Our friend Angela and nine others await trial in April for their protest actions at the 2015 DSEI arms fair.* Taking up the demanding tactics of nonviolence, they put themselves in the way of power, and blocked roads to the fair with their bodies until they were seized and arrested by the Metropolitan Police.
We share the defendants' concern that corporations and their owners should profit from marketing the arms used, for example, by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in internal repression (two of sixteen authoritarian states invited to the fair, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade), or by Israel in maintaining its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its punishing blockade of the Gaza Strip. Not only some of the buyers but some of the likely wares are specially disturbing: observers from human rights organizations were barred in 2015, but at previous fairs both instruments of torture and outlawed cluster munitions, unacceptably lethal to civilians, have been exhibited.
Angela and the other defendants broke momentarily the circuit of arms and money to make a wider connection, between arms sales and unjust state violence. We endorse their statement of 11 November, and believe their actions had the lawful excuse of necessity in the defence of human life. We also promise what small contribution we can afford to the defendants' solidarity fund.
Cambridge People's Assembly
4 February 2016
* The Crown Prosecution Service this week gave up its case against an eleventh, charged with criminal damage for writing with a washable marker on an armoured lorry.