DSEI protest Day 2: Solidarity with Afghanistan

Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) protests continued yesterday with a full day of action at the ExCeL Centre in London in a show of solidarity with Afghanistan. Phoenix Media Co-operative joined activists on the ground for the second day of the fortnight-long resistance. DSEI is known as one of the world’s largest arms fairs, according to Stop The Arms Fair, a coalition of individuals and groups who joined forces in 2011 to put an end to DSEI and all UK arms fairs.

Quite early on a Leonardo helicopter was brought into the centre, ready to be exhibited. Phoenix Media Co-op joined protesters to condemn this parade, as this type of helicopter is used in Turkey’s shameful attacks on Rojava, utilising NATO’s second largest army. Read more about this humanitarian crisis here.

Just before midday, activists managed to block both entrances to the centre to stop the advance of lorries carrying weapons for sale at the arms fair.

Police presence intensified around 1pm when activists successfully locked on to vehicles to block more weapons being delivered to the centre. The West Gate of the ExCeL Centre was fully blocked at this point, while the East Gate was partially blocked.

The afternoon continued with Afghani speakers who made powerful statements about military actions in Afghanistan and the UK companies such as BAE Systems and Raytheon who were responsible for the devastating effects on the country. One speaker commented:

“Every bomb dropped saw their profits soar”

He condemned the present UK government for its obsession with military spending, while ignoring the climate emergency. He said:

“Tories have upped defence spending by £16bn while our planet is on fire…let’s keep fighting for peace”.

The second speaker challenged Western imperialism in Afghanistan:

Another speaker called on everyone to challenge the arms trade because if we don’t “our silence will contribute to the blood on faces of innocent people“.

An unexpected development occurred just as speeches calling for peace and a stop to the DSEI arms fair continued. The police flanked activists to protect more weapons coming in to the arms fair.

The actions will continue in full swing today, with a focus on demilitarising education.

Stay tuned via our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for more live updates from the ground. We are very grateful to have received some financial support from Stop the Arms Fair in order to report the actions against DSEI from 6 to 17 September.

Main picture via Amber Clay @Pixabay