DEFENCE and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs, takes place every two years at the ExCel exhibition centre in London’s Docklands.

DSEI 2021 featured over 1,600 exhibitors, including most of the world’s biggest arms companies, and weapons on display ranged from sniper rifles and missiles to combat aircraft and warships. Attendees included official delegations from around the world, including many representing human rights abusing regimes and countries involved in conflict.

This year DSEI will take place on 12-15 September. Numerous protests and acts of witness have been planned, both during the arms fair and in the days leading up to it, many organised by faith groups. A few of the events are listed below and details of all the events can be found on the Stop The Arms Fair website.

Thursday 7 September is ‘No Faith in War’ day, a multi-faith day of Worship and Witness. The day will start with a Quaker Meeting for Worship, joined throughout the morning by a number of faith groups undertaking pilgrim walks. There will be Witness and religious worship throughout the day, and testimonies from people who have experience of conflict and war. There will be different ways of taking part, the area is accessible, and toilets and food will be available. Pax Christi and Anglican Peace Fellowship are also organising walks to the event from the local Catholic and Anglican churches.

On Monday 11 September, people of all faiths and none are invited to join a silent, candlelit vigil on the eve of the arms fair, in solidarity with victims of the arms trade. The vigil will take place from 7-8pm in Royal Victoria Square. People are invited to gather at Royal Victoria DLR station at 6.30pm to travel to the vigil site together. There will be stewards on hand from Quakers in Britain and Pax Christi.

On Wednesday 13 September, from 8am to 6pm, there is a ‘Dodgy Deals Made Here’ leafleting day outside the Department for Business and Trade in Admiralty Place, London. Organised by Movement for the Abolition of War and Kingston Peace Council, this will be a non-confrontational event, leafleting and engaging with members of the public (and possibly government employees) to raise awareness of the arms fair. UK Defence and Security Exports, part of the Department for Business and Trade, employs over 100 staff to promote weapons sales. It invites delegations to the fair from around the world, including well-documented human rights abusers, provides guides and escorts and arranges demonstrations of equipment.

Stop the Arms Fair is coordinating the fortnight of resistance, with other groups organising specific events or days. These days will highlight the intersections of the arms trade and the different areas and communities it impacts, including migrant justice, arms sales to Israel, the climate crisis, policing and prisons and more.

Emily Apple, Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Media Coordinator said: “DSEI is a marketplace in death and destruction. Deals done at DSEI will cause misery across the world, causing global instability, and devastating people’s lives. Representatives from regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who have used UK-made weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen, will be wined and dined and encouraged to buy yet more arms.

“Arms dealers do not care about peace or security. They care about perpetuating conflict, because conflict increases profits for their shareholders. Meanwhile this government has shown repeatedly that it cares more about the money made from dodgy deals with dictators than it does about the people whose lives will be ruined by the sales made at DSEI. It’s therefore down to all of us to take action to resist DSEI and to shut this arms fair down for good.”

* For more details of these and the many other events organised to protest against the arms fair, visit the Events page of the Stop The Arms Fair website, here.

* Read: 5 reasons why we should all resist DSEI here.

* Sources: Stop The Arms Fair and Campaign Against Arms Trade