DSEI: A Supermarket for state surveillance and border wars

As borders are increasingly militarised and their operation privatised, migration, more than ever before, is also an anti-militarist struggle.

The following is an extract from an article by The Shoal Collective. The link to the original article can be found below.

Borders are becoming increasingly militarised and unsafe places particularly for people like Stephen*, who are trying to cross them undocumented. The security measures he describes are only the visible ones. As well as the X-ray machine, there’s a monitor that can detect heartbeats, and another to detect raised levels of carbon dioxide from people breathing inside the lorries.

“If you have a good luck you can pass; if you don’t, the security check will take you out,” he explains.

“First they use dogs, and if the dogs indicate there’s something, they will check it for themselves… If they can’t find anything easily they have to take the truck to the computer scanner… It’s quite scary.”

Stephen (*name changed to protect his identity.)

Private companies producing and developing the technology used at borders are making money from the perceived threat of an ‘invasion’ of refugees in Europe and the very real suffering of people. Many of the companies developing and promoting equipment, surveillance technologies and the IT infrastructure to track people on the move are often among the world’s biggest arms companies.

These defence giants not only profit from the wars and state oppression that cause people to flee their homes, but also from the high-tech surveillance equipment that tracks them, the violence that greets them, and the biometric systems that register them on arrival.

The biannual Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade fair is a chance for these companies to showcase their work and products. From 12-15 September 2017, DSEI will host over 1,600 companies, from across the defence and security sector industries, at the ExCeL centre in London Docklands. It’s set to attract over 34,000 visitors, including Defence Ministers, international military representatives and private sector companies. Many of the companies who profit from borders will be represented – part of a border security market estimated at €15 billion in 2015 and predicted to rise to €29 billion by 2022.

The British government has thrown millions at the Calais border, which seems on its way to full privatisation. The death toll is rising along with the amount of money thrown at the border, with a growing number of deaths each year. An October 2016 report from the Calais Research Network documented 40 companies benefiting from this situation, many of whom will be exhibiting at DSEI:

  • Thales Described as, “one of the top-earning companies in the border industry”, the French multinational was commissioned to supply a surveillance and access control system at Calais in 2010. In 2014 they were awarded a two year £3.8 million contract from the UK Home Office to provide a system to encrypt biometric and biographic data for Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards for non-EU foreigners.
  • The Chemring Group supplied PMMWI (Passive Millimeter-Wave Imaging) and vehicle scanning. Roke Manor Research, part of Chemring Group, developed the Pandora lorry scanning system, trialled in Calais.
  • FLIR Systems has supplied thermal imaging cameras for use in Calais during the night or in fog, rain or snow when CCTV cameras can’t provide a clear image.
  • L3 Technologies supplied x-ray scanning equipment at Calais.

Opposing DSEI is one way to act in solidarity with migrants. During the ‘Free Movement for People, Not Weapons’ day of action against DSEI 2015, a member of Black Dissidents said as part of a rousing speech.

Original article in full at: http://bordernews.info/en/2017/08/29/dsei-a-supermarket-for-state-surveillance-and-border-wars/

Article by Amy Hall and Sara Woods of Shoal Collective, a newly-formed cooperative of independent writers and researchers, writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.

Join the week of action to Stop the Arms Fair at London’s Docklands from 4-11 September, 2017. The Stop the Arms Fair coalition is made up of diverse groups and individuals who oppose the fair. The coalition supports groups using a diversity of different tatics to oppose the fair. It is open for new people and new movements to get involved.

Thursday 7 September’s day of action has the theme ‘Solidarity Without Borders making the links between the arms and security industry. There are also events going on across the UK, in the lead up to DSEI and during the event.

 

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