Anti-war Rallies Begin at DSEI Arms Exhibition in London
© SputnikMetropolitan Police
LONDON (Sputnik) - Anti-war rallies have started in London in time to coincide with the opening of the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI-2021) on Tuesday, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene.
The largest arms exhibition in Europe is held every two years at the London ExCel Exhibition Center. This year, it is expected to gather more than 1,700 leading manufacturers of military equipment.
In the early morning, a few protesters lined up with placards at the entrance for delegates, shouting out the names of people who had been killed in military conflicts. They were also holding banners with anti-war slogans.
Some delegates engaged in dialogue with protesters on their way in, saying they were focusing on security, not war. The protesters demanded companies stop profiteering from military actions.
"Our banner says 'War starts here' because this is a weapons fair, and ... the companies selling weapons that kill people make huge amounts of money, getting very rich from doing this," one of the protesters told Sputnik, noting that to stop wars one should first stop the culture that encourages selling weapons.
Another activist, an Anglican Church priest, told Sputnik that even a small action can change the world, and that bringing attention to militarism and industries supporting the use of lethal force to settle conflicts around the world is the right thing to do.
"We are here to resist the DSEI weapons fair, which is taking place at ExCel center. It happens every two years, and we are here to resist it, to disrupt its setting up and to raise awareness about the harm that war conflicts and, more broadly, militarism does," he said.
Several activists spilled red paint and lay down on the road, holding hands, portraying victims of war. The banner placed nearby said "Donate blood, not spill it."
Someone threw raw eggs at the demonstrators from the window of a neighbouring building.
The police cordoned off the road near where the rally was taking place, but did not intervene. So far, the rally has been peaceful.
The protests are expected to be held every day until 17 September.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has previously asked the DSEI organizers to cancel the arms fair, saying it would be an insult to many people who had fled conflicts and suffered from the consequences of the use of weapons presented there. However, the director of DSEI responded that the exhibition was in the interests of legitimate arms dealers.