Government admits inviting oppressive regimes to arms fair

By staff writers
September 10, 2007

Information released this morning reveals that the Government has invited a number of oppressive regimes to send representatives to an arms fair in London which begins tomorrow.

China, Libya, Colombia, Russia and Saudi Arabia, all widely criticised for severe human rights abuses, have been invited to the biennial fair run by Reed Elsevier.

Reed is expected to struggle to sell the fair in a year that has seen many businesses respond to public opinion by distancing themselves from the arms trade.

The Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) is being held in the Excel Centre from Tuesday 11 - Friday 14 September 2007.

Iraq has been invited as well as both India and Pakistan, who are in tension with each other.

Following the revelations, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) repeated its call for an end to DSEi.

A peaceful demonstration organised by CAAT will begin with a march from Plaistow Park followed by a rally which will be addressed by the comedian and writer Mark Thomas. He will be joined by CAAT's Anna Jones, local councillor Alan Craig and Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry.

Anna Jones of CAAT said: "The guest list reveals the real nature of DSEi - a chance for arms companies to sell weapons with no regard to human rights. I am confident that the British public respect human rights and do not want their country hosting this event. Even DSEi's owners have responded to public opinion and decided to sell it. It is now vital that the Government recognises the strength of public feeling and ensures that 2007 sees the end of DSEi."

Writer and comedian Mark Thomas said: "I attended the last DSEi, where military delegations from human rights-abusing nations were well in attendance, including China who had an official escort around the arms fair, despite the fact that there is an EU embargo on selling arms to China. The multitude of arms dealers gathered from around the world to flog guns, bombs and the other wherewithal to take human life while
Londoners pay a £4million police bill to protect them makes DSEi unacceptable and unwelcome."

The full list of countries invited to DSEi by the UK Government is as follows: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Trinidad & Tobago, UAE, USA and Vietnam.

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