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

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. Continue reading “Blood bath and dead ducks at Spirit of Summer”

The day I went to Downing Street…

CAAT petitioners in Downing Street, 9 March 2011
CAAT petitioners in Downing Street, 9 March 2011

Rhiannon Rees wrtes of her experiences as a member of a CAAT delegation presenting an anti-arms trade petition at the office of the Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, 9 March, I went with Anne-Marie, Henry and Sarah from the CAAT office, and Azeldin El-Sharif, of the British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign, to present CAAT’s ‘This is not OK’ petition at 10 Downing Street.

Nearly 4,000 people had signed the petition and posted their comments to tell the Government that selling tear gas, firearms and crowd control ammunition to Bahrain and Libya, promoting arms exports to corrupt and repressive regimes and holding one of the world’s largest arms fairs in London next September are NOT OK. Continue reading “The day I went to Downing Street…”

Careers in the arms trade – there are ethical alternatives

Abi Haque on CAAT’s first-ever alternative careers event.

Alternative Careers Event, University of York, 10 February 2011Our excitement about holding the first ever Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) alternative careers event was well rewarded. The event at the University of York on the evening of 10 February saw a fantastic turn-out of over 60 students. In fact, the room was so crowded we ran out of seats and some people ended up sitting on the floor, so keen they were to participate. Continue reading “Careers in the arms trade – there are ethical alternatives”

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

Green sees red over arms sales

Why did Lord Green take the Trade Minister post when he clearly had problems with the ethics of arms sales? Kaye Stearman ruminates on ethics, religion and arms sales.

What started out green, then rapidly turned yellow, white and red?. No, it’s not a chameleon. It’s the new UK Trade Minister. Why? Well, he is called Green, quickly turned yellow, waved the white flag of surrender, and then grew red with embarassment – as did the government. 

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint takes his seat in the House of Lords
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint takes his seat in the House of Lords

This is the background to the riddle. For months the Coalition government had been seeking a Trade Minister, someone with gravitas and international contacts,  to act as a public face of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). They thought that they had hit the jackpot with Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint – after all he is a newly appointed Tory Lord just stepping down from the Chairmanship of banking giant HBSC and an ordained Church of England priest. What’s not to like?

Lord Green’s dilemma

Unfortunately Lord Green is reputed not to like weapons companies, so much so that he decided that HBSC would no longer provide financial services to those companies who manufactured arms such as landmines, cluster bombs and combat aircraft. However, according to the Telegraph of 7 January, “the bank retains BAE Systems as a client and its senior non-executive director, Sir Simon Robertson, is chairman of Rolls-Royce”,  so clearly the adversion to arms goes only so far. Continue reading “Green sees red over arms sales”

Santa and his elves protest against DSEI arms fair owners

Santa and elves assemble outside Olympia
Santa and elves assemble outside Olympia

Santa and his elves turned up at Kensington Olympia on Sunday 7 November to protest about the Spirit of Christmas being corrupted by the owners of the DSEI arms fair. The Spirit of Christmas Fair was taking place and the organisers of this event, Clarion Events, saw no contradiction between holding an exhibition for the gift trade and organising the world largest arms fair. Continue reading “Santa and his elves protest against DSEI arms fair owners”

Farnborough: an arms fair operating alongside a civil aerospace exhibition, obscured by an airshow

Ian Prichard, CAAT’s Research Co-ordinator, describes his day at Farnborough 2010: an arms fair operating alongside a civil aerospace exhibition, all obscured by an airshow.

Finmeccanica's squashed golfball

10.00am – Arrived at Farnborough. My first view is of the vast Finmeccanica exhibition – several buildings including something akin to a squashed-golfball, and plenty of outside space. Helicopters were everywhere, with the odd Eurofighter and drone. Amongst its many business dealings it currently supplies the authoritarian Algerian regime to meet both “battlefield and internal security requirements”, and supplies Turkey with attack helicopters to fight separatist Kurds.

What BAE brings to an airshow
Continue reading “Farnborough: an arms fair operating alongside a civil aerospace exhibition, obscured by an airshow”

Looking back with CAAT

At the start of 2010, Kaye Stearman looks back on events of the past year and what was achieved.

8 November 2008 – CAAT’s National Gathering at Conway Hall in central London sees the launch of the new “Armed & Dangerous” campaign to focus on the support given to arms exports by United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).

Kingsgate House Demo, 24 November
Kingsgate House Demo, 24 November

24 November  – CAAT holds its first demonstration outside UKTI DSO headquarters at Kingsgate House, Victoria Street, Westminster. Is it right for civil servants to act as arms dealers?

27 December onwards – Israel launches an armed attack on Gaza which continues for three weeks. CAAT highlights how British weapons and components are deployed and calls for a complete ban on British arms exports to Israel. Continue reading “Looking back with CAAT”