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Campaigners protest against arms fair in Twickenham

ACTIVISTS protested today outside Twickenham rugby stadium, where “human rights-abusing nations” were taking part in an armoured vehicle trade fair.

About 70 people took part in the demonstration in south-west London organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and supported by Campaign Against Arms Trade.

The local PSC group said that Israeli defence ministers were among the delegates at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2023 fair, along wth representatives of Israeli weapons giant Elbit Systems. 

Also among the attendees was Italian arms firm Leonardo, part of a consortium of firms producing the Typhoon jets used by Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, according to the fair’s events programme. 

Ahead of the three-day event, PSC had called on the Rugby Football Union, which owns the stadium, to revoke permission for the fair to be held there. The group said that over 3,000 people had also sent emails urging the organisation to block the event.

PSC said it was “deeply shameful” that the Rugby Football Union had allowed the event to go ahead. 

Protesters outside the stadium held up signs reading: “Tanks out of Twickenham,” “Stop arming Israel” and “Kill the arms trade, not people.” 

Richmond and Twickenham PCS chairman Iyas Alqasem, who lives just 50 yards from the stadium, told the Morning Star that the Rugby Football Union’s decision to host the arms fair was out of step with its reputation as the “home of fair play.

“This is a community stadium,” he said. “It’s the home of English rugby. We’re told it’s the home of fair play. What’s that got to do with essentially a conference where the outcome of it is civilians and children being killed?”

Mr Alqasem, a British-Palestinian who also runs a charity for children in Gaza, added: “On a community level, it just runs completely against what the stadium is supposed to be about, what sport is supposed to be about and what fair play is supposed to be about.”

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