Huge DSEi arms fair in London blockaded by protesters

By staff writers
September 8, 2013

Protesters against the arms trade have partially blockaded a UK military fair which is hosting the armers of Syria's Assad regime, among others known for gross violations of human rights.

The coyly named Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) show is the world's largest arms fair, and has been the target of concerted nonviolent opposition for the past ten years.

"Part of the car park we've blocked is the 'outsize exhibitions' area for tanks and warships," reported one protester this afternoon, while another described stopping "a row of tanks" from entering.

London Catholic Worker and Christianity Uncut are among the groups using social media to report the first arrests of demonstrators.

The Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) have been holding a service outside DSEi in London, while other Christian groups are organising an 'exorcism' for the evil it represents and buttresses.

The UK government officially refuses to say who is invited to the arms fair in London, but research by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and others has revealed a panoply of human rights abusers.

Christianity Uncut said that "oppressive and aggressive regimes" such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Israel are expected to attend the fair. The government is subsidising DSEi with taxpayers’ money despite the austerity agenda.

At one point this afternoon (Sunday 8 September 2013), Ekklesia has been told, both of the main entrances to the fair were blocked, effectively 'kettling' the exhibition.

Occupy movement campaigners, peace and justice activists, Christians, trades unionists, humanists and others have been involved in the protests today, and have formed a coalition which has a whole week of action against DSEi planned.

Earlier this month, a coalition of six Christian organisations, including the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, which has promoted conflict transformation and nonviolent intervention approaches to tackling injustice, said that they felt peaceful direct action was justified in the attempt to stop the arms fair from providing weapons of death to dictators and others state actors fuelling war and the abuse of rights around the world.

* Week of action against DSEi: http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/

* Follow on Twitter for regular updates: @StopTheArmsFair

* CAAT Christian Network: http://www.caat.org.uk/get-involved/christian/

* Campaign Against Arms Trade: http://www.caat.org.uk

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