Protest planned for Glasgow Arms Fair

26 June 2018, 06:16

Glasgow

Peace campaigners plan to protest outside an international arms conference in Glasgow.

Faith groups will join members of the Sink the Arms Fair Coalition to call for an end to such events.

Around 1,100 people from more than 40 countries are expected at the three-day Undersea Defence Techology conference at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which will discuss new subsea weaponry and technology.

A protest is planned for 10am and a prayer calling for peace is due to take place at noon.

The convention team for Glasgow City Council arm's length organisation Glasgow Life has provided practical support for the event and campaigners have written an open letter of protest to the council and other politicans.

The venue for the event is run by a company 90% owned by the local authority.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said: "We are disappointed that Glasgow City Council has chosen to support an international festival of the arms trade.

"To facilitate such a gathering is deeply uncomfortable at a time when so many innocent people around the world are suffering from effects of war and the damage and destruction caused by weapons.

"Such a venture may bring income for some Scottish businesses, but we should be investing in a future that brings conflict and the need for weapons manufacture to an end.

"A conference like this fosters and legitimises an industry that causes untold suffering."

Among the groups in the coalition are the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Scotland Against Militarism and Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Kate Nevens of Edinburgh Campaign Against Arms Trade said people in Scotland are "appalled" by the event, adding: "It's time to shut it down for good."

Green MSP Ross Greer is attending the protest.

He said: "The arms trade profits from death and destruction across the world and it stains Scotland to have this fair in our largest city and with the support of public money."

A statement from Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and depute leader David McDonald, said: "The UDT Conference is organised by Clarion Events, one of the world's largest organisers of conferences, events, trade shows and exhibitions.

"The council is not responsible for the conference or contracts between conference organisers, the venue and accommodation providers. The contract was agreed before last May's local government elections.

"While we have a responsibility to support and promote the positive economic impact generated by the convention and events sector, we also understand that some people have expressed their opposition to this conference being held in the city.

"The City Government has therefore asked the Glasgow Convention Bureau to re-examine policies and procedures with regard to any support associated with winning convention and conference business for the city, so that, in addition to financial and economic criteria, the policy will examine wider strategic aims including being a human rights-supporting city and other ethical concerns.

"In addition, in light of the concerns raised about this particular event, the use of the People Make Glasgow branding has been removed."