‘Arms dealers feast, while Yemenis are starved’: ADS Dinner protest round-up

Activists outside the ADS dinner, Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Arms dealers are busy people. If they’re not burning the midnight oil securing the next dirty deal, they are likely schmoozing and networking at fancy industry events and receptions, dining on three-course meals, feasting on banquets and enjoying the company of other high net worth individuals.

Highlights from our 2020 ADS Dinner demo. All images by Richard York of Rainbow…

Posted by Campaign Against Arms Trade on Tuesday, 18 February 2020
ADS Dinner Protest – image by Richard York, Rainbow Collective

And the story was no different last month, on Wednesday 22nd January, when arms dealers convened at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House hotel for the annual Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS) dinner, which brings together arms dealers, MPs and military personnel to schmooze, swill champagne, and feast on expensive food. At the same time, 14 million Yemeni people are at risk of famine, starved as a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of their country. Many of the bombs are made by the arms companies present, and have been sold with the support of the politicians in attendance.

ADS Dinner Protest – image by Richard York, Rainbow Collective

Over 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed since war in Yemen broke out in 2015, including 12,000 civilians in directly targeted attacks. The war in Yemen has caused one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The UK government is directly involved in causing this suffering; only legal action from CAAT has forced the government to review arms sales to Saudi. Meanwhile, UK-made planes are dropping UK-made bombs in Yemen, and UK arms sold to Turkey have been used in the decimation of the Kurds. UK arms sales fuel death, destruction and violence across the globe.

ADS Dinner Protest – image by Richard York, Rainbow Collective

A number of activists and came together on a bitingly cold January night to make our resistance known. As well as chants and songs, messages of solidarity were read out, reminding us of why it is imperative we insist to those dining that they cannot eat in peace, whilst being responsible for suffering and wickedness.

The people
United
Will never be
Defeated!

ADS Dinner Protest – image by Richard York, Rainbow Collective

As with previous years, ADS has managed to keep the guest list a tight-lipped secret, meaning as yet we are not clear on the exact politicians and representatives who attended, however, we were thrilled to successfully dissuade Clare Balding from being this year’s keynote speaker, to the dismay of a few attendees (see: #ClareFail on Twitter).

Other highlights of this year included the presence of young people from Woodcraft folk dressed as Grim Reapers, in-keeping with our ‘dining with death’ theme. We also riled up a few arms dealers on their cigarette breaks, who were insistent that actually they are ‘reasonable human beings’ working in ‘engineering’.

Our response?

Shame
Shame
Shame on you!

ADS Dinner Protest – image by Richard York, Rainbow Collective

Nothing much is certain in these uncertain times, but we can guarantee that so long as arms dealers dine in London annually, we’ll be right there challenging them, adding an awkward – if not bitter – taste to their banquet.

Blog post written by Siana – Training & Events Co-ordinator at Campaign Against Arms Trade

Want to see more images from our ADS dinner action last month? Check out the full album on Facebook by clicking here: ADS 2020 Album

ADS Dinner Action 2020

Highlight video of ADS dinner action outside Grosvenor House Hotel on Wednesday 22nd January 2020.Film by Richard York, Rainbow Collective

Posted by Campaign Against Arms Trade on Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Highlights video from ADS Dinner 2020 – filmed and edited by Richard York, Rainbow Collective
(You can also watch directly on Facebook by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/campaignagainstarmstrade/videos/219839609145624/ )

New CAAT report on Military Expenditure and Climate Change

The UK government spends about £46.6 billion a year on the military, according to figures provided by the UK to NATO, or 2.1% of GDP.

* Government investment for a greener and fairer economy, Cafod, FoE, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, Islamic Relief, the WI, RSPB, and WWF, Sepember 2019.

After several years of relative austerity, this military budget is now firmly on the rise, with a 10% real-terms increase since 2015, and more increases promised.

How much, in comparison, does the UK spend on preventing climate change? There are no official figures, but a recent report by an NGO coalition* estimated annual spending on “climate change and nature” to be £17 billion, which they called to increase to £42 billion.

“The first duty of government is the security of the nation and its people” – such clichés are frequently trotted out in Government military and security policy documents; but the “security” in question is almost always seen in terms of state security, centring on the military and other “hard” security tools (such as border control).

This militaristic outlook is not simply about defending the UK from military attack – a remote prospect as even the government admits – but about using armed force to attempt to solve a wide range of problems, be it terrorism or regional tensions and conflicts.

This approach has led to a series of disastrous military interventions that have made the problems they sought to address far worse. It also reflects the idea that military power is the key to the UK’s status in the world, with ministers seeing a global military presence at the core of “Global Britain” post-Brexit.

But “security” does not have to be seen in these terms. A focus on sustainable, human security would reinterpret the “first duty” of government in terms of ensuring the security of people in the UK – and, inseparably, of people around the world – from the threats they actually face, which are overwhelmingly not susceptible to military “solutions”.

Most importantly, by far the biggest and most urgent threat to people’s security, including in the UK, is climate change, which is already causing catastrophic damage and loss of life worldwide. Yet, while the government has accepted a target of reducing the UK’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 (which many see as too slow), it has not backed this up with the policies and resources needed to achieve it. The government’s own Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned this year that the UK is missing almost all its targets for carbon reduction.

The CCC estimates that achieving net zero by 2050 would require investment of between 1–2% of GDP per year. Yet this is seen as unrealistic by a government that sees 2% of GDP as the absolute minimum to be spent on the military, to meet NATO’s 2% target for its members – with ministers (backed by the arms industry and its supporters) calling for far higher spending. This represents a distorted set of priorities, fuelled by a distorted, militaristic view of security, which urgently needs to change. Right now, the first duty of every government should be tackling the climate crisis.

‘Fighting The Wrong Battles – How Obsession With Military Power Diverts Resources From The Climate Crisis’ is a new report by Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman. Read the full report

Shining a spotlight on arms trade corruption

The Attorney General’s office has been sitting on corruption charges in relation to arms deals with Saudi Arabia for nearly two years.

A new Attorney General (the government’s chief legal adviser) was appointed in February and her approval is necessary for the case to proceed. CAAT is calling on her to ensure the case moves forward. Add your voice.

Human rights campaigners protest against Farnborough International arms fair
Continue reading “Shining a spotlight on arms trade corruption”

Stop the Saudi arms shipments

This Wednesday the Saudi Arabian cargo ship Bahri Yanbu is due at Tilbury docks.

CAAT is concerned that this ship is carrying weapons destined for use by Saudi-led forces in the war on Yemen, where there is a serious risk they will be used in violations of international humanitarian law. We are also concerned that it may be collecting further UK-made military equipment while it is at Tilbury.

Protesting at Tilbury docks before the ship’s arrival
Continue reading “Stop the Saudi arms shipments”