Letter to Bury Free Press about Arms Sales

Letter to Bury Free Press about Arms Sales

The Bury Free Press has published our letter about the DSEI arms fair.


One of the world’s biggest arms fairs, the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition (DSEI), will take place in London between 15-18 September. This will involve more than 1000 companies and 30,000 attendees and is heavily subsidised by the British government.

At every DSEI arms fair since 2005, illegal weapons have been promoted for sale . These include weapons designed specifically for torture, as well as cluster munitions and anti-personnel land-mines. Thales Optronics, who have a division in Bury St Edmunds, will be among the exhibitors.

We believe the international trade in arms is not only unethical, but is also damaging to both people and economies. We call upon firms such as Thales to reconsider their involvement with DSEI, this year and in the future.

As many of your readers will be aware, DSEI is controversial. It has been repeatedly associated with the marketing of banned weapons and torture devices, giving rise to negative national press coverage as well as being the subject of questions in Parliament.

The fair has attracted extensive protest in the past and is likely to do so again this year. This is in part because weapons sold at the fair are associated with human rights abuses. We ask firms concerned to remember that responsibility for the manner in which these weapons are used lies not only with the states which buy and deploy them, but also with the companies who design, build and market them.

We know that only a part of Thales’ business is associated with the arms trade. Consequently, we urge their board of directors to reconsider the company’s involvement with products which support conflict and with regimes which abuse human rights.

At this time when so many people are fleeing from conflict and seeking refuge in Europe, we might reflect reflect on the fact that two-thirds of UK arms exports currently go to Middle Eastern countries.

We would also ask your readers to consider whether a country which prides itself on its compassion and sense of justice should be hosting an international arms fair at all.