Defence Systems Equipment International (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair, returns to the ExCel centre in south Newham next week and exhibitors from around 40 countries will attending between 8 and 11 September.
This year, as well as protests in Custom House, campaigners are targeting the banks and investors whose billions support the international arms trade. Disarm DSEi is calling for people to join demonstrations in the City of London at noon on 8 September to expose the devastation the arms dealers cause and to hold them to account for their actions. Exact details have been kept quiet for understandable reasons but will available by next Tuesday at Disarm DSEi's website.
Meanwhile, an uncompromising open letter has been sent by the Disarm DSEi collective to the Metropolitan Police's CO11 Public Order Unit:
To Whom It May Concern:For one view from residents in Newham, check out this video that was made a couple of years ago by students from Royal Docks Community School:
Since our inception in 2003, Disarm DSEi has adopted not negotiating with the police as a founding principle.
Whilst we still adhere to this principle, we are aware all the major bodies who have compiled reports into the aftermath of the G20 protests have recommended greater levels of negotiation and communication between police and protesters.
Therefore, we are writing this open letter to explain why we do not feel able to enter into negotiation regarding the 8th September Disarm DSEi protest in the City of London.
The right to protest is one of the civil liberties we are supposed to hold dear, one of the civil liberties not afforded to many of the citizens of the countries the UK sells arms to. However, this right has to come without interference from the very state we are opposing. The UK government support the global arms trade, and it controls the police force –ensuring that the arms dealers reach their destinations and their investors are not embarrassed or inconvenienced will always come before allowing public dissent.
However, even if we wished to negotiate, we are not in a position to do so. We do not believe a protest is controlled by organisers and stewards, but by the will and feeling of the crowd. We are facilitating a protest but we are not in control of any of the actions undertaken by the participants, nor do we want to be. We cannot make any commitments and we cannot undertake to condone or condemn any particularly form of action.
Experience at previous DSEi protests has led us to mistrust the police. DSEi was the protest where the police began to make use of Section 44 Terrorism Act searches. DSEi policing has been violent, intimidating, and repressive. Use of kettling has been widespread, as have arbitrary arrests and harassment of “known” activists.
Furthermore, there are no individuals within the collective who are willing to identify themselves as an “organiser” of this protest. Previous experience has shown such people are targeted by the police for further harassment and intimidation, and/or have been threatened with or arrest for the actions of others at demonstrations. At some recent protests, people sitting in a road have been threatened not just with their arrest, but of the arrest of the stewards on the march.
On 8th September at noon, we will assemble in the City of London and assert our right to protest against the investors in death, without state interference.
See you on the streets,