Six people arrested during protest at Arms Fair in Cardiff, Wales

from WalesOnline

Activists were protesting outside the Motorpoint Arena where an exhibition is taking place

by Cathy Owen and Marcus Hughes
March 27, 2018

Six people were arrested at a protest outside a defence industry event at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Tuesday.

Campaign groups Cardiff Stop the Arms Fair, Welsh Kurdish Activists and members of Cardiff Animal Rights were among those protesting against the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) event.

It is the fourth time the defence event has been held in Cardiff after it moved from Bristol following similar complaints.

A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said: “Officers are in attendance outside the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff to facilitate peaceful protest and minimise disruption to the city centre.

“Six people have been arrested for aggravated trespass after an entrance to the arena was blocked preventing staff from attending their normal place of work. ”

Paul James, 51, travelled from Swansea to attend the protest and said: “We have to stand by our morals and put our views forward otherwise nothing changes.

“I and others here believe that these people are still complicit and part of that larger war machine.

“And it’s sad that huge amounts of money are being invested here, and talent. If only that money was directed into public services.”

A volunteer from Cardiff Animal Rights, who preferred not to be named, said: “We here protesting in solidarity with the other groups here today. But we are also protesting against the use of animals in military research.”

Erdel Kaya, chairman of the South Wales Kurdish Community Centre, added: “I’ve lived in Cardiff for 16 years. This is not just about Kurdish people – this is about standing up for humanity.

“The UK government claim that they want to stem the flow of refugees and help people where they are. At the same time they they sell weapons to regimes which kill and force people to flee.

“The Kurdish people in Syria stood firm to fight ISIS in Syria but now find themselves under a barrage of shells and missiles, sold to Turkey by the United Kingdom. This is problem is for everybody.”
Organisers have always denied that it is an arms fair.

They described it as “the UK’s leading defence procurement event” with over 1,000 key decision makers from across the defence sector attending.

A spokesman for BiP Solutions, which organises DPRTE, said: “The exhibition will bring together businesses representing an array of industry sectors to explore how they can integrate their services into the UK’s defence supply chains.”

He added: “The majority of DPRTE attendees are SMEs seeking to grow their businesses by tapping into the varied supply chain requirements of the modern defence sector.

“These organisations are generally supplying common goods and services, such as printing materials, construction, office supplies, clothing, medical research, logistics, technology, communications, accountancy, recruitment and much more.”

The spokesman said public sector attendees can include local councils, central government departments, universities, colleges, emergency services and international government organisations.


from Adam Johannes, Cardiff Stop the War Coalition
March 28, 2018
Yesterday morning I was arrested, handcuffed and placed in a police cell for over 12 hours while nonviolently protesting an event glorifying violence: The Cardiff Arms Fair.

Arms companies supplying Israel to kill Palestinians, Turkey to kill Kurds and Saudi Arabia to kill Yemenis were doing business – hosted by the Motorpoint Arena.

There is a crisis of political leadership in our city. Council leaders, local MPs and AMs are not opposing arms companies supplying serial human rights abusers.

The rot runs deep. The Welsh Government has built links between Wales and arms industries – selling it as job creation. 

It’s time for the Welsh Government to beat swords into ploughshares. In the 1970s visionary trade unionists from Lucas Aerospace (now BAE systems) produced detailed plans to build road rail buses, kidney machines and renewable energy systems instead of weapons.

Today Campaign Against Arms Trade research similar ‘Arms to Renewables’ plans showing how a rapid transition from arms industries to green industries could happen increasing employment, with no job losses.

Britain has the highest military spending in Europe and is the second biggest arms dealer on the planet. Slash the military budget and divert money into rebuilding the welfare state.

Stopping the Cardiff Arms Fair is part of a greater struggle to achieve an anti-austerity and anti-war government that will exit US-led wars, abolish nuclear weapons, leave Nato, support Palestinians, Kurds and others and remake us as a society exporting aid and doctors instead of weapons and wars.

Of six arrestees, 3 have been cautioned and 3 charged with aggravated trespass. On the advice of my solicitor, I accepted a caution, but I do not accept that we did anything wrong. These arms companies have no place in Cardiff or anywhere else.