On Saturday, a lively and well attended demonstration and die in in the centre of Nottingham brought two successful local campaigns together. Shut Down H&K, campaigners against Nottingham's arms dealers joined hands with No Borders Nottingham, who fight for migrant rights, to come 'full circle'. The demonstration emphasised the links between guns sold in the UK, armed conflicts abroad and the refugees that flee these wars to come to Britain looking for asylum.
The demonstrators gave out 2000 fliers to Christmas shoppers making them aware of the whereabouts of Heckler & Koch's premises in Lenton and the death and destruction their merchandise causes. Refugees and asylum seekers from many countries ravaged by the effects of small arms were there to support the demo. Protesters held a die in on the cold pavements, undeterred by the over the top police surveillance. Many members of the public were shocked to hear about the arms dealers in their neighbourhood.
Newswire: Full Circle Demo: From weapons to wars to refugees. Market Sq. Nottingham | Next Small Word Cinema @ Sumac 10th December | FULL CIRCLE - from weapons to wars to refugees | Demos continue at Heckler & Koch weapons HQ in Nottingham
Previous Features: The Arms Trade: From Nottingham to Georgia | Protests in Nottingham as Zimbabwe Goes to the Polls | Protesters Return to Nottingham Weapons Manufacturer | Campaign Victories As Hich And Amdani Are Released On Bail
1. Britain is now the world’s largest arms exporter; responsible for one third of the world’s arms exports. According to UN figures, Britain exports hundreds of thousands of guns every year. Last year, Nottingham-based arms company Heckler & Koch exported £3 million worth of guns.
2. These weapons are sold to repressive regimes and warzones, fuelling conflict around the world. H&K guns have been used by child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, by the Georgian army in South Ossetia, by the Janjaweed militia in Darfur and by mercenaries in Iraq.
3. Millions of people are forced to flee their homes to escape these wars. According to the UN, "Armed conflict is now the driving force behind most refugee flows... Refugee movements are no longer side effects of conflict, but in many cases are central to the objectives and tactics of war."
4. Ten of thousands of refugees who flee to the UK are refused entry or locked up and deported to countries that the UK Foreign Office considers dangerous, including Iraq, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (all countries in which H&K guns have been used).
In short, the policies of successive UK governments have on one hand contributed to suffering on a global scale, and on the other hand refused to take responsibility for the consequences. It is time to expose and confront this vicious circle.
Shut down Heckler & Koch! Freedom of movement and the right to remain for all! No guns, no borders!