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France: direct action at Eurosatory

Originally published in Le Sentier de la Paix, No 73, June 2016: http://agirpourlapaix.be/wp-content/uploads/SDLP73_V2.pdf

Translated by Lewis Sinkala

Eurosatory, the largest international war and repression trade show (also called the largest international land and airland defence and security trade show) took place in Paris from 13th to 17th June. Before the start of the exhibition, Agir pour la paix (a movement against violent conflicts) prepared several protests with the peace movements in France so as to denounce these crimes and inhumane gigantic profits that the armament sector generates. Whilst dozens of international delegates were doing their war and repression related shopping, several protests took place in Paris…

Eurosatory (or perhaps Euro-slaughter-y is more fitting?), the largest armament trade show in Europe, took place for a second time in Paris on 13th June 2016. After the DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) exhibition in London, it was indeed Paris’ turn to welcome the big guns of the weapons industry. A group of French activists called The Disobedients (les Désobéissants) organised and carried out non-violent protests both inside and outside of the exhibition. Notable moments included a symbolic blockage at the entrance where there were several other activists from the collective “no armament exhibition in Paris” who formed a die-in and a large group of French activists and a volunteer from Agir pour la paix climbing onto a tank which had been covered in fake blood whilst chanting “you have blood on your hands”!

Protesters occupy a tank at the Eurosatory arms fairProtesters occupy a tank at the Eurosatory arms fair

Security as well as police officers at the scene stopped the protesters and evacuated them from the exhibition. At first, these activists were going to be released after identity checks. This, however, was not the case; they were arrested and taken to the police station in Villepinte (a neighbouring suburb to the exhibition centre). They were placed in custody until 6pm and released after a magistrate of the republic made them aware of the strong possibility of prosecution.

In addition to this highly broadcasted event (across Europe via Euronews), billboards have been replaced in Paris with posters carrying anti-Eurosatory messages and a fountain was coloured red to symbolise the amount of blood and the spilling of blood at the exhibition.