Faith groups unite to call for an end to the DSEI arms fair

By agency reporter
September 7, 2015

A coalition of faith groups, including Put Down The Sword, Quakers, London Catholic Worker and Pax Christi have come together to call for the UK government to stop its support for arms fairs and arms sales to oppressive regimes.

The call comes as the Defence & Security International Exhibition 2015 (DSEI), one of the world's biggest arms fairs, prepares to descend on London. The event, which takes place between 15-18 September in the Excel centre in East London, will bring thousands of arms company representatives together with military delegations from some of the most oppressive regimes in the world.

The faith groups will be hosting a day of prayer and non-violent action against the arms trade and war profiteering, outside the Excel Centre on Tuesday 8 September, at the same time as the organisers are putting together the final preparations for DSEI.

Andrew Dey, one of the event organisers, said: “DSEI exists for one purpose and one purpose only, that is to maximise arms sales for companies that profit from conflict. It is part of a foreign policy that is focused on conflict and aggression rather than human rights and democracy."

In 2013 five Christian activists were charged for taking non-violent direction action outside DSEI 2013, all five were subsequently found not guilty. The case was supported by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams who said: "We still badly need an honest debate about the arms trade – about the kinds of modern armaments that seem to contravene any defensible ethical framework, especially the refinements of anti-personnel weapons which cause the most moral scandal."

The list of countries attending DSEI will not be published until the first day of the event, but past events have included military delegations from a range of abusive regimes; including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Bahrain.

Andrew Dey added: “A lot of the companies and regimes in attendance have been linked to grotesque human rights abuses, and events like DSEI only make them more likely in future. We want to shut down the arms fair and send a message of peace, not war.”

Campaigners will be gathering from 9am on Tuesday 8 September, close to the roundabout on Royal Albert Way. The nearest station is Prince Regent DLR station.

* Campaign against arms trade. https://www.caat.org.uk/

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