Arms Fair guest list confirmed as protests continue

By Agencies
September 9, 2017

The UK government has published its official guest list for Defence & Security Equipment International 2017 (DSEI), one of the biggest arms fairs in the world, which is scheduled to take place at the Excel Centre in East London next week.

The publication of the list follows a parliamentary question by Caroline Lucas MP. Government and military delegations from around the world have been invited to London by the Defence & Security Organisation, which is part of the Department for International Trade.

More than 50 countries have been invited, including regimes with very bad human rights records, such as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Other governments, such as Israel, will send delegations to promote arms via national pavilions, while others will be invited by the event organisers, Clarion Events. Government statistics show that over the last ten years, almost 60 per cent of UK arms exports have gone to the Middle East.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said, "This list includes a roll call of despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers. They will be greeted by civil servants and Government Ministers who are there for one reason only: to promote weapons. It's impossible to promote human rights and democracy while arming and supporting authoritarian regimes and tyrants."

Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party, who asked the parliamentary question said, "DSEI is a dark stain on our country's already tarnished reputation. It's time that this festival of violence was shut down for good – and for the UK to engage in peacebuilding rather than trying to cement itself as the world’s weapons dealer."

The setup of DSEI has been met with peaceful protests and blockades every day this week, in attempts to stop the military equipment from getting in to the exhibition site. On Wednesday a group of six Christian activists were arrested, after blocking the West Gate of the ExCeL Centre. The group lay in the roadway joined to each other with lock-on tubes. Their action prevented traffic carrying materials for DSEI entering the centre for 90 minutes.Those arrested were: Margaret Bremner, from Portobello, Edinburgh, Angie Zelter, from Knighton in Wales, Douglas Shaw, from Biggar, Randel Harford, from Bristol, Barbara Cookson, from Liverpool and Genny Scherel, from London.

One of the arrestees, Margaret Bremner, said: "The sale of arms shows that the value of money is being put before people's lives. We must campaign for dignity, respect, peace and justice in our world."

Today (September 9 2017) a Festival of Resistance will take place outside the Excel Centre, with speakers, live music, dancing and more. Details here

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

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