Monday, 13 June 2011

Dealers In Death Return To Canning Town

In three months time, from 13-16 September, the arms companies that sold tear gas, crowd control armament and sniper rifles to Libya and Bahrain in 2010 are back at the ExCeL conference centre in Canning Town.

Yet again, Newham sees the unwelcome return of the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) Arms Fair and its guests, who included an impressive number of the world's most repressive regimes seeking to shore up their power with the latest weapons technologies. UK companies exhibiting include those who supplied armoured carriers used against protesters in Libya in 2011 and they will be joined by arms manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin from the US, Pakistan Ordnance Factories, the state-owned Israeli arms company Rafael and Heckler & Koch from Germany. Just months after its attack on Gaza in 2008-9, Israel hosted a huge pavilion at the last DSEi fair of its "battle-tested" exports, whilst countries that are at threat of war with each other - such as India and Pakistan - shopped side-by-side.

In 2011, DSEi publicity boasts that the arms fair will be "even bigger" and will host the "Largest Unmanned & Robotics Demonstration area in Europe". On 13 September, the Stop the Arms Fair coalition is calling a mass day of action to make it too difficult for the arms companies to do business, by supporting a mass of diverse and creative actions against the fair.

Thousands of people in Newham have been forced from their homes in war zones around the world and have settled in the borough as exiles, in part because of arms exporters who help prolong violent conflict and profit from the human tragedy it brings. But Clarion Events, the private company that owns the arms fair, says that it is supported by the government, so it must be OK. This is our opportunity to make it clear that arming repressive regimes at an event on our doorstep is NOT OK, by providing practical support to protesters and taking part in demonstrations ourselves.

More details soon, but for more information see the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Disarm DSEi and East London Against Arms Fairs websites for more information.

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