Next week thousands of members of the military from around the world will gather in London’s Docklands for an arms fair. Illegal weapons and torture equipment have been sold at the event in the past – and governments which abuse human rights are buying. Steve Eason brings us this photo report from the first of three days of protests.
DSEI 2017 (Defence and Security Equipment) is one of the worlds biggest arms fairs due to start on 12 September at the Excel Centre, east London. An estimated 34,000 people are expected to attend, and according to their website this will include “defence ministers, international military and armed forces”.
The first day of protest against the fair took place on Monday 4 September, called by London Palestine Action and Stop The Arms Fair, calling for sanctions against Israel. A peaceful protest of some 150 people began with Palestinian dancing and music. Much sooner than we expected police made several arrests, the first being a black photographer and the second an elderly woman dressed as a priest. A young woman climbed under an armoured car, potentially for sale to Israel, aboard a transport vehicle and police were unable to remove her. As the truck tried to drive away a sit down protest was held, but the vehicle eventually took an alternative route.
According to Oliver Freeley Sprage of Amnesty International: “Shockingly, in recent years even banned and illegal weapons such as cluster bombs and torture equipment have been advertised as available for sale at DSEI”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for the arms fair to be banned. He stated in July that he is “opposed to London being used as a market place for the trade of weapons to those countries that contribute to human rights abuses”.
The protest continued all day on Monday with workshops, football, food, a play area, banner making, live music and DJ’s. Today, Tuesday 5 September, faith groups will be protesting, and on Wednesday 6 September, Stop The Arms Fair will be joined by CND and Campaign Against the Arms Trade.