Cardiff arms fair protesters face trial

IssueJune - July 2016
News by PN

While the real criminals were on 16 March being safely protected and escorted into the building, the six protesters arrested at the DPRTE (defence procurement, research, technology and exportability) arms fair were due to stand trial at the end of May and beginning of June.

Originally held at the University of the West of England (UWE) campus in Bristol, DPRTE was driven out by determined active resistance and moved to the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (a venue intended for entertainment!) where it has met similar resistance since 2014. Besides diverse protests during the arms fair, the arena has been pressurised through actions such as communication blockades and contacting performing artists, with one result being The King Blues band denouncing the Cardiff Arms Fair live on stage.

DPRTE delegates do not bring suitcases full of cash and leave with truck loads of weapons but the end results are the same. It takes more than guns to keep the military functioning.

When a drone strikes a family in Afghanistan, the cockpit electronics are just as essential a part of the murder as the warheads. When a human rights activist is tortured to death in Bahrain, the software used to track them down is as much a tool of violence as batons or electrocution devices.

Promoted as the ‘UK’s premier defence procurement event’, DPRTE provides a forum for companies to find partners to supply repressive governments and regimes around the globe.

Exhibitors and prime contractors include the world’s third-largest arms producer, BAE Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia and Israel; the world’s number one arms company, Lockheed Martin, supplier of F-16s to Israel, Turkey and Bahrain; and Airbus, a company involved in manufacturing drones for such beacons of freedom as the UAE, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

One defendant awaiting trial said: ‘As individuals seeking an alternative to endless wars and repression, we will continue to do all we can to oppose and shut down these dealers in death, who are the real criminals. When the rich make war, it’s the poor that die!’. They added: ‘Unbelievably, despite pressure and protests, the Motorpoint Arena has already agreed to hold next year’s DPRTE arms fair on 28 March 2017.... See you there!’

Three trial dates were set, the first starting on 25 May; the second on 1 June; the final trial for 7–8 June, all at Cardiff magistrates court. All support and solidarity is greatly appreciated.

Topics: Arms trade