The organisers of the DPRTE arms fair made the decision to move their event to the ‘high security’ Farnborough International Ltd. so that they could go about their ghastly business unimpeded. On the 28th March, we set about making sure that those in attendance received the iciest reception Rushmoor had to offer.
Owen from Greater Rushmoor Against War speaks out about the arms fair happening right on their doorstep- and tells you how you can support the campaign and the Day of Action on March 28th.
If you wanted evidence of just how effective sustained protest against the arms trade can be, look no further than the campaign run by Birmingham Stop the Arms Fair. With the promise of a day of creative action à la prior protests in Cardiff and Bristol, Birmingham NEC were pressured into stating that it was ‘more appropriate for DPRTE to be hosted at a more self-contained venue.’ The fact that this arms fair cannot be held in public space anymore is testimony to the general antipathy the general public holds for this amoral trade. It is for this reason that DPRTE 2019 now finds itself behind the chainlink fence of the ‘high security’ Farnborough Exposition and Conference Centre.
‘It Starts Here’ was an amazing weekend of organising and skill sharing. Thank you to everyone who was there to kick off plans to protest the DSEI arms fair in September.
If you missed it, you can watch It Starts Here online
We were joined by incredible activists from all around the UK, as well as our allies around the world, who sent inspiring messages of solidarity. Our thoughts were grounded from the start in the resistance of those at the sharp end of the global arms trade, with messages from Yemeni activists like Ahmed Jahaf of Sana’a, “We know we are not forgotten because of you. Maybe you are few but you are a lot to us.”
Amina Atiq, Liverpudlian Yemeni poet spoke to us ahead of a journey to Egypt, where her Yemeni family have fled. She said, “These wounds take years to heal, some never heal. If everyone does a small thing we can bring change, and we will bring change.”
As well as hearing voices of resistance from conflict-affected countries, we were inspired by the solidarity of our friends protesting arms fairs around the world, like Peace Action Wellington, New Zealand, who said they were inspired by the diversity of UK activists’ tactics. “It’s amazing to feel connected to a global movement. Kia kaha! It means ‘stay strong’ in Máori.”
World Without War activists in South Korea told us how protests to stop the DSEI arms fair inspired their own resistance to stop the ADEX arms fair in Seoul. “The arms industry is so big it can feel impossible to bring them down. It feels like they are everywhere, and they are. But so is our resistance! We hope one day our work will inspire others in other parts of the world.”
Arms trade: rooted in many struggles for justice
Our fight to stop the DSEI arms fair is inextricably linked with other intersecting struggles for justice – struggles that It Starts Here called to put front and centre of our action in 2019. The day began with discussions on issues including anti-racism and the increasing militarisation of the UK’s borders. Listen again.
West London-born poet and activist Shareefa Energy reminded attendees of the structural violence inflicted on people of colour and the working class in the UK, seen in how Grenfell residents on our doorstep continue to be treated, to how imagery of people of colour is used in media and NGO coverage of conflict in the global south.
“There’s a conversation we need to have. Why are people from ethnic minorities dehumanised? Would you ever see English people on a newspaper dead? We need to have these conversations. Until we talk about racism and structural violence, we won’t understand why these issues are going on.”
Sarah Reader of Agir Pour La Paix in Brussels, co-founder of Stop The Arms Fair reminded us of how far we have come and what we’ve built together: “It’s amazing to see so many people in the room 6 months before DSEI. 8 years ago there were 8 of us in a room!”
On the ‘Anti-racism, migrant solidarity and the arms trade’ panel, Sanaz from ‘Unis Resist Border Controls’ spoke about the links to arms trade and university funding and research. “Many universities invest in arms companies like BAE Systems, G4S. We need to stop this hypocrisy. [We] demand to end investment in the arms trade, in the private firms that fund the violence that creates refugees.”
Geraldine spoke from the All African Women’s Group, a group of refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. “Instead of reaching safety,” she said, “We face detention, deportation, and destitution. But we are part of the growing movement calling for justice.”
Chrissie from Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike reminded us that “Many of the people suffering because of the arms trade are black and brown people. The EU response has not been to support people seeking safety, but to stop migration to Europe at all costs.” Also representing the Crossroads Women’s Centre, Chrissie spoke about the importance of gender: “80% of refugees worldwide are women. We bear the brunt of war. We are the ones that pick up the pieces. But we are not victims, we are protagonists in our struggle, wherever we are.”
DSEI: Let’s stop it here
The DSEI arms fair is where we can stop arms deals before they start. The last DSEI in 2017 saw the most widespread protests, media coverage and parliamentary interest in the arms fair since the Iraq War. A huge range of groups took action, from queer and environmental activists to academics and faith groups. Over six days, the set up of the fair was disrupted by a huge array of creative and fun actions. Will you help make 2019 even bigger?
We can stop them
Activists have now successfully chased the arms fairs out of Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham. After the threat of action by Birmingham Stop the Arms Fair, organisers moved the DTPRE arms fair to behind security fences at Farnborough military base. And last year protests outside the Undersea Defence Technology arms fair in Glasgow persuaded Glasgow City Council to promise it would never host an arms fair again. If enough people disrupt the set-up of DSEI in 2019, we can stop the arms fair.
Take action to Stop DSEI 2019
Join the next Stop the Arms Fair gathering in London on the 30th March and find out how you can help stop DSEI.
Fantastic news just in: campaigners have chased an arms fair out of their city – again!
The DPRTE arms fair was moved to Birmingham after energetic protest and objections from locals drove it out of Cardiff …
… Now the threat of protest in Birmingham has forced the event to move before it even opens!Continue reading “Success! Arms fair chased out of Birmingham!”
On Saturday the 21 July 2018, a small group of activists for Stop The Arms Fair met outside the Farnborough International Airshow to participate in a peaceful family friendly action. The Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) hosted arms deals during the week of the 16-20 July. On the weekend, it held a public “family friendly” weekend, to whitewash its deadly trade show. Stop The Arms Fair had a thought-provoking message for the public and families attending this event.
The Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) arms fair took place at SEC Glasgow at the end of June. It was met by a large, boisterous protest, which made it very clear that weapons trading should not be happening in Glasgow, or anywhere! As a result, Glasgow Council took the decision to no longer support arms fairs.
When campaigners in Malvern in Worcestershire found out that a “Defence and Security Expo”, called “3CDSE” was coming to the Showground venue in their town in May, they knew what to do!
Rowland Dye discusses the protests vs. the DPRTE arms fair at the end of March. Campaigners from Stop Cardiff Arms Fair, Bristol Against Arms Trade, Cardiff Animal Rights, and others from across the country made it clear that arms dealers are not welcome in Cardiff!
This September, thousands of people took part in two weeks of effective action against the DSEI arms fair, but we were acting for millions more across the UK. One thing we always have to remember is that public opinion is firmly on our side and that the overwhelming majority of people across the country are appalled by events like DSEI.
Next week will see a major week of blockades and actions against the DSEI arms fair while it sets up at the Excel Centre in East London.
For four days in September 2017, the international weapons industry plans to set up shop in London at a huge arms fair, DSEI. The weapons sold here fuel the death, destruction and injustice perpetrated by militaries, police forces and at borders around the world.
In 2015, hundreds of people took part in a huge week of action to stop the set up of the arms fair – the biggest-ever protests against DSEI. For six days we blocked entrances, disrupting the set-up of the fair. This year the protests will be even bigger.