Newham Against the Arms Fair is a new group of activists campaigning locally about the upcoming DSEI Arms fair at the ExCeL centre in September.
We spoke to one of the organisers and local activist, Andy Perkins.
What is DSEI?
DSEI is one of the worlds biggest arms fairs and is held every two years in London Docklands in the borough of Newham. The letters stand for Defence and Security Equipment International, and is pronounced Dicey.
At the ExCeL exhibition centre from Sept 9th -13th International arms companies will meet up with military delegations from around the globe to show off the latest war technology. They are selling everything from bombs, drones, guns, warplanes, tanks, grenades as well as riot and restraint equipment and cyber warfare software.
These weapons are sold at great profit to countries in conflict, authoritarian regimes and countries carrying out serious and well documented human rights offences. Many of these weapons will be used against civilians in non combat areas.
Haven’t there have been lots of protests in the past about this?
Yes …at the last DSEI arms fair in 2017 over 100 people were arrested and the start of the arms fair was delayed. Hundreds of protesters came from around the country co-ordinated by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) under the organisational banner of “Stop the Arms Fair”
This year the protests look set to be even larger. In the week leading up to the start of the Arms Fair (2nd – 8th Sept), protesters will block the entrances to ExCeL, locking themselves onto vehicles, and causing as much disruption as possible to stop the weapons and equipment from getting into the exhibition centre.
As in 2017, “Stop the Arms Fair and CAAT are having different themes on each day of the protests.
Monday 2nd September: Stop Arming Israel Tuesday 3rd September: No Faith in War Wednesday 4th September: No Nuclear Thursday 5th September: Conference at the Gates Friday 6th September: Climate Justice Saturday 7th September: Festival of Resistance Sunday 8th September: Borders & Migration
The resistance involves not just blocking roads , but a peace camp along with music and art and theatre groups. To find out more go to https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk
How are Newham Against the Arms Fair taking action?
Newham Against the Arms Fair was set up earlier this year by Momentum activists in the area around the ExCeL exhibition centre. working alongside, and with help from, CAAT.
The campaign’s main aim is to raise awarenes amongst people living and working in the area of the arms fair, and to build local opposition, and to put pressure on local elected representatives to take action against the arms fair.
We have won support from the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz. The local MP, Lyn Brown and local councillors are involved in the campaign. The local labour party and Unions have been passing motions of support and contributing financially. Local community groups and faith groups are also starting to get involved.
We have regular music protests outside the ExCeL exhibition centre, informing visitors to the various exhibitions there, of the coming arms fair.
We are also setting up street stalls and leafletting in local estates and high streets and looking to hold meetings and events leading up to September.
We have just started a petition on 38 degrees which we use in our campaigning , and you can sign at
Upcoming activities including leafletting ,stalls, film showing , and a protest outside the next Royal Docks development zone meeting are being announced announced regularly on our website https://newhamagainstthearmsfair.org
and you can also follow us on facebook and twitter. You are all welcome whether from Newham or not!