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Testimony of one day of protest against the DSEI arms exhibitions

4HRhippy | 09.09.2003 16:28 | DSEi 2003 | Anti-militarism | London

My testimony and disbelief at the number of police present and their aggressive behaviour. And how the government distorts the reality of a peaceful protest and reacts against it as if it was war against terrorist criminals.

Today the DSEI started. It is the clear illustration of the double
standard of the United Kingdom government. While, on one side promoting a war in the name of establishing democracy and protecting human rights, on the other side it decided to hold an international arms fair here in London. Besides, as if that was not enough, a gala will be held on no other date than the 11th of September when people around the world will be mourning the victims of the terrible events
of 2001 and 1973, which happened in the US and Chili respectively. Protest was organised and this time I decided to go and have my voice heard.
I was shocked by what I saw.
The right to peaceful demonstration is one of the most fundamental
rights. However, enough police officers that all the police stations of London probably had to shut down for the day were here, in the name of security, but mainly stopping the protesters. I arrived this morning and decided to get off the tube at Custom House, the station for ExCel. On one side was a long queue of smartly dressed, black suits, black ties, delegates coming with their murderer government's money to buy.
On the otherside, was one sight of bright yellow jackets and black helmets and, in the middle, singing, dancing and talking was a small group of colorfully dressed up protesters. The imbalance between the number of police officers present and the number of demonstrators was
Amidst nasty looks and silly remarks 'oh she looks lost...' from the yellow jackets I managed to make my way through and walking along a pavement blocked from the road by a row of useless fences, I got to the Indymedia headquarters where a policeman was standing opposite the door taking notes and reporting about every comings and goings.

At 1pm a blockade was organised. We went. Again I could not believe the number of police officers present and was even more shocked by their behaviour. At no moment was there any violent outbreak by the protesters. All the aggressivity however came from the black helmets. They pushed people around, swore at protesters for no reason and basically just looked down upon the demonstrators as if they were criminals. This is actually what it felt like, being seen as a criminal, guilty of exercising one's most basic human rights. And this is no joke. Under the terrorist act that some nongovernmental organisations such as Liberty are fighting against,anybody can be detained with charges of overthrowing the state. It was the stupidity of the all scene that I still find difficult to believe. Dozens of vans, some especially rented for the occasion, full of police officers, bright yellow jackets on motorcycles, black helmets on horses, a helicopter constantly present, all this police army for only a few peaceful demonstrators trying to make their voices heard, opposing an arm fair, in the name of peace.

Thanks to Indymedia I can put in writing my frustration and testify about what I saw today.



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  1. More than just the arms fair — searched