Occupy DSEI shows how with selling arms the British government says one thing but does another

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Occupy DSEI shows how with selling arms the British government says one thing but does another

by Sam Mercer


Weapons sold and bought at arms fairs have consequences (Tony Robinson/Pressenza under a Creative Commons Licence)

After the chemical weapons attack in Syria we need to think hard about the situation with arms: the different kinds of arms and the governments who can buy them.

We need to look at London’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) annual arms fair. It is the world’s largest arms fair and is held in London from 10 to 13 September.

The protests against the DSEI include Twitter hashtags, blocking roads, and people gluing themselves to the offices of British arms company Lockheed Martin. Sarah Reader has taken part in the week-long protest against DSEI. She explains that the protests are bringing attention to the fair and helping the movement against the fair. People want to directly stop the fair.

There are more protests this year. Before the protests were by peace and anti-military campaigners. In 2013 groups like Occupy London and groups from Turkey and Bahrain have joined the protests. Sarah Reader thinks this international movement is because of Syria and also because of years of politicians’ hypocrisy – they say one thing but do something different. She says that the weapons at the arms fair are used against civilians in many countries. There is a direct link between the weapons at the DSEI fair and the ones used in wars now.

DSEI invited to the fair countries such as Algeria, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. These governments have been involved in human rights problems now or in the past. Britain says it is against the use of chemical weapons in Syria but it sells arms to other countries. It is possible that these governments will use them against their own people.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas protested that two companies were selling weapons that could be used for torture, for example, to give electric shocks. The two companies were asked to leave the fair.

British politicians on the right have tried to defend DSEI. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson told the Huffington Post that it is necessary for governments to have legal weapons to protect themselves.

But what is a legal weapon? Does it mean the weapon has been sold in the right way? Or is it a weapon bought by and from a member of the UN Security Council?

Sarah Reader describes the mayor’s words as ‘completely ridiculous’. The British government supports democracy in the world but David Cameron goes to the Middle East to sell weapons. The British government is trying to defend what it is doing in supporting the arms fair. But this is a case of saying one thing and doing another.

The protests have shown clearly how much Britain wants to sell weapons to repressive governments around the world.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see http://newint.org/blog/2013/09/13/occupy-dsei-highlights-hypocrisy-british-government/