IssueSeptember 2007
Comment by Gwyn

“Think global; act local” is a very good principle but it is scary when you have no choice but to do so. Here in East London we are being forced to think globally. Some Peace News readers know the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in Custom House because it is the venue for the DSEi arms fair, which boasts that it is the biggest in the world. East London Against the Arms Fair has frequent protests at ExCeL, calling for cancellation of this and all arms fairs.

Any arms fair arguably represents global capitalism and multinational militarism at its worst. Last year DSEi was sold by Reed Elsevier to Clarion Events, a company that is owned by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a private equity company based in New York. The ExCeL site itself was bought by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company, owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

On 2 April 2009, the G20 heads of governments are gathering in London to discuss “the need for fundamental changes in the world’s economic systems”. They are meeting at the ExCeL Centre. I think I am still in shock. If the date was 1 April, I would have been sure it was a joke.

I first got the news (by email – thanks, brother), the day after ELAAF had met and planned protests against the arms fair every month up to September 2009.

It is strange that the host country, Britain has invited premiers from other countries to a venue that is wholly owned by Abu Dhabi and proclaims that fact in big signs all over the area. It’s a bit like a family hiring a room over a pub for a party because their own home isn’t big enough.

You would think a British-owned site could have been found. Maybe Gleneagles wouldn’t have them back because they messed up their rooms and made too much noise? Couldn’t Elizabeth Windsor have lent one of her palaces? Was a UK military base ruled out in case the soldiers had told their coalition colleagues how miserable those bases are to live in? Seriously though, this is going to be the biggest gathering in this country of politicians of all countries since the G8 at Gleneagles.

It is only one day. Many groups concerned with human rights, environment, poverty, peace, injustice and the collapse of capitalism will want to express their concerns that day. Unlike the G8, there is not time for the months of hard work, preparation and consultation that preceded the G8 actions.

It may prove impossible for any of us to get within sight or sound of the delegates. They and their entourages will probably be whisked in and out of the nearby London City Airport or stay in one of the luxury hotels inside the ExCeL site.

Since I started writing this column I have had an idea. 2 April is the beginning of the month. Perhaps the most constructive way of linking all the issues would be for as many of us as possible to sell Peace News that day at whatever demonstrations take place.

Topics: Global justice
See more of: Gwyn