Faiths against the arms trade

Police protection for the Arms Fair

I joined the Quakers and other faith groups on Tuesday, September 3, to demonstrate against the Arms Fair taking place at the Excel Centre in East London. The Fair, otherwise known as the Defence and Security Equipment International – a ridiculous name – let’s be frank, the War Mongering Countries Exhibition – is the biggest arms trade fair in the world.

Protesters sit and wait

It takes place every two years and because the Government don’t want you to know about it, there’s a complete news blackout on it. Needless to say, our demonstration was not covered, the media deciding to focus on the madness going on in Parliament. The good news is, I hear that Sadiq Khan, the Major of London, is going to stop the next one… we shall see. It needs to be stopped. It’s a shame on the country and a shame on the Government which allows it to continue.

Some refused to move

The Roots of Resistance campaign is gaining tremendous support from all over the country, not just religious groups. I was incredibly impressed at the quiet dignity of all those involved, many of whom decided they would not move from the road and made themselves liable for arrest.

We were there, a week before the event started, to try to stop the lorries getting through and, indeed, we did stop a number of lorries getting through.

Martin Wimbush and Sonia Relf at the protest

The trade fair is organised by Clarion Events and the figures are staggering. In 2017, 1,500 arms companies attended from all over the world, including military delegations from 47 countries and it doesn’t take a genius to realise one of those was Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the worst human rights records ever, bombing their neighbours, Yemen (with our bombs) and creating one of the worst human catastrophes we’ve ever known.

But here’s the most chilling fact, £39 billion was spent on arms. This Arms Trade Fair is a disgrace and you must tell your friends and make sure everyone knows about it, because you can bet your bottom dollar, the media ain’t going to!

Image Credits: Martin Wimbush .


  1. It saddens me that Britain continues to support an arms trade to nations with poor human rights records such as Saudi Arabia. It does not take a genious to realise that arms sold to a country engaged in a war where civilians are targets will be used against civilians. Yet until recently we merrily sold the arms and looked the other way.

    The arms were only stopped by a campaign organisation taking the UK government to court who ruled that the sales were illegal and that successive ministers had “made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so.” The ministers included Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox. If I had been found guilty of such neglect in my job I would have expected to have lost it due to gross negligence and yet these politicians continue to prosper. Why are they not bowing their heads in shame and resigning? Oh, yes I forgot such feeelings of shame are reserved for decent human beings.


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