Quakers witness at the Arms Fair

Several Central England Quakers travelled down to the Excel Centre in London to witness and protest against this year’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) biennial arms fair.

Coventry Friend Pete Duckworth reflects on his experiences alongside Maggie McHale and Mig Kerr:

We were at the “No Faith in War” day (7 September 2023), which is held in the week running up to the fair while exhibitors deliver example items and sales material. The Coventry banner was proudly displayed throughout our sojourn.

During our Meeting For Worship several friends were arrested for refusing to move out of the road as requested by police.

It was a very hot day so following Meeting for Worship many Friends took shelter in the shade of a lone tree on the waste ground nearby. Here you can see the veteran Quaker campaigner John Lynes seated just in front of Maggie (in light green top) in the picture below. I felt privileged to worship and protest with him.

We Joined with Pax Christi (the Roman Catholic peace group) as Anne Farr led a brief service. It was great to catch up and spend time with Anne. Our day of protest and witness finished with an epilogue again under the shady tree with magnificent ministry from a robin which sang very sweetly and struck me as a symbol of joy and fragile strength in a world of war and bitterness.

Other CEQ Friends joined the Walk of Witness to the headquarters of arms companies, the Candlelit Vigil on the eve of the fair (see Selly Oak Friends pictured above), and stood in solidarity with the Migrant Justice day as DSEI officially opened.

Ralph Wallin of Bournville and Pete Doubtfire from Bull St joined part of the Peace Pilgrimage from Oxford to DSEI. The experience of the pilgrims was captured in a podcast, alongside interviews with people they encountered on the way. Discussions on the themes of peace include personal experiences of living in conflict zones, the links between peace and climate, offering sanctuary for refugees, and the work of organisations such as the PPU and Rethinking Security.

You can listen to all the episodes at your leisure.