December 13 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 9, 2013
Five anti-arms trade protesters are being held by police after padlocking themselves to the doors of a global defence company’s London offices.
Lockheed Martin’s offices in Regent Street were targeted by campaigners from Stop the Arms Fair coalition ahead of the start of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) event, which begins at the ExCel centre in the Docklands from tomorrow.
Activists, who used superglue as well as locks to attach themselves to the front and rear entrances of the building, have accused Lockheed Martin of supplying weapons that have been used in war crimes around the world, including cluster munitions and Trident nuclear weapons systems.
Protester Lizzie Bradley said: “It’s sickening that Lockheed Martin are able to pass themselves off as a legitimate company.
“Their weapons have been used to commit war crimes all over the world, from the Hellfire missiles used in Iraq to their work interrogating prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.”
Fellow protester Kat, who did not want to give her surname, was one of those supporting the activists who attached themselves to the building.
She said: “Lockheed Martin don’t label their offices in London so we’re trying to show them they can’t hide any more and to shut them down.”
A spokesman said five people were arrested after officers were called around 8am this morning to reports of protesters causing a disturbance.
He said: “Two people have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage. A further two persons have been arrested for on suspicion of possession of articles for causing criminal damage.
“One other person was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.
“They have all been taken to a central London police station where they remain in police custody.”
A Lockheed Martin spokesman said: “We respect the fact that in a democracy everyone has the right to freedom of speech and to protest but this should be done peacefully and lawfully and in a manner which respects the fact others should be free to safely and securely go about their own daily duties.”
More than 1,000 companies are displaying at DSEI during the four-day event and a week of action has been planned by protesters.
Sarah Waldron, core campaigner at the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said: “The DSEI arms fair is preparing to welcome some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world and those who profit from their brutality.
“The deals done here fuel death, injury, fear and repression - yet instead of banning it, the government helps make it happen.
“We are here to resist it, to stand in solidarity with the people facing the deadly consequences of its weapons and do what we can to stop this obscene event continuing.”