Stop Week highlights public revulsion against arms fairs

3 July 2009

Stop Week 2009 saw anti-arms trade activists throughout the UK protesting against government support for the arms industry, in the lead-up to the world's largest arms fair in London in September 2009.

Co-ordinated by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Stop Week saw demonstrations against government department UK Trade & Investment's Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO). The organisation of the biannual London Arms Fair, Defence & Equipment International (DSEI), is made possible by the support of UKTI.

Stop Week 2009 actions included:

13 June - East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF) held a colourful musical protest outside the ExCeL centre. At the weekend-long Leamington Peace Festival, Coventry CAAT ran a stall and gave a talk on the Saturday and a workshop on the Sunday.

14, June - Over 40 churches and other religious institutions, of many denominations, participated in a national Day of Prayer organised by CAAT Christian Network. Alun Morinan, CAAT Christian Network Co-ordinator, spoke at a well-attended meeting of Bury St Edmund's Christian Network for Justice and Peace.

14 June - London CAAT held a "Merchants of Death" walking tour of central London, beginning with UKTI and taking in the offices of arms companies, including BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and QinetiQ.

18 June - CAAT's newly formed group in Manchester held a lunch time demonstration outside Manchester's UKTI Regional Office in Oxford Street. In London, CAAT supporters leafleted the Earls Court Headquarters of Clarion Events, the owners and organisers of DSEI and other international arms fairs.

20 June - CAAT activists participated in Glasgow's "Crunch Time for Trident" event to raise awareness of the role of UKTI DSO. In Norwich, CAAT activists called a "moving peace vigil" to highlight UKTI's role in the arms trade. Hastings Against the War ran an information stall in the town centre, with CAAT's UKTI postcards and a petition on arms exports to Israel. CAAT supporters in Wales joined festival goers at Coed Hills Community and Rural Artspace, west of Cardiff - a wonderful way to get our message across.

Thousands more people learned about our UKTI: Armed & Dangerous campaign during Stop Week, as supporters mobilised for an impressive series of stalls. These included stalls in Cardiff, Evesham, Hastings and Norwich and the Somerset Green Fair. Two of CAAT's newly trained speakers took the plunge at their events to give a talk on CAAT for the first time too!

CAAT's Local Campaign Co-ordinator, Anne-Marie O'Reilly, says:

I was really impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment shown by CAAT groups and supporters. Many members of the public told campaigners how shocked they were by government support for the arms trade. We expect even more people to join us to protest against the DSEI arms fair in September and to call for UKTI DSO - the government body which facilitates this destructive event - to close.

For further information please contact CAAT's Media Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.

ENDS

Notes

1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade together with progressive demilitarisation within arms producing countries. 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters' donations and CAAT is strictly nonviolent in all its work.

2. UKTI's Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) provides support for arms companies in their export-related activities. This includes promoting weapons sales worldwide, including to countries in conflict and regimes with a documented record of human rights abuse.

3. In November 2008 CAAT launched its UKTI: Armed & Dangerous campaign with a demonstration outside UKTI's headquarters in London. The demonstration aimed to inform UKTI staff about the new DSO unit and asked them whether they were aware that UKTI was involved in arms dealing. CAAT has since launched a petition and postcard campaign, to enable members of the public to directly inform Andrew Cahn, UKTI Chief Executive, of their concerns.

4. Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) has been held every two years since 2001 at the ExCeL Centre in Newham, east London. This year it is scheduled to run 8-11 September 2009. Every year there have been high-profile protests. DSEI was formerly owned by academic publishers Reed-Elsevier. In June 2007 Reed-Elsevier finally yielded to public pressure and announced it would sell DSEI. In May 2008 DSEI and two arms fairs owned by Reed-Elsevier were bought by Clarion Events who have since acquired another three arms fairs, the latest being Counter Terror Expo in July 2009.

ENDS

Page created 3 July 2009
 
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