Why we think it’s important to be at the factory gates

Campaigners in Wales hold an annual vigil at their local BAE Systems factory as well

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.

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A day at Farnborough arms fair

Eurofighter displayOn Monday 9 July, Betsy Barkas visited Farnborough International arms fair: a major event on the arms fair calendar. It takes place every other year, alternating with the DSEI arms fair in London. This year, Farnborough ran from 9-15 July.

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A night at the museum

The Natural History Museum is not the most obvious place to have an anti-arms trade protest – but then again it’s not the most obvious place to have the official welcome reception for an arms fair either. Yet it was under ‘Dippy’, the Museum’s famous diplodocus, that delegates from Farnborough International were to be found nibbling canapes and ‘networking’ on the evening of Monday 9 July.

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Bath peace activists drive out drone conference

Peace activists in Bath protest against the proposed Drones conference
Peace activists in Bath protest against the proposed Drones conference

Monica Pearce of the Bath Stop War Coalition tells how Bath’s famous Assembly Rooms were booked for a conference on military drones, organised by Clarion Events, and how sustained protest forced them to back down.

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Will the Natural History Museum host Syria’s arms suppliers?

A sad-looking monkey says "Arms dealers in the Natural History Museum? How could they do such a thing?"I never thought I’d be asking such a question of an institution that has inspired me since my childhood.

Yet here we are: the Natural History Museum has confirmed it will host the official welcome reception for Farnborough International on 9 July. As arms dealers gather to toast their first day of business, will executives from Rosoboronexport, the primary weapons supplier to the Assad regime, be among them?

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London candidates challenged on the arms fair

Every two years London hosts one of the largest arms fairs in the world. Two mayoral candidates have spoken out against the fair, and hundreds of emails were sent to others. Here, London CAAT member Jessie describes putting questions about the arms fair at a hustings.

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…’!

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Should the London Mayor support the arms fair?

London Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson
What does Boris think about London's arms fair?

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!

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An exciting year ahead for London CAAT

The London CAAT group looks ahead to a busy year of protesting.

Members of London CAAT protesting outside the Spirit of Summer FairWho 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!

Coming up
Global Day of Action on Military Spending – 17 April

In April, London CAAT will be gearing up to take part in the second annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

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Power and Counterpower

Tim Gee writes on the strength within protest – our Counterpower

Anti-arms protesters outside parliament on DSEI Day of Action - 13 September 2011
Anti-arms protesters outside parliament on DSEI Day of Action – 13 September 2011 (credit CAAT)

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.

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Taxpayers’ money wasted as DSEI-related trial adjourned till May

Supporters at Chris Coles' court case - 16 January 2012
Supporters at Westminister Magistrates Court

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.

Fellow anti-arms trade activist Kirsten Bayes said:

“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.”

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