Socialist Worker

LETTERS - Keep up fight to stop arms trade’s festival of violence

Issue No. 2671

Police and protesters at the arms fair last week

Police and protesters at the arms fair last week (Pic: Neil Terry)

The week of protests against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair has been well organised.

Direct action has been sporadic but determined, including an activist locking-on to a helicopter on the “No Faith in War” day.

Other lock-ons in the middle of the road held up deliveries, and walkouts obstructed trucks carrying arms equipment.

Large numbers of police have been doing their job, protecting the likes of Saudi, Israeli, US and British arms traders, by aggressive and violent handling of protesters, and making arrests.

Anti-war activities have ranged from dancing the Palestinian dabke and street theatre, to learning about the links between Soas University of London and the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Cultural Specialist Unit.

This exposes the use of academic knowledge to help the military and governments in their repression around the world.

Over 800 US military bases, engaged in violence with other murderous regimes, also form the largest polluter in the world.

Friday’s protest focused on this issue and brought in Extinction Rebellion and other climate activists.

This DSEI biennial event has taken place at Excel in Newham since 2001. But this year has seen a real step up in involvement of local activists.

These included Momentum, a Peace Exhibition organised by the council, and a demonstration coinciding with the opening of the arms fair on Tuesday.

The arms industry backs up our states in their drive to control resources and markets throughout the world.

It provides them with arms as they compete with each other, and represses and kills ordinary people wherever they dare to rebel.

It is vital that we keep standing up to the companies responsible for these deaths.

Miriam Scharf, East London

Youth take lead on climate

Dozens of young people from across Britain recently assembled at Deansgate in Manchester to help support the Northern Rebellion.

From 7.30am on Friday 30 August, youths had come to assist in the blockading of a section of road on Deansgate.

For the next four days they made great efforts to demonstrate the important role young people have within Extinction Rebellion (XR) and in the fight for climate justice.

Members of XR Youth held three “Youth Forums” across the weekend.

They provided a space for young people to vocalise the challenges they faced in trying to bring attention to the climate crisis. And they gave suggestions on what XR could do as a wider movement to help overcome such challenges.

Common themes included the lack of being taken seriously and anger at the education system for not providing information on political and individual rights.

Over the weekend, several young people were invited to speak. Each expressed their individual fears for their future in light of the climate emergency.

This demonstrated the power young people have to bring attention to the issue of climate change.

Young people have the potential to be a leading voice within climate justice movements.

And they are certainly not a group that more experienced activists can afford to ignore.

Fritha Heaven, Lancashire

‘Affordable rents’ are a cause of homelessness

Two shocking, in-depth and detailed reports show that housing associations are refusing social housing to some of their poorest applicants.

They are using applicant “affordability assessments” and new higher rents that cannot be met by benefits.

The authors conclude that, “The shift to ‘affordable’ housing is at the expense of provision of housing at social rents, accessible to those on the lowest incomes.

Left unchecked, there is the potential for a ‘perfect storm’ in which welfare reforms and austerity policies increasingly push those on the lowest incomes into the private rented sector.”

We have always been told that the higher rents would be covered in full by housing benefit.

That was a lie. Higher social and “affordable” rents are a direct cause of homelessness.

Paul Burnham, North London

Can you help us make this pamphlet?

Autumn 1969 and Spring 1970 saw demonstrations and pitch invasions of grounds to disrupt the South African rugby team as they toured Britain and Ireland.

The demonstrations were organised by the Stop the Seventy Tour Committee with the support of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

This mass civil disobedience in the face of police brutality successfully stopped the 1970 South African cricket tour and future cricketing tours until apartheid fell.

The success was a victory for anti-racists everywhere.

We are currently researching the campaign for a pamphlet to be published early next year.

We would welcome stories and testimony from anyone involved in this inspiring campaign. Email [email protected] or [email protected]

Geoff Brown and Christian Hogsbjerg, By email

This rebellion shows future

Extinction Rebellion’s recent Northern Rebellion in Manchester was an inspiration.

For four days one of the busiest areas of central Manchester was transformed.

Instead of being a thoroughfare for cars, it was a pedestrianised space full of people talking, discussing and organising for a sustainable future.

The Rebellion reminded me that ordinary people are perfectly capable of organising and protecting their own spaces.

This is the sort of democratic future that we will need if we are to stop capitalism’s destruction of the planet.

Martin Empson, Manchester

Go all out for 20 September

The forthcoming Strike for Climate will be most effective if everyone demands that their government declares a climate emergency.

Anonymous, by email

We must agitate in our workplaces as much as possible for action on 20 September.

The planet is dying and the ruling class only wants to save it if it can make a profit. It is up to ordinary people to stand up for our home.

Bethany Hayes, Nottingham

Learn from Hong Kong

We can learn from those in Hong Kong who have stopped the bill and lost their fear of gangsters and police violence.

Victory to the protesters. They can win their five demands.

Lawrence Wong, South London

Corbyn must take action

Jeremy Corbyn needs to take the collapse of the Tory party as an opportunity to get them out of office.

Anything less than a general election is a mistake that could potentially cost him a large section of his supporters.

Adam Parry, Cardiff

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