It has been evident to me for a long time that war and internal
oppression has been the main cause of death and misery among the
ordinary people of this World. The Arms Industry is the most profitable of all global industries. Arms manufacturers are dealers in death, reaping vast profits by sacrificing people like you and me, motivated purely by greed. The development of the
F-35 jet fighter cost £288 billion (The Economist). A hospital costs on average £75 million, a school £35 million. Since 2001 when the US declared a ‘war on terror’ arms sales have been rising at an alarming rate.
My name is D. Murphy. I live in Swansea, I have children, grandchildren and now a great-granchild and have worked for over 20 years in the voluntary sector. I have been a long-time campaigner against the arms trade and have gone down every avenue available to me to voice my opposition to it. In the early days this was signing petitions, writing to my MPs, leafletting and picketing Parliament and arms companies and the banks who invested in them, going on marches and demonstrations etc. But I have realised no one is listening.
In 2009-10 3 of us from Swansea drove an ambulance with medical aid to Gaza in Palestine as part of a humanitarian convoy. I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war, where the Israeli government had carried out a sustained bombing campaign of a city no bigger than Swansea. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives and the senselessness of it all. That experience strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade.
Most people will know that since 2014 a coalition of Gulf states led bySaudi Arabia has been waging war on the desperately poor country of Yemen (where I spent a day when our flight stopped over there). The result of this war has been over 5,000 civilian deaths and 20,000 casualties and a cholera epidemic raging with nearly half a million affected and over 2,000 deaths.
The British Government is arming Saudi Arabia in a special government to government contract. And BAE Systems is the main supplier. Saudi is then using British weapons for mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen which is a war crime. ’Made in Britain’ bombs have been found amidst the rubble of a housing complex where 67 civilians were killed.
Meanwhile, British Aid organisations can’t bring aid into that country because of the destruction of ports, roads and airports by the Saudi coalition. What irony. According to the UN the whole country is on the verge of famine with over 20 million people in need of aid.
All of this leads me to where I am today and why I took the action I did at the DPRTE, Defence Procurement Research Technology and Exportability, Arms fair in Cardiff on the 28th of March this year. Its very name cloaks what it really is. On its own website it claims to be the “UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event”. According to the dictionary ‘defence procurement’ is ‘the action of acquiring military equipment and supplies’. It is an Arms Fair, no matter how the arms dealers try to disguise it. The UK Ministry of Defence is directly supplying Saudi and DPRTE is an Ministry of Defence Arms Fair. DPRTE is sponsored and attended by most of worlds largest arms companies all of which supply arms currently being used in Yemen. BAE Systems as always were present.
I joined about 70 protestors outside the Motorpoint Arena, and from early morning we protested with banners, placards, leafletting and chanting, but as on other occasions the arms fair went ahead. After nearly 20 years of protesting against the arms trade nothing we did seem to be making any difference.
On that day I acted in the only non-violent way open to me. I acted not out of a desire to do harm but precisely to PREVENT harm to innocent civilians in Yemen and by seeking to get the event peacefully and safely evacuated. I wanted to stop the fair, to stop the selling of arms. That was my intention.
Yesterday I was found Guilty by a jury in Cardiff Crown Court and today I was given a 3-month sentence suspended for 18 months. I said when I was first arrested that it was the Arms Dealers who should have been arrested in my stead, and I still believe it’s the Arms Dealers and the UK Government who should have been in the dock on trial for their complicity in War Crimes.
My resolve in opposing the Arms Trade has only been strengthened by this experience and I hope to see a huge protest outside next year’s DPRTE Arms Fair at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
My thanks for all the support I have been shown – Solidarity is a Weapon.