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Reform Magazine | August 19, 2017

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Christian Activist: Peace at the arms fair

Christian Activist: Peace at the arms fair

“Standing in front of an armoured vehicle felt 
like a small step in the right direction”

On Tuesday 8 September, I was among many Christians representing a broad spectrum of denominations who travelled from across the country to gather outside the ExCeL centre in London as staff prepared to host one of the world’s largest arms fairs. No Faith in War Day was one part of a week of creative action to disrupt the setting up of Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI). Coordinated by the Christian peacemaker group Put Down the Sword and involving many others (the Quakers, Pax Christi, Student Christian Movement, the Catholic Workers and sundry individuals) No Faith in War Day was a chance for Christians to stand up and be counted. I was glad to be there.

DSEI takes place every two years and brings thousands of arms manufacturers and dealers together with representatives of global governments and military, including those from some of the world’s most repressive regimes. As the refugee crisis in Europe draws our attention to increasing global conflict and instability, there is a sickening irony in knowing many of those conflicts are fuelled by a trade being encouraged here, in our capital.

The day was one of prayerful vigil but also creative action. While some silently held banners or prayed on the verges, others peacefully and prayerfully stepped out into the roads, successfully preventing access to the centre where preparations for the exhibition were underway. Informal prayers took place in front of a growing tailback of lorries. A Quaker meeting for worship spilled over into the road. A funeral procession for the innumerable victims of the arms trade, the tarmac splashed with red paint representing their blood (pictured), forced armoured vehicles to a standstill. For one brief period in the afternoon, both entrances to the centre were closed to traffic….

Stephanie Neville is a member of Carrs Lane Lived Community in Birmingham. For more information about Put Down the Sword, visit www.putdownthesword.wordpress.com or follow @putdownthesword on twitter

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This is an extract from the November 2015 edition of Reform.

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