Pistols, protesters and paramedics gather in Newham for arms fair
- Credit: Archant
More than 1,500 exhibitors have been in the borough to sell guns, bombs and other equipment to buyers from across the world amid demonstrations by hundreds of protesters.
The Defence and Security Equipment International event, hosted at the ExCel centre, also featured an Ebola virus training centre and revolutionary prosthetics technology.
This week’s fair, subsidised by UK Trade and Investment, included a US pavilion featuring exhibitors like AgileMesh, which sells surveillance gear.
“Our products can be very useful for events like 9/11 or after a hurricane,” Bill Dickerson, AgileMesh president, said.
“They were also used during the riots in Ferguson, Missouri by local cops.”
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Also part of the US delegation was Bruce Florack, manager at Control Solutions LLC, who highlighted the confusion surrounding which countries arms traders can sell to.
“We can’t sell to North Korea or Syria, but I’m not sure about Iran now,” he said of his machine gun turret system.
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One of the event’s main attractions was an extremely life-like mock treatment display, showing a soldier whose legs had been blown off by a bomb.
“We have made more progress in medicine in the last ten years than in the previous hundred – and that, unfortunately, is a positive of war,” said Cpl Simon Rimmer, an RAF paramedic. “We’re here to show what happens when the weapons sold here are actually used.”
Meanwhile the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which was involved in protests outside the ExCel, said the whole fair was immoral.
“Once you strip away the rhetoric, the sole purpose of the event is to sell arms, especially to dictatorships,” Andrew Smith, of CAAT, said.
“This is completely contrary to the government’s human rights stance.”
Al Lockwood, spokesman for organisers Clarion Events, defended the fair, saying it brings £3 million into Newham.
“The British government gives us a list and we don’t invite the nations on it with bad human rights records,” he said. “But a country has a right to protect itself.”