Three things we’ll be chanting at the arms fair
06 September 2017
On Thursday 7 September, staff and activists from Global Justice Now will be joining the Stop the Arms Fair campaign and other groups in trying to stop the setup of the DSEI arms fair - a big business event showcasing the latest in weapons of war and murderous technologies.
If you’re able to get to London’s ExCel centre on the day, sign up here and meet us there.
If not, you can still join our protest call, by reading and sharing this blog.
Free movement for people not bombs
The missiles and drones showcased by arms dealers at the fair won’t face border controls as they destroy communities and wreak havoc around the world. But the people who flee for their safety will often face violent borders and persecution as they are forced to migrate.
Since Theresa May announced in 2012 that she would seek to create a “hostile environment” for “illegal” immigrants, legislation has been put into action to take the concept of “borders” from territorial lines right into our communities. It purposely aims to make life as a migrant a constant struggle, with no access to jobs, bank accounts, healthcare, schools or the basics of life, in the hope they’ll eventually “return home”.
But for many migrants, it’s not a simple case of “legal” or “illegal”. Without the privilege of a British passport, the paperwork is complex and it’s easy to fall foul of complex Home Office bureaucracy. So the “hostile environment” indiscriminately punishes all migrants, forcing many into exploitation or destitution, as landlords, employers and doctors are forced to turn their backs out of fear of breaking the rules, risking penalties and even facing jail.
A “hostile environment” is something we’d usually use to describe war zones. Instead of tackling the violence of war around the world by stopping ams exports to authoritarian regimes, or countries known for human rights abuses, Theresa May has made sure that anybody seeking sanctuary in the UK will find only more hostility, mistrust and neglect.
So we say let’s tackle the hostile environment created by British government and business involvement in war and arms dealing as well as the hostile environment created to persecute migrants in the UK. Free movement for people. Borders for bombs and the business of warfare.
Profit from bombs means profit from borders
The very same companies who profit from dealing in murderous weapons of war tend to be those who will then also profit from producing the means to control borders and lock people out of refuge.
Let’s be clear - war creates migrants. And in the bordered world that we live in, migrants are a means to make money, providing a warped incentive to maintain the cycle in selling bombs and then border controls.
Migration is not a crime, no human is illegal
Unlike the sale of arms to states that are at “clear risk” of committing international humanitarian crimes, leaving your home in search of a better life elsewhere is not a crime.
So why is it, then, that the UK government is more than happy to sell billions of pounds worth of weapons to, for example, Saudi Arabia, and has, since 2010, issued licences for the sale of arms to 22 of the 30 countries on its own human rights watch list, and yet refuses accept the rights of migrants trying to find sanctuary in the UK? How can they welcome big business deals with human rights abusers, but criminalise human beings for the “crime” of crossing territorial lines, and then continue to persecute them through discriminatory legislation?
It’s not the first time in our history that a group of people has been criminalised and denied basic freedoms. As we try to stop the arms fair on 7 September, we’ll be joined by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, the All African Women’s Group, and other organisations and liberation groups - who recognise that the oppression and persecution of any marginalised group is the struggle of every minority community. No human should be demonised or criminalised for living freely. Whether it’s the colour of your skin, your sexuality, gender, or the country where you happened to be born - no human is illegal.
Join us on 7 September, 11am at Prince Regent DLR station if you can, or share this video to the spread the word if not.