Organising to Stop DSEI: It Starts Here

‘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.”

Activist poet Amina Atiq sends a video message to attendees of It Starts Here.

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.

Activist poet Shareefa Energy opens It Starts Here.

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.

Public opinion is firmly against the arms trade

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.

Join the week of action against 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.

Protests against DSEI 2015 – Photo by Jess Hurd

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.

Continue reading “Join the week of action against DSEI”

Dancing to Disarm! Activists come together for a night of live music, DJs and dancing.

Over 22-23 July, CAAT organised a full weekend of workshops, speakers, training and performance to build resistance to the arms trade. On the Saturday evening, over 260 people attended Dance To Disarm: a night of live music, DJs and spoken word to raise funds for CAAT and build solidarity through music. Below, long-time CAAT supporter Alastair Binnie-Lubbock gives his reflections on the evening. 

Logic on stage wearing a Justice4Grenfell t-shirt
Logic on stage wearing a #Justice4Grenfell t-shirt and calling for people powered change

Continue reading “Dancing to Disarm! Activists come together for a night of live music, DJs and dancing.”

“It is up to each of us to stop the killing where it starts”: No retrial for Stop DSEI activists

In 2015, a group of eight activists were arrested while taking action against the DSEI arms fair, and later acquitted as a judge ruled they took action to prevent a greater crime. The Winter Oak reports on the CPS challenge to their acquittal- you can read a longer version of this article at winteroak.org.uk.

In a judgement handed down today (Friday July 14 2017), the High Court overturned the acquittal of eight anti-militarists for disrupting the setup of the DSEI arms fair in 2015. Nevertheless, it ruled that in the interests of justice, none of the activists would be re-tried or face costs.activists raise their fists behind a stop the arms fair banner Continue reading ““It is up to each of us to stop the killing where it starts”: No retrial for Stop DSEI activists”

Stop Arming Saudi activists call for further action

Quaker activist Sam Walton and Rev Daniel Woodhouse have pled ‘Not Guilty’ to criminal damage at their pre-trial hearing, and called for further action to Stop Arming Saudi. Sam Walton reports.

Back in January we broke into BAE System’s Warton Airbase to try and disarm warplanes they are selling to the Saudis. The Saudi are using those planes in their bombing campaign that is devastating Yemen. We had to take action to prevent crimes against humanity.sam walton and Rev Daniel Woodhouse outside the magistrates court Continue reading “Stop Arming Saudi activists call for further action”

Dancing To Disarm: in conversation with Awate

On July 22 & 23 you can join CAAT in London for It Starts Here, a weekend of speakers, workshops and training ready to challenge the DSEI arms fair in September. On the evening of 22 July,  Dance To Disarm will bring together spoken word, live music and DJ sets, to raise funds for CAAT’s work and celebrate our resistance to the arms fair.

Awate is a rapper, producer and activist who grew up on the Maiden Lane Estate in North London. A resident at Camden’s iconic Roundhouse venue, he has toured worldwide with Lowkey and gained vocal support from some huge names, including Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Idris Elba and Pharaohe Monche. Awate will be bringing his blend of soulful and politically conscious hip-hop to move and inspire us at Dance To Disarm: his music powerfully tackles subjects like identity, history, racism and pride over a forward thinking blend of soulful and psychedelic beats.

CAAT’s Tom Barns caught up with Awate to talk about why he opposes the arms trade and why he is looking forward to playing at our Dance To Disarm event this summer.

An photo of rapper Awate performing with the 'Dance To Disarm' logo overlaid
Awate – Photo: Jake Lewis – Design: Matt Bonner

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Dancing To Disarm: in conversation with Resis’Dance

A woman stands over DJ decks 'RESISTANCE' in text over the image

On July 22 & 23 you can join CAAT in London for It Starts Here, a weekend of speakers, workshops and training ready to challenge the DSEI arms fair in September. On the evening of 22 July, Dance to Disarm will bring together spoken word, live music and DJ sets, to raise funds for CAAT’s work and celebrate our resistance to the arms fair.

The Resis’Dance DJ collective are a diverse group of women who came together to rock the dancefloor whilst challenging gender norms in the party and political scene. We are excited to have them bringing their blend of soca, afrobeats, house and garage to Dance To Disarm.

CAAT’s Jess Poyner spoke to Phoebe from Resis’Dance to hear more about what they do.

A woman stands DJing 'RESISDANCE' is written over the image

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New Zealand activists shut down an arms fair!

This week activists in New Zealand were on the streets to target a weapons expo in Auckland, and arms dealers found themselves locked out of the venue by the blockades.

Continue reading “New Zealand activists shut down an arms fair!”