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Arms Trade on Trial

Our friends at Arms Dealers on Trial have made this excellent and inspiring film about their attempts to hold arms dealers from the DSEI arms fair to account for the promotion of illegal torture weapons.

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Bath peace activists drive out drone conference

Peace activists in Bath protest against the proposed Drones conference

Peace activists in Bath protest against the proposed Drones conference

Monica Pearce of the Bath Stop War Coalition tells how Bath’s famous Assembly Rooms were booked for a conference on military drones, organised by Clarion Events, and how sustained protest forced them to back down.

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Top Gear not Top Gun

Ian Pocock journeys to the ExCel Centre to tell Top Gear fans about their favourite show’s links with the arms trade.

"Jeremy Clarkson" protests against the arms trade

"Jeremy Clarkson" protests against the arms trade

I joined members of London Campaign Against Arms Trade at a protest outside Clarion Events’ latest show, “Top Gear Live”, which took place this Saturday at the ExCeL Centre in London. Clarion Events own the DSEI arms fair while Top Gear is the BBC’s phenomenally successful motoring show.

Three of us had the dubious pleasure of donning masks of the three presenters of the show (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) but our visual presence did help us engage with the public on the issue of Clarion’s involvement in the arms trade. A number of passers-by were sympathetic to our cause and a couple were as vehemently opposed to the arms trade as London CAAT are. Read more »

DSEI: playground of the power elite

Brenda Heard of Friends of Lebanon on how arms fairs, such as DSEI, fuel conflict worldwide.

The images have become commonplace. Pick-up trucks laden with rocket launchers and machine guns.  Dusty men with their rifles, poised as so many Rambos. Billows of smoke that linger after the bomber has flown on to its next target. These are the images of contemporary conflict. Differences of socio-political opinion are settled by bloody confrontation.

True, violent conflict is as old as mankind itself. True, self-defence is a necessity, even a responsibility. But the business of war has become the norm rather than the exception. The significance of this development lies not merely in the multitude of violent and unnecessary deaths -but more so in our readily viewing this reality with a novel brand of bold nonchalance.

In business-speak for international arms dealing, DSEI -Defence & Security Equipment International—boasts that its biennial exhibition “provides a time-effective opportunity to meet the whole defence and security supply chain”. DSEI further promises that this year’s event will exceed attendance figures from 2009: 25,170 attendees; 1280 exhibitors; 98 countries; 70 official delegations; 27 national pavilions. Just have a look at its slick website offering  “infinite opportunities” to those who would jump on the weapons carousel.

A stall at DSEI advertising AK-47 assault rifles

A stall at DSEI 2009 advertising AK-47 assault rifles for sale

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London CAAT indulge their artistic side at Fine Art Fair

Ian Pocock writes about London CAAT’s demonstration at the International Fine Art & Antiques Fair.

CAAT Arms Trade Clarion Banner

Our fantastic banner brought us lots of attention

London CAAT members maintained the pressure on Clarion Events with a demonstration outside the International Fine Art & Antiques Fair at Kensington Olympia on Saturday 11 June. After being moved on by the over-zealous security guards, we took up a position outside the entrance to the tube station.

Our brand new banner ‘This Show is Brought to you by the Arms Trade’ gained a lot of attention and a number of passersby stopped to ask why we were there. Read more »

Kicking up a stink at the Baby Show

Anti-arms activists in Birmingham had a busy week protesting against Clarion Events’ Baby Show.

Clarion Events is the owner and organiser of several arms fairs, including the forthcoming Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London in September. Clarion sees no contradiction between organising consumer shows, like the Baby Show, and arms fairs.

Before the Baby Show opened, activists took their message to prospective customers of Mothercare, one of the principal sponsors of the Baby Show. On Monday 16 May and Friday 20 May, campaigners ran an information stall and leafleted outside Mothercare in central Birmingham. Many people turned away in disgust. Others went inside and asked the management why they were supporting arms dealers. Read more »

“It opened my eyes. I realised I had to do something.”

Modgala, a Buddhist nun working with the Amida Trust, speaks to Kat Hobbs of CAAT about taking action at the DSEI arms fair in 2001 and what action she will take at DSEI 2011.

Why take action?

Modgala at a festival

Modgala at a festival

“I’m in favour of direct action, as long as it doesn’t distress people. I don’t have any qualms about disabling the equipment – just when and where.”

While giving teachings in former Yugoslavia in 2003, Modgala experienced first hand the destruction that conflict brings. Prior to going to her first demonstration on 11 September 2001 she came across a photograph at a John Pilger exhibition: “a photo of an empty bed, where you could see the bloodstains underneath. It opened my eyes. I realised I had to do something.” Read more »

Blood bath and dead ducks at Spirit of Summer

Spirit of Summer fair - Blood bath

Spirit of Summer fair - Blood bath

A report on London Campaign Against Arms Trade action at the DSEI owner’s Spirit of Summer Fair.

London Campaign Against Arms Trade (London CAAT) members brought their own blood bath to the Spirit of Summer Fair to protest about the Clarion Events involvement in the DSEI arms fair. The blood bath was a paddling pool filled with bloody water and ducks representing some of the arms companies that frequent the arms fair. Animal lovers will be pleased to know that the ducks were plastic. Read more »

Arms trade campaigners target “Destinations”

Anti-arms fairs A report of London CAAT’s protest at the Clarion-owned Travel Show.

Members of London Campaign Against Arms Trade (London CAAT) descended on the Destinations: Holiday and Travel Show in Earls Court on  Saturday, 5 February, to protest about the organiser’s involvement in the arms trade. They are Clarion Events and they also own the notorious DSEI arms fair.

Luckily the threatening rain held off and we handed out a large number of leaflets. Some passers-by engaged with our message, particularly a Palestinian lady who expressed strong agreement with our stance. One of the speakers at the show, Ben Fogle, star of Castaway 2000 and Country Tracks, passed us on his way into the show but declined to take a leaflet.  He was one of the speakers CAAT wrote to prior to the event asking them to raise the issues of Clarion’s involvement in the arms trade with them.

Two members of London CAAT entered the show to talk to stallholders, focussing on the smaller exhibitors as they were more likely to be staffed by people who could have a say on their company’s presence at the fair. They were all interested in what we had to say but, unfortunately, there were no firm commitments to talk to Clarion.

We will continue to keep the pressure on Clarion. We will be at their next show, the Baby Show, on Sunday 20 February from 11am-1pm at the ExCel Centre (nearest tube Custom House DLR).

Want to know more: contact London CAAT at: londoncaat(at)riseup*net

Druid Cycles tells Excel – exhibit bikes, not arms

Druid Cycles against London arms fair - Excel Centre - January 2011

Druid Cycles against London arms fair - Excel Centre - January 2011

Druid Cycles is a bicycle repair community interest company (CIC) based in south London with a green approach, focusing on recycling and repair. They tell us why they feel so strongly about the forthcoming London arms fair, DSEI.

Our team consists mainly of people from former Soviet Block countries . Many of us did army service and some have been to Afghanistan or Chechnya.

I do not have to explain to you that those tours of duty cause long-term psychological damage; many are unable to deal with the trauma. I know many personal stories and many of us regret what has happened in the past. We were part of a machine, unable to resist and as brainwashed as many people today.

We  joined Critical Mass just three months ago, out of passion. We have known about protests in London, many years and have also taken part in them.

We have been given a free exhibition space by the show organiser at the Excel Centre and after reading messages from other mass riders, I remembered the Arms trade show.

Although we have been guests at the bike show, I thought we should also use this opportunity to educate others and express our honest opinion. We are an organisation working with bikes, cyclists and cycling organisations and we are in favor of bikes and not canons, tanks and land mines.

If we can assist again, it will be our pleasure and duty to peace.

The team of Druid Cycles