Faith groups plan united vigil against London arms fair

By staff writers
August 7, 2009

Campaigners against next month's arms fair in London have announced that faith groups will hold a united silent vigil on the eve of the event.

The news comes as opposition to the London arms fair continues to grow amongst NGOs, charities, churches, other faith groups and local residents. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has been particularly critical of the government's financial support for the event.

Members of several faith communities from London and beyond are expected to attend the vigil on the evening of Monday 7th September. They will hold a silent protest to remember the seven million people killed in war since 1989.

The arms fair, known more formally as Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) will run from 8th-11th September in east London's Excel Centre. It takes place every two years and is thought to be the largest arms fair in the world.

CAAT is planning a number of protests during the week, with a focus on the support offered to arms dealers by the government, through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), a unit of the Department for Business.

The multifaith vigil is organised by East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF).

“It's important to have as many people as possible outside the hotel where delegates to the fair will be staying, so we can give the message of a silent reproach to them” said an ELAAF spokesperson, pointing out that similar vigils in recent years had left a strong impression on everyone who witnessed them.

ELAAF emphasises that the vigil is open to anyone who wishes to make a stand against the arms fair, including people without a religious faith.

Protestors will meet at 6.30pm on 7th September outside Royal Victoria DLR and walk to the Excel entrance where the vigil will be held.

Since DSEi was last held in 2007, its former owners, Reed Elsevier, have responded to widespread criticism by pulling out of the arms trade. They have sold DSEi to Clarion Events, provoking outrage amongst customers at Clarion's other events, including the Baby Show and Spirit of Christmas Fair.

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