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.

Continue reading “Fuelling profit from conflict: NATO and the arms trade”

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.

Continue reading “Let’s talk about ‘legitimacy’, Science Museum”

Arms dealers out of Church House!

Here’s the latest update from CAAT’s Christian Network.

Arms dealers at Church House: never again

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This month, in the space of three weeks there will have been two conferences sponsored by some of the world’s largest arms companies at Church House, which also houses the administrative headquarters of the Church of England.

The Church House conference centre is run by a charity, whose president is the Archbishop of Canterbury and whose council includes “representatives of national church institutions”.

Hosting such events supports and legitimises the arms industry and the terrible destruction it causes. It helps sustain the status quo of huge military spending, at the cost of addressing real human needs.

Please take action now:

  • Sign our online letter to Archbishop Justin Welby asking him to ensure that Church House conference centre never again hosts such events.
  • Take part in a Silent Vigil as the arms trade conference commences tomorrow, Wednesday 9 July: meet at 10.45am outside Methodist Central Hall.

Continue reading “Arms dealers out of Church House!”

Gatecrashing an arms dealer’s dinner

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Activists joined arms dealers and security men for a black tie dinner at the London Hilton Hotel 

After last year’s fun and games, we didn’t expect to be welcomed into the annual ADS dinner at the London Hilton. Tickets cost over £200, and the guest list included Vince Cable, several MPs and bigwigs from all the UK’s largest arms companies. But even for an arms dealer’s dinner, the reception we got was quite surreal.

Even before the event, there was controversy. The BBC political editor Nick Robinson pulled out of giving the after dinner speech after a complaint from CAAT. And as the arms dealers arrived at the Hilton on the night, there was a lively crowd of protesters outside waving banners and chanting. Continue reading “Gatecrashing an arms dealer’s dinner”

Nick Robinson at an arms dealers’ dinner

Update, 27 Jan 2014: Success!

Following formal complaints from CAAT, the BBC has said that its political editor, Nick Robinson, will no longer be speaking at the ADS dinner. CAAT is pleased that he has withdrawn but disappointed that the BBC has not recognised the obvious conflict between its reputation and values and those of the arms trade. CAAT urges the BBC to take steps to ensure its reputation cannot be co-opted in this way in the future.

Campaigners will be protesting outside the dinner at the London Hilton on Park Lane from 6.30pm on Tuesday 28th January.

Read on for more about the dinner and why it matters…

Nick Robinson speaks to camera
Image by tompage/flickr
The BBC’s political editor is endorsing arms dealers.

On 28 January, arms dealers will dine in London. The BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, is booked to entertain them.

Dining with death

Representatives of the UK’s largest weapons manufacturers will attend the “prestigious black tie event,” at the Hilton hotel in Park Lane.

They will include senior staff from BAE Systems, proud to arm some of the world’s most repressive regimes, and Finmeccanica, currently being investigated for corruption in India.

Continue reading “Nick Robinson at an arms dealers’ dinner”

Arms Companies Not Welcome at UWE

A protester sits on top of a closed gate to UWE with a "Bristol Against the Arms Trade" poster
Arms dealers access to the site was somewhat impeded by the protest

Companies attending Wednesday’s ‘Defence, Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportation’ event were greeted by queues trailing back along the A4174 as protesters blocked the UWE North Entrance. One gate was eventually locked and attendees forced to use other entrances.

Later, as they approached the building, attendees were accompanied to the door of UWE’s Exhibition and Conference Centre by protesters letting them know who would be attending the event; the likes of Raytheon (bombs in Iraq, missiles in Gaza), Babcock (nuclear submarines), Chemring (teargas used in the Arab Spring) and our good friends BAE Systems.
Continue reading “Arms Companies Not Welcome at UWE”

Sending arms dealers to the Tower?

Have arms dealers realised the error of their ways and sent themselves to the Tower of London in penance? Sadly it seems not.

tower of london eventInstead the Tower is to host “one of the most prominent events in the defence and security calendar”: a lavish £200-a-head dinner, organised by the London Chamber of Commerce (LCC).

Continue reading “Sending arms dealers to the Tower?”