15:14 GMT19 January 2021
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    UK anti-arms campaigners and human rights activists have set up a blockade at one of the world's largest arms fairs to protest against Britain's arms export trade. The protests follow a survey that revealed 70 percent of Brits were opposed to selling arms to undemocratic or violent regimes.

    With the Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair set to take place in London next week, protesters have set up a blockade at the site in the hope of interrupting the set-up of the event.

    More than 1,000 international arms firms and 30,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend the DSEI, which is one of the world's largest arms fairs.

    Protesters are hoping to raise awareness about the state of the UK's arms trade, with London criticized for supplying arms to countries shown to have made serious human rights violations such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Bahrain.

    'UK Values Arms Trade More Than Public Opinion'

    The protests come amid a new survey carried out by research group Opinium, which found that 70 percent of Britons were opposed to the UK selling weapons to undemocratic countries or those with violent regimes.

    Despite widespread human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia, violent crackdowns against protesters in Bahrain and last year's Israeli summer offensive in Gaza, where leaders were accused of committing war crimes, the UK continues to sell significant arms products to the countries.

    David Cameron denied any link between the government's support for the arms trade and the refugee crisis at Prime…

    Posted by Campaign Against Arms Trade on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

    Andrew Smith from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), who are among the groups taking part in the London protests, told Sputnik that the government is blatantly ignoring the beliefs and opinions of the British public when it comes to the arms trade.

    "It seems that the UK values the arms trade more than the opinions of its citizens."

    He said that the continued sale of weapons to such countries was contributing to the oppression of citizens.

    "So what we're seeing is the government entrenching and supporting these same dictatorships and these same abusive regimes and continuously selling weapons to war zones. Certainly the public are against it and we want the government to listen to the people and stop supporting these terrible regimes."

    Netanyahu To Face Protests

    Protesters yesterday paid particular attention to the UK's relationship with Israel, with Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arriving in London today for a two-day visit to Britain.

    In a letter to British newspaper the Guardian, a number of union members, Labour MPs and other prominent figures denounced Netanyahu's UK visit, saying the Israeli PM must "must bear responsibility for war crimes identified by the UN human rights council in its investigation into Israel's 2014 assault on Gaza."

    This was also followed by more than 100,000 people signing a petition calling on Netanyahu to be arrested by UK officials during his visit to London as a result of last year's Gaza offensive.

    "Arms sales aren't just numbers on a spreadsheet, they have deadly consequences. 13 months ago UK arms were being used against the people of Gaza, as they have been repeatedly, and today they are being used against Yemen," Andrew Smith said.

    "We've seen the Saudi government locking up bloggers, we've seen the Saudi bombing campaign create catastrophe in Yemen. What more does Saudi Arabia have to do before the UK says enough is enough." 

    Related:

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    Tags:
    regime, arms export, human rights, arms, trade, weapons, Israel, United Kingdom
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