The action today (lockons and tripods obstructing arrival of tanks etc) got 2.5mins on ITN local london news. There have been a couple of articles, finaly triggered by MET police press work warning of possible violence and disruption (why oh why do the corporate media have to wait for the bloody police to warn of a protest like this before they print an article??) - see earlier bbc and independent articles. Also guardian on cluster bombs - but not even mentioning the protests!
Protest groups aim to blockade arms fair
By Jason Bennetto Crime Correspondent
02 September 2003
More than 3,000 security guards and police officers will be deployed in London next week to protect Europe's biggest arms fair amid warnings of potentially violent protests.
Up to forty groups of anti-arms activists, anarchists and anti-globalisation demonstrators are to lobby against the arms exhibition in Docklands, east London.
The protesters have made plans, which have been posted on the internet, to "storm" and "blockade" what they call the "death fair". Some demonstrators have been told to "dress as smart as you can" to confront arms dealers and government delegates. A senior Metropolitan Police officer said they were "expecting serious trouble", and described the planned demonstrations as "a major public order headache".
Nearly 1,000 arms companies and suppliers selling artillery, military aircraft, small arms, bombs, mines and tanks will have stands at the Defence Systems Equipment International (DSEi 2003) exhibition at the Excel Centre from 9 to 12 September. A frigate and a minesweeper are to be moored outside the centre and a tank and a helicopter will be on show inside.
Government ministers are expected to attend the event, which is supported by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD has invited delegates from 60 countries and will provide them with accommodation and board.
The huge security operation, costing more than £1m, includes the deployment of 2,000 frontline police officers from the Met, 300 officers from the British Transport Police, officers from the City of London force and MoD police and specialists from the Met's marine, dogs, and horse units. Plainclothes detectives will also be used to identify known troublemakers, and surveillance teams will monitor the protests. Security fences will enclose the exhibition, which will also be policed by security guards. It is an invitation-only event.
The Met said: "It's a big event, very high-profile and seen as controversial, so we expect it to attract a large number of demonstrators. We have been planning this for a year because of the high level of protest expected, including plans for a day of direct action."
Protesters plan a march in central London on 6 September and a demonstration called "Facing the Arms Traders" on 9 September. There have been calls for direct action and blockades on 10 September, which has been labelled "Destroy DSEi". Two groups, Reclaim the Streets and Critical Mass, plan to cause traffic chaos with a mass bicycle ride and protest marches to close off streets.
Martin Hogbin, co-ordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trading, said: "Our Government likes to project itself as a force for good in the world, but the reality is that by hosting this arms fair, the UK has become an international force of hypocrisy."
Other protest groups include the Anarchist Federation, CND, Reclaim the Streets, Destroy DSEi, Disobedience, Globalise Resistance and Wombles.
An MoD spokesman said its involvement in the exhibition was part of its support for the legitimate British arms industry. A spokesman for the organiser of the arms fair, Spearhead Exhibitions, based in Surrey, said it was "100 per cent" confident that police would ensure the security of the exhibitors and visitors.
Cluster bombs shut out of arms fair
Manufacturers asked not to bring controversial weapons to London
Saturday August 30, 2003
Weapons manufacturers have been requested not to display cluster bombs at next month's military equipment exhibition in the London Docklands because they are considered "inappropriate" for the UK market.
The Guardian has been told that the decision to hide the trade in such lethal anti-personnel devices is being enforced despite the fact that British and US forces used them extensively in the invasion of Iraq.
The sensitivity reflects mounting public concern over the dangers posed by the multiple "bomblets" contained in cluster bombs. A significant number do not explode on impact, remaining on the ground and attracting the attention of youngsters.
The UN children's fund Unicef believes more than 1,000 children have been injured by cluster bomblets and other unexploded munitions since the official end of conflict in Iraq.
A spokeswoman for Spearhead Exhibitions, the company organising the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition, said yesterday that - unlike landmines - "cluster bombs are not on the illegal list".
But, she added, "we have suggested they wouldn't be appropriate in the UK. We have asked exhibitors not to bring them. We suggested that cluster bombs would be inappropriate for the UK market, even though [the UK] used them in Iraq."
The desire to present a socially acceptable face of the defence industry marks a new departure for the show, which takes place this year from September 9 to 12. When the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, opens the trade fair, television cameras and the media will be allowed in for the first time.
DSEi will have more than 950 exhibitors and is expected to attract 20,000 visitors.
The UK arms industry is worth more than £5bn a year and accounts for around 20% of world weapons sales. It employs between 70,000 and 150,000 people, and the UK is the world's second largest manufacturer after the US, which has 32% of the market.
Martin Hogbin, of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said: "Arms fairs are where arms deals take place. It is where people come to network and do deals.
"The decision on cluster bombs shows that it has become an area of public concern. Just because they have been asked not to sell them there doesn't mean they can't do a deal about them later."
A campaign report published on Monday says that arms are not, as is often conceived, a "vast money earner for the UK". The organisation estimates that the industry receives subsidies of around £750m a year.
The campaign says it is concerned that many of the countries invited to DSEi are impoverished, or have controversial human rights records. They include Angola and Tanzania as well as Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Syria was invited by the Ministry of Defence, but it has not accepted.
"Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, Colombia, China and Russia were all invited to DSEi in 2001; all received UK arms in 2002," the campaign report says. Inviting such countries "provides implicit approval of their actions", it says.
The government's defence export services organisation, which coordinates sales, insists that just because countries attend the exhibition it does not entitle them to purchase weapons. British arms firms must obtain approval for sales, a Deso official said.
Fears over 11 September arms show
By Chirag Trivedi
BBC News Online, London
27 August, 2003
Concerns have been raised about an arms exhibition in London that will take place on 11 September.
The Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) fair takes place between 9 - 12 September at the Dockland's Excel Centre in east London.
It first took place there two years ago, at the same time as the twin towers were attacked in New York.
There were protests then, and a large number of demonstrators are expected to show up at the exhibition this year as well.
Scotland Yard is drafting in 1,600 officers from across London to police the event but has denied suggestions that it could leave the rest of the city open to a terrorist attack.
A police spokeswoman said: "It will be an extensive operation with public order officers called in to deal with the situation.
"Given the nature of the event and the fact that several protest groups will be there, the operation will be similar to that of May Day.
"We wish to ensure that the event takes place trouble-free and that the protesters can protest in peace."
She added that it was not in the Met's power to postpone or cancel the exhibition, despite the sensitivity of the 11 September date.
"We always have concerns with shows of this nature, considering what will be on display," she said.
It's ridiculous to suggest that we would have gone ahead with this if there was a threat to London DSEi spokesman
"We have no spe ific intelligence about a direct threat but the date will mean a general heightened sense of security."
Scotland Yard also stressed that extra policing of this exhibition, which will be the first since 2001, will not detract from the security measures for London on 11 September.
A number of organisations, including CND, Reclaim the Streets and Socialist Alliance, are involved in the protests, which will take place over the several days of the show.
The spokesman for the umbrella organisation, Disarm DSEi, said: "It is Europe's biggest arms fair and we think it really insensitive that they have scheduled this on 11 September."
Three anti-arms protestors were arrested after locking themselves into the headquarters of the exhibition organisers, last week.
Staff from Spearhead Exhibitions in New Malden were forced to break in through windows to ask the protestors to leave. Another was arrested as he tried to erect a banner on the outside of the building.
A spokesman for DSEi said they had been in contact with the police for over a year and would have moved the date of the event if the Met had asked them to do so.
She said: "It's ridiculous to suggest that we would have gone ahead with this if there was a threat to London."
She added that the exhibition will have some hardware, including ships, but will concentrate on ideas and development of defence systems.
Everyone attending will be by invitation of the Ministry of Defence or by application.