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    Weapons are displayed at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at the ExCeL centre in east London, on September 10, 2013.

    Arms Dealers Descend on London as 'Dismaland' Comes to Town

    © AFP 2018/ Ben Stansall
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    "Swarms" of arms dealers are expected to descend on the Docklands for the world's biggest arms fair in London. The Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) kicks off on Tuesday, with the organizers saying one thing and campaigners saying another.

    "At a time of heightened security risk, with terrorism posed in an increasing number of forms, an unstable geopolitical environment and budgetary restraints, DSEI will provide a central platform for senior international military and political representatives to discuss current threats and get an exclusive view of the defense and security sectors' latest equipment and services,"a DSEI press release says.

    Meanwhile, adverts on bus stops and tube carriages in London are saying something else.  

    Over 300 posters have appeared in London marking the event at the ExCel Centre, curated by Dr Gavin Grindon whose "Museum of Cruel Objects" appeared at Banksy's Dismaland exhibition in Weston-Super-Mare.

    "Cruel Designs is an exhibition of things that were made to hurt you," the Dismaland souvenir program says.

    "We usually think of designers as a progressive force for improving our world. But design is often used to force obedience on behalf of capitalism and the state."

    According to Grindon, who told London 24, the progression from Weston-Super-Mare to the capital is: "To commemorate the opening of DSEI, who don't seem to have done much advertising of their own."

    Bus stop billboards carry bright slogans saying:

    "At this year's DSEI, come and BUY ARMS alongside: AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES! COUNTRIES AT WAR! And Not Forgetting… COUNTRIES WITH THE MOST SERIOUS WIDE-RANGING HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS."

    Spoof adverts have also appeared in tube carriages:

    "This September, a swarm of arms dealers will be descending on the DLR… These visitors make huge amounts of money from weapons and equipment that kill people in wars all over the world."

    Ramping up the alternative rhetoric on the DSEI, Amnesty International (AI) has produced its own video 'advertisement'.

    A voice layered in irony says:

    "The London Arms Fair — since 2005, visitors have been offered guns, tanks and horrific killer drones. You may even find offers of illegal torture equipment, ankle shattering leg irons, cluster bombs and electric stun batons that cause excruciating pain but leave no trace." 

    AI says it has found evidence of illegal torture equipment at the arms fair in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2013.

    "Unsurprisingly, the UK government wants to keep this quiet…"

    "So, we're running the ad campaign they never wanted you to see… Demand the UK government stops the trade in illegal torture equipment once and for all."

    Michael Fallon, Britain's Secretary of State for Defense has confirmed his attendance at the event.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    human rights abuse, arms trade, expo, arms export, advertisement, military, human rights, torture, Amnesty International, Michael Fallon, Europe, United Kingdom
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