Today, Catholic peace campaigners will be joining other faith groups at the ExCel Centre on to declare with a united voice that they have "No Faith in War". The protest has been called to oppose and block the set-up of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair will, which is Europe's largest Arms Fair. The action will take place as military equipment arrives.
DSEI will bring over 1600 exhibitors together with military delegations from around the world. The guest list for DSEI includes military delegations from 67 countries, including representatives for a number of dictatorships and human rights abusing regimes; Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Turkey and Bahrain. All delegations have been invited by the UK Government.
The protesters have received the support of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who said in a statement: "The way much of the arms trade currently works continues to be a blot on the global moral landscape. Governments have been negligent or collusive about the role played by arms exports in sustaining brutal and even genocidal conflicts, and the recent court judgement about arms exports to Saudi Arabia has highlighted the issue.
The principles of ethics and international law need to be defended more robustly than ever in a world where local wars of great savagery are fuelled by what often seems to be wilfully irresponsible attitudes, and I welcome this fresh effort to alert citizens to the cost of indiscriminate, profit-driven trading in weapons of death and mutilation."
The protest is part of a week of action that has been called for next week to stop the armaments from reaching the venue. There will also be other actions happening over the days ahead. Full details of the planned protests can be found here.
A timetable for the day is included below.
9am - 10am Quaker Meeting at roundabout near the East Gate of the ExCeL Centre
9.15am Christian gathering and procession from the nearby Anglican Church of the Ascension (E16 3HJ) to the East Gate
10am Christian gathering and procession from St Anne's Catholic Church to the East Gate
11am Collective action: Peace building symbolic protest
1pm Muslim and communal prayers at the East Gate
1.30 Hare Krishna led lunch (vegan)
2pm - 3pm Quaker Meeting at roundabout towards the West Gate of the ExCeL Centre.
3pm Sufi & led free dancing: Held at the East Gate.
4.40pm Muslim and communal prayers at the East Gate
6.30pm Quaker Epilogue
Early evening Wreath laying at all Gates
A spokesperson for the No Faith in War campaign said: "The major 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 the dignity and human rights of all and just social structures."
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