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Infiltrating an arms dealers’ dinner

By Wendy Horler

The arms dealers were out to dinner again on 29th January. This time at The London Hilton. Perhaps our national institutions like the Imperial War Museum, the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum don’t want them anymore.

The London Hilton may not want them either after last night!

Twelve of us got together to attempt to highlight the indecency of what was going on, and though I say it myself, we did rather well.

The first approach was the big CAAT banner at the entrance and the small group handing out leaflets. Lots of irritated response from the arriving dinner guests! They really don’t want to know what we think of them.

The second approach showed up a new development. For the first time people were asked to show their “permits” for entry. This hasn’t happened at their previous dinners. I think it’s a tribute to past successes. We’re making our presence felt. Anyway, they slipped past security at the stairs, went on up to the main gathering and were stopped there by another security man. One of them blustered and shouted whilst the other sneaked through and distributed leaflets. They were stopped of course, but they made a glorious verbal condemnation of the proceedings whist the security team tried to bundle them out.

The third approach came up by lift and strolled round the back of the security people to the main assembly where they discretely and politely distributed leaflets to the surprised guests, explaining the disgusting nature of the trade being plied that night. They were finally asked to leave, but not before they had managed to leave pictures of the arms trade’s victims on the dinner tables.

The fourth approach had come up early by lift, avoided the security men and loitered as guests until the company were summoned to the dining room. When most people were seated one of them took to the platform and was about to make a short speech, but by now security were on the qui vive and both middle-aged ladies were unceremoniously bundled out by the heavy mob -not an edifying sight for the dinner guests!

The final approach was to regroup and enter the hotel lobby, requesting to speak to the hotel manager about the hotel’s decision to host the arms trade. The manager wasn’t keen to see us and neither did security want to let us, but when they realised we weren’t going anywhere until he did, we were able to lodge our complaints in person.

How aggravating for these people. We know about their dinner parties. We can get past their security. We can express our moral outrage. I’m sure they tell themselves it’s unimportant. But they are certainly getting irritated – which is very good. Let’s carry on!

For more information: http://blog.caat.org.uk/