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9/11 and the DSEI Arms Fair

Many people will be reflecting today, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, on the decade of war we have had since that dreadful day.

On the day itself I was among about the hundreds of people taking part in a protest organised by CAAT outside the DSEi arms fair.  Many events were cancelled that day and in the following days and weeks.  Sports events, cultural events, political events, the UN Special session on Children, which I was had been doing some work around  –  all these we cancelled. The arms fair however,  continued.  More deals were signed and more arms contacts were made even in the light of that awful mass killing.

Whilst the fact that there was a major arms fair taking place in the UK at the very same time as this awful act of terrorism was something of a coincidence I think there are connection here.   I think there are real connections between for example, our proliferation of weaponry through the arms trade and our real insistence – despite all evidence to the contrary –  that world security is best served by an ever increasing ability to inflict death and destruction on others  – and that  desperate, awful, self-destructive act of mass violence.

I was really pleased to see that the leaders of the Free Churches in the UK had made a similar connection in a joint statement issued to commemorate the attacks.   It says in part:

It is clear that our reaction to the attacks on 9/11 has caused more suffering and loss than the original attacks. The ‘War on Terror’ has done little to make anyone safer, but has harmed human rights, depleted our coffers and damaged our standing in the world, and at a cost of many lives.

It is sad and ironic that regimes that seek to maintain their rule through military force have often purchased their weapons from Britain, such as Libya, which has purchased 120 million Euros worth of British arms since 2005.

Our government aspires to support democratic reform in the Middle East, but at the same time tax-payers’ money is being used to support the London Arms Fair, hosting 1,300 weapons companies from around the world.

There can be no future security if we place our trust in more sophisticated weapons.  We cannot rely on military intervention but must concentrate on supporting the principles of political progress, human security and economic justice if we are to achieve a better and more secure world for all.

For me, the best way to commemorate the 3,000 people who died in New York and Washington on 9/11 – and the thousands who have dies in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ since that day – is to go and disrupt the DSEI arms fair taking place again in London this week.  I hope to see you there.

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