14 September 2007
Widespread calls to end DSEi
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has welcomed comments from a range of politicans, community leaders, local residents and faith groups calling for an end to Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi), an international arms fair which has taken place biennially in London. This page contains a selection of their comments.
Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said:
"I don’t believe that holding the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition (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.
Green Party candidate for Mayor of London, Sian Berry said:
"We're all too familiar with images of lives destroyed by these weapons in places like Iraq and Darfur. But let's not forget that the gun crime that destroys so many lives in this country is an inevitable side effect of the arms trade. Londoners have a right to expect that young lives are put before arms dealers' profits.
"Campaigners have secured the abolition of DESO, the Government agency that acted as marketing department for the arms traders, and the decision of DESi's organisers to end their involvement in weapons. Hopes are high that this could be London's last arms fair; we need to make sure it is and get the guns out of London once and for all."
Newham Borough Councillor Alan Craig (Christian People's Alliance), in whose ward DSEi takes place, said:
“We know that having a fair that promotes the use of guns and violence isn't what we want on our doorstep. Following the recent shootings across London, we need the Council to be taking steps to reduce gun crime, not allowing a large arms fair to promote gun use. We hope that this will be the last arms fair in Newham.”
Newham Borough Council has voted unanimously that:
“[DSEi is] immoral, providing opportunity for some of the world's most dictatorial and regressive regimes to come to Newham to buy weaponry that may be used against their own people”.
Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas McMahon, in whose diocese DSEi takes place said:
"Excel is in my diocese and I joined this demonstration [against DSEi] to draw attention to the fact that the UK is still a major exporter of arms”.
Prominent Muslim commnetator Imam Abduljalil Sajid, chair of Religions for Peace, said:
"I condemn this event that is encouraging arms sales in our country and I suggest to all civilised people of the world that we abandon the greedy nature of involving ourselves in arms selling, which leads to senseless bloodshed".
Writer and comedian Mark Thomas said:
"I attended the last DSEI where despite all the claims to the contrary illegal torture equipment was being offered for sale by no less than four companies. I know because I found the companies and submitted the evidence of this to the QSC. 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 arms embargo on selling arms to China.
"After the scandals of BAE Systems and the collapse of the bribery investigation by the Serious Fraud Office the company's centre-stage presence at DSEI this year is nothing short of corporate contempt for the rule of law and observance of human rights.
"The multitude of arms dealers gathered from around the world to flog guns, bombs and the other werewithal to take human life while Londoners pay £4 million police bill to protect the arms dealers from peace protesters makes DSEI's presence in London unacceptable and unwelcome."
Author Richard Wilson, whose sister Charlotte was killed in a massacre in Burundi, said:
"My sister died as a direct result of the uncontrolled international trade in weapons. The UK government grudgingly allowed two Metropolitan Police officers to carry out a part-time investigation into her death, with inconclusive results. Yet they deploy thousands to protect an industry that makes its money sowing death and destruction around the world. It seems that the Government would rather use our police to give arms dealers a warm fuzzy feeling than bring to justice those who murder UK citizens overseas."