9 September 2007
Arms fair's future in doubt as businesses back away
An arms fair taking place in London this week will be run for the last time by its current owner Reed Elsevier, which is putting it up for sale. Reed is expected to struggle to sell the fair in a year that has seen many businesses respond to public opinion by distancing themselves from the arms trade. The biennial fair, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) will be held in the Excel Centre from Tuesday 11th - Friday 14th September.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has pointed out that potential buyers will be further deterred by the Prime Minister's decision to close the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), a Government unit that helps to organise DSEi. CAAT is holding a peaceful demonstration against DSEi on Tuesday, which will be addressed by popular comedian and writer Mark Thomas.
CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said:
"The sale of DSEi and the closure of DESO are reactions to increasing public opposition to the arms trade. Participation in arms dealing is no longer an option for any business concerned about its reputation. The Local Authority Pension Fund has been questioning arms companies on ethics, Axa and Hermes are withdrawing from companies involved in cluster munitions and BAE has been widely accused of damaging the reputation of British business. Buying an arms fair in this climate would be like buying a dairy farm in the middle of the foot-and-mouth outbreak."
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 on 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. Speakers at the rally will include the comedian Mark Thomas, author of As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela: Underground Adventures in the Arms and Torture Trade . There will be other actions against DSEi, including a multifaith vigil at 6.30pm on Monday 10th September. All CAAT actions are strictly nonviolent.
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. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview about DSEi.
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