Two people hold a banner that says, War Starts Here Let's Stop It Here #StopDSEI in front of a truck carrying equpiment which is stopped in the road. Someone is sat on top of the equipment.

DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) is one of the world’s largest arms fairs. Hundreds of people got in the way of its set-up at London’s ExCeL Centre in September 2017.

Dabke-dancing, aerobics, a gig on a flatbed truck, abseilers dangling from a bridge, theatre, military veterans undertaking unofficial vehicle checks for banned weapons, Kurdish dancers and rebel clowns, religious gatherings, hip-hop artists, radical picnics, a critical mass of cyclists, conference workshops, Daleks, political choirs, and lots of people in arm-locks all blocked the entrances to the DSEI arms fair repeatedly over the course of a whole week.

As lorries and trucks transporting armoured vehicles, missiles, sniper rifles, tear gas and bullets attempted to get on site, people from around the world were there to put their bodies in the way.

From 4 to 11 September, rolling blockades disrupted the set up of the arms fair and forced the arms trade into the public eye.

Monday 4 September: Stop Arming Israel

People hold a banner that reads, "Stop Arming Israel" in front of a lorry. There is a banner that says "Footbal against apartheid" and road sign that says, "Stop Wars"
Stop Arming Israel activists at DSEI 2019

The Stop Arming Israel day of action used creative activities to block the road, including Dabke dancing, a football game with giant balls, and live music and DJs playing late into the evening. Protesters heard how Israel markets its weapons as “battle-tested” on the Palestinian population. At the same time, they blocked a Sandcat vehicle from Israeli manufacturer Plasan from entering the fair.

Tuesday 5 September: No Faith in War

Four abseilers are suspended from a road bridge, blocking the road. Police officers stand above them.
Abseilers blocked access to the ExCel Centre for many hours

Faith groups came together for a day of peaceful nonviolent resistance and prayer, to say no to the arms trade and no to profiteering from war.

Protesters locked themselves together in arm tubes to block the road and had to be cut out before vehicles could get through. Abseilers came from above to block the road below them for many hours.

Wednesday 6 September: No to Nuclear & Arms to Renewables

banner with pictures of bombs with nuclear symbols on the left and a wind turbine, sun and wave on the right. It reads, "Ways to change our world from arms to renewables"
Proposals for a more sustainable future

CND Regional Groups and Trident Ploughshares coordinated actions to say No to Nuclear. Many of the companies that are central to Trident replacement were at DSEI.

Arms to Renewables actions showcased positive alternatives. Roads were blocked for hours at a time, with police taking six hours to cut some protesters out of their blockades.

Thursday 7 September: Free Movement for People Not Weapons

4 people hold a banner that reads, Refugees Welcome Not Arms Dealers
Refugees welcome in London, not the arms dealers

Many of the companies at DSEI directly profit from conflicts that drive people from their homes, as well as from deadly borders and the inhumane treatment of migrants.

The day of action was organised by migrant-led feminist and queer groups, and featured workshops, theatre and dance led by people on the front lines of military and border violence.

Veterans in blue hoodies and t-shirts, holding Peace and Palestine flags, hold a big yellow sign that reads, 'Check point - Banned weapons search - Check point'
Veterans for Peace made banned weapons checks on vehicles trying to get into the ExCel Centre

Veterans for Peace carried out citizen’s inspections of  vehicles arriving at the Arms Fair to ensure that no weapons banned under the Geneva Conventions were being brought in.

A picnic blocked the road at lunchtime, with amazing food from North London Food not BombsAll African Women’s Group performed their play, We Are Here Because You Were There.

Friday 8 September: Scholars and supervillains against the arm fair

Police officers interrogate a dalek in the road. The dalek has a banner that reads, "Dalek Jobs for Daleks"

Conference at the Gates moved academia out of the lecture theatre and onto the street, blurring the lines between activism and academia.

Meanwhile, striking Supervillains from all over the universe picketed the arms fair, to protest being put out of a job by human rights abusers from all over the planet.

Saturday 9 September: Festival of Resistance

A man draped in a Bahraini flag holds a microphone as a Palestine flag waves in the background.
Sayed Alwadaei from Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy gets ready to address the crowd.

Artists, performers and many others converged for a festival of resistance. Human rights campaigner Sayed, who left Bahrain after being beaten, tortured and jailed said,

There are decent people who will stand against war, and we are so proud to be part of this movement.

Sunday 10 September: International resistance

A workshop runs on the grass beside the roundabout. People sit listening to a speaker, there is a police van behind them and banners in the background.
War Resisters International ran workshops on the Sunday after addressing the crowds on the Saturday

War Resisters’ International brought together people from around the world for a seminar which explored how the arms trade is international – and so is our resistance.

Chalk on the road reads, Stop War on Kurds. A banner reads Stop UK arms sales to Turkey. Stop war against Kurds.

Kurdish solidarity protesters calling for the UK to Stop Arming Turkey held the road with speeches, dancing and singing.

Public opposition

Several public figures spoke out against DSEI.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he wants the arms fair banned. He said he is “opposed to London being used as a marketplace for the trade of weapons to those countries that contribute to human rights abuses.”

Co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, attended a day of protests. He told participants: “We can take people out of the industry of death and use their skills for a renewables revolution.”

Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall announced he would donate any profits made at his River Cottage outlets at ExCeL during DSEI to charity. He said “We do not want to profit from the spend of the arms trade.”

Caroline Lucas MP also supported the action: “Over 100 people have been arrested because of their actions, but I have no doubt that history will judge kindly those who peacefully put their bodies in the way of an an arms fair which sells weapons to some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships.”

Thank you

people dance in nthe road in front of a van

Thank you to the hundreds of people who put their bodies in the way of the arms fair, and also to the many thousands of others who amplified the protests by signing petitions and by speaking out online and in their own communities.

Even more people helped in diverse ways in order to make the protests possible, from pet-sitting so others could protest, to making beautiful props or food for protesters, to sending messages of support.

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