Arms trade activists NOT GUILTY! Shut down DSEI 2017

They put protesters on trial, but it was the arms trade that was found guilty.

BY Campaign Against Arms Trade 15 Apr 2016

Eight activists on trial for blocking the set up of the London arms fair, DSEI, last September, have been found NOT GUILTY!

"We call on more people to join us in our efforts to shut down DSEI 2017 and take collective action to end the arms trade." Make your pledge.

After four days of powerful and moving testimonies the judge ruled today that the activists were acting to prevent a greater crime. The judge said the court heard "compelling evidence" that arms sales at DSEI were for repression and human rights abuse.

The protesters had used their trial to highlight UK complicity in war crimes in Yemen, human rights abuses in Bahrain and the slaughter of Kurdish civilians by Turkey.

They also argued that illegal weapons had repeatedly been displayed at the fair but no effective action had been taken to prevent this.

The protesters had taken action as part of a huge week of action to stop the set up of the arms fair – the biggest-ever protests against DSEI. For six days we blocked entrances, disrupting the set-up of the fair. DSEI brings over 30,000 arms dealers together with the world’s largest arms companies and military delegations from around the world.

When the arms fair returns in 2017, the protests will be even bigger and – with your help – we plan to shut it down for good!

If the Stop DSEI defendants have inspired you, make a pledge to take action when the arms returns.

After the trial the defendants said: "Over the week, we have put DSEI and the arms trade on trial and we have proven them to be illegitimate.  Our only regret is that we didn't succeed in shutting down DSEI. Our thoughts are with the people who suffer as a result of the arms trade and the survivors of repressive regimes, torture, war and conflict. We call on more people to join us in our efforts to shut down DSEI 2017 and take collective action to end the arms trade."

Please join us in doing so.

As the defendants have noted, the scandal of the arms fair is much greater than the illegal arms that have been repeatedly displayed there: it is about the horror of an event which exists solely to promote tools of murder and repression, for profit. Our government doesn't just allow this to take place: it actively facilitates it – inviting repressive regimes and encouraging deals.

As we were protesting against the arms fair in 2015, UK weapons were being used in Saudi Arabia's bombing of Yemen – weapons of the type on display at DSEI. Inside the fair, the UK government was courting a Saudi military delegation and encouraging more deals. This is not acceptable.

The defendants in court today put their bodies in the way of the arms trade, but all of our action counts.

It was important to their case to have shown that other means of protest had been pursued too – from signing petitions to meeting MPs – so whatever you can do makes a difference.

Please pledge to take action – however you can – in 2017.

Thank you for your support. It's so nice to be sharing good news – and the more people who pledge to take action in 2017 the more like this we can achieve.

Sarah Waldron
Campaign Against Arms Trade

P.S. You can see more pictures from the actions and trial, read the coverage so far in the Independent, Guardian and on Buzzfeed and pledge your action!