Protestors highlight sinister reality of Farnborough International arms fair

17 July 2006

Anti-arms trade protestors erected a spoof entrance to the Farnborough International arms fair today, to mark the opening trade day. Two actors, dressed as Tony Blair and Alan Garwood, the Head of the Government's Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), rolled out the red carpet to welcome human rights abusers to shop for weapons at the arms fair.

Spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade, Beccie D'Cunha, said:

"Farnborough International is an arms fair focused on selling even more weapons around the world. Selling arms abroad costs the taxpayer nearly £900 million every year. That's £900 million of corporate welfare to arms companies, or about £13,000 for each job in arms exports every year. This money could be better spent on non military products and services, to reduce weapons proliferation and increase peace and security – both at home and abroad. DESO is at the centre of this government support and must be closed."

“People who are planning to visit the airshow at the weekend should know that they are taking part in the Public Relations section of an arms fair. The weaponry on exhibition stands and in the air is intended to kill. It may seem fun to watch the planes on Saturday and Sunday but what about the people who will see those planes dropping bombs on their homes? What about the children who will die as result of the buying and selling of weapons that will go on at this event?”

ENDS

For further information, photos or an interview please contact CAAT's Media Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.

Notes

1. Country delegations from around 40 countries are expected to attend. In 2004 there were delegations from Colombia and Saudi Arabia, both countries identified by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as being 'major countries of concern' regarding human rights. Arms companies from Israel and Russia, other countries on the FCO list, will be exhibiting at Farnborough International this year. The full list of country delegations is expected to be released shortly before Farnborough International opens.

2. The Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) will have a 'Chalet' at the event and is coordinating military delegations at the event. Established 40 years ago this year, DESO is a little-publicised but highly influential department within the Ministry of Defence which exists to promote overseas arms sales by private UK and foreign arms companies. Relative to the arm's trade's share of total UK exports (1.8%), DESO enjoys around 13 times the budget of UK Trade and Industry, the government body which promotes all other British civil exports.

3. Nearly half of the world's 100 largest arms companies are likely to attend Farnborough International (47 attended in 2004).

4. Aircraft on display at Farnborough include: F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache attack helicopter – used by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; F/A -18F Super Hornets used by the US in the invasion of Iraq; Hawk jets used by Zimbabwe in the Democratic Republic of Congo war and by Indonesia in East Timor and Aceh.

5. UNICEF estimates that over 90% of victims of war are civilians, and around half of these are children.

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