We sub arms trade
PROTESTERS will be converging on London's Docklands next Tuesday to launch a week of protest against Europe's biggest arms fair. The New Labour government is hosting the grotesque fair, at which multinational arms companies hawk their weaponry around invited guests from some of the world's most brutal regimes.
Britain exports some 5 billion of military equipment a year. New Labour is pouring public money into subsidising next week's arms fair. The Defence Systems and Equipment international, as the fair is known, last took place two years ago. At that fair repressive regimes, including Indonesia and Turkey, were buying equipment to use against their people.
And at least two exhibitors were advertising anti-personnel landmines, which are supposed to be illegal. In Africa, British companies have been arming all sides in the war raging around Congo. British companies also export arms to Israel. The exhibitors at the arms fair are not shy about their trade.
"Europe's leading armed vehicle manufacturer" is how Alvis describes itself. You may have seen its products on your TV screen coming live from the West Bank or Indonesia in recent years. A series of groups have thrown their weight behind protests throughout next week.
The highpoint will be on the fair's opening day, Tuesday. A peace march organised by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade at 10am will be followed from 12 noon by direct action organised by the Disarm DSEi coalition. Then from 4.30pm onwards Globalise Resistance has spearheaded a call for more protests.