The purpose of VFP UK is to work towards the abolition of war. To achieve this we focus on three areas; Education, Resistance & Solidarity. On Friday 4 July members and supporters of VFP UK will stand in Solidarity with Dan Ashman as he faces trial for blockading the 2013 Arms Fair at the Excel Centre in East London.
Solidarity Call Out;
Friday 4 July 2014
Stratford Magistrates Court, London, E15 (MAP)
Why I Blockaded The Arms Fair by Dan Ashman
I was unaware about the DSEI (‘Defence Security Equipment International’),(1) the largest arms fair in the world. I found out about it a month or so before it was due to take place in September 2013. It drew many groups together. Occupy, Veteran’s for Peace, Annonymous, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Stop the War amongst many others.(10) Some how these events remain off the collective consciousness radar. Though I wasn’t massively surprised that such an event would be taking place in the capital. The UK government and all its embedded business associates managed for some time to create an image of being pioneers of democracy and human rights. Though the truth has had its way and their projected image only serves to further heap insult unto those who have had their lives destroyed by their Machiavellian masochistic greedy ways.
It was thanks to people getting in to the giant showroom, finding the evidence then passing it onto Caroline Lucas for her then to bring the issue to Parliament that got the two corporations (Tianjin MyWay International and Magforce International) ejected. The law has developed an aversion to equipment with the express design to torture, but not enough to arrest those who breach those rules.
Since the second world war 90 percent of casualties in conflicts are civilians.(2) That’s modern warfare. It is not even a stretch of the imagination to see that drones to guns are all forms of torture. They threaten people with their very existence, burn flesh, destroy well being, tare families apart. Mentally and physically scar. Traumatise. Plant the seeds of vengeance & desperation. Poisonous toxic shells and unexploded weapons still litter countries all over the world.(3,4) The right to life not an absolute right, a qualified right according to the courts.
Representatives highlighted by the UK government for their human rights abuse record were given free passage to attend.(5) Of course there are also those that go unrecognised by officials too. The US, Israel and the hosting government themself amongst them.
When we reported breaches of international law to the police at the gate, we were ignored. No statements taken. Just evidence gathered against us. When we attempted to stop entry to the event on the grounds that this event is an essential part of the process that gives human right abusive regimes access to weapons to further continue such treatment of others, we were arrested. I stood in the road that lead directly into the facility, stopping the entry of attendees of the arm fair. I refused to move.
I chose to represent myself in court with a McKenzie friend, those that elected to have a lawyer eventually had their case dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. Since then their lawyer has set up a private prosecution with fellow campaigners. I have been humbled by their efforts. If you can keep a finger on that pulse a glimmer of hope has been created by such effort.(6)
Less then 1 percent of the population control 40 percent of the world economy.(7) It surely stands to reason that where harm has been caused they should be accountable and redress be supported by a justice system that acknowledges the sanctity of life destroyed as a result. After all they have much power to incentivise human activity. Surely the true cause of modern war.
As with the City of London (the capital of the finance industry) incubating a den of fraud & theft that has led to poverty increasing around Europe, the governance in this country serves as nothing more than a facilitator in assisting the illegal practice of tooling up known human rights abusive regimes. Both industries enjoy freedom from accountability.
International law can only work when it’s enforced domestically and for far too many people in gate keeping positions, knighted & anointed, from CEOs to prime ministers, personal fortunes will be made. The revolving door between Parliament and Corporations means the democratic will of the people hijacked, peace un-achievable. The crimes of conflict passed on through the generations.
The trail of bureaucracy acts as a whitewash, the arms pushers, the engineers, scientists, factory workers, researchers, politicians, met police and shareholders all dependent on the credit flow. So long as on the public record there are no blemishes, the new generation can be showered in the heroic glory of such a record, even if its a lie. The commitment to the sanctity of life an illusion. Saved for the populations that live close to the power bases. (Diminishing as that is.)
The conflicts and the industry that lives off of it carves out the architecture of human relationships, terms/conditions, credit & resource flow. The destruction nothing more than a concept in the minds of the profit seekers and general public who never experience the actual nature of the destruction that occurs. They reap only the benefits in such a perverse value system. A disdain for other lives develops, “If it wasn’t us it would be someone else, human nature dictates, got to pay the bills, fighting terrorism, just following orders, its not perfect but its the best we have, fighting for freedom, rather them than me.” All justify the individuals relationship to the known harm.
The arms fair hosts 30,000 different registered companies every two years. Its hosted by a company called Clarion Events, the Home Office issues business visas to delegates, The Business Innovation and Skills department led by Vince Cable issues the export licences, the met police give permits to display the weapons. Without fail the inadequate arms control laws have been breached. Last year it was advertising torture equipment, in previous years it has played host to cluster bomb salesman. No arrests.(8) Perhaps a bureaucratic tap dance. A committee set up. Theatre. A sentence to legislation added that allows enough room not to restrict but give the appearance of some progress.
The dualities of storytelling culture, good and evil, heroes and villains exploited by the establishment by adopting the language of myth. The myth erected that has been fed through to us in entertainment culture and conditioning. The profiteers of mass killing hide behind an ordained higher mystical power (a myth in itself) where indiscriminate murder is collateral damage and forgiven by their god, thus the law in their grand quest for the Crowns interest. The Law system sworn to serve the interests of the Crown. Hardly impartial.
Later on in the week there was a “charity” gig put on for (or to) Help the Heroes. In what I can only describe as the Cruel Irony Loop; Arms dealers attended an evening of entertainment. For their entertainment young men from the army punched each others lights out in a boxing ring so they may be able to attain some money for their friends from the people who create the tools of the injury. Perhaps they believe this enough. It is not.
I learnt recently contracts are handed out to research departments in universities to improve the efficacy of drones and other tools of murder and oppression. The product then gets showcased at arms fairs such as DSEI. So who is culpable? The truth is, it’s an almighty team effort, a logistical extravaganza. Pay used as (it seems culturally popular to do) a disembodying rational to abandon responsibility and reason in how we use our energy, what we contribute to and what we create.
Transcending the control of money over our lives where it is evidently detrimental to ourselves and others is essential to peace & well being. For many reasons we have to go on a journey of transition to a way that is not dependent on their money, so respectful relationships; environmental, local to international can be formed.
So far all the various people that have come together have been graceful and supportive. I am grateful to be able to participate in that week of action along side inspiring people. I wish to thank Veterans for Peace for all the great work they do and for the courage they inspire by overcoming the cultural peer pressure and monetary control that make us believe we can’t create anything better or that we must just follow orders.
At the start of The Shadow World, an exploration of the Arms Trade,(9) the author, Andrew Feinstein selects a quote from the character Undershaft an Arms dealer in the play Sergeant Barbara by George Bernard Shaw. It is as relevant now as it is when it was written.
Undershaft [with a touch of brutality] The government of your country! I am the government of your country: I, and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you will do what pays US. You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it doesn’t. You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on those measures. When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need. When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and military. And in return you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman. Government of your country! Be off with you, my boy, and play with your caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys. I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and call the tune.
My Court Case is to take place on the 4th of July.
(4) The Secret War, America’s war on Laos
(10) Stop The Arms Fair 2013