On Wednesday 1st November 2023, four Central England Quakers were arrested when protesting at an arms fair at Telford International Centre.
Rajan Naidu, Louise Scrivens, Ralph Wallin and Fran Wilde have been charged with intentionally or recklessly causing a public nuisance. Protest continued on Thursday 2nd November 2023, when Quakers also held a Meeting for Worship.
The Specialist Defence and Security Convention (SDSC-UK) was previously held in Malvern, but moved to Telford International Centre following protests from local Quakers and others. In an open letter to Telford International Centre five local Quaker meetings and many others said:
“To host an arms fair is not an apolitical act and this is not a straightforward third-party booking. Such an event will stain the Telford International Centre’s reputation and betray the values of Telford’s community, in particular disrespecting those of us who have experienced armed conflict or had to flee war and persecution.”
Read a full statement from Quakers in Britain which provides further context.
A link to a very moving live stream broadcast at Telford, (featuring personal comments from the protestors) is available on YouTube, though it is not known how long the video will remain accessible.
Our Friends who were arrested in Telford are due to appear at Telford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 12th December 2023 and we will share any further updates in due course. In the meantime, please hold them in the light. As Advices and Queries reminds us,
“We are called to live ‘in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars’. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ?
Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes. If you feel impelled by strong conviction to break the law, search your conscience deeply. Ask your meeting for the prayerful support which will give you strength as a right way becomes clear.
Do you uphold those who are acting under concern, even if their way is not yours? Can you lay aside your own wishes and prejudices while seeking with others to find God’s will for them?”Advices and Queries 31, 35 and 36