This week I watched a video that really made my day. It was made by activists in South Korea who had taken action against the ‘Seoul International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition’ – also known as the ADEX arms fair.
The video made me the happiest I’ve felt in a long time about taking action against the arms trade. This wasn’t just because it was a great video with impressive actions, catchy music and a cheeky cameo by Arnie Schwarzenegger, but rather because as I was watching it, quite a few of the actions were familiar to me.
Later, as they approached the building, attendees were accompanied to the door of UWE’s Exhibition and Conference Centre by protesters letting them know who would be attending the event; the likes of Raytheon (bombs in Iraq, missiles in Gaza), Babcock (nuclear submarines), Chemring (teargas used in the Arab Spring) and our good friends BAE Systems. Continue reading “Arms Companies Not Welcome at UWE”
In July, the Chamber of Commerce hosted a Defence Breakfast at the Savile Club in Mayfair.
The event promised to help arms dealers “…expand your network of contacts and promote your business…”. It is part of a series of gatherings which let arms dealers meet with each other and their customers, often buyers from repressive regimes.
A group of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds and political views came together during the Gezi -Taksim resistance. They did not and do not represent a political party or any other organization. In support of the Gezi movement they organised flashmobs, protests, workshops, and started to interact with other international solidarity groups. As part of this we came across CAAT. At the first CAAT meeting we attended, we realised we have many reasons in common to protest the arms fair.
During the occupation of Iraq, the city of Fallujah bore witness to some of the most intense US combat operations since Vietnam, with 2004’s Operation Phantom Fury widely condemned for its ferocity and disregard for international law.
Paediatrician Dr Samira Al’aani has worked in the city since 1997. In 2006 she began to notice an increase in the number of babies being born with congenital birth defects (CBD). Concerned, she began to log the cases that she saw. Through careful record keeping she has determined that at Fallujah General Hospital, 144 babies are now born with a deformity for every 1000 live births.
This is nearly six times higher than the average rate in the UK between 2006 and 2010, and one strong suspicion is that contamination from the toxic constituents of munitions used by occupying forces could be the cause.
Now a new nationwide study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), has the potential to catalyse efforts to understand and confront the issue, but only if science can be allowed to rise above politics. For years there have been huge problems with funding, political bias and delays. Continue reading “Birth defects: Iraq’s toxic legacy”
In the new year, I signed up for the East London Half Marathon, to be held on 14 April. It was 13.2 miles; the farthest I’ve ever run. I started volunteering in the office of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) when the DSEI arms fair came to East London in 2011, so with the arms dealers returning this autumn and some exciting plans afoot to disrupt the 2013 DSEI arms fair, it seemed appropriate to be raising money and running in the East End.
I was very excited, and spent most of February and March running around Hackney in thermal running tights, and enthusiastically describing new knee stretches I’d learnt to my friends in the pub. (They were not impressed.)
This is the translation of the message in the final scene of this video (see still above). It was made by activists from NESEHNUTÍ and is part of their campaign to raise awareness of the Czech arms trade. I met with NESEHNUTÍ activists in May when I was invited to participate in Different Fest, their anti-arms trade festival, to represent Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).