East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF)
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
A diverse delegation of East London community members are to present a 1200-strong petition to London Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Greater London Authority on Wednesday morning (13 July). They will call on the Mayor to lobby for the cancellation of the government-sponsored Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world's largest arms fairs, due to take place this September in the London borough of Newham.
The people's delegation - including local decision-makers, church leaders and other Newham residents – oppose their community being made the site of an international arms-dealing event which fuels conflict, supports repressive regimes, and diverts scarce funds away from development. Residents have formed a local organisation, 'East London Against the Arms Fair', to coordinate community opposition to the event. Tim Wardle, an East London resident and member of the group, said:
"On the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II it's particularly brutal for the government to sponsor an arms fair in Docklands, many of whose residents still recall the suffering caused by bombing."
Cllr Darren Johnson AM, Green Party member of the London Assembly who will hand the petition to Mayor Livingstone and the London Assembly, said:
“The international arms trade is a despicable industry, fuelling conflict, death and torture. London is no place for an arms fair and I am delighted to present this petition on behalf of those campaigning for a more peaceful world.”
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Local residents and London Assembly member Darren Johnson will be on the steps of the Greater London Authority (City Hall, The Queen's Walk) at 9:30am on Wednesday 13 July. Mr Johnson will then present the petition to Ken Livingstone and the GLA.
For further information or interviews contact CAAT Press Office - 020 7281 0297, media(at)caat·org·uk
1. Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEI) is to take place at the ExCeL Centre in London's Docklands from 13-16 September 2005. DSEI's organisers claim that it is 'the world's largest and fastest growing tri-service defence exhibition' (www.dsei.org.uk). Held biannually, DSEI is organised in association with the government's Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO). The government provides both financial assistance, and political support through the attendance of defence ministers.
2. The Ministry of Defence have regularly invited the governments of some of the world's worst human rights-abusing states to DSEI, including (in 2003) Colombia, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
3. East London Against the Arms Fair and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) have collected around 1200 signatures for the petition in just a few weeks, both locally and through CAAT's website. Local and national opponents of the arms trade are to protest against DSEI at the ExCeL Centre in September. For more information, see our DSEI page.