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
“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 »
Clarion's ideal of "The Spirit of Christmas"
Dan Viesnik explains why CAAT supporters dress up for the Spirit of Christmas and the message they are bringing to visitors. Photo by Ian MacKinnon.
Members of London Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF), the London Catholic Worker and Trident Ploughshares met vistors outside the Spirit of Christmas Fair at London’s Olympia, on 7 November 2009.
This was the second year running they had descended upon this area of west London. Why? Was it to spread Christmas cheer among prospective visitors?
Hardly. Rather, they were there to alert visitors to the fact that the organisers, Clarion Events, are the owners of five international arms and security fairs, including one of the world’s biggest, the euphemistically titled Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI), held biennially in London’s Docklands. DSEI 2009 took place in September, attracting both hordes of arms dealers and much publicity.
Read more »
The Prime Minister’s statement of 25th July that the Defence Export Services Organisation, based in Bloomsbury, will be shut by the end of the year is a great success for the peace movement in general and Campaign Against Arms Trade in particular. CAAT’s Shut DESO campaign, which included encircling the building with a human chain in October 2006, culminated with the handing in of a petition calling for DESO’s closure with over 10,000 signatures to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury.
I had signed that petition and got involved with the Shut DESO campaign because it was so obvious how wrong it was to have 500 civil servants in the heart of the government working for the interests of the arms trade. Read more »
The beginning of CAAT’s designated “Stop the Arms Trade Week”, 2nd June, coincided with activities organised under “The World Can’t Wait” banner and London CAAT produced a small leaflet to tie in issues of poverty, lack of development and the more than £1118 billion spent annually on arms, which puts into pathetic perspective the amounts the G8 promises and does not deliver to the world’s poorest countries.
A few of us headed down to Archbishop’s Park by Lambeth Palace and later to the banks of the Thames, to offer our support to the idea of “waking up the G8”. Dressed in white and packing alarm clocks, bells, horns and drums, the protesters were up for it. At 2:00, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, the banks between them and even boats on the river resounded with unheeded wake-up calls.
Read more »
Congratulations and celebrations are in order! Intense campaigning from the CAAT team, combined with support from medical professionals, academics and high-profile authors has led to Reed Elsevier discontinuing their involvement with arms shows!
Given time and support CAAT and friends have convinced Reed Elsevier that involvement with the arms trade is immoral and, like an infuriating member of the Big Brother house, unwanted. A big well done.
Apologies if this info comes a bit late but here it is anyway:
Richard Smith, chief executive of United Health Europe has blogged about his experience inside the Reed Elsevier AGM and about what he calls a “gentle mornings protesting”.
Read the blog entry here
For those who are new here: Reed Elsevier is a global publishing company, which runs arms fairs on the side. We protested outside their AGM two weeks ago.
Read more about the campaign
I am from Cornwall and doing two weeks work experience with CAAT as part of my degree course in journalism. Its only my second day at CAAT but so far its been very exciting being in London. Yesterday we held a protest outside the AGM meeting of Reed Elsevier who run arms fairs as a subsidiary business.
Some of the CAAT team went into the meeting as shareholders and asked questions to the board asking them to justify their involvement with the arms trade, especially in the face of their links to healthcare and the loss of their rating as an ethical company to invest in. They also asked questions about the invitation to arms fairs given to human rights abusers and suspects of genocide.
Read more »
Isabel and I went to the Synergy Project last night. It was great fun! We took my friend Larissa from Ukraine along who is visiting at the moment. She said she had never seen so many alternative-looking people in one place. At the moment she is still in bed recovering from sub-culture shock :).
We set up the CAAT stall quite nicely. Here it is:
People were really chilled and friendly and it was great chatting to them about CAAT’s work. We handed out flyers about our BAE Systems AGM protest on 9 May and about the Reed Elsevier campaign (this is the publishing house which besides academic publishing likes to run arms fairs). Our FREE CAAT badges were really popular with people.
I loved the atmosphere and the conversations. One nice guy told me he’s just been to see Landscape with Weapon at the NT and apparently it’s great. So I thought I’d share this with you.
The rest of the night was dancing…