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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Protest against church funding arms trade
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¬†The Church of England holds a large number of shares in the arms industry - according to an inter-church group. The Clean Investment Campaign (whose members include Pax Christi, the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and the Movement For Christian Democracy) say that the C of E still hold substantial investments in the engineering company GKN. This company, with total sales of around £3,706 billion, has two divisions - one which sells helicopters and aerospace equipment and one producing armoured cars and military vehicles. "GKN has no qualms about selling arms to governments with bad human rights records, or in regions of high tension," said campaign spokeswoman Christina Parsons. She said its recent and prospective deals include: seven Tactica water cannon and 293 armoured vehicles to Indonesia in 1997; six Superlynx helicopters for Malaysia in 1999; armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia and Qatar; and Lynx helicopters to South Korea. The company is also currently bidding with Agusta to supply Turkey with attack helicopters. Many countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, spend more money on buying arms than they do on healthcare, said Christina: "In Indonesia where 58.7 per cent of the population live on less than two US dollars a day, the government spent five billion dollars on the military in 1998. This is obscene." She said: "The Church of England states that it will not invest in companies whose main business is the manufacture and sale of arms. When BAe merged with GEC, they sold their merger shares because BAE's main business was arms manufacturing. However, because GKN does not primarily make arms, the CoE say they didn't see any reason to sell their shares. But whatever their main business, the arms they do make and sell result in destruction and misery." The GKN Annual General meeting takes place next Friday, 26 May 26 at the Lancaster Gate Hotel. Peace campaigners who have token shares plan to attend the meeting in order to ask questions of the Board. Other members plan to hold a demonstration outside the hotel. "It will be a colourful and peaceful event," said Christina. "We want to expose the church's unethical investment and encourage them to disinvest and adopt a real ethical investment policy.
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