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OCCUPIERS WHO LINKED ARMS AGAINST THE ARMS TRADE FACE TRIAL

 

DSEI defendants-sm

 

 

“We all got arrested for different things – it was Christianity Uncut that linked arms. Me & some others got under an HGV trailer to block the traffic” Melanie Strickland

 

Charged activists from the Occupy v the Arms Fair day of action in September vowed to continue their campaign against the arms trade outside an East London court on 4 November 2013. Apart from one activist, Clare Cochrane, who pleaded guilty to willful obstruction of the highway, telling the court that: “Because, by the standards of this upside down world, which prioritises the rights of subsidized corporations to profit from death, destruction and terror over the rights to life and quality of life of the civilians who are killed, displaced, and separated from loved ones by war, or of the planet’s ecosystems – and all those whose health relies on the health of these ecosystems, ie all of us – to thrive, yes, I suppose I am guilty,” all the other activists pleaded not guilty. 
SEE BELOW FOR FULL SPEECH BY CLARE COCHRANE
 
Between now and their main trials in February 2014 in Stratford Magistrates Court (details of which can be found on: http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/ ), activists will be shining a light on arms trade corruption and the key role that the UK government plays in exporting murder and terrorism throughout the world whilst hypocritically claiming to uphold human rights and ‘rule of law’. They’ll also be putting on a benefit party in January to raise awareness of the issues and the trials (details to be announced soon). Keep in touch and support them by:
 
Leaving a solidarity message on Stop the Arms Fair – check here for updates too and share their story on social media: http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/ 
 
Like the Arms Fair on Trial Facebook page: 

 

 

 


Here is what Melanie Strickland, one of the defendants had to say about the day. (pump up the volume!)

 


 

 

 

 

 
Another audio visual update from our trusted livestreamer Obi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FULL SPEECH BY CLARE COCHRANE TO COURT

With all respect to the court, I have to say that today I feel sad.

Because, by the standards of this upside down world, which prioritises the rights of subsidized corporations to profit from death, destruction and terror over the rights to life and quality of life of the civilians who are killed, displaced, and separated from loved ones by war, or of the planet’s ecosystems – and all those whose health relies on the health of these ecosystems, ie all of us – to thrive, yes, I suppose I am guilty.

Guilty of slowing the setting up of an arms fair where millionaires, subsidized by public money at a time when the NHS is being cut to the bone and sold off, buy and sell tools of death for profit. Guilty of creating a space for peace and freedom and joy. Guilty of acting in solidarity with those struggling against oppression and facing brutal repression for doing so in Bahrain, Turkey and other countries.

Yes, I’m guilty of believing that surely at this point in human evolution we can find another way to deal with conflict and to live together, and I’m guilty of hoping that at some point soon, we will.

So yes, I’m guilty.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN BEFORE THE NOVEMBER 4TH COURT HEARING.

Their actions have already received diverse and high-profile public support. A letter of support has been signed by individuals including Caroline Lucas MP, Michael Mansfield QC and Mark Thomas, and over 30 civil society organisations. The letter, published in the Guardian on 1 November 2013, highlighted the wrongs of the arms fair and said the activists should be “congratulated, not convicted” for their acts of resistance.

The campaigners were arrested after putting their bodies in the way of military equipment entering the DSEi arms fair as it set up for business in London this September. They will use their court appearances next week to highlight the real wrong: an arms fair fuelling conflict, repression and human rights abuse.

The issues they will highlight include:

  • Illegal weaponry: Two exhibitors advertised torture equipment in contravention of UK law. Illegal equipment, including cluster munitions, had also been promoted at the previous two shows, in 2011 and 2009. No prosecutions have taken place.
  • Syrian arms suppliers: The Russian Technologies State Corporation (Rostec) owner of Rosoboronexport, which has supplied the majority of Assad’s conventional weaponry, was allowed to exhibit at DSEi.
  • Repressive and authoritarian buyers: The list of official delegations invited by the UK government to attend the arms fair included nine countries the UK Foreign Office has identified as having the “most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns,” fourteen authoritarian regimes and six countries involved in conflict

In a statement the protesters said:

“We will defend our right to challenge violence at home and abroad, especially where this is subsidised by the UK government whilst it is simultaneously imposing a vicious austerity agenda at home.”

Other people were arrested for resisting the arms fair during the week. One person has their court date on 26 November. Information about these cases will be available on the Stop the Arms Fair website.

ENDS

For further information call 020 7281 0297 during office hours, or mobile 07990 673 232 or email info@stopthearmsfair.org.uk

NOTES

  1. The protesters’ hearing will take place at 10am on Monday 4 November at Thames Magistrates’ Court, 58 Bow Rd, London E3 4DJ.
  2. The defendants were all arrested after participating in a day of action, Occupy vs. the Arms Fair, supported by Stop the Arms Fair, a coalition of groups resisting the arms fair, and solidarity protesters from Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil and Turkey. It was part of a week of protest against the arms fair which saw daily direct action against the arms fair.
  3. Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) took place from 10-13 September 2013. It is one of the world’s biggest arms fairs and has been held biennially in the ExCel centre in East London’s Docklands since 1999. DSEi receives major financial, logistical and political support from the UK government, most notably through UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation.
  4. Its 1500 exhibitors also included the companies which manufactured the tear gas which has killed and injured protesters in Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil and elsewhere, and Israeli companies displaying “battle-tested” weapons.
  5. Full details of the countries which received an official invitation from the UK government can be found here on CAAT’s DSEi pages.
  6. Information about the court cases, solidarity messages from the public and a statement by the defendants group can be found at the Stop the Arms Fair website. Information will be shared on twitter using #whereisthewrong

 

LINKS: Mirrored from the Stop the Arms Fair press release.
http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/on-trial/press-release-where-is-the-wrong/
http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/arms-fair-challenged-by-daily-direct-action/

Statement by one of the defendants, who pleaded guilty.

Thank you everyone for so much support. For those who missed it, and for those who want to read it, here’s the short speech I made in court this morning. To be read in a tone of dignity and respect : )

With all respect to the court, I have to say that today I feel sad.

Because, by the standards of this upside down world, which prioritises the rights of subsidized corporations to profit from death, destruction and terror over the rights to life and quality of life of the civilians who are killed, displaced, and separated from loved ones by war, or of the planet’s ecosystems – and all those whose health relies on the health of these ecosystems, ie all of us – to thrive, yes, I suppose I am guilty.

Guilty of slowing the setting up of an arms fair where millionaires, subsidized by public money at a time when the NHS is being cut to the bone and sold off, buy and sell tools of death for profit. Guilty of creating a space for peace and freedom and joy. Guilty of acting in solidarity with those struggling against oppression and facing brutal repression for doing so in Bahrain, Turkey and other countries.

Yes, I’m guilty of believing that surely at this point in human evolution we can find another way to deal with conflict and to live together, and I’m guilty of hoping that at some point soon, we will.

So yes, I’m guilty.

Clare C. , Thames Magistrates Court, 4 November 2013

 
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