Malvern activists challenge arms fair!

The Three Counties Defence and Security Arms fair in Malvern in July hosted some of the world’s biggest manufacturers of weaponry, including BAE Systems and Thales. This is business at a massive cost – a human, environmental, and social disaster. But local activists were there to challenge it.

If you’re a Malvern local and interested in further action, email kat(at)caat.org.uk to get in touch with the group.

activists cluster around the Qinetiq sign with placards and banners
Activists protest outside Qinetiq in Malvern

Friends and local supporters met at Barnards Green with banners and placards and held a vigil round the trees.

We then marched up and down the village and on to Qinetiq, which has recently signed a partnership agreement with Saudi Arabia.

One of our group read out this moving testimony he had composed and a wreath was attached to their main roadside sign, in memory of young children killed in the Yemeni conflict:

“We are at the gates of the Malvern Technology Centre. This is the Development Centre for Qinetiq who are Arms dealers, the 5th largest in Britain.

They don’t produce arms here, the job of the Centre is to provide the data information and communications to guide the weapons that kill the enemy. This is the job of Qinetiq whatever their website may say and it’s our job to name the truth because these weapons kill millions of innocent world citizens every year. All of this is supported by a licensing system run badly by our Government who pay scant regard for how the weapons are used by the unscrupulous countries who buy them.

This is why the unprecedented achievement of CAAT in persuading the Appeal Court to deem arms sales to Saudi Arabia as unlawful is so important. This could be a a tipping point ruling and particularly so for Qinetiq who have just signed a partnership deal with Saudi Arabia. But this ruling has come too late to save the 35,000 children under 5 who have died in the Republic of Yemen where the civil war is stoked by arms Qinetiq and others sell to Saudi Arabia.

So we remember those children who have not lived to fulfil their potential in the hope that those who made these arms will in future, use their undoubted skills and vital technology to heal our world and overcome the climate emergency. RIP”

A surprised Qinetiq employee emerged and was invited to listen.Quakers hold a banner saying "Use your skills to tackle the climate emergency"

From there, we got lifts to the exit gate at the Showground and, facing the delegates’ cars as they left, formed a line displaying our messages and placards urging them to make a shift from Arms to Renewables and to tackle the climate emergency.

Meanwhile Malvern Pagans were staging their own witness up in town, near the Elgar statue. Ian Woodcock, of Malvern Pagans, said:

“Early afternoon we laid flowers at the Malvinha Spring, with a notice that they were for all those harmed by Malvern’s support for the arms trade. Elgar was given some paper darts with ‘ Fly Darts not Drones’ printed on them. We also performed with peace songs and affirmations in the presence of some supportive well water fillers.

We see this Expo as a further stage in the militarisation of the UK when our best creative and technical brains are so badly needed to address the climate emergency. It is one of a number of events in the UK all of which are increasing in scope and size.

As long as this Expo continues, so shall our witness.”

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