The fair that is held every two years is an opportunity for the international weapons business to show off its wares. All week thousands of demonstrators have been protesting outside the ExCel and trying to block roads in a bid to delay the organisation of the fair. Belgian peace organisations Vredesactie and Agir pour la Paix are represented. Three Belgians were arrested on Wednesday and taken to a police station.
1,600 businesses are represented at the arms fair selling products that range from guns over tanks and combat aircraft to warships. Their number includes ten Belgian businesses and organisations: FN Herstal, CMI Defence, SocioTeq and BSDI, the Belgian weapons lobby, to name a few.
Flemish peace organisation Vredesactie says the fair is controversial: “The most important customers are military delegations from 68 countries including regimes that violate human rights as well as countries involved in conflict like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Hong Kong.”