Block the Factory 6 July 2015

We support the London Palestine Action call for mobilisation against the UAV Engines Factory on 6 July 2015. UAV Engines is a subsidiary of Israeli drone maker Elbit Systems. Elbit were responsible for the vast majority of drones used during last year’s “Operation Protective Edge” which was so horrific, NGOs described it as a “war on children”.

More info about the event can be found at https://www.blockthefactory.org/ 

Solidarity!

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Arms Trade On Trial film released

Arms Trade On Trial

In defiance of corporate pressure, the film Arms Trade On Trial has been released, which documents our attempts to hold arms dealers from the DSEi arms fair to account for the promotion of illegal torture weapons.

DSEi (“Defence Security Equipment International”), is the world’s largest arms fair, and takes place every two years in East London. It is jointly held and heavily subsidised by the British government. DSEi has hosted arms companies from more than 50 countries, with around 1500 exhibitors registered as selling arms, missiles, fighter aircrafts, tanks, military electronics and warships, as well as surveillance and riot control equipment. At the last DSEi arms fair around 30,000 buyers and sellers came from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Israel, Mexico and Colombia. Anti-militarist activists and peace campaigners have engaged a diversity of tactics to disrupt the arms fair.

At every DSEi arms fair since 2005 , illegal weapons have been promoted for sale . This includes weapons designed specifically for torture, as well as cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines. At the last DSEi event, two companies (Tianjin MyWay International of China and Magforce International of France) were identified as promoting illegal torture weapons including fetters, electric stun batons and stun guns. In the absence of any meaningful response from the state, a group of activists (having ourselves faced criminal charges for disrupting the arms fair) sought to privately prosecute the arms dealers for the promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEi. The arms companies were compelled to attend court, and the matter proceeded as far as being listed for trial. However, following intervention by senior directors at the CPS, the case was unexpectedly shut down. In defiance of pressures not to speak out about what happened, the film Arms Trade On Trial has been released.

We oppose not only ‘illegal’ weapons, but the sale of arms for corporate profit more widely. We sought with our proceedings to shine a light on the true nature of the DSEi arms fair, and to highlight the state’s relationship with the arms trade, allowing it to operate with immunity. The state’s behaviour as concerns our case (both a failure to investigate and prosecute arms companies that have promoted torture equipment, as well as its role in preventing others from holding them to account) is illustrative of their longstanding complicity in fuelling torture and conflict. Since the state clearly cannot be relied upon to stop the torture and killings, it is no wonder people feel that the only effective course is direct action.

The DSEi arms fair is currently set to return in September 2015, and it will once again bring together repressive regimes and fuel conflict and human rights abuses. More information about the forthcoming mobilisation against DSEi 2015 can be found on the Stop The Arms Fair website.

 

Arms Dealers on Trial film to be screened at CAAT National Gathering 2015!

A film has been made which exposes the corrupt history of arms fairs in the UK, in particular it focuses on the private criminal prosecution we brought against arms companies Magforce International and Tianjin Myway International, before it was shut down by the British State which protects arms companies, allowing them to breach the law on arms control with impuinity.

Please join us at the Campaign Against the Arms Trade National Gathering on Saturday 21 March 2015 – to register and see the full programme details for the day, see:

https://www.caat.org.uk/events/national-gathering/2015

See also this article which shows Vince Cable came under some pressure at the end of 2014 to explain why arms companies repeatedly get away with peddling torture equipment at UK arms fairs:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/vince-cable-to-investigate-uk-arms-fairs-laws-to-prevent-sales-of-torture-devices-9896703.html#

for sale

 

 

URGENT CALLOUT FOR WITNESSES at DPRTE Arms Fair

Were you present at the protest against DPRTE Arms Fair at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in October 2014? Then please get in touch with bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

Even if you think you didn’t see anything you may be able to provide useful defence evidence. Two antimilitarists are facing excessively harsh charges for allegedly seeking to disrupt the arms fair, and will go to trial in the first weeks of the new year. They stand accused of damaging the luxury goods of arms dealers with childrens play paint. If you think you may be able to help please email: bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

Please please do share this witness appeal on to any individuals or groups that you think may be able to help.

dprte

French Arms Dealers Magforce Exposed

MagF-shock-baton

Yesterday Corporate Watch made public a damning dossier on French Arms Dealers Magforce International – the company we had sought to privately prosecute for displaying illegal torture weapons at last year’s DSEI arms fair. The dossier brings to light the company’s alleged links with mercenaries and warlords, as well as ‘how the firm flourishes in a culture of impunity, flaunting arms controls across the globe’.

MagForce was thrown out of London’s Defence Sales and Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair in September 2013 for exhibiting brochures that included electric stun guns/batons and leg restraints.

 

 

 

Activists versus Lorries at DSEI arms fair

In September last year we took part in a mass action against the world’s biggest arms fair (DSEI) which happens at the Excel Centre in London every 2 years. This event is co-organised by the Government and Clarion Events. DSEI 2013 featured 1,500 exhibitors (including Israeli companies), promoting arms such as torture equipment, tanks, fighter jets and battleships. Attendees included representatives from many countries involved in human rights abusing regimes. This video – made public for the first time – shows one of our actions to disrupt the setting up of the arms fair. A group of female activists blockaded an access road into Excel, by halting and holding the space under an HGV trailer that was attempting to exit the site.

The DSEI arms fair is scheduled to return in September 2015. We will once again be there, along with many other groups, to tell them that they and their killing machines are not welcome.

For more information and to find out how to take part in the mobilisation against next year’s DSEI arms fair we recommend visiting the Stop The Arms Fair website.

BREAKING NEWS – PROSECUTION DISCONTINUED

Following a private meeting in recent days between lawyers for Arms Dealers On Trial and senior staff at the CPS, we have been made aware that we may no longer continue the private criminal prosecution of two arms companies (Magforce International and Tianjin Myway International) who promoted torture weapons at last year’s DSEI arms fair in London, contrary to UK arms export laws. A court had previously granted us permission to proceed with the private prosecution and a trial had been anticipated later this year.

We are appalled that the case has been discontinued. However, it proves our point – the commercial trade of arms, which causes unimaginable human suffering and tends to devastate the natural environment too, is legitimised, facilitated and rewarded by the authorities and our Government.

Even though:
• there was a strong prima facie case against the arms companies for having promoted torture equipment for sale at the arms fair, and
• the facts of the alleged offences are well known, following a high profile intervention in Parliament by Caroline Lucas MP who presented evidence that crimes had taken place, which led to the arms companies being thrown out of the fair, and
• there had been a detailed investigation by the Independent newspaper, and coverage in lots of other media, and
• refused freedom of information requests to HMRC and the Metropolitan Police about the investigations into breaches of the law at DSEI, and
• numerous representations made to the CPSHMRC and Ministers by our lawyer asking them to investigate this matter;

neither the CPS, police or HMRC took steps to make the arms companies accountable. The CPS admitted that no investigation of the arms companies had taken place by either themselves or HMRC and that even if it had the outcome would have been no more serious than ‘a slap on the wrist’.

A report by Amnesty International found that the weapons could be used for crimes against humanity – torture. In terms of the human suffering these weapons are manufactured to cause, it could hardly be more serious. This is grotesque hypocrisy from our Government which tries to present itself as a defender of international human rights standards.

The CPS chose to communicate their position outside of the six month deadline for any public prosecution to be commenced. Legal representatives had repeatedly requested from the outset that the CPS commence their own proceedings against the two arms companies. In circumstances where the State (which jointly hosts and heavily subsidises the arms fair) will not act, and others may not act, the arms dealers are entirely unaccountable for their actions, since there appears to be no effective legal mechanism to prevent the promotion for sale of illegal torture weapons.

Disarm DSEI, another group that oppose the DSEI arms fair, said:

“Time and again cluster munitions and torture eqipment have been advertised illegally inside the DSEI arms fair, and yet the State have never made any effort to apprehend or prosecute the offenders; preferring instead to try to suppress the protests outside. Given the State’s protection of the arms industry and lack of any meaningful accountability it is left to ordinary people to stop the arms fair by taking direct action against it.”

We have always maintained that a wide range of strategies are necessary to oppose the arms fair. The DSEI arms fair returns to the Excel Centre in 2015. We will be there to stand against them and we will not rest until the arms fair has been shut down for good.

Our lawyers have commented here: http://www.hja.net/news/press-releases/criminal-defence/private-prosecution-against-arms-companies-dsei-arms-fair-comes

 

Police claim to be completely ignorant of crimes at DSEI

Last Friday (4th July 2014) our friend and fellow DSEI 2013 arms fair blockader Dan Ashman represented himself in court against an obstruction of the highway charge.

The court heard how Dan had gone to the arms fair with the intention of upholding the law and establishing the area as a crime scene, and that the police, by facilitating the traffic of military equipment into the Excel centre where the arms fair takes place, were facilitating grave crimes, including crimes against peace. Dan’s action that day included standing in front of a coach that wanted to enter the arms fair.

PC Terry Powell, who gave evidence for the prosecution, admitted under Dan’s questioning that war crimes, torture and murder were, in fact, crimes. However, when asked about the crimes that had taken place at the DSEI fair during DSEI 2013 and previous DSEI arms fairs, the officer said that such matters were ‘political’ and only the Home Secretary or Prime Minister could order investigations about such matters. Incredibly, the PC Powell claimed to be unaware of the revelation in Parliament bu Caroline Lucas MP about illegal torture weapons being promoted at DSEI 2013, about this leading to two arms companies being thrown out of the fair, and our private criminal prosecution of these arms companies. Our lawyer has written to the CPS, Ministers and Police asking them to investigate this matter. It has been covered in the mainstream press and we had a considerable police presence during the first arms dealers on trial hearing in April. We have also submitted freedom of information requests to HMRC and the Metropolitan Police regarding their investigation (or complete lack thereof) of the arms companies, and are currently appealing the decision by HMRC to reveal nothing.

In his closing statement, Dan reiterated that he acted lawfully and in the best interests of people all over the world. He acted out of necessity to prevent serious harm to people. In seeking to uphold the law, the police arrested him, wrestled him to the ground and applied painful pressure techniques to nerves around his throat and neck. Criminal activities are supported by our government at this time, Dan said. Dan’s integrity and dignity came through in everything he said. Another prosecution witness, DC Knightley, even wanted to shake Dan’s hand and wish him well after the trial concluded.

The judge will make her decision on Tuesday 8th July at 2pm at Thames Magistrates’ Court, Bow Road. Supporters are encouraged to gather outside the court at 1.30pm. Supporters are encouraged to gather outside the court at 1.30pm

Note: Palestine groups, who are directly harmed by the arms deals that are done at DSEI, wrote an open letter of support for arms fair blockaders, which can be read here: http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/on-trial/open-letter-from-palestinian-groups/ – we are touched by their heartfelt support

Solidarity call out for Arms Fair Blockader Dan Ashman

Please support our comrade Dan at his trial tomorrow, from 9.30am at Stratford Magistrates’ Court. Outrageously, the CPS has not yet dropped the case against Dan (an obstruction charge), for his principled protest against the DSEI arms fair. Even though we were arrested and charged at the same time as Dan (some of us even shared a police van with him), and even though we took a private criminal prosecution against some of the criminals inside DSEI – Magforce International and Tianjin Myway International.

Does this sound like the actions of authorities who claim to uphold human rights across the world? It’s grosteque hypocrisy from our Government.

Read more about Dan’s case here:

http://veteransforpeace.org.uk/2014/support-dan-ashman/

https://www.facebook.com/events/637376539671498/permalink/637377339671418/