Clarion call from “The Spirit of Christmas”

DSCN5631 by Ian MacKinnon
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.
Continue reading “Clarion call from “The Spirit of Christmas””

DSEI video blog

On the 8 September the DSEI arms fair opened in East London.  I spent the day meandering around CAAT’s demonstration outside the offices of UKTI DSO talking to all and sundry.

I wanted to see the range of reasons why such a large group of people had gathered to fight actions our government deems to be legal. The range of passionate and articulate responses are collected in the video blog below, and stand as a testament to those who wish to stop British companies from profiting through war. They will surely rank with those who have fought such accepted abberations as the slave trade in the past.

It was a great day to feel part of such a positive movement for change, and I would encourage all who are inspired by the film to become an active part of CAAT in the future.

The Quinnie and I (and a few friends)

CAAT’s Media Coordinator Kaye Stearman writes:

I lay unmoving on the walkway above Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery. Through my half-closed eyes, I could see passers-by stopping to look at me, some taking photos. My knees stiffened and my back arched on the still damp ground yet I felt strangely content. Why? Well, I was taking part in a public art event and simultaneously protesting against the London arms fair. How good is that?

The main focus of attention was on the Fourth Plinth of the square, scene of the One & Other project, brainchild of artist Antony Gomley. Members of the public, drawn by lot, could use their hour on the plinth as “living sculptures” to do what ever they liked – as long as it was legal.

A wonderful lady in Leeds called Quinnie had got in touch with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) the previous month to say that she had been drawn to appear on the plinth and wanted to dedicate her hour to protest against the London arms fair – Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEI). Continue reading “The Quinnie and I (and a few friends)”

How I found out who is funding the arms trade – and what I did about it!

Bexie21 describes her experience at Clarion Events Baby Show

This is a blog about how I found out that BabyCentre were indirectly funding the arms trade – and perhaps more importantly, what I did about it.

I was browsing BabyCentre, when i came across a thread on DC Lite. I like DC Lite, because it is full of all different types of thread, some funny, some challenging, generally though, it makes you think!!

BlueHouser had written a thread on BabyCentre’s Involvement with the Baby Show – Well that’s quite normal, I thought, a baby website, involved with a baby show, for parents and expectants, sounds good! I was going! Bought my tickets already, and was looking forward to spending my hard earned dosh on lovely things for my little sproggy! Things for him, things for me, Wahey!!

The Baby show was run by Clarion Events. Hmm. No worries there.

Clarion Events also run Arms fairs. If you’re anything like me, you thought, what the Scooby Doo is a bloody arms fair? Introducing Google, My good friend!, I found the website of CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) and wow….

I got it: Clarion run baby shows. Clarion also run arms fairs, where weapons are sold. Weapons that maim and kill familes and children and mothers and expectants. Continue reading “How I found out who is funding the arms trade – and what I did about it!”

Throw the book at BAE – CAAT at the BAE AGM 2009

The BAE AGM is one of the constants of the CAAT calendar. Every May we mobilise our supporters to line up to ask the sort of questions the BAE Board definitely do not want to answer. 2009 was no exception.

This year we decided to focus on what happens inside the AGM, rather than outside. Even so, the day started with a small group of CAAT supporters holding posters highlighting BAE’s rising profits and ethical record. As usual, the area outside the giant Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centree was heavily policed and we were confined to a small holding pen, made even more frustrating by the narrowed pavements and extra barriers thrown up by roadworks. Hopefully, the Korean tourists and French schoolchildren who passed by understood at least some of our message.

At least you can see our messages in our photos. Although BAE faithfully recorded the entire AGM on film, shareholders cannot use recording equipment inside the meeting.

We were faced with the usual bland setting. The BAE Board – all male, almost all white – sat on the rostrum. Most stayed mute, letting Chairman Dick Olver dominate the meeting. Apart from a report from Chief Executive Ian King, and a few short replies from others, it was Olver all the way. Continue reading “Throw the book at BAE – CAAT at the BAE AGM 2009”

BABY SHOW

baby-show-1-march-2009-001baby-show-1-march-2009-009

London CAAT members descended on the Excel Centre on the weekend of the 27th February as Clarion Events, owners of the DSEI arms fair, were holding a Baby Show there. Two hours of leafleting took place on the Friday and there was a musical protest by East London Against the Arms Fair on the Saturday. But the main London CAAT action was on the Sunday, when a particularly angry baby turned up laden with missiles, guns and a globe which he proceeded to destroy with the aforementioned items. Some passers-by and even exhibitors were drawn towards this strange sight and gladly took leaflets and/or signed the petition we had. There was a preview article by the local website Wharf, which can be found here (www.wharf.co.uk/2009/02/first-it-was-nuclear-santa-now.html) and they also sent down a photographer to cover the action. Photos can be seen at www.flickr.com/photos/londoncaat

Diary of an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile

The reason why I have not been blogging for ages is simple:

I haven’t been around. Here are a few lines on the difficulties of being an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile:

Three months ago I left London for a research trip to Ukraine and that’s when things really started to get going:

Two days before my departure University College London, my university we had so desperately tried to persuade to ditch its shares in arms companies, quite unexpectedly announced that it wants to develop an ethical investment policy.

What an incredible campaigning victory!

Continue reading “Diary of an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile”

DESO down, DSEI to go

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.

Ouside DESO

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. Continue reading “DESO down, DSEI to go”

Stop the Arms Trade Week

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.
Continue reading “Stop the Arms Trade Week”

Reed Elsevier rejects Arms Trade!

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.