On this day, two years ago, a group of Bahraini citizens gathered at the “Pearl Roundabout” to call for democratic freedoms and equal rights for the majority Shia population. They were part of the “Arab Spring”, the wave of protests that swept the region in 2011.
The ruling regime responded with violence. Peaceful protesters were met with bullets and teargas. Some of the weapons used by the police and military came from the UK.
DSEI, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs, is scheduled to return to London’s docklands in September 2013. One year before it plans to open its doors, Stop the Arms Fair pledges to resist the arms fair and is calling for a massive day of action on 10 September 2013 if the fair goes ahead.
For fifteen years, a dedicated group of campaigners have kept a monthly presence outside the gates of their local arms factory – BAE Warton in Lancashire. In the run up to September’s month of action against the arms trade on our doorstep, Jan Harper spoke to us about what inspires them to action.
The hustings I attended on Thursday 26th April had almost more organisers than members of the public, so it was easy to raise my question about what the candidates can do to end the arms fair in London. In fact the candidates seemed to be grateful to have something not scripted to talk about!
The panel consisted of three GLA candidates who also spoke for their parties’ mayoral candidate, plus Steven Norris, whose support for Boris consisted of an after dinner speech which he began with ‘I won’t bother telling you Boris’ policies…’!
CAAT activist Jessie has been focusing on the London Mayoral & GLA elections, May 3rd 2012.
With Mayoral & GLA elections coming, we need to know what the candidates think about hosting a major, bi-annual arms fair in London. The arms trade does not appear in their manifestos, so we had to contact them directly to get their views. Between the London CAAT group, the central CAAT office, and with me collating information, we have contacted all four major mayoral candidates.
We have heard back from three already, so the pressure is on! Two have come out against it, one has said the organisers should at least cover policing costs, not the taxpayer. This is a good start!
The London CAAT group looks ahead to a busy year of protesting.
Who we are
London CAAT is a friendly group, made up of both new and more seasoned campaigners, who are committed to making a difference in London, the global hub of the arms trade. We’re an active bunch and there’s plenty to get involved with!
Global Day of Action on Military Spending – 17 April
Tim Gee writes on the strength within protest – our Counterpower
I started my life as a campaigner because I was horrified at the arms trade. As a teenager I joined the minibuses to London to join the DSEI protests. At university I helped organise against BAE Systems on campus and even got rid of them, for a year at least.
Since then I’ve spent every moment I can campaigning against climate change and cuts, for human rights in Burma, with travellers at Dale Farm and so on. But a couple of years ago I decided to take a bit of time out to read up on the campaigns that constitute our heritage to try and get closer to understanding why some campaigns seem to be so successful while others go awry.
Anti-arms trade campaigner Chris Cole arrived at Westminister Magistrates Court ahead of time to defend himself against a charge of criminal damage outside the DSEI arms fair. He was accompanied by supporters who held a small demonstration outside the court.
“It is important to support Chris as he was trying to stop an arms fair that sells weapons to countries with dubious human rights records. Government support for the arms trade is disgusting and yet they support people trying to overthrow repressive regimes: they can’t have it both ways.”
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. Continue reading “Top Gear not Top Gun”
On Tuesday September 13th, Kirk Jackson and Chris Cole were arrested for taking part in demonstrations against the world’s largest arms fair – DSEI, which takes place every two years at the ExCeL exhibition centre in East London. In this article, Kirk and Chris talk about their actions, their arrests and what happens next.