Monday 19 July 2004 - Sunday 25 July 2004.
In the past Farnborough International Airshow has been a straggle of arms protesters and nothing more. This year we should be thinking big – anti-globalisation, global warming, aviation expansion, anti-war. A week of protest, talks, events and rallies, culminating in a weekend carnival that brings the week's themes together.
Monday 19 July 2004 - Sunday 25 July 2004.
The recent G8 meeting in Georgia was a disaster. It wasn't only the vacuous statements that are are always made at these meaningless international summits, it was also the remote nature of the summit, the paramilitary clampdown, that left little room for protest. [see SchNEWS issue 458]
Farnborough International Airshow is the world's biggest arms fair. It also the world's biggest showcase for the aviation industry. The world's media are there. Let's change tactics. Turn this into a massive anti-globalisation rally - along the themes I will outline – a precursor to the European Social Forum in London in the autumn, a dry run for G8 in Scotland next year.
The last Farnborough International Airshow, two years ago, was a disaster for the industry, visitor numbers were well down, order books were at a record low. How things have changed. With the War on Iraq and the phony War on Terrorism, the arms industry has never had it so good. The same is true for the aviation industry – low cost airlines booming, the government pushing for massive airport expansion.
Farnborough International Airshow is the world's biggest arms fair. Headquartered in Farnborough is BAE Systems, one of the world's biggest, and certainly one of the most aggressive, arms companies. Protest against arms sales is an airshow tradition. Do the people who work in the industry see the mutilated body parts their products leave behind? There was public outcry following the beheading of an employee of Lockheed Martin. Deathly silence for the dismembered bodies that are left behind after attacks by their missiles and helicopter gunships. How many employees at BAE Systems have had to collect up the body parts left behind by their cluster bombs, how many have witnessed the long slow death of their victims who have been radiated by depleted uranium munitions? Organisers CAAT.
A year after George W Bush stood on an aircraft carrier and said the War with Iraq was over, the situation in Iraq is rapidly deteriorating, and is now spilling over into Saudi Arabia. The war has not been forgotten by the British people, even Blair was forced to admit it cast a long shadow over the recent elections. We need a massive antiwar mobilisation to coincide with the airshow. If you were opposed to the War on Iraq, Farnborough is the place where the weapons used in Iraq are bought and sold. Suggested organisers: Stop the War Coalition, Respect, Green Party.
The biggest threat facing the world today, bigger than war, bigger than terrorism, is global warming. As War with Iraq destabilises world oil supplies, what does Brown do, call for energy efficiency, reduction in our dependency. Er no, he pressurises OPEC into increasing output. Aviation is now the biggest single cause of global warming. Low cost airlines have stimulated a massive growth in the number of flights. Blair is trying to force through massive airport expansion. To date those opposing airport expansion have in the main been a bunch of nimbies, unable to see the bigger picture, only too willing to push the expansion to another airport. We need all the airport and aviation campaigners to mount the biggest rally this country has ever seen. And what better place than at Farnborough, the self-declared home of aviation, before the world's aviation media. Global warming and the unsustainability of airport expansion should be the theme. Suggested organisers: AEF, FoE, Greenpeace, Rising Tide.
Environmental campaigners have set up a camp near the Stansted Airport in Essex to protest against its expansion. The protesters intend staying put until expansion plans are dropped. 01279 870558
Farnborough Airport is the business airport for Europe. The local community did not want it, but they were never allowed a say. Farnborough Airport is a key component of globalisation. With the clampdown on world summits, let's think out of the box and wrong foot them, a change of tactics. This is an obvious venue for an anti-globalisation rally in front of the world's media. Aviation is a key component of globalisation. Our country is being flooded with cheap food inputs. Small farmers should be part of this rally. Suggested organisers: Resist, Dissent, Respect, Green party.
Farnborough International Airshow is not just about selling weapon systems or about selling aircraft, it's also a propaganda exercise about convincing the public of the 'benefits' of the industry. Propaganda we must counter. That is why it is so important to be there and help get the message across.
The weekend is family day. Large attendance by the public. The week of protest to culminate in a celebratory carnival that ties the week together, samba bands, all the fun of the fair - the public attending the airshow invited to join in the celebration.
An ambitious schedule with only a few weeks to go. But if the will is there, it can be done.
You can even act before the airshow begins. Lloyds TSB is sponsoring the Presidents Enclosure this year. If you bank with Lloyds TSB (or even if you don't) pop into your local branch and tell them what you think. Ask for them to withdraw their sponsorship of this obscene event.
Lest we forget, Farnborough International Airshow is the world's premier event, the world showcase, for killing people, destroying the environment, destroying the planet.
Footnote: The Army Show is being held in between Farnborough and Aldershot two weeks before the airshow – Queens playing field, between A325 and Queens Avenue, beside the Basingstoke Canal. A fun day out for all the family! Learn what fun you can have killing people. Learn how to torture Iraqis in your care. Sat/Sun 3/4 July 2004.