Human Lives Human Rights: Declassified UK managed to get inside the DSEI arms fair and find corporations and governments complicit in the deaths of civilians everywhere.
The world’s largest arms fair – being held in the heart of London – is considered to be controversial, and is also being opposed by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Major General Roddy Porter, a 31-year veteran of the British Army who is now retired but is also a trustee of a Christian charity however, says the fair is not controversial. “We’ve got nothing to hide here,” he continues. “This is a legitimate government transactional business.”
DSEI takes place at ExCel London, a huge convention centre on the banks of the River Thames. The exhibits are arranged along two 480,000 square foot hangars running down the length of the building, which is owned by Abu Dhabi, a repressive Gulf emirate.
Last year, ExCel let the National Health Service use the venue rent-free for the Nightingale hospital to deal with the Covid crisis, although almost no patients were actually treated there. In the darkest days of the pandemic, arms companies promised to start making life-saving medical equipment instead of bombs.
But this week it looks like a return to business as usual.
At the fair, were some Brimstone missiles on display, which are described as “high precision surface attack weapons, at the stall belonging to MBDA.
The Brimstone missile has been used by the Saudi Air Force in its brutal war in Yemen, which has seen countless war crimes, including bombings of school buses and hospitals.
Moreover, despite allegations Pakistan secretly supported the Taliban’s return to power, the Pakistani military officer who works at its embassy in London officer said Britain’s military welcomed him to DSEI to browse for new equipment.
Nearby, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had their stall which carries the strapline: “Where Courage Meets Technology”.
A 20-foot-long missile takes pride of place on their stand. Named the “Sea Serpent”, it has a small logo – a wave turning into a serpent – meant to make it chic. In Israel’s assault on Gaza in May, which killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, the Israeli navy shelled the strip from the sea.
Above the Sea Serpent, another contraption is hanging from wire coming down from the ceiling. This is the Mini Harpy, a “multi-purpose tactical loitering munition”. A huge touch-screen behind it allows people to flick between “highlights” and a “movie” of this weapon.