On Monday 3 February, five Christians will be going on trial at Stratford Magistrates' Court in east London for peacefully blocking an entrance to the London arms fair in September 2013. The following statement has been issued by the Revd Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the United Reformed Church:
“The URC endorses the suggestion by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, that the trial next week of the five Christians who staged a non-violent protest at the London arms fair should spark a public debate about the UK’s support for the arms trade. We concur with the defendants claim that there is an honourable tradition in the Christian church, going back to Jesus himself, of non-violent direct action against practices that promote death and injustice.
“The informed public debate on this issue would benefit from greater transparency around the arms trade. We suggest that, were known about the nature of the deals made behind closed doors, the kind of weaponry currently being traded and those buying weapons, many UK citizens would feel ashamed that their country takes pride in hosting one of the world’s largest arms fairs.
“Members of the URC, along with other churches, faith organisations and civil society groups, have campaigned vigorously for greater control of the arms trade. This action contributed to a global arms trade treaty being drawn up last year. We welcome our government’s willingness to sign up to this treaty, and now call on the government to ratify it as soon as possible.
“We also call on politicians of all parties, and the media, to initiate a wider debate about the manufacture and trade of weapons of death.”
Photo credit: Lizzie Gowan