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Protestors put arms fair on trial

DSEi protestors | 21.01.2004 13:33

12 DSEi protestors on trial at Stratford MAgistrates Court 22 January 10am.
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PRESS RELEASE 21st January 2004

Protestors put arms fair on trial

Ministers stopped police from arresting arms dealers trading illegally at Government-
sponsored arms fair.

Thursday 22nd January, 10 am, Stratford Magistrates Court, London: A dozen anti-arms
trade campaigners will put Europe's biggest arms fair on trial this Thursday arguing that, whilst they were arrested for attempting to peacefully disrupt the fair, the police were issued orders from "ministerial level" to ignore serious breaches of the law that were taking place inside the fair. The twelve were arrested for 'highway obstruction' outside the arms fair Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) last September for peacefully blockading the entrance with their bodies.

Dozens of the 1,000 companies touting for business at the arms fair were unlicensed
and trading illegally but, according to the Daily Mirror, although police chiefs initially wanted to shut down the fair they 'were issued orders from "ministerial level" to ignore the law being broken."' [A] This is not the first time that exhibitors at DSEi have broken the law: the Romanian state-owned company, Romtehnica, was caught offering anti-personnel mines for sale at DSEi 1999, contrary to the Landmines Act - though again, no-one was ever prosecuted [B]

DSEi - which is held every two years - is run in association with the MoD's Defence
Export Services Organisation (DESO) and in 1999 the British Government contributed
£250,000 and hundreds of military personnel to help run the show. The governments of
Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia all received UK arms in 2002 and all
received invitations to DSEi 2003. All are guilty of serious human rights abuses. [C]

Defendant Gabriel Carlyle said: 'It is outrageous that whilst the police arrested over a
hundred protestors at DSEi they did nothing to stop the illegal activities taking place
inside the fair. How can the Government possibly claim to be a 'force for good in the
world' when last year it spent £1½ million of tax-payers money at DSEi to promote the
sales of arms to countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Israel, all of whom are guilty of gross human rights abuses?'

The following defendants are available for interview:
Andreas Speck (39), peace worker, 0207 278 4040 (daytime).
Lyn Bliss (52), admin worker, 01582 736038
Ann Kobayashi (63) retired Social Worker, 01268-767138
Gabriel Carlyle (29), communications support worker, 0845 458 2564
For general information: 07791 486484

[A] See 'Ministers Dismiss Police Arms Fears', Daily Mirror, 13 September
[B] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000 (
[C] For more information on DSEi see Campaign Against Arms Trade's briefing 'DSEi
2003: international arms market' (

DSEi protestors


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  1. Guns, Blood and Dollars — K.