London festival

Blood money: a cry against the London “festival of violence”

CW: Violence

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was an after-work social event for overzealous middle-aged wellness enthusiasts. An event that promises to ‘propel progress’ while providing ‘valuable networking opportunities’, live demonstrations and the ability to explore ‘innovative solutions’, ‘strengthen existing relationships’ and engage on “relevant, timely and productive” topics.

No, I’m afraid of it; if you were looking for avocado superfood smoothies and fitness moms exploring their auras you would be very disappointed. Instead, from September 14-17, London’s Docklands will be transformed into one of the deadliest places in the world, an ‘feast of violence ‘ as Caroline Lucas said. Transforming into an exhibition of deadly weapons and torture devices, the fair will provide a social hub for both perversely proud designers and starving human rights abusers eager to purchase their wares.

The Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair is one of the world’s largest arms fairs, which takes place every two years at the London ExCeL Center. The event, supported by the UK Department of Defense and the Department for International Trade, brings together 1,600 exhibitors and 30,000 participants active in the arms industry, including many from countries known for their human rights violations. man such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Thailand.

As one of the industries that thrives most on death, destruction and suffering, the arms industry is the most heinous and reprehensible manifestation of capitalism and cold human cruelty. . The more bullets fired and the more wars continue, the more industry wins. The more armed drones fly and haunt the skies, the more the bonuses of its infamous CEOs increase. As the population of Yemen starves and bombs and children die in Gaza, the blood money of arms companies and their shareholders runs into billions of dollars, with the 25 largest arms companies selling for $ 361 billion in arms and services in 2019 alone.

We are far from foreign to the images of pain and despair recorded by photojournalists in the aftermath of the war: pictures of macabre mutilated bodies, small children stranded on beaches and blood-stained surfaces that occasionally appear in our newspapers and on our televisions when show them off takes the fancy of the media. These realities are of course hidden by DSEI, which presents a very polished image of respectability – showing off and promoting their killing machines in pretty packages with their exhibitors dressed in Savile Row costumes and disgusting smiles. This is taken to the extreme in the form of the DSEI 2019 highlights video that unfolds like a grotesque and sick Hollywood movie or video game trailer, eroticizing and glorifying the violent instruments of war and torture, and completely camouflaging their mortal reality.

“ExCel London is 100% committed to meeting the challenges of sustainable development and acting as a responsible company”, agreeing that “companies have a responsibility to respect human rights and act according to standards applicable internationally, such as the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. ‘ It would be laughable if it weren’t so sickening.

Just a few months ago, the ExCeL Center was still in use (albeit unsuccessfully) as an NHS hospital site, meant to save lives (and increase the power and profits of the private sector). How things have changed. It seems that we are once again inexcusably in the grip of our perpetual blindness, displaying our boundless tendency to only care about those who are in physical proximity to us or directly involved in our lives as we continually ignore the suffering that we are in. not only accomplices, but actively help provoke. How come we allow this arms fair to take place? How can it be that the forerunner of the destruction of families, lives and livelihoods is happening in our capital?

Government support for DSEI hints at the broader issue of the UK’s continued support for the arms industry, with the UK being the second largest arms exporter in the world. The problem will get even worse. This year, the organizers of DSEI have shamelessly urged exhibitors to attend the event so that they can take advantage of increased sales opportunities thanks to the UK government’s pledge to increase its defense budget by 16.5 billion pounds, the biggest increase in 30 years. The increase, introduced by the Tories and backed by the Labor Party, destroyed and flabby under his current leadership, demonstrates the two-sided nature of the UK: although the government may speak of compassion and concern for the rights of the man and dignity, over and over again, they show just how hollow this rhetoric is by supporting and supporting one of the most despicable industries in the world.

All over the world people are forced to flee and suffer because of the actions of the arms industry – the willful lackey of destruction. In many cases, suffering begins in London when bonds are forged and contracts signed between governments facing Janus and businessmen. Instead of continuing and expanding our commitment to arms, the UK should use what little international influence it has to take a stand against this disgusting industry and in solidarity with all those who are victims of war, torture and violence around the world. We can no longer allow profit in death, we can no longer welcome the brutal arms industry cronies with open arms, and we can no longer allow the power to kill to serve as currency. which can be traded for political gravity. and wealth around the world.

Stop the Arms Fair protests DSEI in front of the ExCeL Center between Monday September 6 and Friday September 17, 2021 “with lectures, music, art, workshops, actions and more”. For more information, see their website and facebook event.

Image Credit: David Mirzoeff / Global Justice Now / CC BY-NC 2.0 via flickr


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are fully managed by and for students. To ensure our independence, we do not receive any funding from the University and depend on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, these sources are severely limited and we foresee a difficult time ahead – for us and our fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, consider donating. We really appreciate any support you are able to provide; all of this will be used to cover our operating costs. Even if you can’t support us financially, consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues – it all helps!

Thank you!