Information released this morning reveals that the Government has invited a number of oppressive regimes to send representatives to an arms fair in London beginning tomorrow. They include China, Libya, Colombia, Russia and Saudi Arabia, all widely criticised for severe human rights abuses. Iraq has been invited as well as both India and Pakistan, who are in tension with each other. The arms fair, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI), will take place at the ExCeL Centre from Tuesday 11th - Friday 14th September.
Following the revelation, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) repeated its call for an end to DSEI. A peaceful demonstration organised by CAAT will begin with a march from Plaistow Park at 11.00am tomorrow, followed by a rally at 12.00 noon at Custom House DLR station, addressed by the comedian and writer Mark Thomas. He will be joined by CAAT's Anna Jones, local councillor Alan Craig and Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry.
Anna Jones of CAAT said:
"The guest list reveals the real nature of DSEI - a chance for arms companies to sell weapons with no regard to human rights. I am confident that the British public respect human rights and do not want their country hosting this event. Even DSEI's owners have responded to public opinion and decided to sell it. It is now vital that the Government recognises the strength of public feeling and ensures that 2007 sees the end of DSEI."
Writer and comedian Mark Thomas said:
"I attended the last DSEI, where military delegations from human rights-abusing nations were well in attendance, including China who had an official escort around the arms fair , despite the fact that there is an EU embargo on selling arms to China. The multitude of arms dealers gathered from around the world to flog guns, bombs and the other wherewithal to take human life while Londoners pay a £4million police bill to protect them makes DSEI unacceptable and unwelcome."
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) is held every two years at the ExCeL Centre in Newham, east London.
3. CAAT is organising a peaceful demonstration against DSEI tomorrow (Tuesday 11th September). This will include a march leaving Plaistow Park at 11.00 to arrive at the ExCeL Centre for a rally at 12.00. There will be other actions against DSEI, including a multifaith vigil at 6.30pm today (Monday 10th September).
4. DSEI is owned by Reed Elsevier. Following a public campaign Reed announced on 1st June that it would sell its arms fairs by the end of 2007. On 25th July, the Prime Minister responded to campaigning by CAAT and other groups and announced his intention to close the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), a Government unit which promotes sales for private arms companies and is heavily involved in the organisation of DSEI.
5. The list of countries invited to DSEI by the UK Government has been released this morning. The full list is: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Trinidad & Tobago, UAE, USA and Vietnam.
6. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview about DSEI.
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