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London's arms fair opens its doors to the world's most repressive and violent governments

THE arms fair in London opened its doors today to official delegations from the most repressive and violent countries in the world, a parliamentary question revealed.

In response to Green MP Caroline Lucas, the government revealed the list of countries officially invited to the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at the Excel Centre.

It includes Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, all of which are on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s list of human rights priority countries.

Eleven invited countries are rated as “not free” by Freedom House, including Qatar and Turkey.

Saudi Arabia continues to pursue a devastating war in Yemen and still receives British arms despite calls from the United Nations group of eminent experts on Yemen to cease all arms supplies to the warring parties.

The war is estimated to have caused an estimated 233,000 deaths from violence, hunger and disease by the end of 2020.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Excel Centre today to express widespread disgust that the event was allowed to take place despite the conflict, repression and devastation that the arms trade fuels. 

And ExCel staff set off protest flares in a protest claimed by the Young Communist League, which said it wanted to “protest [against] and disrupt the event.” The staff had reportedly told bosses they were willing to work at it before letting off smoke grenades outside the Lockheed Martin stall.

Protests, organised by groups in the Stop the Arms Fair network, have also been taking place in the week leading up to the fair.

Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Dr Samuel Perlo-Freeman said: “The list of countries by the UK government to send official delegations to DSEI, with the express purpose of bringing them together with the UK’s and the world’s leading arms dealers, shows they are not serious about arms export controls, or global peace, human rights or good governance.

“The arms deals sealed at DSEI will make the world a more dangerous place.”

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