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SPEAKING out against the arms trade

Niki Goridis on Speak’s Day of Action.

1 March – This was definitely a different Monday morning for the staff of UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI). What made it so different?

A crowd of about seventy young people had congregated in front of UKTI’s headquarters at 66 Victoria Street, dancing, singing and enjoying themselves. They were generous too. Every person leaving the building was offered bread, juice and flowers. 

Alas, the UKTI staff didn’t accept these offerings and seemed keen to get out of eye-shot. However, many passers-by were interested. Most slowed their pace and had a closer look at the colourful crowd.

The cardboard tank, covered with flowers

The cardboard tank, covered with flowers

And they were indeed colourful, with their bright clothing and their banners with slogans like “no bailouts for bombs” or “British arms exports: aiding repression and harming development”. Best of all, was the huge tank made of cardboard and decorated with flowers.

Some passers-by even took photos of the unfamiliar scene. This was probably the first time they knew that Kingsgate House was the site where arms deals are promoted by the government, paid for by taxpayer’s money.

The demonstration was organised by Speak, a Christian network of young people who campaign against government support for arms trade, as well as other progressive causes.

Louise Donkin of Speak said the demonstration had served its purpose: “it impacts people”. Passers-by had stopped and asked “wow, what’s that?”

The action in front of UKTI was just one main point of the day’s schedule. In the afternoon, Speak activists headed eastwards to the Houses of Parliament where they lobbied ten MPs with the anti-arms trade message.

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