London: Arms trade dinner met with protests

Three security guards stand at the door of a hotel. In the foreground is some fake security tape reading "Arms trade at work, this is not ok"
Photo: Campaign Against Arms Trade/Twitter

Activists in London -including WRI affiliates Campaign Against Arms Trade and Peace Pledge Union - have taken direct action to protest and disrupt a major networking and social event held by the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security, and Space Trade Association (ADS). Hundreds of people attended the black tie reception and dinner, where attendees pay from £2,200 for a table of ten, which was held at the Grosvenor House luxury hotel and was described by CAAT as a “carnival of violence”.

Some companies chose to sponsor the event, with BAE Systems paying £15,000 to be “the Emotive Sponsor”, which bought the company ““an exclusive opportunity for a sponsor to present an emotive or altruistic aspect of their business to attendees.” As well as representatives from the arms industry, the event also regularly hosts senior politicians.

Before the event the British broadcaster Clare Balding pulled out of speaking at the event. Balding has previously fronted an emergency appeal for victims of the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. British companies have fuelled the war in Yemen; since 2015 British companies have sold £6.4bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including parts for fighter jets and Paveway IV bombs.

Outside the ADS dinner, protesters chanted “arms dealers feast while Yemenis starve”, with arms dealers having to walk a “gauntlet” in order to enter the event. Others took direct action, using superglue to stick themselves together, while covered with a banner that read “Stop Arming Saudi”. Others spilt red paint across the road.


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