This morning, 16th May, for the seventh year running, members of Coventry Justice and Peace Group, Pax Christi, Passionists and Coventry Quakers stood outside Coventry Cathedral before the Annual Council Meeting and Mayor Making.
They were asking the Council, as part of the West Midlands Consortium, to stop investing their money in the Arms Trade and contributing to war, death and destruction.
A spokesman told ICN: "All council tax payers in the West Midlands contribute to the arms trade and the consequent death and destruction it brings.
"The West Midlands Pension Fund invests in leading arms manufacturers: Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Boeing and many more. Yet, less than 1% of this money is with arms dealers. We are asking the question, 'Why not get rid of it once and for all?'"
He said: "Coventry is the 'City of Peace and Reconciliation'. It cannot be right to maintain arms investments while priding ourselves on this title. As a 'City of Sanctuary' we give refuge to victims of war while accommodating those firms which contribute to the causes of war. In 2021, Coventry will be the 'City of Culture'. Clearly, war destroys culture."
Ann Farr said: "For seven years we have been raising awareness about the City Council's investments. Every year we have given out leaflets to all the guests going into the gathering and then stood, with our banners, facing the procession of Councillors and the outgoing and incoming Lord Mayors of Coventry as they entered the Cathedral.The initial response to our demands was not encouraging!
"It took five years of leafleting, banner holding, meetings, letters and petitions to get them to divest from cluster bombs, which are internationally illegal!
"The encounters with guests are always interesting. Some studiously ignore us but most take a leaflet and a few engage in conversation, remembering us from previous years."
She said: "We get comments like, '...ah but, all those pensions involved ...' and have answers at the ready about ethical investments etc, if they wait long enough. The response that beat all, from all the years, was this morning from a man who took the leaflet and then laughingly said to his friends, 'The trouble is I supply most of that lot.' That is indeed the trouble!"
Ann continued: "This morning there were still some Councillors who carefully ignored us but we detected quite a lot more nods, smiles and supportive comments.
"Coventry calls itself the 'City of Peace and Reconciliation' but invests in firms that make deadly weapons that kill and injure people and destroy the infrastructure of their countries.
"Coventry is a City of Sanctuary and does wonderful work in welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum seekers. How can it continue to invest our money in the very weapons that force people to flee from their homes and countries and become those refugees?
"Coventry is preparing to be a City of Culture but the weaponry it invests in destoys the cultural heritage of an ever growing number of countries.
"We now call on Coventry, and all the Councils that are part of the West Midlands, to divest from ALL Arms Traders and put our money into ethical investments.
"We are preparing for our next round of letter writing, meetings, petitioning and campaigning. If anyone in the areas of the West Midlands Consortium would like to join us in petitioning your Councils, please get in touch. We really need your help. We would be delighted if we did not have to stand outside, with our leaflets and banners, for Mayor Making next year!
Contact: Coventry Justice and Peace Group: [email protected]
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