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Was the ‘arms fair’ propagating mass usage of weapons?

Citing ongoing wars and atrocities around the world, people gathered to protest against  British arms trade outside the ‘arms fair’ on 28th March 2017.

The Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales held an annual expo of military defence technology and research. Roughly 20 to 30 people gathered outside with signs and songs.

The protest, Stop Cardiff Arms Fair / Na I Ffair Arfau Caerdydd, was scheduled to go on for as long as the event. Numbers fluctuated throughout the day.

During the protest, Food Not Bombs volunteers handed out soup to participants and turned away at least one delegate.

As delegates left the building, protesters would shout: “Shame! Shame!” Occasionally, a few protesters would confront delegates with questions and statements.

The Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) event brought together more than 1,500 delegates in the industry. While no weapons or defence equipment were purchased, the expo provided an opportunity for delegates to learn about technologies and network with each other.

The UK spends two percent of its GDP on military defence, as mandated by NATO.

Recently, the UK has been under pressure to adhere to a two percent minimum spending of the total national income on military defence until 2020. In the 2017 fiscal year, the UK is spending £34 billion public funds on defence.

During WWII, military spending in the UK had gone up to over 46 percent in 1943. The second greatest peak in spending was during WWI in 1919.

Why are People Protesting?

Diana, 73 years old, retired (former psycho-therapist)

“I’m so ashamed that Great Britain, that started the industrial revolution, that all that’s left of our industry now is making weapons. We’re so clever. we could do so many constructive things. We could be absolutely geniuses at sorting out alternative energy, stuff like that. Any yet all we do is the cheapest, nastiest thing which is to make arms and weapons used to kill people.”

 

Phil, 40, Food Not Bombs Volunteer

“We had a delegate coming up trying to get free food… He said he was building walls to stop people getting shot and trying to convince us that he was doing a good thing. But he was in there [the arms fair] and I asked him if he was making a profit out of what you do and he obviously was making a profit, and our stance is people before profit. We sent him on his way.

“There hasn’t been much alternative actions today compared with the last few years. It’s been quite peaceful which is a good thing but also I think the police and the delegates are going to win in that sense if it’s too peaceful. I myself am a peaceful protester but I do like to see some alternative ways of tackling it. Last year someone went on the roof and occupied that with big banners and they couldn’t get them down until the end of the day.”

 

Jonny, 43, Gardener

“I’d rather be growing vegetables but you know, sometimes enough is enough and it’s really hard when you hear about everything that’s going on in the world. You can feel quite helpless about it, and we hear about war everywhere. The people that are waging war may be a very long away from us, but a lot of their arms and equipment come from this country. Most of the trade in those arms is done in this country. I’m here to represent a peaceful alternative.”

 Video: Live Coverage of the Protest

This article’s feature image is licensed to Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images. It was cropped to meet InterCardiff’s feature image requirements.