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Demonstration outside defence supplier General Dynamics in Hastings on the occasion of DSEI 2011.

Demonstration outside the Hastings plant of defence supplier General Dynamics on the occasion of DSEI 2011.

Hastings Quakers to challenge world’s biggest arms fair

Hastings Quakers will be taking part in a week of action next week to oppose the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair which is due to take place on 10-13 September in London. Here they explain what they will be doing and why.

About 10 Quakers from Hastings and Rye are travelling to London next week to help put a stop to the biggest weapons fair in the world, which takes place in the capital every two years. They are joining thousands of others from across the country in a week of action calling for the UK to support peacebuilding and climate action, instead of the arms industry.

The focus of the protests is to prevent the setting up of the Defence and Security International Arms Fair (DSEI), an event jointly organised by private company Clarion and a wing of the Ministry of Defence. The arms fair made headlines two years ago when London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for it to be banned and street artist Banksy produced an original work condemning the event.

The ‘No Faith in War’ day, taking place on 3 September, is attracting Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist campaigners who are working together to shine a light on what happens at the event. Over the past decade, illegal torture equipment has been sold at the fair, and delegates have been invited from regimes on the government’s own human rights watch lists. It has been confirmed that a delegation from Saudi Arabia has been invited this year, despite the Court of Appeal ruling in June that weapons sales to the Kingdom were ‘unlawful’.

Fifty six countries received official invitations to the last DSEI arms fair in 2017, of which 47 attended. Nine of the countries invited were authoritarian regimes, six of which had already been identified by the UK government as ‘human rights priority countries’. Five were actively at war.

John Lynes, of Hastings Quaker Meeting, will be among those travelling up for the day. “Having taught in Gaza and served as a human rights observer in Iraq, I have seen women, men and children killed by weapons from overseas,” he said. “As a parent, grandad, great grandad and great-great-grandad, I have to speak out”.

One of this year's banners.

One of this year’s banners.

Further information from John Lynes (01424 720 507) or Mary Roslin (07468 516 360).

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Posted 16:21 Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 In: Campaigns

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