The Tories have invited countries they admit are abusing human rights to a global arms fair

A protest at this years DSEI arms fair
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The Tory-led UK government has revealed that it invited eight countries it considers to be human rights abusers to the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at the ExCeL centre in London. Accordingly, people have been protesting – making their objections to these death dealers clear.

DSEI: protests continue

The Canary has been covering this year’s DSEI. As we previously reported:

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

Then, on Monday 11 September, protests took place outside BAE Systems – one of the most notorious arms companies on the planet:

There was also a poster campaign, spreading information:

Activists then held a vigil to remember all the victims of war:

On the fair’s opening day, Tuesday 12 September, protesters made sure that the arms dealers attending couldn’t miss the resistance to them and their industry:

The Tories courting human rights abusers

Meanwhile, also on 12 September, the Tory government published a list of countries it had invited to the arms fair. Unsurprisingly, eight states are on the UK government’s own list of ‘human rights priority’ countries:

  • Bangladesh
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

So, as part of the protests against DSEI, people have been demonstrating outside the UK Defence and Security Exports office:

Of course, the UK government’s definition of a human-rights-abusing state is itself entirely inadequate. Other notorious countries attending DSEI but who don’t make the government watch-list include:

As the Canary previously reported, over 40 Israeli arms companies have stands at this year’s DSEI. Independent media outlet Declassified UK managed to get into DSEI. It found the Israel’s Ministry of Defense had its own stand:

‘Utter disdain for human rights’

Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s (CAAT’s) media coordinator – and former Canary editor – Emily Apple said in a statement:

The list of countries invited to this year’s DSEI shows this government’s utter disdain for human rights around the world. These invited delegates will be wined and dined and encouraged to buy yet more weapons to wage wars across their borders and to repress their civilian populations at home. It makes a mockery of the Foreign Office publishing a list of human rights priority countries when the same government pulls out all the stops to sell them as many arms as possible.

DSEI is a marketplace in death and destruction. It has nothing to do with peace and security, and only exists to maximise the profits of arms dealers.

The UK government’s willingness to invite human rights-abusing states to DSEI raises huge questions about how we function as a country. So, with just a few days left of DSEI, protests are set to continue at the ExCeL centre and beyond.

Feature image via CAAT

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