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. Continue reading “Top Gear not Top Gun”

Arrested at the arms fair!

Chris Cole under arrest at Custom House station
Chris under arrest at DSEI 2011

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.

Continue reading “Arrested at the arms fair!”

Beyond an Olympic truce

The UK government should go beyond the call for an Olympic truce and take steps to end the arms trade says Kaye Stearman.

It’s good to see the UK government leading the call for a worldwide truce during the 2012 London Olympics. UK diplomats worked overtime to sign up every UN member state to co-sponsor the truce resolution, including South Sudan, the UN’s newest member, and Kiribati, one of the most isolated.

Continue reading “Beyond an Olympic truce”

Action at the arms fair

Jamie Kelsey-Fry writes for New Internationalist on protest on the opening day of the London arms fair.

Protesters die-in before BAE HQ - London 13 September 2011
A ‘die-in’ outside the offices of BAE Systems. Photo by Jamie Kelsey-Fry.

There was a moment on Tuesday during the series of actions against the UK’s biennial Defence and Security Systems International (DSEI) exhibition, taking place from 13-16 September, that was so absurd it could have come straight out of a Monty Python sketch.

Anti-arms trade activists had discovered that a gala reception for delegates would be hosted at London’s National Gallery. After a ‘die-in’ (everyone lying around in the throes of mock-death) outside the nearby offices of BAE Systems, activists made their way to the entrances to the Gallery to provide their own reception as delegates arrived. Continue reading “Action at the arms fair”

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

Continue reading “DSEI: playground of the power elite”

How to shut down an arms fair

Kat Hobbs reports on how Australian peace activists shut down three successive arms fairs and why they should serve as an inspiration for activists who want to close DSEI 

Why would someone label peace activists “feral, low-life people that want society to be in a state of near anarchy for their own perverse pleasure?” These were the words of Kevin Foley, then Acting Premier of South Australia, in September 2008.  But it’s no wonder he was feeling bitter. Australian peace activists had just stopped a third arms fair from going ahead. An arms fair that Foley, who wanted to promote South Australia as the “Defence State”, had supported and spent government money on. Continue reading “How to shut down an arms fair”

Wild beasts and parliamentary action

Kaye Stearman asks: “Why do MPs care so passionately about animal rights while failing to tackle issues like the arms trade?”

One night in June as I was drifting off to sleep, I was galvanised by the passionate debate being played out on the normally soporific Today in Parliament on Radio 4. The programme is noted for its erudition in the explanation of arcane bills and ministerial soundbites but to hear genuine anger and passionate advocacy is rare.

Tiger jumping through hoop

Even more surprising was that the debate was led by backbenchers and cut across partly lines. Who, I wondered, were these MPs and what was their cause. Surely it must involve an issue such as violation of human rights, poverty, famine, war or the arms trade.

Alas, it was none of these. To be fair, it did involve the rights of living beings – in this case wild animals. MPs united in support of a law that would ban lions, tigers and other wild animals from circus shows in the UK. The government had tried to impose a three-line whip, backbenchers had refused to knuckle under and a heartfelt debate on the wrongs of animal mistreatment ensued. Continue reading “Wild beasts and parliamentary action”

Something for the Weekend: Disarming DSEI

On Sunday 12th June, the “Get Ready for the Arms Fair” planning event took place. Campaigner and blogger Kirsten Bayes took part and had this to say about it…

I spent the day with some of the most amazing people I have ever met (present company excepted, of course).

They were gathered together to work out what to do about about the world’s largest Defence and Security Equipment exhibition, taking place in London 13-16 September.

DSEI is a particularly poisonous event. It has a history of Governmental-invites to representatives from dreadful regimes, of drawing on massive public subsidy, and of using British servicemen to demonstrate tanks, guns, ships to international arms dealers. This in support of multi-billion corporate profits. Continue reading “Something for the Weekend: Disarming DSEI”

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. Continue reading “London CAAT indulge their artistic side at Fine Art Fair”

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. Continue reading “Kicking up a stink at the Baby Show”