Calls for Church to stop funding arms trade

 In the wake of the news that British government supplied weapons are being used by boy soldiers as young as 10 in Sierre Leone. Christian peace organisations are calling on the Church of England to stop their own investments in the arms trade. At 10am tomorrow (Friday) inter-church groups will be gathering outside the Royal Lancaster Gate Hotel, London, from 10am, where GKN - a company in which the church invests - is holding its shareholders' meeting. (For background details read Protest against church funding arms trade, ICN Home News 17 May). Christina Parsons, from CAAT Christian Network explained: "The C of E has millions of pounds worth of shares in GKN. How can there be any justification for this? The C of E must disinvest from GKN if it is serious about a Christian commitment to justice and peace and embrace a truly ethical investment policy." She said: "GKN/Agusta are currently negotiating with the Turkish government over a deal for combat helicopters. Anti-arms trade protesters will question the board inside the AGM on this deal. Turkey has a terrible record of serious human rights violations and the Church of England stands to make a profit from this deal in death. A representative of the Kurdish community will join the protest against this deal and the terrible implications that it could have for the Kurdish people. "GKN is looking to sell naval helicopters to South Africa. There is a desperate need for investment in the development of the country yet pressure for this deal has intensified recently. The Council of Churches in South Africa has spoken out against this potential deal and CAAT Christian Network echoes that protest. "The C of E's reluctance to sell its shares is based on an argument: 'that it will only disinvest from companies whose main business or focus is the production of armaments'." CAAT Christian Network feels only total disinvestment is inconsistent with Christian teachings. CAAT Christian Network is lobbying for all religious organisations to disinvest from GKN and other companies involved in the arms trade. To date, the CAAT Clean Investment Campaign has exposed leading charities, churches and other institutions holding shares in UK arms export companies, including BAE Systems. It has resulted in disinvestments from the arms trade by several institutions including the Catholic Church. There will be speakers throughout the morning. At 11.30am, Pax Christi are holding a liturgy.

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