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(en) UK, MEDIA, Protest groups aim to blockade arms fair

From dr.woooo <dr.woooo@nomasters.org>
Date Tue, 2 Sep 2003 12:41:08 +0200 (CEST)

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More than 3,000 security guards and police officers will be deployed in London next week
to protect Europe's biggest arms fair amid warnings of potentially violent protests.
Up to forty groups of anti-arms activists, anarchists and anti-globalisation
demonstrators are to lobby against the arms exhibition in Docklands, east London.
The protesters have made plans, which have been posted on the internet,
to "storm" and "blockade" what they call the "death fair". Some demonstrators
have been told to "dress as smart as you can" to confront arms dealers and
government delegates. A senior Metropolitan Police officer said they
were "expecting serious trouble", and described the planned demonstrations
as "a major public order headache".

Nearly 1,000 arms companies and suppliers selling artillery, military aircraft,
small arms, bombs, mines and tanks will have stands at the Defence Systems
Equipment International (DSEi 2003) exhibition at the Excel Centre from 9 to 12
September. A frigate and a minesweeper are to be moored outside the centre and
a tank and a helicopter will be on show inside.

Government ministers are expected to attend the event, which is supported by
the Ministry of Defence. The MoD has invited delegates from 60 countries and
will provide them with accommodation and board.

The huge security operation, costing more than £1m, includes the deployment of
2,000 frontline police officers from the Met, 300 officers from the British
Transport Police, officers from the City of London force and MoD police and
specialists from the Met's marine, dogs, and horse units. Plainclothes
detectives will also be used to identify known troublemakers, and surveillance
teams will monitor the protests. Security fences will enclose the exhibition,
which will also be policed by security guards. It is an invitation-only event.

The Met said: "It's a big event, very high-profile and seen as controversial,
so we expect it to attract a large number of demonstrators. We have been
planning this for a year because of the high level of protest expected,
including plans for a day of direct action."

Protesters plan a march in central London on 6 September and a demonstration
called "Facing the Arms Traders" on 9 September. There have been calls for
direct action and blockades on 10 September, which has been labelled "Destroy
DSEi". Two groups, Reclaim the Streets and Critical Mass, plan to cause traffic
chaos with a mass bicycle ride and protest marches to close off streets.

Martin Hogbin, co-ordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trading, said: "Our
Government likes to project itself as a force for good in the world, but the
reality is that by hosting this arms fair, the UK has become an international
force of hypocrisy."

Other protest groups include the Anarchist Federation, CND, Reclaim the
Streets, Destroy DSEi, Disobedience, G. R. and Wombles.

An MoD spokesman said its involvement in the exhibition was part of its support
for the legitimate British arms industry. A spokesman for the organiser of the
arms fair, Spearhead Exhibitions, based in Surrey, said it was "100 per cent"
confident that police would ensure the security of the exhibitors and visitors.

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