27 September 2007
Christians thank God for success of arms trade campaign
Christians from a range of backgrounds held a service in London yesterday evening to thank God for a major success in campaigning against the arms trade. They gave thanks for the closure of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), a Government unit which promotes sales for private arms companies. Christian groups worked with people of all faiths and none in the campaign to shut DESO, which resulted in the Prime Minister announcing in July that it would be closed by the end of 2007.
The service was attended by people from across Britain, including members of Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Quaker, independent Evangelical, United Reformed and Mennonite churches. It was organised by the Christian Network of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) with support from the Fellowship of Reconciliation and SPEAK. All three organisations have long campaigned against DESO, which is often seen as a channel through which arms companies are able to exercise undemocratic influence over Government policy.
Alun Morinan, Co-ordinator of the CAAT Christian Network said:
"The arms trade fuels war and poverty around the world, and yet we may sometimes feel that there is little we can do to challenge it. This year we have been reminded that with God's grace our campaigning can make a difference. DESO is to close after 40 years of promoting arms sales with no regard to human rights or real security. We pray that DESO's closure will be the beginning of the end of arms companies' unhealthy influence over the UK Government."
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. CAAT includes people of all faiths and none. The CAAT Christian Network is a nationwide grouping of Christians who support CAAT.
2. The service was held at 6.00pm yesterday (26th September) in Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in London. Copies of the order of service are available on request.
3. CAAT can supply further information about the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) and the campaign for its closure. CAAT has worked alongside other groups, notably the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR) and SPEAK, to campaign for DESO to be shut.
4. Since September 2006, CAAT supporters throughout the UK have lobbied their MPs to call for DESO's closure. On 16th October 2006, campaigners peacefully encircled the DESO offices in central London. On 7th March 2007 the Treasury received a petition signed by over 10,000 people. On 21st June, the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms MP met with representatives of CAAT, FoR and SPEAK to hear the case for DESO's closure. On 25th July, the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP announced that DESO would be closed by the end of 2007. CAAT is closely monitoring the implementation of new arrangements.
5. Spokespeople for CAAT and the CAAT Christian Network are available for interview.
020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232