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Protesters take to the streets of London ahead of DSEI arms fair

HUNDREDS of protesters from different religious faiths demonstrated in London yesterday against one of the world’s biggest arms fairs, which begins in the capital next week.

The government-backed Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair takes place every two years, welcoming buyers from some of the world’s most repressive and tyrannical regimes.

The DSEI arms fair is due to open at the ExCel exhibition centre in London’s Docklands next Tuesday.

Campaigners are disrupting the event before it starts by blockading entrances to the centre, preventing arms manufacturers getting guns, bombs, rockets, and instruments of torture and imprisonment into the venue. 

Each daily protest has a theme. Monday’s was Stop Arming Israel and yesterday’s was No Faith in War and involved major faith groups.

It comes as a UN report, published yesterday, found that Britain, the US and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen due to the arms, intelligence and logistical support they have provided to the Saudi regime.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has condemned the fair that will feature 1,600 exhibits and be attended by delegations from 50 countries, including Saudi Arabia, which is using British-made weapons in its attacks on Yemen.

A No Faith in War campaign spokesperson said: “The major world faiths share in common a deep sense of the value of peace in the world: a peace which is achieved not by the use of weapons or threats of violence but by dialogue, respect for the dignity and human rights of all and just social structures.”

Groups taking part yesterday included Quakers, who also protested in other towns and cities.

Hannah Brock Womack, a Quaker from Sheffield, said: “I’m taking part in trying to stop the arms fair because my conscience doesn’t allow me to let this deadly event go unnoticed.

“The arms trade thrives in the dark, but when you shine a light on it you can see it for what it is ─ an industry that profits from death.

“I believe that every human life is sacred and we need to say that loud and clear in this time of political and environmental crisis.”

An exhibition, Art At Arms Fair, opened near the venue yesterday. It concludes on September 13 with an auction of exhibits to raise funds for Campaign Against Arms Trade.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament announced it would join the arms fair blockade tomorrow.

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