Canada: Protests at CANSEC 2016

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A coalition of peace and anti-war groups in Canada have held several protests against the CANSEC2016 arms fair held in Ottawa, May 24-26th. Three people were arrested at a sit-in at the Department of Global Affairs. The activists – from groups Homes Not Bombs, No War/Paix, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, Raging Grannies Otawa, Country Music Fans Against War and Repression, and Ottawa Peace Assembly - held several days of action against this large arms fair.

On May 24th, the protests

began with a 'War Criminals Welcome Walk' – a tour around various locations in the city linked to the arms trade. Speeches were given at the US embassy, several of the hotels where arms dealers were known to be staying, and an office of the department for defence. The protesters were accompanied by their own “counter protest” in the form of General Chaos, satirically advocating for military intervention and greater arms sales.

On May 25th, the protesters held a picket outside the exhibition centre, with signs, banners and songs. Matthew Behrens told the Rabble website: "We brought the faces of war to the people who profit from war. We had large, four foot by four foot faces of children and families from Iraq, Gaza, and other warzones to remind people that their business is not an abstraction." At 12 noon, Homes Not Bombs staged a sit-in at the Canadian Department for Global Affairs, in protest of a $15 billion arms contract to Saudi Arabia. Three people were arrested after refusing to move.

CANSEC 2016 hosted over 11,000 people from 61 countries, with 700 booths and over 300 exhibitors of military technology and weapons. Exhbitors included Babcock, Northrup Grumman, Rolls Royce and Thales.

CANSEC has been held at the Ernst and Young Centre since 2012, when it moved from the much more accessible Lansdowne Park.

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