The Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) arms fair took place at SEC Glasgow at the end of June. It was met by a large, boisterous protest, which made it very clear that weapons trading should not be happening in Glasgow, or anywhere! As a result, Glasgow Council took the decision to no longer support arms fairs.
The UDT arms fair, which took place in Glasgow in June, saw more than a thousand delegates hobnobbing with representatives of some of the world’s worst arms companies. These included BAE Systems, whose Eurofighter jets are being used by Saudi forces in Yemen; and Leonardo, which has been linked to the production of arms being used by Turkish forces in Afrin. The event’s ‘innovation partner’ was Babcock, which has major contracts for the production and maintenance of Trident.
The run up to the fair was marked by vigils at the offices of Glasgow City Council, whose “Glasgow Life” organisation has been supporting the fair, as well as a die-in and rally at the Buchanan St steps in the city.
Protests on the first day of the arms fair itself began early: delegates arriving before 8am were greeted by Deaths telling them where to go, shepherding them with scythes. Campaigners in blood-soaked overalls made it clear that money should be spent for the public good – not to enrich arms dealers!
During the morning, activists heard speeches from (among others) Scottish CND, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, CAAT and Scotland Against Militarism, and moving descriptions of the effect of arms sales to Turkey on the people of Afrin.
Kate Nevens who campaigns in Scotland for CAAT said, “People in Scotland are appalled that such a terrible event is taking place, and that Glasgow City Council is supporting it. Many of the companies in attendance have armed and supported human rights abusing regimes across the world. War, repression and injustice are fueled by arms fairs like Underseas Defense Technology. It’s time to shut it down for good.”
The protest fell silent as Palestinians murdered by Israeli soldiers at the Gaza fence were remembered by a die-in and reading of their names. Meanwhile, inside the fair, Israeli arms dealers were exhibiting their wares.
With such strength of feeling, Glasgow City Council was forced to disassociate itself from the arms fair – blaming it on the city’s previous administration – and said it will bring in an ethical events policy. Glasgow Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr David McDonald said, “…with a new policy and with a new political commitment in place you can be sure this is not the kind of event that comes to Glasgow in the future.”
We hope so. There is nothing ethical or life-giving about an arms fair, and so the council’s Glasgow Life organisation should not have backed the fair in the first place. People make Glasgow – not arms dealers!