Once every two years, in the London Docklands, the world’s biggest arms fair takes place. It’s spelt DSEi, it’s pronounced “Dicey”, and this year it took place from 8th-11th September. Joining over 1 000 arms companies from around the world were a couple of outfits from Nottinghamshire, catering to opposite ends of the small arms market.
Heckler & Koch
As followers of this blog will know, Heckler & Koch is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of small arms, with millions of its weapons in use in over 90 countries around the world. These days H&K styles itself as “the world’s premier small arms system company”. Its high-quality products, as used by human rights abusers from Iraq to Georgia to Sri Lanka, were laid out for display on its stand at DSEi:
Heckler & Koch has a long history of using licensed production deals to evade arms export controls. Basically, if the government or the EU forbids H&K from selling weapons to country X because of some dodgy situation there, then H&K does a deal with country Y so that country Y can make H&K’s weapons and sell them on to country X.
One of the countries that H&K licenses to make its weapons is Pakistan. This long-standing relationship has allowed H&K weapons to reach various embargoed conflict zones including The Philippines, Sudan and Sri Lanka. The Pakistan Ordnance Factory even offered to sell 200 H&K submachine guns to Zimbabwe when asked by comedian Mark Thomas. At this year’s DSEi, Pakistan’s gun cabinet was stuffed with H&K weapons, including a gold-plated submachine gun:
Global Sourcing & Supply
Elsewhere at the arms fair, another Notts-based company was catering to the “budget” small arms shopper. Global Sourcing & Supply is a rather grand trading name for Easy Tiger International Ltd – a one-man import/export business based in Cotgrave.
One of GS&S’s lines of business is buying guns from Europe and Asia to be sold in the US by American Tactical Imports (which co-incidentally is being sued by H&K for selling rip-offs of its designs). Now it seems that GS&S has acquired some 40 000 Kalashnikov assault weapons and 500 grenade launchers, which company director Guy Tinsley was seen trying to flog at DSEi:
The AK-47 and its variants seen here are the most widespread and worst regulated weapons in the world. They have been used by child soldiers, insurgents, criminal gangs and terrorists to massacre, maim, rape and rob in every country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and even in Britain.
In case you’re thinking a British company wouldn’t be allowed to sell weapons to bad guys, consider this: Among the 25 000 visitors to DSEi were delegations from repressive regimes and conflict zones including China, Colombia and Angola that were actually invited by the British government! Furthermore, due to a lack of effective controls, guns that begin in the legal arms trade all too often end up being trafficked into warzones or in the hands of criminals. And once those guns are out there, they will remain in circulation causing death and destruction for decades to come.
The registered business address of Easy Tiger International is 10 Kingston Drive, Cotgrave, Nottingham NG12 3LL – a detached house in a quiet residential estate. I wonder if the neighbours know about the arms dealer next door…
If you would like to do something about the issues raised in this post, you can get in touch with other activists through Notts Anti-Militarism. There is a already a local campaign against Heckler & Koch called Shut Down H&K. Check the events listing for the next demo or meeting.