Over 1,200 arms companies will attend the world’s largest arms fair this September to hawk their deadly wares to 25,000 buyers from around the world. The Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition is taking place from 13-16 September at the ExCeL centre in east London.
DSEi is organised by Clarion Events (who also run family-friendly events such as the Baby Show) and by the government’s UK Trade and Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).
Libya and Bahrain were listed as priority market countries by UKTI DSO; they used UK-supplied weaponry to attack their people recently. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which engaged in internal repression in the course of the Arab Spring, also bought arms from the UK. All four countries were invited to the last DSEi in 2009. DSEi 2011 will be the largest showcase of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in the world.
A wealth of diverse and creative actions are taking place before and during the fair: a candle-lit vigil on the eve of the arms fair, and then 13 September is the big one, with a host of actions for the discerning activist to choose from. The “Bikes Not Bombs” Critical Mass bike ride starts at 8.30am at Bank Junction. Campaign Against Arms Trade are holding a photo stunt, demonstration and mass lobby of parliament from 11am. The afternoon sees actions such as a “Down the Drones” media stunt. Arms dealers will be leafletted on the other days of the fair and the week finishes with a wreath-laying for the victims of the arms trade on the Royal Victoria Dock.