End the cycle of violence: Take action against UK DSEI arms fair

Please sign and share our open letter in protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) ams fair in London this September - as we fight to stop the sale of arms to countries complicit in mass human rights abuses. 

Dear Secretary of State for International Trade,

As healthcare workers, health academics and public health professionals, we write to add our voice to the movement challenging the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London this September - a trade fair that fuels global conflict and insecurity. Despite years of opposition to this event, it continues to take place.

We hope the recent judgement in the Court of Appeal regarding the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia can mark the beginning of the end for the UK’s complicity in arms sales to governments such as those of Saudi Arabia and Israel, who are responsible for mass human rights abuses. A commitment not to host arms fairs such as DSEI would be an excellent first step on this path on your part. 

DSEI represents an industry that profits from war and the perpetuation of violence. Past fairs have seen the exhibition of weapons and arms such as sniper rifles, tanks, warships and combat aircraft - with participants from around the world, including representatives of governments and militaries involved in human rights abuses and humanitarian crises. 

As health workers, we are concerned by the long-term physical and mental health outcomes of populations subjected to war and conflict. In these situations, hospitals are either starved of life-saving resources or are targets for attack themselves. Healthcare workers are often the first to respond to the devastation caused by these same weapons that will be displayed in London in September. The war in Yemen has led to the deaths of around 100,000 people, an epidemic of cholera, and mass famine. Weapons and technology also sold to Israel have been used in the 2009/10 and 2014 attacks on Gaza - killing in total around 3,500 Palestinians, and we see ongoing human rights abuses in countries like Egypt and Turkey. 

We see our colleagues in hospitals in Yemen working in unsafe conditions, often attacked by Saudi-led coalition strikes - with reports that over 70 health facilities have faced violence since 2015. Some of the weapons and technology used in these attacks will be displayed during DSEI. 

Companies who ‘exhibit’ their products during the fair include BAE Systems, Thales and General Dynamics. These companies, and many others, have sold weapons and their parts to repressive regimes in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Turkey - with destructive and inhumane consequences across the world. The UK government has licenced arms sales worth upwards of £4.7 billion to Saudi Arabia since 2015 - some of these sales have now been deemed unlawful by the UK Court of Appeal.

And whilst the Department for International Trade (DIT) licences the sale of arms, UK aid donations through the Department for International Development (DfID) and DEC Appeals are sent to countries such as Yemen to attempt to repair the damage caused by armed conflict. 

It is time to end this cycle and for the DIT to stop fuelling wars through granting licences for the sale of arms to violent and repressive regimes, and supporting arms fairs such as DSEI.

Yours sincerely, 

 

The undersigned

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Please be aware as an open letter we intend to publish names and job titles (but not contact details) of signatories provided through this form when the letter is sent.