James O'Nions. The Defence Export Services Organisation, the part of the Ministry of Defence which markets UK weapons abroad, released the list of official invitees to the DSEi arms fair on Sunday. Defence Systems and Equipment International is one of the world's largest Arms Fairs and from 13-16 September will host companies selling everthing from fighter jets to small arms to cluster bombs.
The list of invitees includes seven countries (Colombia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam and China) which were featured in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2005 Human Rights Report as major human rights black holes. It also includes mutually hostile India and Pakistan, and newly friendly Libya.
It is the first time that Indonesia has been invited since 1999. Despite a
peace treaty having been signed with seperatists in Aceh, there is no evidence
that the notorious Indonesian Army has changed, and there continues to be
evidence of torture, extra-judicial killings and sexual violence according to Human
Israel has not been invited by the MoD, but 23 Israeli companies will be exhibiting at the Arms Fair, and Israel will probably recieve its invitation from the organisers Spearhead Exhibitions instead, with the tacit approval of the MoD, as happened in 2003.
All the government's official invitees will be met by Minister for Defence Procurement Lord Drayson and Defence Minister John Reid. The Campaign Against Arms Trade today called DSEi "an event that makes a mockery of European and UK arms control rules" and pointed out the government's hypocrisy in talking of international controls on arms transfers, at the same time as holding an event which increases global arms proliferation.
Further information and details of protests can be found at www.caat.org.uk