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CAMPAIGNERS from across Britain have besieged an arms fair that had to be held in Farnborough after three cities refused to host the “warmongers.”
Local activists in Hampshire were joined by comrades from the Midlands and West Country anarchists to picket the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) summit today.
Birmingham’s NEC had recently pulled out of hosting the controversial arms fair after protests were planned.
Previous local campaigns have also driven the event out of Bristol and Cardiff.
Exhibitors include BAE Systems, which has sold many of the fighter jets being used by Saudi-led forces to bombard Yemen, a country in the midst of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence and the Department of International Trade are listed as event “partners” at DPRTE.
Local campaigners from Greater Rushmoor Against War Group said: “The arms sales being promoted at DPRTE could have a devastating impact on human rights.
“Farnborough Exhibition Centre should be showcasing great events, not attracting warmongers from across the world.
“Local people in Farnborough want to be known as more than the home of arms companies.
“We want to see the skills of local people being put into positive and sustainable industries rather than those that profit from war and conflict.
“Selling weapons for profit is pure greed and we condemn it.”
Birmingham Stop the Arms Fair said: “The government might be willing to ignore the death and destruction caused by the arms industry, but local people are not.
“This is an issue for all of us. When we campaigned against DPRTE we were supported by the good people of Bristol and Cardiff, that is why we are extending the same to the people of Farnborough.”
DPRTE denies that it is an arms fair, saying in a statement that it “is not, and never has been, a platform for the sale of arms or munitions.”
Organisers say their “focus is on showcasing research and technological developments that can be used to benefit society as a whole.”
They claimed that the majority of attendees were small or medium-sized enterprises “seeking to grow their businesses by tapping into the varied supply chain requirements of the modern defence sector.
“These organisations are generally supplying common goods and services, such as printing materials, construction, office supplies, clothing, medical research, logistics, technology, communications, accountancy, recruitment and much more.”
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