Clarion call from “The Spirit of Christmas”

DSCN5631 by Ian MacKinnon
Clarion's ideal of "The Spirit of Christmas"

Dan Viesnik explains why CAAT supporters dress up for the Spirit of Christmas and the message they are bringing to visitors.  Photo by Ian MacKinnon.

Members of London Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF),  the London Catholic Worker and Trident Ploughshares met vistors outside  the Spirit of Christmas Fair at London’s Olympia, on 7 November 2009.

This was the second year running they had descended upon this area of west London. Why? Was it to spread Christmas cheer among prospective visitors?
Hardly. Rather, they were there to  alert visitors to the fact that the organisers, Clarion Events, are the owners of five international arms and security fairs, including one of the world’s biggest, the euphemistically titled Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI), held biennially in London’s Docklands. DSEI 2009 took place in September, attracting both hordes of arms dealers and much publicity.
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BAE Systems AGM, 7 May 2008

My BAE AGM virginity was about to come to an end as I entered the Queen Elizabeth Conference centre, where no expense had been spared on lavish security measures to welcome proxy shareholders like myself. The BAE chairman Dick Olver’s introductory statement included a shareholder-pleasing boast about a 13.3% proposed increase in the 2007 dividend. However, much of his presentation was devoted to this year’s hot topic, business ethics. He acknowledged the reputational damage that the whole SFO affair had done but kept stressing that “our” company had never been found guilty of any wrongdoings in four years of SFO scrutiny, conveniently omitting the fact that the investigation was halted just as it was making good progress unearthing useful details from Swiss bank accounts.
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London CAAT Map Activism Award

A London CAAT map on platial.com has won a site award in the “Activism” category. The map, called London Arms Trade, shows the locations of the offices of weapons manufacturers and distributors in London.

When the local London group was set up, it was determined to highlight the immorality of the ‘defence’ industry. The map was created using CAAT’s resources and the British Defence Equipment Catalogue, to begin to pinpoint those involved in making London the capital of the world arms-broking trade.
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Elvis, Aliens and the unlikelihood of BAE’s innocence

As part of the Control BAE campaign, London CAAT set up stall near Old Street station on Friday 30th November to call for the reopening of the Serious Fraud Office’s enquiry into alleged corruption in deals with Saudi Arabia. We chose the location because it was outside the BAE/HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) joint venture company located at 4 City Cloisters, 196 Old Street.

The main objective of the afternoon (in the absence of any media for our photo opportunity stunt) was to inform people in the area of the issues and get signatures on the petition to reopen the enquiry. In addition, we were able to point out the presence of an arms company to many surprised local residents and garner some interest in the local group.
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DESO down, DSEI to go

The Prime Minister’s statement of 25th July that the Defence Export Services Organisation, based in Bloomsbury, will be shut by the end of the year is a great success for the peace movement in general and Campaign Against Arms Trade in particular. CAAT’s Shut DESO campaign, which included encircling the building with a human chain in October 2006, culminated with the handing in of a petition calling for DESO’s closure with over 10,000 signatures to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury.

Ouside DESO

I had signed that petition and got involved with the Shut DESO campaign because it was so obvious how wrong it was to have 500 civil servants in the heart of the government working for the interests of the arms trade. Continue reading “DESO down, DSEI to go”

Stop the Arms Trade Week

The beginning of CAAT’s designated “Stop the Arms Trade Week”, 2nd June, coincided with activities organised under “The World Can’t Wait” banner and London CAAT produced a small leaflet to tie in issues of poverty, lack of development and the more than £1118 billion spent annually on arms, which puts into pathetic perspective the amounts the G8 promises and does not deliver to the world’s poorest countries.

A few of us headed down to Archbishop’s Park by Lambeth Palace and later to the banks of the Thames, to offer our support to the idea of “waking up the G8”. Dressed in white and packing alarm clocks, bells, horns and drums, the protesters were up for it. At 2:00, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, the banks between them and even boats on the river resounded with unheeded wake-up calls.
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Protest at BAE Systems AGM

Just came back from the CAAT protest at the BAE Systems AGM. It was a great success. Before the start of the AGM we gathered in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.

Some protesters had prepared a stunt: One of us dressed up as a judge. Two others were dressed up as Tony Blair and as BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner. They grabbed the judge and gagged him.

Tony Blair and Mike Turner silence a judge

The stunt was very popular with the media. There were loads of photographers taking pictures. Our stunt was also really popular with the tourists on their way to Big Ben. Continue reading “Protest at BAE Systems AGM”

Stop the Death Trade in London

London CAAT met at 11am today to start our “Central London Arms Trade Crawl” outside BAE’s headquarters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this first leg we were emphasising the corrupt nature of the trade in death in our home city. The secluded Carlton Gardens, where the firm that the government won’t allow to be investigated for corruption shares a building with investment bankers, is a few hundred metres from Buckingham Palace. Crime evidently pays very well.

After forty minutes of chatting with and handing out leaflets to some of the people coming in and out of the building and those around it we began the short journey to the far busier Haymarket. At noon we were outside New Zealand House, which houses the offices of Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, the parent company of Ashok, which agreed to sell military trucks to Sudan despite the embargo there. The focus here was on the indiscriminate nature of the trade and the mention of Darfur was a definite catalyst for passers by to agree to sign our petition.
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