Socialist Worker

Thousands say no to arms fairs in Liverpool and London

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2772

Protesting in Liverpool

Protesting in Liverpool (Pic: Neil Terry)


Thousands of people have angrily protested against armaments fairs in Liverpool and east London. 

Up to 6,000 people flooded Liverpool’s streets on Saturday to demand the annual Electronic Warfare Europe convention is shut down and never returns.

Protesters were joined by Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn and John Mcdonnell as they marched from Princes Park to the city centre.

A range of groups came together to organise the protest including Merseyside Pensioners Association and Campaign Against the Arms Trade. They gained lots of support from bystanders and residents who waved flags from windows and sounded car horns.

Protesters held placards reading, “Stop the arms fair,” and chanted, “Money for war, no money for the poor.”

Addressing the crowd Jeremy Corbyn said, “Let’s turn the page, turn the corner, learn the lessons of the past, let humanity prevail and cancel the arms fair.

“Let us start the process to a more just world, where we respect each other and our human rights.”

Protesters hope that enough public pressure will force the Exhibition Centre Liverpool to cancel the event set for 11 to 13 October.

Debs from the NEU union said, “We would seriously have to reconsider whether we hold our national conference here at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool again if they continue with the arms fair.

“As a trade union movement, every union who intends to use the centre should do the exact same thing.

“The NEU has a fantastic relationship with Palestinian teachers’ unions. We support the Palestinians and it would be hypocritical for us to have a conference at this centre that facilitates the killing of our colleagues in Palestine.”

Solidarity

The exhibition centre has already started to face booking cancellations. Last Friday, the band Massive Attack rearranged its concert in solidarity with the anti-war protests.

The following day in Newham, east London 750 people marched through the borough to highlight the violence Palestinians face as a result of the biannual Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair. Protesters have been taking place all this week—with more set to happen. 

On Sunday hundreds of people lined the streets throughout the march offering solidarity and support.

Roua is an activist with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). She told Socialist Worker, “It’s clear from what we’ve seen today, that local people don’t want the arms fair.

“It’s our responsibility to keep the pressure up. It was the pressure that made London Mayor, Sadiq Khan speak out against the fair.

“We must show Newham’s community that it is a real threat.”

Oppose rulers’ conventions bathed in blood
Oppose rulers’ conventions bathed in blood
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Local teacher and NEU member, Rob agreed, he told Socialist Worker, “It’s an absolute disgrace the fair has returned to Newham.

“We’re one of the most diverse and poorest boroughs in Britain with a proud record of welcoming refugees.

“Those refugees are fleeing the wars that DSEI is responsible for.”

Local activists from PSC, Stop the War, London Renters Union and more marched from Forest Lane Park in Forest Gate to Central Park marching through some of Newham’s busiest residential areas.

Addressing the mobilisation, local Palestine activist Rob Ferguson said, “Warmongers and arms dealers in this borough fund mass slaughter that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

“The arms fair— the jamboree of death— is a threat to us all. It’s our movement that will stop the arms fair and the drive for war.”

Pressure continues to build across Liverpool and east London with more actions and protests planned.

Palestinian-led protest against DSEI - Resist the Arms Fair. Thursday 16 September, 6.30pm, Cundy Park, E13 8RY

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