Communities explain how ‘critical and important’ actions against the world’s largest arms fair are

Military display at DSEEI
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Since 2 September, activists have taken direct action to try and stop the world’s largest arms fair – Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI). And now, people and communities in some of the countries affected by the arms sold at the fair have responded. This shows just how important opposing DSEI is.

“Really critical and important”

Activist Sam Walton shared a video of Yemeni Hezam Haidar at the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR). There’s currently an OHCHR meeting between 9 and 27 September. Haidar explained that he’d discussed the report by UN special envoys to Yemen and continued:

They mentioned that… war crime had been committed in Yemen. And I just [want] to tell people… in London, those who’ve been protesting this week and last week, against arming Saudi Arabia, this is really, really critical and important.

He also said:

people of Yemen are really happy with the mobilisation and movement of people… we are really super, super happy with that.. it’s really important and has really direct impact on the UN activities and the UN report

“Yemen cannot wait”

Saudi Arabia has been leading an assault on Yemen since 2015. Yet it shows no sign of ending this brutal conflict: propped up with UK and US arms sales. The situation in Yemen is now the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”. Despite a current hold on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the UK government still invited delegates from state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) to DSEI. The United Arab Emirates, part of the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen, is also a DSEI “international partner”.

On 1 September, airstrikes hit a detention facility in Yemen. Martin Griffiths, special envoy of the secretary-general for Yemen said:

The human cost of this war is unbearable. We need it to stop. Yemenis deserve a peaceful future. Today’s tragedy reminds us that Yemen cannot wait.


On September 10, Canary journalists (including this author) took action at DSEI. Using a kayak, two people rowed into the path of war ships and breached the massive security operation. The action was timed to coincide with, and therefore disrupt, the BAE Systems boat display. This action also aimed to highlight the presence of Turkish and Israeli delegates and dealers at DSEI.

Solidarity came from Kurdish communities.

Palestinian flags also flew in the kayak. By September 14, news of this action reached Gaza and Palestine:

As The Canary reported in August, anti-arms protesters shut down an Israeli-owned arms factory in Kent. The factory, owned by Instro Precision, is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, a “private Israeli weapons company”. It’s also “one of the world’s biggest arms companies” that supplies “to some of the worst military regimes around the world”.

During the occupation:

A number of packages were discovered with the logo of Turkish arms company Aselsan. Stop Elbit says this means that Israeli-owned Instro is developing weaponry and/or working with Turkey.

Elbit also exhibited at DSEI, so too did Aselsan.

“Silence equals complicity”

As Ahmed Jahaf, a Yemeni artist said, “the silence” of the international media about war crimes and arms deals “equals complicity”. And the same is true of the ongoing atrocities in Palestine, Gaza, Kurdistan, Turkey, and Syria.

So knowing that people in those countries support protests against the arms companies destroying their communities gives those actions true meaning.

Featured image via The Canary



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  • Show Comments
    1. For those that think protesting is a waste of time, this article surely shows that it is not a futile endeavour.

      Even if our own politicians refuse to listen (and twist the Law), it is clear that others around the World remain aware that there are Britons who care about them, that our political system is not representative of the majority view, and that there are those who do indeed stand up for their human rights too.

      Yes we might wish that politicians respected and listened to our democratic will as well, but that not being the case, it is certainly a good thing that even those peoples (whom our nation is helping to bomb), know that there are those aware of, and opposed to, their plight, and doing what they legally can to end it.

      We shouldn’t have to be in the position of having to take our own government to court about this in the first place, and if we had a decent political system to start with, we wouldn’t need to protest about such things, nor should we need so many charities that deal with issues in our own nation like food-banks, etc.

      I have heard it said that ‘Protest is the life-blood of Democracy’ and that ‘Protest is proof that Democracy works’. However, when does protest itself become an indicator that Democracy is failing? Surely it is when there is so much to protest about that it is clear that those who need to listen aren’t.

      I understand why many people may get despondent about protesting, but this article shows that even if we feel we are getting nowhere with our own politicians (and others), there are still people who are listening and appreciative of those efforts, which helps to reverse the xenophobic behaviours that those who are being severely treated by our Nation’s politics are likely to develop or maintain.

      Politicians are always bleating to us and others how they are ‘doing the will of the British people/electorate/voters’ to justify their evil schemes, even Brexit is being used in such a way, and instead of being angry with each other due to what is essentially our collective ignorance (as it was designed to do), we SHOULD be angry at those who created those conditions.

      Those who with forethought and malice, pitted us against each other, driving many of us into the dirt, and whilst we’re all too tied up with Austerity and Brexit, and the threat of War, societal breakdown, and even family cohesion, they have sought to hide the facts from us, and to flout International and UK law with impunity. All this to setup us up for a trade deal with the USA that we have already categorically rejected – TTIP … the Trade Deal Trump wants is nothing more than a mild rehash and labelling of the same deal they tried to foist on us without our knowledge (3 times).

      This is why it is important to speak up and to protest, even if it looks like they’re not listening, be assured that others are, and it is this that frightens them. They know how illusory their power is, that is why they lie and fight so hard to ignore us in the first place.

      Our government knows full well that our military and our weapons are helping Saudi Arabia (among other despotic nations) to murder people against International law, and our own laws. They know full well the horror that they are helping to create, and not one of them loses sleep over it, but they do lose sleep over the prospect of being found out, and of having their power, riches, and titles removed from them. To protect that, they will happily sentence a million or more Yemenese, and even people of our own Nation to death, because they are not Democratic people, but authoritarian tyrants, who want the veneer of decency to hide their corruption.

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