Christian campaigners have condemned an international arms fair due to take place in London next week. Over 1,200 companies are expected to promote weaponry from handguns to fighter jets at Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI), which will be held at the ExCeL Centre from Tuesday 11th - Friday 14th September.
Members of the Christian Network of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) will join join a multifaith vigil on Monday (10th) and a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday (11th). They will be supported by other Christian organisations, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi. They are working alongside campaigners from other faiths and none.
Alun Morinan, Co-ordinator of the CAAT Christian Network, said:
"With so much news of gun crime in recent months, this is an especially sickening time for London to host an arms fair. The arms trade fuels war, perpetuates poverty and threatens our security. I hope that as many Christians as possible will join us to pray and protest as the merchants of death set out their wares at DSEI."
DSEI's future looks increasingly uncertain, as both of its organisers have responded to public pressure. DSEI's owner Reed Elsevier is selling its arms fair business and the Prime Minister is to close the Government unit that helps to organise DSEI. CAAT has insisted that this must be DSEI's last year.ENDS
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) is held every two years at the ExCeL Centre in East London.
3. The CAAT Christian Network will join a multifaith vigil against DSEI at 6.30pm on Monday, 10th September. CAAT is organising a peaceful demonstration against DSEI, with a march from Plaistow Park to the ExCeL Centre at 11.00am on Tuesday 11th September.
4. DSEI is owned by Reed Elsevier. Following a public campaign Reed announced on 1st June that it would sell its arms fairs by the end of 2007. On 25th July, the Prime Minister responded to campaigning by CAAT and other groups and announced his intention to close the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), a Government unit which promotes sales for private arms companies and is heavily involved in the organisation of DSEI.
5. Spokespeople for CAAT and the CAAT Christian Network are available for interview about DSEI.
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