Activists on trial for trying to stop the DSEI arms fair

This week activists are on trial for taking action against the DSEI arms fair last September.

Yesterday, three of the defendants presented their case. All of them spoke at length about why they felt their actions against DSEI were necessary in order to prevent greater crimes.

Activists with a 'Stop Arming Israel' banner and waving Palestinian flags stand on an armoured vehicle
Activists blockade an armoured vehicle from entering the Excel Centre

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Resisting police militarisation in the US

Two police officer in heavy riot hear and carrying guns

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris, David Cameron has announced plans to increase investment in counter-terrorism police and that thousands of troops are ready to patrol the streets if a similar attack took place in London. The lines between policing, the army and ‘security’ are becoming blurred and ‘counter-terrorism’ is being used to clampdown on civil liberties.

In the US, a coalition has been taking action against the militarisation of police and institutionalised racism by targeting a major arms fair: Urban Shield. Continue reading “Resisting police militarisation in the US”

After the Paris attacks: militarisation and the suppression of protest

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris, the French government has declared a national state of emergency; giving exceptional powers to security services and police. This is being used to suppress dissent and civil disobedience during the UN climate talks which started yesterday. Big events such as Christmas markets and football matches have been allowed to go ahead, but all protests and marches have been banned. Squats have been raided, activists have been placed under house arrest and have had possessions seized.

A line of police stand in front of an HGV lorry
Police clear the road of activists trying to stop military equipment from being delivered for the DSEI arms fair

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Stopping the War Business

This time last month we were taking action against one of the world’s biggest arms fairs in London. This week, we are in South Korea getting ready for the International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition. Many of the same arms companies and military delegations, including the UK government’s arms promotion’s unit, will be descending on Seoul for another major international arms fair.
Tara Tabassi gives a talk in front of a projected image of Urban Shielf weapons show
Tara Tabassi from War Resisters League talks about the militarisation of police in the US

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An uninvited guest at the arms dealers banquet

Last week, we were there to challenge arms dealers gathered in London for a £246/head ‘networking’ dinner, where they were wining and dining 40 MPs and 60 senior civil servants, with the BBC’s Jeremy Vine to entertain them with an after dinner speech.

After making their way past protesters at the door, the guests probably thought they could sit down and get on with the business of keeping military spending high and public subsidies for arms companies flowing. But there were a few surprises when the first speaker took the stage.
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Dictators shopping in Twickenham?

Twickenham residents don’t expect to see armoured vehicles – complete with gun turrets – on the streets of their town. But people in some countries are not so fortunate. For one week in January 2015, the Twickenham Rugby stadium has been playing host to an international conference on armoured vehicles. But protesters are asking the stadium chief executive not to hold arms trade events there in future.Twickenham campaigners protest at the Rugby stadium Continue reading “Dictators shopping in Twickenham?”

A distinguished address? Arms dealers speech targeted by activists

Activists in Bristol have been busy, and this October succeeded in chasing an chasing an arms fair out of their town. But it seems one arms event just wasn’t enough for Bristol’s arms dealers. The day after the protest at the arms fair in Cardiff, the CEO of QinetiQ was in Bristol speaking to students as part of the University of West England’s “Distinguished Address Series”. Luckily, Bristol Against Arms Trade were waiting, and activist Aly Vernon explains what happened next.IMG_1495

QinetiQ work mainly on military technology – they make weapons, guidance systems, military aircraft- but also branch out into surveillance & security technologies (including technologies considered for ID cards) and ‘energetic materials’ (i.e. explosives). QinetiQ make a mint supplying arms to the beheading-regime in Saudi Arabia and run the UK Drones test centre in Aberporth, West Wales, where they test the Israeli-developed drones that have killed hundreds in Gaza. Continue reading “A distinguished address? Arms dealers speech targeted by activists”

Bristol activists chase arms dealers out of town

Underneath it’s nondescript acronym, the DPRTE – or Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition – claims to be one of ‘the UK’s leading’ arms fairs. The event brings together a whole host of companies looking to find out what’s new in the world of warfare. In its own words, it ‘provides a unique promotional, educational and engagement platform’.

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Last year the DPRTE arms fair took place at the University of West of England (UWE) in Bristol. Bristol Against the Arms Trade and students from UWE were of course there to greet them. Major entrances to the campus and the conference building were picketed, traffic chaos across the north Bristol fringe ensued, exhibitors and visitors to the event were delayed, and lectures at the University were cancelled. Continue reading “Bristol activists chase arms dealers out of town”

Fuelling profit from conflict: NATO and the arms trade

Protesters take to the streets of Newport

When NATO defence ministers dine together aboard HMS Duncan later this week, arms companies will be rubbing their hands in glee as we, the public, continue to underwrite the cost of their promotion.

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Let’s talk about ‘legitimacy’, Science Museum

The Science Museum justified its plans to host a ‘welcome reception’ for arms dealers from Farnborough International by telling us that Farnborough International was a ‘legitimate organisation’.

So I went to Farnborough this week and saw what ‘legitimate’ looks like.

It was the most surreal and chilling day I have ever experienced. But for the arms dealers and military buyers attending, it was just business as usual.

I stood by the glossy stands of Israeli arms companies, promoting ‘battle-tested’ weaponry with slick videos of missile strikes and drone attacks, while outside, in the real world, the death toll in Gaza mounted.

Elbit stand at Farnborough 2014
Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems at Farnborough 2014.

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