Six people arrested at Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair protest

Six people were arrested at a protest outside the ‘Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability Fair’ (DPRTE) at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Tuesday. The protesters were arrested for alleged aggravated trespass after an entrance to the arena was blocked.

Campaign groups Cardiff Stop the Arms Fair, Welsh Kurdish Activists and members of Cardiff Animal Rights were among those protesting against the event, which is frequently nick named Cardiff Arms Fair. It is the fourth time the fair has been held in Cardiff after it moved from Bristol following similar protests.

In a statement released today arrestee and Cardiff Stop The War member Adam Johannes said:

Yesterday morning I was arrested, handcuffed and placed in a police cell for over 12 hours while non-violently protesting an event glorifying violence: The Cardiff Arms Fair.

Arms companies supplying Israel to kill Palestinians, Turkey to kill Kurds and Saudi Arabia to kill Yemenis were doing business, hosted by the Motorpoint Arena.

There is a crisis of political leadership in our city. Council leaders, local MPs and AMs are not opposing arms companies supplying serial human rights abusers.

The rot runs deep. The Welsh government has built links between Wales and arms industries — selling it as job creation.

It’s time for the Welsh government to beat swords into ploughshares. In the 1970s visionary trade unionists from Lucas Aerospace (now BAE systems) produced detailed plans to build road rail buses, kidney machines and renewable energy systems instead of weapons.

Today Campaign Against Arms Trade research similar ‘Arms to Renewables’ plans showing how a rapid transition from arms industries to green industries could happen increasing employment, with no job losses.

Britain has the highest military spending in Europe and is the second biggest arms dealer on the planet. Slash the military budget and divert money into rebuilding the welfare state.

Stopping the Cardiff Arms Fair is part of a greater struggle to achieve an anti-austerity and anti-war government that will exit US-led wars, abolish nuclear weapons, leave Nato, support Palestinians, Kurds and others and remake us as a society exporting aid and doctors instead of weapons and wars.

Of six arrestees, three have been cautioned and three charged with aggravated trespass. On the advice of my solicitor, I accepted a caution, but I do not accept that we did anything wrong. These arms companies have no place in Cardiff or anywhere else.

The event organisers insist that it is not an arms fair, but merely an “exhibition bringing together businesses representing an array of industry sectors to explore how they can integrate their services into the UK’s defence supply chains. According to fair’s spokesperson,  “these organisations are generally supplying common goods and services, such as printing materials, construction, office supplies, clothing, medical research, logistics, technology, communications, accountancy, recruitment and much more.”

However, the biggest exhibitor of the arms fair is BAE, whose customers are brutal repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In the call-out issued by Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair the activists state that  “The Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff needs to know that this ARMS FAIR (disguised by the name DPRTE) is not wanted in Cardiff or anywhere else.”

Last year, a  62 years old woman was found guilty of bomb hoax calls at Motorpoint Arena during the fair, after she called 999 and reported that she thinks “ there’s a bomb in the Motorpoint Arena”: a claim which in all likelihood was correct considering the fair’s exhibitors.

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Image: Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair