DSEI 2021 - Road block with police 14.09.21 Image: Symon Hill/Peace Pledge Union

Protestors from around the UK took part in a remembrance ceremony on Tuesday (14 September 2021) as visitors attended the DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre, London.

Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) takes place every second September, and is organised by the UK government

Protestors, including those from the Peace Pledge Union, read out the names of victims of war of many nationalities over the last 20 years (including Afghan civilians and British soldiers) before laying a wreath of white poppies next to where visitors queued to enter the arms fair.

Representatives of governments around the world, including regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, are expected to attend the event, which runs until Friday (17 September).

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is one of many groups that belong to the Stop the Arms Fair coalition, whose members have already been acting over the last week to impede attempts to move military equipment into the Excel Centre as the arms fair is set up.

Peace Pledge Union campaigns manager Symon Hill said:

“Twenty years after the horrors of 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, we remember victims of war and violence by promoting peace and resisting the arms trade today. DSEI is a vicious example of everyday militarism.

“The people of Britain didn’t ask for this. Even the Mayor of London doesn’t want it. Amidst a global pandemic, rising poverty and the climate emergency, Boris Johnson and his mates have invited arms dealers to do deals with despots in the heart of east London.”

As part of the protest, one of the entrances to an arms fair in East London was blocked as protestors had glued themselves together in the road.

Alison, from Bedfordshire, who was one of those who blocked the road, said:

“I’m protesting because I can’t believe the arms fair is continuing in the middle of a pandemic, and because so many countries that have human rights concerns have been invited to come and buy weapons.”

Alicia, from Cambridge, who lay in the road in the rain for seven hours, said:

“I want to make it more difficult to make money from selling arms without guilt. However cold we feel, it’s a lot better than warfare.”

Protests, including nonviolent direct action, are expected to continue throughout the week.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is a UK-based pacifist network. PPU members pledge not to support war and to work instead for the removal of the causes of war. It is the oldest secular pacifist organisation in the UK.

The Chronicle approached the DSEI for a comment, but it did not respond.

DSEI 2021 - white poppies 14.09.21 Image:Symon Hill/Peace Pledge Union