After the arms fair: a Quaker reflects on conscience, arrest and privilege
3 October 2019
The arms trade is a root cause of human suffering and environmental degradation. Quakers are working to end it.
The international trade in weapons allows a small minority to profit from the killing and suffering of others. As well as facilitating deadly conflict and the suppression of human rights, the arms trade has devastating long-term impacts on nature and creates further insecurity.
We work with others to challenge the morality of the trade as a whole and to shine a light on the unethical and sometimes illegal activities of the arms industry.
We have to take responsibility in our own countries for the trade in weapons, which will continue unless we intensify our actions against it... Let us picture where Jesus Christ would be in this matter...He would be there, he would be working with us, he would be arguing and doing everything in his power to ensure that this trade, which is totally immoral, was stopped as soon as possible.
- Jo Vallentine, Quaker faith & practice 29.09
Quakers in Britain are a founding member of Stop the Arms Fair, a coalition of groups opposing the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair (DSEI) in East London every other year. We build resistance to the arms fair through protest, lobbying, witness, creativity and prayer.
In September 2019, the grassroots Quaker network Quaker Roots organised faith-led non-violent direct actions that disrupted preparations for the arms fair. The network organised 700 Quakers and allies in holding meetings for worship in the access road to the Excel Centre on No Faith in War Day, worshipping in solidarity with those who are victims of the international arms trade. Around 50 non-violent protesters, many of them Quaker, were arrested.
In 2021, Quakers returned to witness at the arms fair. Around 200 people gathered at a silent vigil in solidarity with victims of the arms trade. When half of them were refused entry to the vigil site by security, the vigil continued despite being divided by a fence.
In September 2023, the DSEI arms fair returns to London, and Quakers will once again join in resisting it.
For more information about the Quaker Roots events, and ways to get involved, visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the silent vigil email email@example.com.
Important: The law around protest has changed, please make sure you are informed. Visit the Green & Black Cross website for helpful information on the changes, your rights and how to stay safe at a protest. Green & Black Cross are also running a series of online and in person Know Your Rights training sessions in August.
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3 October 2019
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