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How many excuses can you find for hosting arms dealers?

Church House Conference Centre rely on the same three, repeated in various ways to anyone who challenges them – if they reply at all.

Sctivists hold a banner up outside Church House denouncing the conference

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Local actions: Christians campaign against BAE weapons factory in Penarth

Christians in Penarth protest and pray outside BAE Systems weapons factory

Christians in Penarth protest and pray outside BAE Systems weapons factory

The Penarth Christian Campaign Against Arms Trade group held a prayer vigil outside the BAE Systems Weapons Factory at Glascoed  to remember the children that have been killed by weapons and war. It was a moving and important event and Christians came from  Bristol, South and West Wales to take part in it.

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Green sees red over arms sales

Why did Lord Green take the Trade Minister post when he clearly had problems with the ethics of arms sales? Kaye Stearman ruminates on ethics, religion and arms sales.

What started out green, then rapidly turned yellow, white and red?. No, it’s not a chameleon. It’s the new UK Trade Minister. Why? Well, he is called Green, quickly turned yellow, waved the white flag of surrender, and then grew red with embarassment – as did the government. 

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint takes his seat in the House of Lords

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint takes his seat in the House of Lords

This is the background to the riddle. For months the Coalition government had been seeking a Trade Minister, someone with gravitas and international contacts,  to act as a public face of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). They thought that they had hit the jackpot with Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint – after all he is a newly appointed Tory Lord just stepping down from the Chairmanship of banking giant HBSC and an ordained Church of England priest. What’s not to like?

Lord Green’s dilemma

Unfortunately Lord Green is reputed not to like weapons companies, so much so that he decided that HBSC would no longer provide financial services to those companies who manufactured arms such as landmines, cluster bombs and combat aircraft. However, according to the Telegraph of 7 January, “the bank retains BAE Systems as a client and its senior non-executive director, Sir Simon Robertson, is chairman of Rolls-Royce”,  so clearly the adversion to arms goes only so far. Read more »

Diary of a peace campaigner

Rhiannon Rees recalls her busy week of meetings and actions in October 2010.

Peace campaigners in the London area have had a busy week, and I have been fortunate to get around and meet some fantastic people. Last week was also ‘Quaker Week’, and I went to two of the talks at the Quaker Centre in Euston that illustrated how Quakers are involved in working for peace.

Tuesday 5 October: Andree Ryan spoke at the Quaker Centre about the time she had spent as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Israel/Palestine. These are trained volunteers of all faiths, who spend several months living and working alongside Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, observing and reporting on the daily brutality and hardships of the Israeli occupation and helping to negotiate some mitigation of the hardships and defuse some tense situations by their presence. The programme is co-ordinated by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) under the auspices of the World Council of Churches.

Inspired by the courage of the Ecumenical Accompaniers, I took the rather less brave step of joining the monthly vigil against Trident in Parliament Square, which is organised by London Region CND and takes place from 5-7pm on the first Tuesday in the month. Since the Peace Camp was ejected and the green has been blocked off by hoardings, we have to display our banners on a narrow strip of pavement close to the rush-hour traffic, but we gave out 350 leaflets and I hope reached some MPs. Read more »

SPEAKING out against the arms trade

Niki Goridis on Speak’s Day of Action.

1 March – This was definitely a different Monday morning for the staff of UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI). What made it so different?

A crowd of about seventy young people had congregated in front of UKTI’s headquarters at 66 Victoria Street, dancing, singing and enjoying themselves. They were generous too. Every person leaving the building was offered bread, juice and flowers. 

Alas, the UKTI staff didn’t accept these offerings and seemed keen to get out of eye-shot. However, many passers-by were interested. Most slowed their pace and had a closer look at the colourful crowd.

The cardboard tank, covered with flowers

The cardboard tank, covered with flowers

And they were indeed colourful, with their bright clothing and their banners with slogans like “no bailouts for bombs” or “British arms exports: aiding repression and harming development”. Best of all, was the huge tank made of cardboard and decorated with flowers.
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