Routemaster bus drives point home about arms fairs

Routemaster bus drives point home about arms fairs

By agency reporter
7 Sep 2009

Iconic London Routemaster buses bedecked with anti-arms trade messages and an "anti-arms trade fayre" will be among the 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 and into 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 passers-by 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 millions of people whose lives are blighted by the arms trade."

She adds: "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 2009 will be the main focus for CAAT, there will be other events before and during the arms fair. On Monday morning, as reported on Ekklesia, a Fourth Plinther in Trafalgar Square used her hour to focus on the arms fair and international arms trade.

East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF), affiliated with CAAT, is holding 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.

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