The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair is taking place at the ExCeL centre in London. Meanwhile, activists and campaigners have already been robustly protesting it – causing some major disruption along the way. However, one group has revealed the extent of the Israeli state’s death and destruction that’s being represented at DSEI. It includes over 40 arms companies from the country selling their weapons there.
Stop the arms fair
The Canary has been documenting this year’s resistance to DSEI. It’s a huge arms fair that hosts over 2,800 companies profiting from death, destruction, and surveillance. DSEI happens every two years – and so do the protests to it. Stop The Arms Fair (STAF) has been organising resistance. So far, it’s held a peace walk, a workshop on removing militarisation from education, and a ‘policing and prisons’ day – focusing on how these arms of the state intersect with DSEI:
Today is policing and prisons day at the #StopDSEI protests. As well as weapons, DSEI is a one stop shop for militarised policing and the equipment and tech to repress populations.
Meanwhile a mysterious fleet of Mercedes has arrived at the arms fair… pic.twitter.com/5axZcexqZF
— CAAT (@CAATuk) September 10, 2023
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There was also a Faith Day on Thursday 7 September. This was where people from all denominations (or those with none) held vigils, but also blocked deliveries to DSEI. Cops arrested nine people – as they usually do. Then, Climate Day on Friday 8 September saw people lock-on to delivery lorries:
Lock-on in front of a truck during climate day at #StopDSEI.
We can’t tackle the climate crisis without confronting the fact that the world’s militaries are also some of the world’s biggest polluters.
Protests continuing at the weekend and throughout next week. Get involved! pic.twitter.com/zN0RCbCJTY
— CAAT (@CAATuk) September 8, 2023
The climax of the first week of protests was STAF’s Festival of Resistance on Saturday 9 September. It included music and guest speakers:
— CAAT (@CAATuk) September 9, 2023
A group of cyclists arrived in support:
— Netpol (@netpol) September 9, 2023
People once again blocked roads into the ExCeL centre to stop deliveries – while dancing, no less:
— CAAT (@CAATuk) September 9, 2023
There was a heavy police presence – but, curiously, they didn’t arrest anyone on 9 September:
We are following with great interest the actions happening now to stop the DSEI arms show from being able to get set up in London given the plans for a Canada Pavilion inside the ExCel convention centre. For an overview of #StopDSEI events: https://t.co/wZ2GIrxSQF #ShutDownCANSEC pic.twitter.com/XwKmE7sLUT
— Peace Brigades International – Canada (@PBIcanada) September 9, 2023
STAF have more actions happening, too – including a Migrant Justice Day:
🚨TWO WEEKS OF RESISTANCE 🚨
is planned to disrupt and stop the world's largest arms fair. #StopDSEI
Join us for performances, talks, protests and more!! 🪧📢🎶
— Stop The Arms Fair! (@StopTheArmsFair) August 29, 2023
However, against this backdrop of protest, a campaign group has revealed just how well-represented Israeli arms companies are at DSEI.
Israeli arms companies making a killing at DSEI
Campaign Against The Arms Trade (CAAT) research shows that over 40 Israeli arms companies – including Elbit Systems – have stalls at DSEI. The Canary has documented Elbit’s toxic work. It includes ‘battle testing‘ equipment on Palestinians. As Tom Anderson previously wrote:
Elbit manufactures around 85% of Israel’s drones which have been used to massacre Palestinians in Gaza.
Elbit’s Ferranti factory in Oldham manufactured imaging and surveillance systems for Israel’s Hermes drones, which have been used to kill Palestinians in Gaza. Elbit is also responsible for manufacturing small calibre ammunition for the Israeli army.
It’s not just in Palestine that Israeli arms manufacturers enable death and destruction. As Middle East Eye reported, government-owned Israel Aerospace Industries has been exporting arms to Myanmar. This is despite making promises to the contrary. The UN described the situation in Myanmar as “genocidal” in 2017, after 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to Bangladesh.
Former Canary editor Emily Apple is CAAT’s media coordinator. She said in a statement:
Israel is an apartheid state, and it is disgusting that the UK is not only selling weapons to Israel but encouraging Israeli arms companies to sell their weapons in London.
Deals done at DSEI will cause misery across the world, causing global instability, and devastating people’s lives. Representatives from regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who have used UK-made weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen, will be wined and dined and encouraged to buy yet more arms.
Arms dealers do not care about peace or security. They care about perpetuating conflict, because conflict increases profits for their shareholders. Meanwhile this government has shown repeatedly that it cares more about the money made from dodgy deals with dictators than it does about the people whose lives will be ruined by the sales made at DSEI.
Whether it’s Elbit, Israel, or Saudi Arabia, once again DSEI – and the UK government – is complicit in the promotion of the arms industry. Meanwhile, it’s people in place like Palestine, Myanmar, and Yemen who suffer while the ExCeL centre sees millions traded off the back of their misery.
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