Source: Pax Christi
Between 10-13 September, the massive Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair will take place at the Excel centre, East London. This is Europe's largest Arms Fair and people representing a huge range of faith communities will come together to strongly declare their objection to the weapons trade. Members of Pax Christi, the Catholic movement for peace, will be there in numbers.
Demonstrations against the arms fair are being planned by peace groups to take place throughout the exhibition.
As arms companies begin to bring their merchandise into the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands, on Tuesday, 3 September, faith groups will gather outside to declare with a united voice that they have 'No Faith in War'.
Most world faiths share in common a deep sense of the value of peace in the world: a peace which is achieved not by the use of weapons or threats of violence but by dialogue, respect for universal human dignity and human rights, and just social structures.
Pope Francis says that Christians must ask "why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."
The arms trade represents business interests being given greater status than the lives of human beings. Our government has continued to support the sale of weapons for profit despite the certain knowledge that these weapons will be used for example by the Saudi Arabian government to kill Yemeni civilians. This structure of violence is challenged by people of faith who do not accept that violent means truly resolve conflicts.
Organising for the No Faith in War day began over a year ago and will be bigger than previous years. The creative, active plans build on the experience of previous years. Expect testimony from people whose communities have been destroyed by conflict fuelled by arms deals. Expect processions, rituals and symbols drawn from a variety of traditions. Pax Christi members are organising a procession using an adapted Stations of the Cross liturgy. There will be life and energy as participants model what it is to work together to make the world a better place.
A woman who attended her first No Faith in War day last time commented: "I felt apprehensive. I wasn't sure what to expect. But everyone was so welcoming. The atmosphere of being with like-minded people who want peace was really wonderful and affirming."
The UK government invites official delegations to attend DSEI. The list will not be published until closer to the time. In 2017, 56 official delegations were invited. These included Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey, UAE and Colombia. Other countries will have been invited by the event organisers. Despite a recent ban in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the country has been invited to DSEI 2019.
Public polling taken at the time of DSEI 2017 found that 76% of the UK opposes arms exports to human rights abusing regimes. It also found that 63% oppose government promotion of arms to countries that are not democracies. More polling will be done ahead of DSEI 2019.
DSEI moves on to Japan in November. Faced with the arrival of arms dealers in the Asia-Pacific region, Caesar D'Mello of the Pax Christi Asia-Pacific Facilitation Committee said, 'Tensions and hostility in this region have kept on deepening, …the vicious cycle that is the Arms Race, played out in the 'domains' of land, sea, air, space and cyberspace, keeps on fuelling the bellicosity between states. A world that is desperately hungry for peace and dignity will not achieve this by arms and warfare, by militarising a region, by asserting "might is right", but by consistent and persistent efforts, hand in hand with organisations such as the United Nations and other bodies, to seek peaceful ways to consider the roots of conflict to resolve it … and through confidence building initiatives increase trust in one another…'
Initial timetable of the day:
9am - 10am Quaker Meeting (silent): Held at the roundabout near the East Gate of the ExCeL Centre.
Various processions including:
9.15am - Christian gathering and procession from the Anglican Church of the Ascension(E16 3HJ) to the East Gate
10am - Christian gathering and procession from St Anne's Catholic Church (E16 3DR) to the East Gate
All Day - Creative music and singing from a variety of faith backgrounds
Peace building together
1.30pm - Hare Krishna led lunch (vegan)
1pm - Muslim and communal prayers at the East Gate
2-3pm - Quaker Meeting (silent): Held at the roundabout towards the West Gate of the ExCeL Centre.
3pm - Sufi dancing: Held at the East Gate.
4.41pm - Muslim and communal prayers at the East Gate
6.30pm - Quaker Epilogue
Early evening - Wreath laying at all Gates
What should I bring? Prayers, percussion instruments, food to share, water, weather-appropriate clothing - ready for a full day outside. Bring texts and symbols of your faith, prayer flags, and banners. Together with our hands and human arms, we will surround things with love not hate!
There will also be a No Nuclear protest day on 4th September and a silent vigil on Monday 9th at 6.30 for 7pm at the ExCel centre.
Email: [email protected]
Facebook page: No Faith in War 2019
Twitter accounts: @CAATuk @StopTheArmsFair
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