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DSEI protesters should be congratulated, not punished

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Sylvia Boyes outside court with supporters

Yesterday CAAT supporter and anti-arms trade campaigner Sylvia Boyes was convicted for “obstructing the highway” during a protest at a the DSEI arms fair in London last September.

Over the last few weeks a number of activists have either been found not guilty or had their charges dropped, but Sylvia, 70, was fined a total of £440 for ‘obstructing the highway.’

Not only is the financial punishment totally disproportionate to the alleged ‘crime’, but it also shows the completely muddled priorities of the British legal establishment. As Sylvia said, “When you are dealing with the sale of weapons and torture instruments which are being used to hurt so many, what can I as a human being do that is proportionate with those facts?”

Shut down DSEI

DSEI is like a theme park for arms dealers. It brings together some of the world’s most deadly arms manufacturers and some of the most brutal tyrannies. Lots of business is done and large sums of money can change hands between those who torture civilians, and those who sell them weapons to do so.

However, DSEI isn’t something the UK government is ashamed of, on the contrary they think it’s something to be celebrated. Boris Johnson is a significant backer of it, and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond described it as “an excellent example of the opportunities that we can create when government and industry work together, hand-in-hand, with a shared objective.”

The campaign continues

Sylvia is one of a growing number of people who felt that she couldn’t sit back and ignore it, she had to take action. That’s why her supporters in the gallery stood up and applauded her as she walked out of the courtroom with her head held high.

We fully support Sylvia and all of the other activists who have been arrested for their peaceful opposition to the arms trade. However, at the same time as good people are being put on trial we are also seeing the UK establishment pulling out all stops to promote arms sales to dictators.

While Sylvia was preparing for her trial Prince Charles was doing a sword dance with the brutal dictatorship in Saudi Arabia to seal a deal on arms exports. We know whose side we are on.

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