A FORMER refugee from Iraq told protesters outside one of the world’s biggest arms fairs today of the environmental destruction caused by modern warfare.
Hiba Ahmad, a member of Our Future Now, joined Global Justice Now campaigners in blocking entrances to the ExCeL exhibition centre in London’s Docklands.
The government-backed Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair open at the venue next week.
Daily demonstrations, each with a different theme, have taken place since Monday and will continue over the weekend. More than 70 people have been arrested.
Today’s Stop Climate Change theme highlighted the environmental cost of contemporary armed conflict.
Ms Ahmad told fellow protesters: “I am here today as a former refugee, I am here as a migrant who has seen her country and people torn apart by the very companies looking to sell arms here next week.
“I am a person whose land and community suffers every day from the trauma and pollution the slow and fast violence of war creates.
“My home country of Iraq has been in continuous war since the early 1980s. Mostly, these wars have been the result of a thoroughly evil axis between fossil-fuel companies, arms companies and the security sector looking for a good source of profit.
“The abundance of oil resources in Iraq made it a perfect target for a perpetual but very profitable war.”
Featuring exhibits by 1,600 arms manufacturers, the trade fair will attract 30,000 dealers in death and destruction.
The government has invited delegations from 50 countries, including some of the world’s most repressive and warmongering regimes such as Saudi Arabia.
Protester Oriana Lauria of Global Justice Now said: “Today we have joined with others climate justice groups to bring our resistance to climate change to the streets of east London.
“Environmental destruction, the displacement of people and increased greenhouse gas emissions are inescapably part of modern warfare enabled by the arms trade.
“As we face the increasing prospect of climate breakdown, the deals being done at DSEI next week will lay the ground for further wars for resources and increasingly militarised borders in the future.
“That’s why we have blocked both the entrances to the ExCeL centre today.”
The biggest protest of the week is expected today, starting at 10am, with the theme Festival of Resistance.
Sunday’s theme will be Borders and Migration, hosted by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants.