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Yesterday (Wednesday 13th June), the Paris Police Prefecture carried out live demonstrations at the Eurosatory arms fair. The scenario was an anti-terrorist operation. There were also demonstrations by the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) and the Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI).

ZAD blockade


Geopolitical upheavals mean that war is no longer something that is fought on far away battlefields. A militarised approach to dealing with security threats is increasingly prevalent on the streets of our towns and cities. The lines that divide the police and the military are no longer as clear cut as they once were.
Recent examples of militarised policing in France include the state of emergency which lasted from November 2015 to November 2017 and the eviction of residents of the ZAD (Zone to Defend) in Notre-Dame-Des-Landes which began in April of this year.


But this is a trend that can not only be identified in France but around the world as populations are increasingly treated as security threats instead of communities in need of protection and borders are fortified against the dispossessed.


The arms industry has, as always, been quick to capitalise on this development and Eurosatory is no exception. At Eurosatory the focus has shifted from land and airland technologies to internal and civil security. In 2016, one third of the total exhibition surface was dedicated to internal security with 300 companies marketing their wares in this field.


Eurosatory boasts that “on walking through its aisles, the rapid growth in exhibitors in the field of security is evident. Alongside grey and khaki, the blue and the black of the police and gendarmerie… enrich the palette of usual colours”. It makes no attempt to hide how an increasingly unstable world has spawned these new opportunities: “each year the terrorist attacks and organised crime that are shaking the world give [the security exhibitors] a fresh impetus. In 2016, it extolled the way in which the attacks in Paris had “had a direct and profound impact on investments in security equipment”.


The militarised police equipment on sale ranges from mini-drones that can be operated indoors to assault rifles to Nexter Systems’ Titus 6x6 “painted in black and displayed on the stand of the Ministry of the Interior” and a Renault Trucks Defense Sherpa 4x4 armoured vehicle painted in the GIGN’s colours and carrying an assault ladder. Arms companies such as Chemring, which produced the gas grenades used by Egyptian security forces against pro-democracy protesters in 2011 and which is now targeting key markets in the Middle East, will be present. Thales, the French company part-owned by the French government which is the world’s tenth largest arms manufacturer and which has spent over €1 million lobbying the EU to militarise its borders, will have a stand.1


Events like Eurosatory go far beyond simply selling militarised policing equipment. They represent a key way in which the militarised police mindset is exported around the world as think tanks deliver seminars that drive home the message that a militarised response is the only response available in the face of threats to security and arms manufacturers throw their huge marketing budgets at persuading police forces that they are in need of the same weapons once reserved for armies.


A militarised response will never defeat terrorism: the causes of terrorism must instead be addressed. The divisive and racist way in which the “war on terror” is conducted plays into the hands of those who want to divide us and pits us all against each other.
We challenge the notion that our security can be found in militarisation. In resisting Eurosatory, we resist not only war but the militarisation of our societies.

 

Written by Sarah Robinson

 

1 - Eurosatory Daily 2016, https://www.scribd.com/document/319835073/Eurosatory-D4-v01

 

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