Demonstrators dressed as Santa Claus and elves will tomorrow carry sacks of weapons instead of presents, in protest against the "Spirit of Christmas' Fair's owners, Clarion Events, being involved in the arms trade.
The protest will take place tomorrow morning (5 November 2008) at the Olympia Centre in Hammersmith, London.
Clarion have recently bought five arms fairs including the biennial London arms exhibition, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi). Supporters of Campaign Against Arms Trade, who point out that weapons sales destroy lives and deny human rights, say that this is in the spirit of the Grinch, not a season of peace and goodwill.
When DSEi last took place, in September 2007, governments invited to attend included oppressive regimes including China, Libya, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.
Last month, Clarion faced a backlash from its own exhibitors at the Baby Show, with Unicef refusing to accept donations and Bounty withdrawing as a sponsor.
Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, commented: "We have just entered the run-up to a season where the media will be full of stories about whether someone or other is trying to 'do away with Christmas'. Many of these stories will end up being untrue, with some anxious Christians over-reacting to wild rumours and a few over-sensitive public servants trying to avoid offence by excessive politeness. None of this squabbling really matters - but companies propping up an international trade in arms which wrecks lives and destroys communities? That surely matters a great deal. Campaigners against the collusion of the 'Spirit of Christmas' expo with the big weapons exporters seem to understand something important about the real 'reason for the season'. Hopefully we will all learn from this, including those who think they 'own' Christmas."
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. 80% of CAAT's funding derives from individual supporters' donations. CAAT is strictly nonviolent in all its work.