Activists aim to stop companies from Broadstairs, Rochester, Chatham, Whitstable and Ashford reaching military-industrial jamboree
Arms companies making weapon parts in Kent will be confronted by local protesters from the county when they head to a major arms fair in London in September.
The companies being targeted include Instro Precision, whose factory in Broadstairs has seen rooftop occupations by activists twice so far this year, each time forcing it to close for a full day.
Other companies selling wares at the bi-annual DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms expo in London’s Docklands include firms working out of Whitstable, Rochester, Chatham and Ashford [see list below].
Activists associated with Campaign Against Arms Trade East Kent (CAATEK) this week vowed to use direct action tactics to delay, disrupt and potentially prevent the Kent-based companies from reaching the event.
CAATEK activist Roberta O’Hare said the group would use “creative ways” to highlight “how David Cameron, Kent-based arms companies and the world’s nastiest tyrants are in bed together”.
“DSEI is one of the biggest gatherings of arms dealers in the world. Hundreds of these besuited corporate terrorists gather to seduce potential buyers with the new ways they have designed to maim and murder men, women and children.
“Their goal is to get rich from providing oppressive regimes with ways of literally tearing humans limb from limb, which they advertise with glossy brochures and glitzy displays as if they’re peddling cars or new kitchens.
“We know the arms companies based in our communities are heading to London to make a killing, but they will find us there waiting for them with a whole range of creative ways to stop them.
“Pressure is building on Kent’s arms dealers as more and more people become aware that they are using our peaceful communities to build their disgusting products. The people of Kent will not allow them to do so with impunity any longer.”
Broadstairs-based Instro Precision Ltd has been a particular focus of local people’s concern because it makes targeting equipment that is fitted to drones . The company is a subsidiary of Israel’s largest drone maker, Elbit Systems, which protesters say means there is a high chance that Kent-made components were used to massacre Gazans in Israel’s assault during summer 2014.
Elbit Systems is known to market its products as “battle-proven”  – a reference to the fact that they have been used in Gaza – and has seen a backlog of orders worth billions of dollars build up following ‘Operation Protective Edge’ – Israel’s assault on Palestinians – last year.
Kent-based companies attending DSEI include :
Amphenol – Whitstable – A major supplier of ‘interconnect’ products to the Israeli military
BAE Systems – Rochester – World’s 3rd largest arms company. Customers include Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. Made armoured vehicles used to suppress democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011
Babcock International Group – Chatham – Holds export licences to Bahrain and Israel
Meggitt Defence Systems – Ashford – Its air data system is used in Apache gunships used by Israel against Gaza and Lebanon. Export licences to countries including China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Instro Precision Ltd – Broadstairs – Makes optical targeting equipment, including components for unmanned drones 
Wartsila Corporation – Dover – Specialises in navigation systems, has export licences for China, Pakistan, Israel, Bahrain
There will be two weeks of disruption and protest by activists of all backgrounds from across the UK in the run-up to DSEI, as well as actions during the fair itself, which runs from September 15-18 at the Excel Centre, featuring 1,500 exhibitors. More information can be found at http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk.
Differently themed days of protest action include days for faith groups, green groups, Palestine solidarity activists and more.
Notes for editors:
For more information contact caateastkent [at] gmail.com.
1. See company’s web page http://www.instro.com/instro-products/lrf-modules/lrf700 – ‘UAV’ stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, otherwise known as drones
2. See http://ir.elbitsystems.com/mobile.view?c=61849&v=202&d=3&id=aHR0cDovL2FwaS50ZW5rd2l6YXJkLmNvbS9maWxpbmcueG1sP2lwYWdlPTU2OTkxMTgmRFNFUT0xJlNFUT0xNyZTUURFU0M9U0VDVElPTl9QQUdFJmV4cD0mc3Vic2lkPTU3
3. See DSEI exhbitors list at http://www.dsei.co.uk/page.cfm/Action=ExhibList/ListID=2/PageNum=1/loadSearch=400822_8315