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).
The fringe issue of arms export criteria became headline news today (17 July), with The Independent’s splash on an “‘arms for dictators” scandal. A parliamentary report by the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) raised a few eyebrows, but the embarrassment of the government approving arms sales to 25 out of 27 of the countries blacklisted as human rights abusers will soon vanish.
On 9 July, arms dealers gathered for a breakfast briefing which promised “to help you 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. These events set the agenda for the UK’s exorbitant military spending and are where arms deals are born.
But campaigners from Stop the Arms Fair were there to stop it and sat in the entrance refusing to allow the arms dealers to pass. The hour long event was delayed for over half an hour and the General who was to speak at the event had to be “kept away”.
Stop the Arms Fair has published a great write-up of the action. Read it here.
This September’s DSEI arms fair will once again give authoritarian governments and dictatorships the opportunity to stock up on what is fast becoming the weapon of choice for repressive regimes- tear gas.
Some of the world’s leading suppliers of tear gas will be exhibiting, including British arms company Chemring, Brazil’s Condor, the US firm Non-Lethal Technologies and the joint German and South African-owned company Rheinmetall.
Tear gas made by these companies has recently been used to help crush protests in Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey and Brazil.