Last week the arms trade rolled into Liverpool for the annual Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) conference, and local activists were there to greet them.
UDT is an arms fair that focuses on naval arms and technology. It brings a number of oppressive regimes together with some of the biggest arms companies in the world.
We have requested a list of the countries in attendance, but we already know that this year’s event was attended by representatives from major arms companies such as BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Babcock.
On the first day of the conference, members of the newly-established Merseyside Peace Network welcomed the conference participants with a leaflet which was headed: “Merseyside Peace Network Opposes Arms Fair in Liverpool City Centre”. The conference delegates were also welcomed with the CAAT banner that read: “Arms Dealers Here Today. This is not OK”.
On the second day of the conference we tried to present the organisers with a wreath to commemorate the lives of those who will lose their life due to the arms trade and events like UDT. Somewhat predictably they didn’t want to accept it, so, instead, we affixed it to the notice next to the International Peace Monument not far from the Conference Centre.
This is the first time such a conference has been held in Liverpool, and we hope it will be the last. Unfortunately UDT is an annual event and happens all across Europe. In 2013 it was in Hamburg and next year it is scheduled to take place in Rotterdam.
Whenever and wherever these events takes place it is important that they are met with opposition. Very few people in Liverpool new that they were playing host to an arms fair and those that we spoke to were appalled.
The arms trade is an immoral trade that hates being held accountable. It is a trade that thrives on conflict and oppression and it should never be normalised. The arms companies need to be made to answer for the crimes they facilitates. That is why local protests and campaigns like this one are so important, and why local people need to oppose the arms trade wherever it is.