7 September 2009
Routemasters become "CAATmobiles" in moving protest against London arms fair
Iconic London Routemaster buses bedecked with anti-arms trade messages and an "anti-arms trade fayre" will be highlights of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)'s protests against the London arms fair in September.
CAAT's protest will begin on the opening morning of 8 September with a rally near the ExCel centre in Docklands followed by an hour-long bus ride, past buildings associated with the arms trade, to central London, where protesters will hold an anti-arms trade fayre outside the headquarters of UK Trade & Investment's Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).
The anti-arms trade fayre will take place on the pavement outside Kingsgate House, in Victoria Street and the public will be invited to take part in alternative fairground games. Some protesters will be in fancy dress and passersby will be invited to step aboard the Routemaster to learn more about CAAT's work.
The idea behind the protests is to demonstrate the link between DSEi, one of the world's largest arms fairs, and UKTI DSO which makes DSEi possible through its political, financial and logistical support.
Sarah Waldron, CAAT's Core Campaigner, says:
DSEI is perhaps the starkest demonstration of what's wrong with the government's support for the arms trade. The government will be inviting human rights abusers, countries engaged in conflict and those with urgent development needs to shop for weapons. Huge profits will be made by arms companies, but the costs are borne by the UK taxpayer, and the millions of people whose lives are blighted by the arms trade.
The arms fair will take place in secret, hidden away in east London behind heavily protected security fences. We want to bring the fair to UKTI DSO's door and expose its role in perpetuating this deadly trade.
While the opening day of 8 September will be the main focus for CAAT, there will be other events before and during the arms fair. On Monday morning a Fourth Plinther in Trafalgar Square will use her hour to focus on the arms fair and international arms trade. East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF), affiliated with CAAT, will hold a silent vigil on the evening of 7 September and will lay a wreath on 11 September as the arms fair comes to a close.
For a full listing of events before and during DSEI see: Join us
For further comment please contact CAAT's Press Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or email press(at)caat·org·uk.
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. Around 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters' donations and CAAT is strictly nonviolent in all its work.
2. The London Arms Fair, Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEi), has been held every two years since 2001 at the ExCel centre in Newham, east London. Since 2008, it has been owned and organised by Clarion Events. Every year there have been high-profile protests against it. This year, there will be over 1,000 exhibitors and 25,000 arms brokers are expected to attend.
3. 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 several more arms fairs, the latest being Counter Terror Expo in July 2009.
4. UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) is the UK government body that 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.UKTI DSO was established in April 2008, having replaced some functions of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) which was part of the Ministry of Defence.
5. Of the 53 countries, plus the United Nations (UN), who have been invited by UKTI DSO to attend DSEi 2009, at least 15 have serious conflict and human rights concerns or urgent development needs. They are: Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam. CAAT obtained a full list of invitees after a Freedom of Information request.