The Three Counties Defence and Security Arms fair in Malvern in July hosted some of the world’s biggest manufacturers of weaponry, including BAE Systems and Thales. This is business at a massive cost – a human, environmental, and social disaster. But local activists were there to challenge it.
In just 6 weeks’ time, arms companies from around the world will be setting up at the Excel Centre in East London for ‘DSEI’, one of the biggest arms fairs in the world, made possible by the political and financial backing of the UK government. We will be there to resist.Continue reading “Countdown to the DSEI arms fair week of action”
‘It Starts Here’ was an amazing weekend of organising and skill sharing. Thank you to everyone who was there to kick off plans to protest the DSEI arms fair in September.
If you missed it, you can watch It Starts Here online
We were joined by incredible activists from all around the UK, as well as our allies around the world, who sent inspiring messages of solidarity. Our thoughts were grounded from the start in the resistance of those at the sharp end of the global arms trade, with messages from Yemeni activists like Ahmed Jahaf of Sana’a, “We know we are not forgotten because of you. Maybe you are few but you are a lot to us.”
Amina Atiq, Liverpudlian Yemeni poet spoke to us ahead of a journey to Egypt, where her Yemeni family have fled. She said, “These wounds take years to heal, some never heal. If everyone does a small thing we can bring change, and we will bring change.”
As well as hearing voices of resistance from conflict-affected countries, we were inspired by the solidarity of our friends protesting arms fairs around the world, like Peace Action Wellington, New Zealand, who said they were inspired by the diversity of UK activists’ tactics. “It’s amazing to feel connected to a global movement. Kia kaha! It means ‘stay strong’ in Máori.”
World Without War activists in South Korea told us how protests to stop the DSEI arms fair inspired their own resistance to stop the ADEX arms fair in Seoul. “The arms industry is so big it can feel impossible to bring them down. It feels like they are everywhere, and they are. But so is our resistance! We hope one day our work will inspire others in other parts of the world.”
Arms trade: rooted in many struggles for justice
Our fight to stop the DSEI arms fair is inextricably linked with other intersecting struggles for justice – struggles that It Starts Here called to put front and centre of our action in 2019. The day began with discussions on issues including anti-racism and the increasing militarisation of the UK’s borders. Listen again.
West London-born poet and activist Shareefa Energy reminded attendees of the structural violence inflicted on people of colour and the working class in the UK, seen in how Grenfell residents on our doorstep continue to be treated, to how imagery of people of colour is used in media and NGO coverage of conflict in the global south.
“There’s a conversation we need to have. Why are people from ethnic minorities dehumanised? Would you ever see English people on a newspaper dead? We need to have these conversations. Until we talk about racism and structural violence, we won’t understand why these issues are going on.”
Sarah Reader of Agir Pour La Paix in Brussels, co-founder of Stop The Arms Fair reminded us of how far we have come and what we’ve built together: “It’s amazing to see so many people in the room 6 months before DSEI. 8 years ago there were 8 of us in a room!”
On the ‘Anti-racism, migrant solidarity and the arms trade’ panel, Sanaz from ‘Unis Resist Border Controls’ spoke about the links to arms trade and university funding and research. “Many universities invest in arms companies like BAE Systems, G4S. We need to stop this hypocrisy. [We] demand to end investment in the arms trade, in the private firms that fund the violence that creates refugees.”
Geraldine spoke from the All African Women’s Group, a group of refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. “Instead of reaching safety,” she said, “We face detention, deportation, and destitution. But we are part of the growing movement calling for justice.”
Chrissie from Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike reminded us that “Many of the people suffering because of the arms trade are black and brown people. The EU response has not been to support people seeking safety, but to stop migration to Europe at all costs.” Also representing the Crossroads Women’s Centre, Chrissie spoke about the importance of gender: “80% of refugees worldwide are women. We bear the brunt of war. We are the ones that pick up the pieces. But we are not victims, we are protagonists in our struggle, wherever we are.”
DSEI: Let’s stop it here
The DSEI arms fair is where we can stop arms deals before they start. The last DSEI in 2017 saw the most widespread protests, media coverage and parliamentary interest in the arms fair since the Iraq War. A huge range of groups took action, from queer and environmental activists to academics and faith groups. Over six days, the set up of the fair was disrupted by a huge array of creative and fun actions. Will you help make 2019 even bigger?
We can stop them
Activists have now successfully chased the arms fairs out of Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham. After the threat of action by Birmingham Stop the Arms Fair, organisers moved the DTPRE arms fair to behind security fences at Farnborough military base. And last year protests outside the Undersea Defence Technology arms fair in Glasgow persuaded Glasgow City Council to promise it would never host an arms fair again. If enough people disrupt the set-up of DSEI in 2019, we can stop the arms fair.
Take action to Stop DSEI 2019
Join the next Stop the Arms Fair gathering in London on the 30th March and find out how you can help stop DSEI.
Cover photo by Safa Kadhim
On the 16th Feb, and to mark 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests, BP or not BP?, and many others took over the British Museum; targetting specifically the BP-sponsored Assyria exhibition. This was part of a series of actions, that also included the action at the press launch of the exhibition in November. Iraqi members of the group also set up an alternative exhibition in Feb-March, with works of Iraqis in Iraq and in the diaspora exposing the realities of BP in Iraq. Here you can read why we protested on the 16th.
An overview of the takeover on the 16th can be found here and Culture Unstained also released a detailed report with FOIs from the British Museum on the recent I am Ashurbanipal exhibition.
In a guest blog, Michelle Fahy of the Medical Association for Prevention of War exposes how the UK Royal Family has worked with arms companies and human rights abusers around the world. Many of those arms companies are using the Invictus games in Australia as a promotional vehicle.
Next week will see a major week of blockades and actions against the DSEI arms fair while it sets up at the Excel Centre in East London.
For four days in September 2017, the international weapons industry plans to set up shop in London at a huge arms fair, DSEI. The weapons sold here fuel the death, destruction and injustice perpetrated by militaries, police forces and at borders around the world.
In 2015, hundreds of people took part in a huge week of action to stop the set up of the arms fair – the biggest-ever protests against DSEI. For six days we blocked entrances, disrupting the set-up of the fair. This year the protests will be even bigger.
Donald Trump is about to take office in the USA, and activists are challenging the regime of racist borders, unbridled corporate power and militarism that he heralds. This Friday, we’re joining the #BridgesNotWalls to drop banners from bridges across the country calling for a more peaceful and just world, free from oppression and hatred.
Come and join us on Lambeth Bridge at 8.20am on Friday 20th January, and add your voice to the call!
Amy Clark-Bryan of No Pride In War was one of many activists that took part in actions urging the organisers of Pride in London to end its associations with the arms trade.
Tuesday 24th May was a day packed full of action, as LGBTQI campaigners united to say loud and clear “No Pride in War!”
Thousands of people are getting ready for the Stop Trident march this weekend.
This Saturday promises to be a day filled with passionate protests and speeches against the UK Government’s plan to vote to renew the nuclear weapons system later this year. People will be gathering at 12 noon at Marble Arch and then marching to Trafalgar Square where a mass rally will take place. Over twenty organisations are supporting the march, ranging from faith groups to environmental, anti-militarist, health and social justice campaigning organisations.
Bristol is home to many of the UK’s major arms companies, with over 20 arms company sites in the city alone. Bristol also played host to the local DPRTE arms fair, until activists chased it out of the city to Cardiff, where this March local activists are planning to show the arms dealers that there’s no welcome for them in Wales either.
Join Bristol Against Arms Trade for an open planning meeting and social, and find out what’s going on locally and how you can join action against the arms trade. We’ll also be planning for action against the DPRTE arms fair in Cardiff in March, with friends from Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair.