Deliveries to Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs, were brought to a standstill on Thursday morning when peace campaigners blocked the road. The ExCeL centre protest occurred during the No Faith in War day.
Several hundred people came together to oppose the London arms fair, with events including a Quaker meeting for worship and an Anglican prayer service in front of one of the gates. After several hours, and with the number of trucks waiting to go onto the site building up, the police moved in and imposed conditions on the protest. Nine people were arrested.
DSEI is taking place at the ExCeL Centre in London between 12th-15th September. Protests began on 4th September, with the first week targeting the setting up of the arms fair. Over 2,800 defence and security suppliers will be courting deals with representatives from human-rights-abusing regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, and Israel. Campaigners argue that the deals done at DSEI lead to death and devastation worldwide.
Stop the Arms Fair (STAF) coordinates the fortnight of resistance, with other groups organising specific events or days. These days will highlight the intersections of the arms trade and the different areas and communities it impacts, including migrant justice, arms sales to Israel, the climate crisis, policing and prisons and more.
“On Thursday, people of all faiths and none put their bodies in the way of this trade in death and destruction. The religious services held at the gates were powerful testaments to people’s commitment to the principles of their faith and the need to act against this deadly trade.
“Deals done at DSEI will cause misery across the world, causing global instability, and devastating people’s lives. Representatives from regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who have used UK-made weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen, will be wined and dined and encouraged to buy yet more arms.
“Arms dealers do not care about peace or security. They care about perpetuating conflict, because conflict increases profits for their shareholders. Meanwhile this government has shown repeatedly that it cares more about the money made from dodgy deals with dictators than it does about the people whose lives will be ruined by the sales made at DSEI.
“War starts with the deals done at the ExCeL centre. Campaigners are showing that we have the power to stop those deals before they take place.”
~ Emily Apple, Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Media Coordinator