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Arms dealers to be greeted by memorial ceremony for their victims

Poster reading "Stop the Arms Fair"

Arms dealers to be greeted by memorial ceremony for their victims

Participants in London's DSEI arms fair will have to walk past a memorial ceremony for victims of war as the event opens.

At 8am tomorrow (Tuesday 12 September), members and allies of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) will read out the names of 100 recent victims of war from around the world including both civilians and combatants - before laying a wreath of white poppies at the entrance to the arms fair.

The ceremony will take place at the west gate to the Excel Centre at 8.00am on Tuesday 12 September as arms dealers and government representatives walk and drive into the arms fair for its opening day. Those queuing at the pedestrian entrance are expected to be standing right next to the memorial ceremony.

Names read out will include people from Yemen, Ukraine, Iraq, the UK, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, Libya, the US and Colombia,, alongside others.

Some of the victims on the list were almost certainly killed by weapons made by companies attending the DSEI arms fair, including Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. They supply weapons to regimes including Saudi Arabia, whose forces have repeatedly bombed civilians in Yemen.

Representatives of governments from around the world are expected to attend DSEI from Tuesday 12 to Friday 15 September. The run-up to the arms fair has already seen repeated protests, including nonviolent direct action to block vehicles entering the Excel Centre as the arms fair is set up.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is one of many groups that belong to the Stop the Arms Fair coalition, whose members include local residents, faith groups and human rights organisations.

The London arms fair is known euphemistically as Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI). It takes place every second September. It is organised by the UK government but has already been condemned by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Protests, including direct action, are expected to continue throughout the week. The PPU defends the moral right of people to take nonviolent direct action against war and the arms trade.

Peace Pledge Union campaigns manager Symon Hill said:

Most people are naturally appalled by the suffering caused by wars in Ukraine, Yemen, Israel-Palestine and around the world. But for a few wealthy and influential businesses, the horrors of war are a marketing opportunity. The arms trade fuels war and perpetuates poverty.

DSEI is a vicious example of everyday militarism. Local people have rejected the arms fair. The people of Britain didn’t ask for it. Even the Mayor of London doesn’t want it. People have rightly taken nonviolent direct action to impede the set-up of the arms fair. As Britain and the world face the threats of poverty, pandemics and climate chaos, the last thing the British government should be funding is an opportunity for arms dealers and despots to do deals in a London conference centre.”

All are welcome to join the ceremony on Tuesday morning. More details are available here.