Council opposes arms fair in eschatological motion
At the initiation of a local Christian, Newham council has passed a motion opposing Europe's biggest arms fair and affirming a future without weapons.
The Defences Systems & Equipment International arms fair (DSEi) is held every two years in the borough, and last took place in September 2003 at the Excel conference centre.
Nearly 1,000 arms companies congregate in London's Docklands to sell arms, bombs and other weapons to buyers from all over the world. Some of these weapons are supplied to some of the worst regions of conflict in the world.
In the past, countries invited in the arms fair have included some with the worst records of human rights violations: Indonesia (1999), Colombia (2001) and Saudi Arabia (three times running).
The event takes place behind security fences and police lines. The public are not invited.
The motion, put forward by sole opposition Councillor Alan Craig, a member of the Christian People's Alliance, was passed unanimously by the flagship Labour council.
The beginning of the motion reads; ìCouncil looks forward to the time when nations will ìbeat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooksî (Isaiah 2:4)
It goes on to condemn the values underpinning the Arms Fair and objects to the lack of social responsibility shown by Spearhead, the Arms Fair organisers.
Councillor Alan Craig said; "Dubious regimes from around the world come to Newham to buy appalling armaments such as cluster bombs. As part of the UK £1bn arms export industry we sell weapons to Third World countries that cannot afford them and to both sides in conflicts on various continents. This must stop."
Local residents, representatives from ELAAF (East London Against the Arms Fair) and pupils from a local secondary school clapped and cheered from the gallery. Staff and pupils from the school are doing a project about the Arms Fair.
The Arms Fair, held biannually in Newham is one of the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. It made national headlines in September 2001 and 2003 following a series of protests, many of which were organised by Christian groups such as Christian Campaign Against the Arms Trade.
Planning for the next Arms Fair in September 2005 has already started.