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