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(en) SchNEWS 421, Friday 5th September, 2003 - Plain Text

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 5 Sep 2003 09:15:12 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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This weekend, thousands of terrorists from all over the world will
be descending on the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands for the DSEI Arms Fair.
To greet them will be one million pounds worth of security - paid
for by the taxpayer. Two thousand officers from the Met, 300
British Transport Police, City of London police officers, Ministry
of Defence police, plain clothes detectives, security guards and
specialists from the Met's marine, dogs and horse units, have all
been drafted in. Not to arrest those selling weapons of mass
destruction but to protect those same, poor, arms dealers from
demonstrators who've vowed to try and shut down this 'trade in death.'

Welcome to the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi -
pronounced dicey) Exhibition 2003, Europe's biggest arms fair.
Opening the fair will be Minister of War Geoff Hoon, while
delegations from no less than sixty countries will have their
accommodation and board paid for by the taxpayer while they shop
for weapons. Somewhat astutely, a senior officer from the Met says
they are anticipating a "major public order headache."

The UK arms industry accounts for 20% of world weapon sales and
after agriculture is the most heavily government subsided
industry. Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) say that MoD
spending on research and development has increased by 27% over the
last year. Dr. Stuart Parkinson, SGR Director said: "Much of the
MoD's research and development is geared towards making weaponry,
sometimes for export to regimes with bad human rights records. It
would be much more ethical to use the scientific expertise to
accelerate, for example, the development of
environmentally-friendly technologies."

At the first DSEi in 1999, two separate breaches of the
International Landmines Act were uncovered by journalists. And in
2001, as planes were crashing into the World Trade Centre, 14
different Middle Eastern nations were shopping for weapons at the
Excel Centre, side by side with the US, Israel, Australia and the
UK. While thousands of other events around the world were
cancelled out of respect for the dead, DSEi stayed open and arms
dealers clocked up sales to Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US,
Colombia, China and Russia.sales to Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia,
the US, Colombia, China and Russia.

Fluffy DSEi

Poor human rights record? There are two invitation lists to DSEi,
the official MoD list, which this year includes feuding neighbours
India and Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, and 'axis of evil' state
Syria. Then there's the organisers, Spearhead Ltd.'s, own secret
list, over which the MoD has consultation but ultimately no

Spearhead have invited Afghanistan, Angola, Tanzania, and Israel.
No cash for health and education? Well DSEi has something for
everyone. The whole of next Thursday (11th) is dedicated to a
conference called 'Making Defence Affordable?'

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is stunned: "Following
controversy about the UK licensing a £28million military air
traffic control system to Tanzania, which it neither needs nor can
afford, it is disturbing that Tanzania - one of the very poorest
countries in the world - has been invited to buy yet more arms."
Martin Hogbin, of CAAT underlines the obvious hypocrisy at work at
DSEi: "If the UK was serious about developing a lasting peace
between Israel and Palestine, we would not promote sales of more
arms into the region."

Companies exhibiting, alongside weapons giants Lockheed Martin and
BAE, include Bulgarian small arms firm Arsenal Company which is
reported to have sold £5-6 million of arms to Chad and Angola, as
well as supplying arms to Sierra Leone in breach of the UN
embargo. "Many of these companies have been fingered for shipping
arms, sometimes illegally, into regions of terrible conflict like
the Congo" says Hogbin. Others manufacture some of the most brutal
and indiscriminate weapons in the world, including landmines and
cluster bombs. At least two producers of depleted uranium shells
will be exhibiting this year.

In a half-arsed attempt at political correctness, Spearhead have
asked exhibitors not to display cluster bombs at DSEi! According
to UNICEF, more than 1000 children have been injured by cluster
bomblets and other unexploded weapons since the 'end' of the war
in Iraq. Of course, cluster bombs can still be bought at DSEi,
just not displayed, and like everything else on sale there they
will not be subject to UK export controls.
In the run up to DSEi activist groups have been targeting
exhibiting UK companies, such as Fluent in Sheffield and Cambridge
Consultants. Two weeks ago Spearhead's head office in New Malden
was occupied, and on Monday protesters - bound together by arm
tubes - blockaded the gates to the ExCel Centre for five hours,
preventing tanks being delivered to the exhibition. Police used
cutting equipment to remove the tubes and a number of people were
arrested under charges of obstructing the highway.

The police have promised to treat demonstrators "in the same sort
of way as the May Day riots" and have been issued blanket stop and
search laws under the Terrorism Act 2000. That's obviously because
people protesting about weapons that kill and maim are just bloody
terrorists that need to be stamped on - whereas those poor souls
trying to earn an honest living by selling weapons that kill and
maim - well, they need all the love, affection and money we can
throw at 'em.


Crap Arrest of the Week

For getting run over during an anti war sit down protest in
"A red jeep type vehicle mounted the central reservation between
the lanes of traffic and drove through the crowd, only narrowly
avoiding hitting anyone" said a bystander. "Whilst we were all
staring in disbelief a smaller car tried to follow, failed to
mount the reservation and ploughed straight into the people
sitting down." One man who was knocked onto the bonnet of the car
and driven along for 50 yards has now received a summons for
'vehicle interference'!


Disarm DSEi

Become part of the "major public order headache" and help shut
down the arms fair. Actions begin this Saturday (6) and go on all
week with everything from critical mass bike rides and reclaim the
streets to storming the centre to chatting to those nice arms
dealers (dress smart for this one) For more on the events call
07817 652 029 or check out www.dsei.org

* Comedian Mark Thomas will be opening the Convergence Centre this
Saturday 7pm followed by music from Cello Man. The Centre is at
Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd., London E3 (Bromely-by-Bow tube).

* For indepth info about the arms trade and DESi contact Campaign
Against Arms Trade 020 7281 0297 www.caat.org.uk

* The Legal, Defence and Monitoring Group will be holding legal
workshops at the Convergence Centre this Sunday (7) 10:30pm-12noon
and Monday (8) 4-5:30 pm. www2.phreak.co.uk/ldmg/index.php

* To keep up to date with the protests www.indymedia.org.uk


Bright Sparks

With the switch of a key the emergency electricity generator which
had been supplying the London Underground for nearly 100 years was
turned off by New Labour Transport Minister John Spellar. Seeboard
Powerlink would now be in charge of operations and Spellar
announced that this Private Finance Initiative scheme was a "good
example of the public and private sectors working together to
improve services for travellers in London." That was last October,
11 months later people found out just how much the service had
improved. Thousands of people on the Underground were plunged into
darkness for 40 minutes, traffic lights failed, trains ground to a
halt, lights went out in buildings...all thanks to a lack of
emergency back-up and what the Mayor of London and unions blamed
on cost cutting by the private companies. Meanwhile railway
cowboys Balfour Beatty (see SchNEWS 356) and property company
Circadian will shortly be developing the area around the old power
station with luxury flats worth some £500 million



30 year old Israfil Shiri, a destitute young Iranian man had been
on a life support for five days before he died early Wednesday
morning. Israfil had set himself on fire in the offices of Refugee
Action in Manchester, suffering burns to 80% of his body. He told
his friends he would do it to prove that this government cares
more about animals than people fleeing torture and persecution. In
Iran, Israfil was in the military when he and his family were
persecuted because he refused to follow orders that involved
harming innocent people. He suffered from a complicated medical
condition and since his application for asylum was rejected over a
year ago, he has been refused any medical treatment, has been made
homeless from his Salford council flat and has received no
benefits or support. Reza Moradi of the International Federation
of Iranian Refugees said, "Once you see you are facing deportation
to jailers of the Islamic regime - you can't have a solicitor, you
have no house to live in, you can't work, that is enough for
people to commit suicide, or do something like this." More info
0161-881-7352 mark.krantz@ntlworld.com

* There's going to be a chained procession to Yarl's Wood
detention centre, re-opening after it was unfortunately burnt down
last year (see SchNEWS 419). Meet 12 noon John Howard Memorial
statue, St. Paul's Square, Bedford on Sunday 28th September. 07786
517379 sady_campaign@yahoo.co.uk

* Group4, the jokers that run the centre have been running a job
advert in a local paper "This job is so different. The
satisfaction I get from helping people is great." Er, locking
people up who've haven't committed any crime apart from wanting a
better life is 'satisfying'?

* People are needed to take part in 'This Is Camp X-Ray' a new art
installation consisting of a fully operational, life-size replica
of the U.S internment camp at Guantanamo Bay, that will appearing
in Manchester city centre from Friday 10th October.


HMP Woodhell

On 16th July, six prisoners at HMP Woodhill's Close Supervision
Centre (CSC) A wing were refused exercise due to the hot weather.
That night, four prisoners demonstrated their frustration by
destroying their cells which resulted in a visit by the riot squad
and a serious beating. In June, Glenn Wright, a prisoner on
A-wing, wrote: "Who took the decision to add to our depression the
daily rigours of isolation, and lack of healthy stimulation when
this is contradictory to all medical remedies for depression known
to mankind?"

Some of the prisoners at Woodhill CSC are under 24-hour CCTV watch
and many are allowed only one hour's exercise a day. Some cells
are unlocked only in the presence of six prison officers in full
riot gear and interviews with psychologists are overseen by six
prison staff. Recently, complaints have been limited to one a week
because it was considered that some prisoners were 'abusing the

In February the Chief Inspector of Prisons published a report on
conditions at the CSC at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes. Opened in
1998, this 'jail within a jail' was designed to house around 50 of
the most potentially disruptive inmates, accused or convicted. One
unit was closed, partly in response to a High Court ruling.

Even last year's report showed that the basic needs of prisoners
were being seriously neglected, in particular with regard to
medical care, education and exercise, and expressed concern at the
risk to the mental health of inmates. It concluded that "Control
still dominated the system and personal development opportunities
were relegated to the margins."

It is no surprise then that violent demonstration, self-harm and
suicide are serious problems at Woodhill. Glenn Wright identifies
insomnia, disrupted relationships, bullying, boredom, enforced
idleness, and the prospect of a long and meaningless sentence
devoid of hopes and plans, as contributing factors to the problem.
He says: "What I'm trying to say is through many months of
isolation and oppressive conditions, uncertainty, lack of
communication, support, I find it difficult to be quiet."

For more information 0121 554 6947 www.mojuk.org.uk / Complain to
Margaret Adams, Head of CSC, HMP
Woodhill, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK4 4DA

Send letters to Glen P Wright, RT3785 HU6 Close Supervision
Centre, HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK4 4DA

* The parents of 26 year old Tony Hickmott, who is certified
autistic, cared for their son at home until respite care stopped
at 19 and they were told he would be better off in a residential
home. He was then moved 300 miles to a home in Wales. When his
parents complained about the standard of care he was eventually
moved closer to home but was placed in one secure psychiatric unit
after another and sectioned. Despite being told Tony was to be
housed appropriately and close to home in Brighton, his parents
now have restricted access to their son, currently in Canterbury,
and are seriously concerned for his welfare. They are desperately
in need of legal representation. If you can help call Pamela
Hickmott on 01273 270713.


DSEi Diary

Friday to Tuesday - NVDA Training
Friday 5th - Press conference about protests
Saturday 6th - "No Arms Fair" Unity March
Sunday 7th - Start of "Disarm DSEi" conference
Monday 8th - Silent vigil at ExCel centre, day two of "Disarm
DSEi" conference
Tuesday 9th - Protest at Custom House, "Fluffy DSEi" non-violent
direct action, day one of "Disarm DSEi" film festival
Wednesday 10th - Day of direct action blockades, Reclaim the
Streets party, Women in Black vigil, Critical Mass bikeride,
various group actions, day 2 of film festival
Thursday 11th - Protest for "Delegate's Dinner" at central London
hotel, silent 9/11 vigil outside Custom House
Friday 12th - If you're not nicked! Picnic!


SchNEWS in brief

Attempts to make the UK GM free could breach EU law. This emerged
this week after the European Comission refused a plea by Upper
Austria to pass a law banning GM crops in their region. Upper
Austria wanted to protect their organic and traditional
agriculture against risk of cross fertilisation but were told that
they had no new scientific evidence. Greenpeace genetic
engineering expert Thomas Fertil says Austria may go to the
European Court of Justice to appeal. This weekend Downing Street
appointed ex-adviser to Monsanto, David Hall, as their
communications advisor.

There's a public meeting 'The Fake Emergency: Mass-Media
Propaganda in the so-called War on Terror' on 11 September at the
NUJ HQ, 314 Grays Inn Rd WC1, (nearest tube Kings X) 6.30pm.
Speakers include human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce call 020 7586
5892 estella24@tiscali.co.uk

For a list of places where our new(ish) book 'Peace de Resistance'
is available from click onto
www.schnews.org.uk/peacederesistance/distrolist.htm If you can
think of anywhere else that might like to stock it (or copies of
SchNEWS) get in touch with the office.

Check out Sounds like Freedom news and opinion from Jenin,
Occupied Palestine. www.soundslikefreedom.org
Iraq expert Milan Rai is going on a speaking tour of the UK to
plug his new book 'Regime Unchanged', starting this Saturday 6th
at a CND Conference at Birmingham University and including a date
in Brighton on the 11th. For details of the tour go to

Four people who are using "lawful excuse" for disabling, or
attempting to disable, planes and support equipment at Fairford
Air Force base will hear the procedures for the trial on September
19th. It's at Gloucester Crown Court and support is welcome. More
info call 0117 9466885

Space Invaders is a play based on the events that took place at
the Aspire Autonomous social centre in Leeds last November. There'
s two showings on September 13th and 14th at Wrangthorne Church
Hall, Hyde Park, Leeds 8pm. Donations on the door - bring yer own
booze. For more listings visit Party & Protest


Positive SchNEWS

A group of activists and performers is planning to take a circus
and funfair to Iraq in January 2004 to bring a little colour and
playfulness to the children of Iraq who have been traumatised by
the war and who are still without many basic amenities. To get the
circus and performers to Iraq the group still needs to raise
several thousand pounds. If you want to make a donation or help
organise benefit gigs, cabarets, café nights, mass busks etc.
please go to www.circus2iraq.org


...and finally...

Ahoy, me hearty! SchNEWS be wishin' to tell ye, our landlubber
friends, to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Ye
will talkin like this on the 19th or be a scurvey dog. Ye'll be
wantin' to look round ye website: www.thomasscott.net/yarr in
order to be learnin' about the day and how to be talkin' like a
pirate proper. This here international grass roots movement will
be taking the world by storm or hook line and sinker...



Ahoy, me hearties. SchNEWS gives all landlubbers fair warning us
swashbucklers will be walking the plank 'though there be a storm
a-brewing ahead. Treasure, there be too. Aye!


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