a ‘Critical Mass’ were arriving and Charlie X, a Chaplin clone who protests in mime had just been freed from the lorry he had locked on to but had been arrested and was being led away by a dozen police. They also arrested one of the cyclists for having a bike lock around his neck. He had it to lock the wheels to his bike if he had to leave it anywhere. If carrying a lock or chain for your bike was an offence, every cyclist in London would face arrest.

DSEI East Gate blocked – Sat 9 Sep 2017

I took the DLR back to the East gate, arriving to find the road blocked by a lock-on, with two people joined through a pipe which the police were struggling to remove. Finally they did and arrested to two involved. People were blocking the road and holding a religious service, but police forced them off the road – with at least one more arrest of a woman who refused to move.

While the police were removing the two locked on, a man had locked himself to the lorry – and he too was removed and arrested. Other people came onto the road to block lorries and there were poetry and musical performances. Then a group of seven people joined arms in a circle on the road and refused to move. They were still there when I had to leave, stopping off briefly at the DLR entrance to the Excel Centre to photograph a musical protest there.

#Arming The World -Woolwich Arsenal, London. Tue 12 Sep 2017

Ice & Fire theatre and Teatro Vivo with designer Takis, gave their first performance of #Arming The World, a satircial weapons catwalk show spreading information about Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) at Woolwich Arsenal with actors dressed as arms dealers, a Paveway IV Missile, a Eurofighter Typhoon and CS Gas.

Wreath for victims of the arms trade – Royal Victoria Dock, Tue 12 Sep 2017

East London Against Arms Fairs (ELAAF) held a procession carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ around the Royal Victoria Dock on the day the DSEI Arms Fair opened, launching the wreath onto the water opposite the ExCeL centre.


More on all these events on My London Diary:
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


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DSEI Arms Fair Protests 2015

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

The final protests against the 2015 DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre on the Royal Victoria Dock in East London took place on 15th September 2015, the day that the arms fair opened. British and foreign warships were lined up alongside the Excel Centre inside which weapons were being sold that would be used to kill people in wars around the globe and to repress, kill and torture in many countries.

East London Against Arms Fairs held a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock floating a wreath oppposite the fair and holding a silence for victims of the arms trade, ending with a Buddhist prayer. They met with two Buddhist monks and supporters and some from the Stop the Arms Fair coalition who had been protesting against the Arms Fair at ExCel over the last week at Royal Victoria DLR station.

The procession was led by a woman wearing white and carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ followed by the East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) banner with its dove of peace. It slowly made its way around the west end of the dock and then along its south side until it got close to the end of the dockside path, almost opposite the arms fair.

There was then a ceremony with the wreath being floated on the water of the dock and a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. This was followed by a period of prayer by Japanese Buddhist monk Reverend Gyoro Nagase, the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.


As the first protest lefit, another group came marching along the dockside to take their place. Kurdish Youth Organisation Ciwanen Azad UK and Stop the Arms Fair supporters had also marched around the Royal Victoria Dock and were staging a ‘die-in’ and rally opposite the Excel centre.

The Turkish government’s Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter’s Association is one of the international partners of the DSEi Arms Fair, and sales of their weapons at DSEi help fund the the vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Turkey. A week earlier a relentless assault by Turkish military and police on the town of Cizre killed many people, including children. Attacks have increased since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June 2015, winning seats in the Turkish parliament.

The sales of weapons at the arms enables the Turkish arms industry to continue its development of new weapons, including new drones, new MPT rifles and the Altay battle tank which will be used to continue the massacre of Kurds.

The protesters set up a display of banners and six Kurds in bloodstained white robes stages a ‘die-in’ on the dockside against the Murderous Turkish state opposite the DSEi arms fair.

Kurds say Stop arms sales to Turkey
Wreath for Victims of the Arms Trade


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