Representatives of some of the world’s most brutal regimes are set to descend on London next week.
The warmongers and torturers are heading to one of the world’s biggest arms fairs —the Defence and Security Equipment International fair (DSEI). Over 1,000 companies will sell arms to over 30,000 attendees from around the world.
Those buying include Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—countries that have all been named for human rights abuses by the United Nations.
Campaigners have announced two weeks of protests around the Excel exhibition centre in London’s Docklands, where the fair is set to take place.
Since Saudi Arabia started bombing Yemen in 2014 the British government has licenced over £5 billion in weapons to the regime.
Estimates of those killed range from 10,000 to more than 70,000, the vast majority being Yemenis and an estimated two-thirds of those from Saudi-led air strikes.
Arms sales to Saudi Arabia were ruled unlawful by the court of appeal in June. But the government has chosen to ignore the backlash by insisting on having human rights abusers at DSEI.
Among those exhibiting are MBDA and Raytheon—companies based in Scotland which both make arms used in the war in Yemen.
Outsourcing contractor Serco is also exhibiting.
A company statement on the DSEI website says, “As an international company with both civil and military space and defence expertise, we are proud to be a leading service provider in this exciting sector.”
But Serco is the firm that recently came under fire for its shocking mistreatment of asylum seekers in Glasgow.
Labour MP for Glasgow East, Paul Sweeney has condemned Serco’s decision to exhibit at DSEI.
He said, “That Serco seeks to profit from conflict while also earning income from the refugees displaced by those very conflicts throws into sharp focus the mercenary exploitation of unscrupulous capitalism.
“It is a crass move that will stick in the throats of the thousands of Glaswegians who stand shoulder to shoulder with the asylum seekers Serco is in the process of throwing out on the street.”
DSEI is filled to the brim with companies just like Serco.
Protesters joining the action outside the Excel centre next week will be joined by anti-racist activists from Scotland who have been involved in trying to end Serco’s racist evictions.
The protests will include vigils, workshops, live music and blockades to prevent exhibitors and attendees from entering the centre.
For more information on Stop the Arms Fair, visit
Lords’ lucrative lunches
Arms firms due to attend the DSEI festival of violence gave MPs more than £60,000 in donations in 2018.
They have been lavishing MPs and members of the House of Lords with gifts of expensive breakfasts, lunches and dinners, outings and overnight stays.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Arms Trade—a group funded by arms manufacturers —is behind much of the courting. At least 13 lords have shares in companies exhibiting at DSEI, whilst 10 hold directorships or are employed by the companies.
Andrew Smith, from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said, “None of this could happen without the active support of Government.
“Civil servants will roll out the red carpet and be on hand to welcome delegations. Meanwhile, Government ministers will take to the stage to announce new deals.”