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Courts begin to prosecute census refusers

Courts throughout the UK are prosecuting individuals whose only crime is to refuse to fill out the 2011 census form because of the involvement of arms giant Lockheed Martin. The refusers face a fine and possible jail sentence for their actions.

Lockheed Martin is based in the US and was contracted to process census data from England and Wales. The refusers say that it is unethical for a weapons manufactuer to be involved in the census, especially as Lockheed Martin has exanded into the security and surveillence industry and personal data could therefore be at risk.

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Top Gear not Top Gun

Ian Pocock journeys to the ExCel Centre to tell Top Gear fans about their favourite show’s links with the arms trade.

"Jeremy Clarkson" protests against the arms trade

"Jeremy Clarkson" protests against the arms trade

I joined members of London Campaign Against Arms Trade at a protest outside Clarion Events’ latest show, “Top Gear Live”, which took place this Saturday at the ExCeL Centre in London. Clarion Events own the DSEI arms fair while Top Gear is the BBC’s phenomenally successful motoring show.

Three of us had the dubious pleasure of donning masks of the three presenters of the show (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) but our visual presence did help us engage with the public on the issue of Clarion’s involvement in the arms trade. A number of passers-by were sympathetic to our cause and a couple were as vehemently opposed to the arms trade as London CAAT are. Read more »

Arrested at the arms fair!

Chris Cole under arrest at Custom House station

Chris under arrest at DSEI 2011

On Tuesday September 13th, Kirk Jackson and Chris Cole were arrested for taking part in demonstrations against the world’s largest arms fair – DSEI, which takes place every two years at the ExCeL exhibition centre in East London. In this article, Kirk and Chris talk about their actions, their arrests and what happens next.

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There’s no CHARM in depleted uranium

Campaigners outside the MoDAneaka Kellay of the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) explains why the UK government should stop its support for depleted uranium munitions and take responsibility for the contamination caused by their past use.

On 8 November campaigners dumped 2.3 tonnes of imitation “depleted uranium” (DU) dust on the steps of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London. The reasons were twofold – to remind the MoD of their responsibility for contaminating areas of Iraq and Kuwait during the 1991 and 2003 conflicts and to cancel plans to extend the life of the UK’s last remaining DU round, the inaptly named CHARM3.

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Beyond an Olympic truce

The UK government should go beyond the call for an Olympic truce and take steps to end the arms trade says Kaye Stearman.

It’s good to see the UK government leading the call for a worldwide truce during the 2012 London Olympics. UK diplomats worked overtime to sign up every UN member state to co-sponsor the truce resolution, including South Sudan, the UN’s newest member, and Kiribati, one of the most isolated.

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Action at the arms fair

Jamie Kelsey-Fry writes for New Internationalist on protest on the opening day of the London arms fair.

Protesters die-in before BAE HQ - London 13 September 2011

A ‘die-in’ outside the offices of BAE Systems. Photo by Jamie Kelsey-Fry.

There was a moment on Tuesday during the series of actions against the UK’s biennial Defence and Security Systems International (DSEI) exhibition, taking place from 13-16 September, that was so absurd it could have come straight out of a Monty Python sketch.

Anti-arms trade activists had discovered that a gala reception for delegates would be hosted at London’s National Gallery. After a ‘die-in’ (everyone lying around in the throes of mock-death) outside the nearby offices of BAE Systems, activists made their way to the entrances to the Gallery to provide their own reception as delegates arrived. Read more »

How I (nearly) got into an arms trade conference

How shameless is the government’s arms sales unit? Even as ordinary people across the Middle East are laying down their lives in the struggle for democracy, UKTI DSO organises a seminar to help arms companies to sell weapons to the repressive regimes of the region.

The event was called Middle East: A vast market for defence and security companies, it was presented by London Chamber of Commerce, and it was to be hosted in the City of London by Royal Bank of Scotland. (The very same RBS that Amnesty International recently forced to stop financing the makers of cluster bombs.)

MIDDLE EAST: A VAST MARKET FOR UK DEFENCE AND SECURITY COMPANIES

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DSEI: playground of the power elite

Brenda Heard of Friends of Lebanon on how arms fairs, such as DSEI, fuel conflict worldwide.

The images have become commonplace. Pick-up trucks laden with rocket launchers and machine guns.  Dusty men with their rifles, poised as so many Rambos. Billows of smoke that linger after the bomber has flown on to its next target. These are the images of contemporary conflict. Differences of socio-political opinion are settled by bloody confrontation.

True, violent conflict is as old as mankind itself. True, self-defence is a necessity, even a responsibility. But the business of war has become the norm rather than the exception. The significance of this development lies not merely in the multitude of violent and unnecessary deaths -but more so in our readily viewing this reality with a novel brand of bold nonchalance.

In business-speak for international arms dealing, DSEI -Defence & Security Equipment International—boasts that its biennial exhibition “provides a time-effective opportunity to meet the whole defence and security supply chain”. DSEI further promises that this year’s event will exceed attendance figures from 2009: 25,170 attendees; 1280 exhibitors; 98 countries; 70 official delegations; 27 national pavilions. Just have a look at its slick website offering  “infinite opportunities” to those who would jump on the weapons carousel.

A stall at DSEI advertising AK-47 assault rifles

A stall at DSEI 2009 advertising AK-47 assault rifles for sale

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How to shut down an arms fair

Kat Hobbs reports on how Australian peace activists shut down three successive arms fairs and why they should serve as an inspiration for activists who want to close DSEI 

Why would someone label peace activists “feral, low-life people that want society to be in a state of near anarchy for their own perverse pleasure?” These were the words of Kevin Foley, then Acting Premier of South Australia, in September 2008.  But it’s no wonder he was feeling bitter. Australian peace activists had just stopped a third arms fair from going ahead. An arms fair that Foley, who wanted to promote South Australia as the “Defence State”, had supported and spent government money on. Read more »

Why does the West continue to arm authoritarian regimes?

Karim Malak from Egypt reports on an incident on Armed Forces day, 23 July 2011

A Military commander talks to protesters as they encircle and cordon off a peaceful march in Abbasiya. Photo Credit: Gigi Ibrahim

On 23 July 2011 the Egyptian military cautiously began marking Armed Forces day. The night before, the military had issued a communique on their facebook page incriminating 6 April, a large civil society organisation and opposition movement.

In response, activists spread the call for a march to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) (Twitter hashtag: #SCAF). As thousands of people marched from Tahrir Square to Abbasiya to protest it soon became apparent that the violence that broke out had been orchestrated. A chaotic scene soon engulfed in Tahrir Square. Read more »