Tag Archives: armstrade

Eight No Faith In War day activists found not guilty

Activists stand outside Stratford Magistrates Court after hearing their charges were dismissed

Nora Ziegler, Henrietta Cullinan, Jo Frew and Chris Cole celebrate the not guilty verdict outside Stratford Magistrates Court

In an exciting two days for the London Catholic Worker and Put Down the Sword, eight activists have received not guilty verdicts, after appearing in court on charges of wilful obstruction of the highway. The charges follow their direct action protest during the installation of the DSEI arms fair in London’s docklands last September.

The first group obstructed the road using lock-on boxes and the second group used climbing equipment to lower themselves from a road bridge. The intention was to create a place for prayer and peace while disrupting the passage of equipment into the Excel London exhibition centre.

District Judge Hamilton accepted that their actions were reasonable in the circumstances. In giving his verdict, the judge said their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights must be upheld.

The court heard how during the No Faith in War day of protest, four Christian activists  blocked the road using wooden boxes with arms tubes and lock ons. They were arrested after a matter of minutes, and the police took a further 90 minutes to free them.

The defendants Nora Ziegler (28), Joanna Frew (38), Henrietta Cullinan(56) and Chris Cole (54) each said they had campaigned for many years against the arms trade.

In their defence, Nora Ziegler and Jo Frew spoke movingly of how they each provided accommodation for destitute asylum seekers fleeing from the very conflicts exacerbated by the arms trade. Chris Cole told the court of a time when he had met a student from South Sudan, where traditional cattle rustling has become lethal since the introduction of weapons. Henrietta Cullinan told the judge of a time when she experienced first hand the militarisation of police in Calais, France, when riot police armed with tear gas and pepper spray prevented NGOs handing out food to refugees.

In the second trial that followed immediately from the first, Sam Donaldson, Louis Durton, Tom Franklin (59), and Nick Cooper of Put Down the Sword defended their protest that took place later on the same day. They showed the court extensive correspondence with their MPs about the arms trade, which had been to no avail.

You can read more about their trial here and the circumstances of their arrest here

In the media

UK campaigners just won a major legal victory against the world’s arms industry

Judge acquits protesters who blocked road to DSEI arms fair

DSEI London arms fair protestors acquitted as judge concedes actions were reasonable

Christians disrupt military conference

IMG_2655

Christian campaigners have disrupted an arms industry-funded event at Church House Westminster just as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is due to speak.

A few minutes ago, they blockaded the main entrance to the building, insisting that a Christian venue should not be hosting the annual Land Warfare Conference.

Senior army officers and arms industry personnel are now clustered around the steps and unable to get through the doorway. It is unclear whether Fallon’s speech, due at 9.00am, will go ahead as planned.

The conference is organised by a pro-military thinktank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and sponsored by arms companies including Airbus Defence and L3.

Along with the small number of Christians blocking the doorway, others are standing by offering support, with banners declaring “Evict the arms dealers”, “Anglicans against arms” and quoting Jesus’ words, “All who take up the sword will die by the sword”.

The Christians blocking the entrance say they have taken nonviolent direct action after five years of attempting to engage with the Church House authorities, who have repeatedly ignored letters, refused to hold meetings and even blocked polite critics on social media.

Christian author Symon Hill is one of those blockading the entrance. Before the protest, he said:

“I am not taking this action lightly. Church House have consistently refused to listen or talk with us, ignored the points we have raised and even given misleading statements to the media. As those with power refuse to listen, we have taken nonviolent direct action, putting our bodies in the way of the evil that is going on at Church House today.”

Eve Waterside, a member of the Church of England living in Oxford, is also taking part. She explained:

“Jesus lived a life of active nonviolence. We are called to follow his example, however fallibly. A leading Christian conference centre is being used to plan large-scale violence, funded by companies that arm some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. I am sad and angry to see the church of which I am part profiting from war and the arms trade.”

Church House claim that Church House Westminster (the conferencing wing of Church House) is a separate business. However, it is a wholly owned subsidiary business of Church House Corporation, whose president is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.