On the last day of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) looks at some of the morbid guests at the ExCeL Centre in London between 12th-15th September:
The UK Defence and Security Exports Department has published the list of countries invited to DSEI, one of the world’s largest arms fairs. Eight countries are on the UK’s government’s own list of human rights priority countries – Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Other human-rights-abusing countries include Bahrain, Turkey, India, Iraq and Israel.
The arms companies exhibiting included BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Thales. Over 40 Israeli arms companies, including Elbit Systems, joined them, who battle-test their weapons on Palestinian people. Israeli arms companies use Palestine as a laboratory for its weapons and technologies of repression before exporting them around the world. This has included exporting arms to Myanmar, despite making promises they were not doing this. The UN described the situation in Myanmar as genocidal in 2017, after 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to Bangladesh.
Protests began on 4th September, with the first week targeting the setting up of the arms fair, and 12 people have been arrested. Over 2,800 military and security suppliers have been courting deals with representatives from human-rights-abusing regimes, with campaigners arguing that the deals done at DSEI lead to death and devastation across the world.
On 12th September, arms dealers were met by protesters as they queued to access the fair. The protest highlighted migrant justice and the fact that so many people have to flee their homes because of the deadly impact of the arms trade.
Emily Apple, Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Media Coordinator, stated:
“DSEI is a marketplace in death and destruction. The companies exhibiting read as a who’s who of the world’s worst arms dealers, both from the UK and across the world. Israel is an apartheid state, and it is disgusting that the UK is not only selling weapons to Israel but encouraging Israeli arms companies to sell their weapons in London.
“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, 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.”