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Kensington, 2016

Alisdare Hickson ©

Kensington, 2016

On Friday 11th of July, The Science Museum was hosting a reception of attendees to this years Farnborough Air Show, which has in previous years (according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade) included representatives from repressive regimes such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt looking to purchase weapons, military equipment and related goods and materials. Many people felt shocked that an institution with such worldwide prestige and reputation should be associated in any way with such an event. Many also feel it is wrong that the UK continues to export arms and security and high tech intelligence and telecommunications equipment to regimes such as Egypt and Bahrain which use them to maintain themselves in power and to suppress protests and internal political opposition. So CAAT called for a protest outside the main entrance to museum on Exhibition Road, from 6 pm. Approximately 50 to 70 protesters gathered outside the building and during the event around a dozen demonstrators at different times sat down or lay down on the pavement outside one of the entrances being used by the attendees. Although the protesters were passionate I only once heard a swear word when one seemed to have been pushed backwards with what he considered excessive force. Although the sitting protestors were mostly some distance from the entrance and only exerting a symbolic rather than an effective blockade of the entrance, one Bahraini protester who was about six metres in front of the doorway was arrested by police. I don't know the reason why they choose to single him out - I have to say that I never heard the young man say anything impolite or in any way threatening even if he was articulate on the subject of human rights, Bahrain and the arms trade. Strangely other protesters who appeared to be British and who were sitting or lying down much closer to the door were not detained. Unfortunately the young man arrested was, I later discovered, Isa al-Aali - himself a victim of torture in Bahrain which certainly helps to explain why he was so articulate and passionate on the subject of continued British arms exports to his country.

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