A group of six Christian activists were arrested on Wednesday as they took part in a peaceful demonstration against the London Arms Fair. The group from the anti-Trident nonviolent campaign Trident Ploughshares were arrested after blocking the West Gate of the ExCeL Centre in Docklands, ahead of the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) the world's largest arms trade fair, which will take place on 12-15 September.
The group lay in the roadway joined to each other with lock-on tubes. Their action prevented traffic carrying materials for DSEI entering the centre for 90 minutes.Those arrested were: Margaret Bremner, 63, from Portobello, Edinburgh, Angie Zelter, 66, from Knighton in Wales, Douglas Shaw, 67, from Biggar, Randel Harford, 27, from Bristol, Barbara Cookson, 66, from Liverpool and Genny Scherel, 71, from London.
One of the arrestees, Margaret Bremner, said: "The sale of arms shows that the value of money is being put before people's lives. We must campaign for dignity, respect, peace and justice in our world."
TP's action is one of many being organised by a variety of groups co-ordinated by the Stop the Arms Fair that will aim to stop weapons reaching the ExCeL Centre in Docklands from both entrance roads, before the Arms Fair begins. TP's action will highlight the involvement of the world's biggest arms manufacturers in production, operation and maintenance of Britain's nuclear weapons, and the disproportionate influence this gives them over Government policy, and the ability to lobby the Government to promote their military products abroad. BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Babcock, Rolls Royce and Thales have, between them, had hundreds of meetings with the UK Government, which in turn has promoted their products to some of the world's most oppressive regimes.
DSEI, with full UK government support, attracts 1,500 exhibitors and 34,000 arms buyers, many from states currently at war or on the Foreign Office's own list of human rights abusers. At recent DSEIs, campaigners exposed availability of cluster-bombs and near-torture equipment, banned by treaty.
Two factors increase concern about DSEI this year: first, that Britain's biggest arms customer, Saudi Arabia, has a lead role in bombing Yemen, causing civilian deaths, famine and an unprecedented cholera epidemic; second, that war and internal conflict are leading causes of the so-called 'refugee crisis'.
For details of forthcoming peace events at the DSEI see: www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/
See also: ICN 5 September 2017 No Faith in War prayers outside DSEI Arms Fair - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33331