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Khan: I’m against arms fair but there’s nothing I can do

SADIQ KHAN opposes an international arms fair to be held in London — but says he is powerless to stop it.

The mayor of London said on Saturday that he does not want the capital to be used as a market place for “countries that contribute to human rights abuses.”

The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair is scheduled to take place at the Excel Centre in east London in September.

Unlike his predecesor Boris Johnson, who defended the fair in 2013 saying it was a “sensible” way to sell arms to foreign governments, Mr Khan expressed opposition to the hated event.

“The DSEI arms fair is not an event that I support,” he said, but claimed that being mayor of London does not give him the necessary powers to cancel it.

“Excel is a commercial space for hire.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesman Andrew Smith welcomed Mr Khan speaking out against the fair, saying it signalled “the growing opposition to the UK’s role in the global arms trade.”

The DSEI event takes place in London every two years and is the world’s biggest arms fair, inviting some of the world’s worst human rights abusers including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Turkey.

More than 34,000 people are expected to attend, according to its website, including defence ministers, foreign militaries, arms manufacturers and other sordid types from the private sector.

In 2015, eight anti-arms activists were arrested when they attempted to shut down the bombs bonanza by blocking the entrance.

They were cleared of all charges after a magistrate found “clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing at DSEI and compelling evidence that it took place in 2015.”

But the High Court overturned their acquittal earlier this month.

Pro-Palestian, Turkish and Kurdish campaigners say that arms sold at DSEI are used to commit atrocities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Palestine and support tyrannical rule in despotic regimes across the globe.

DSEI organisers claim that it complies with all of Britain’s laws on arms exports however the government has sold weapons to countries with appalling human rights records including 22 of the 30 countries on its own human rights watch list.


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