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DSEI is one of the world’s largest arms fairs.
DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) exists so that arms buyers and sellers can come together, network and make deals, and it takes place every two years in London’s Docklands. DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government. Buyers include countries involved in conflict and from human rights abusing regimes, as well as those with desperately underfunded development needs. Over 1500 exhibitors will attend from around the world, including most of the world’s largest arms companies, displaying arms ranging from rifles to tanks, fighter jets, battleships, missiles, military electronics, surveillance and riot control equipment.
The next event (DSEI 2015) will be held in the third week of September at Newham’s Excel Centre in East London. There will be a week of action against the arms fair. More info will be available here in due course.
Companies registered to attend in 2015:
- Lockheed Martin produces military aircraft, unmanned systems for air, land and sea, armoured ground vehicles, missiles and naval systems. It supplies F-16 bombers to Israel. These aircraft, as well as Lockheed’s Hellfire missiles, are at the forefront of Israeli assaults on the Occupied Territories and its neighbours.
- BAE Systems profited heavily from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq; and provided armoured vehicles that were used by Saudi troops helping to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in March 2011.
- Thales produces radars, sonars, electronic surveillance satellites, tactical communication and combat management systems, drones, helicopter avionics, armoured vehicles, mortar systems and missiles. Thales is currently pursuing a joint-venture with Israeli arms company Elbit to build 54 drones for the UK MoD.
- API Technologies microelectronics are used in a wide range of weapon systems including Predator drones, F-16s, Eurofighter Typhoons, and Hellfire and Tomahawk missiles.
- Babcock International is the largest supplier of support services to the UK armed forces and maintains the UK’s current nuclear-armed submarines.
- Boeing is the largest manufacturer of military aircraft such as the Apache attack helicopters, which have been used in military operations in countries including Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Why we oppose the DSEi arms fair:
- Against class oppression
The governments scrape up our poorest kids on a promise of a better life, and fly them halfway round the world to get blown to bits – or to do the same to some other poor mother’s children. To those who make the wars, all our kids are disposable – divided into nothing more than either ‘cannon fodder’ or ‘collateral damage’. We have far more in common with those being bombed by ‘our’ governments than we do with those who make the wars.
- Against austerity
The government say they’ve got no money for schools, hospitals, libraries, or benefits for the disabled and unemployed. But they’ve got plenty when it comes to subsidising arms fairs. Arms exports are heavily subsidised by the tax payer at £700mil per year (SIPRI Institute). So whilst the state enforces crippling cuts at home, it throws hundreds of millions at the arms trade.
- Against imperialism
The position of wealth and privilege in the global north is largely as a result of continuous war. The rich fight like dogs over the world’s remaining natural resources, leaving behind regional instability and dangerous power vacuums. Western interventionism and the ‘war on terror’ have done nothing to make us safer and everything to make things worse. The arms trade fuels and perpetuates this despicable machine. And when the troops move out the corporations move in.
- Against the environmental damage of war
The environmental impacts of war are devastating: burning oil wells; cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions littering the countryside; defoliated landscape after chemical spraying or forest fires; bombed sewage systems poisoning the groundwater; massive oil consumption plus toxic military activities releasing massive amounts of CFCs and heavy metals into the environment.
- Against apartheid
Israel is one of the most militarized states in the world. They promote their arms as ‘battle tested’ or ‘combat-proven’ (on Palestinian bodies). Israel-owned arms company Elbit is showcasing 3 of its subsidiaries at DSEi this year — Instro Precision, Ferranti Technologies and Elite KL. Elbit drones were used during last summer’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’, which was so horrific NGOs described it as a ’war on children’. Israel’s participation at DSEi is organised by SIBAT, a department of the Israeli government responsible for the IDF’s arms procurement.
- Against animal cruelty
Many of the weapons for sale at DSEi are tested on live animals to ascertain the level of damage they can achieve — including chemicals, lasers, ammunition and explosives.
- Against torture and mass murder
At every DSEi arms fair since 2005, weapons were exhibited for sale that are designed specifically for torture (including weighted fetters, gang chains and electro-shock weapons), or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning mass indiscriminate killing of civilians (including cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines).
- Against securitisation and the border regimeThousands of people every year are forced by war, oppression and starvation to flee their countries of origin hoping for a better life — hundreds don’t survive that journey. There’s a global market boom in databases, biometric readers, data mining programmes and other technologies of control, with multinational corporations poised to make huge profits at DSEI. New robotic technologies include unmanned aerial and ground vehicles that can patrol borders and prevent migrant vessels from reaching European shores. People are suffocating in containers, drowning, exploding on mine fields or being shot by border guards — as European states wage a war against the refugees they helped to create.
Why direct action?
We can’t look to the law to prevent oppression. The vilest episodes in history were enshrined or protected by their relevant domestic legal systems at the time – slavery, apartheid, holocaust and mass slaughter of indigenous peoples across the globe. In each case the perpetrators and profiteers used the full force of the law to defend their atrocities with police, armies and weapons. Even in cases where states or the arms companies are in clear breach of international laws on arms controls or human rights, it’s money and power that talks.
From the UK’s illegal wars for oil, to the way arms companies are allowed to operate here with impunity, there is no accountability. The British police act as free private security for the arms trade – they abuse protesters and turn a blind eye to the continual breaches of laws banning the promotion of torture weapons, or those that indiscriminately maim and kill civilians. Various ‘illegal’ arms such as electro-shock weapons, weighted fetters and gang chains, cluster-munitions and anti-personnel landmines have been documented by Amnesty as having been promoted for sale at every DSEi arms fair since 2005 – yet the state has not once intervened. And some of the most destructive weapons for sale at the event – such as the drones frequently used to incinerate whole families by remote control at the touch of a button in places like Pakistan or Palestine – are not illegal to sell at all. In such circumstances we see no way forward but direct action.
The police aren’t there to protect us but rather they exist to protect the interests of the privileged and powerful. Those people who seek to take genuinely effective action against the state or the corporations quickly learn this lesson the hard way, if they didn’t know it already. As an important matter of principle our group will never liaise or negotiate with the police.