14 September 2007
Good riddance to arms fair, says Mayor of London
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has welcomed comments by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, criticising an international arms fair in east London which finishes today. The biennial fair, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi), has been taking place at the Excel Centre since Tuesday. DSEi's organisers have been widely criticised for inviting representatives of repressive regimes, including China, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
The Mayor is amongst a range of politicians and community leaders to insist that this must be the last year that DSEi takes place. His view is shared by Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry and the writer and comedian Mark Thomas. They are joined by the prominent Muslim commentator Imam Abduljalil Sajid and the Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas McMahon, whose diocese covers the area where DSEi has been held.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said:
“I don’t believe that holding DSEi in London is in the interests of Londoners or the UK. I do not agree with it being held here and would rather it didn’t come here, particularly when so many of those attending have a history of human rights abuse. It is completely unacceptable that Londoners have to cover the costs of policing this event."
CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said:
"It seems that the only people who still support DSEi are arms pushers and the regimes they deal with. Local residents, politicians and community leaders are lining up to say that DSEi must never happen again. DSEi's owner Reed Elsevier has decided to save its reputation by selling its arms fairs. The Prime Minister has responded to public opinion by closing the Government unit that helps to run DSEi. Now it's time to get the guns out of London and end the DSEi arms fair."
Comments about DSEi from a range of public figures can be read by clicking here.
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) has been held at the Excel Centre in Newham, east London, every two years since 2001. This year it has taken place form Tuesday 11th - Friday 14th September.
3. 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.
4. Several hundred people from varied backgrounds joined a peaceful demonstration outside DSEi, organised by CAAT, on Tuesday, 11th September. Speakers included comedian Mark Thomas, Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry and representatives of local residents. Photographs are available on request.
5. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview about DSEi.
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