Tag Archives: trial date

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 on trial for DSEI arms fair action

IMG_3002Eight arms trade protestors will appear in court this week , (1st and 2nd February) to answer charges of obstruction of the highway, following their actions during the installation of the DSEI Arms Fair in September last year. The members of Christian anti-war groups, the London Catholic Worker, Put Down the Sword and Pax Christi, were arrested on the NoFaithInWar day during a week of protest outside the Excel Centre in London’s docklands.

The defendants blocked the road, with the aim of creating a space for prayer and reflection, at the same time as preventing tanks and weaponry from entering the Excel centre. Four of the defendants suspended themselves from an access bridge and the others, using arms tubes and boxes, lay in the road. Meanwhile faith groups including Quakers, Pax Christi, Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, prayed and bore witness.

Nicholas Cooper (36), Sam Donaldson (29), Luis Durton, Tom Franklin (59), Henrietta Cullinan (56), Nora Ziegler (28), Chris Cole (53) and Joanna Frew (38) are among over 100 people who were arrested for peacefully protesting against the DSEI arms fair last September.

DSEI takes place every two years in London. It brings some of the world’s most oppressive regimes together with many of the biggest arms companies. It is organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government. Last year buyers included delegations from countries involved in conflict and human rights abusing regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Pakistan and Azerbaijan. They were joined by over 1500 arms companies, selling weapons that ranged from rifles to tanks, fighter jets, battleships, missiles, surveillance and riot control equipment.

Defendant Tom Franklin,59, of Clifton Without, York said: “The DSEI arms fair is a key element in the promotion of war and crimes against humanity. Companies are selling weapons to regimes that are using them to kill civilians and torture and oppress. The government is promoting sales of weapons to some of the worst abusers of human rights such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.”

Defendant Nora Ziegler, 28, writes “The reason I took part in blocking the DSEI arms fair was to publicly witness to my faith in God’s love and my refusal to put faith in the institutions of war and oppression. I want to challenge the myth that the arms trade and war are inevitable or necessary and do what I can, in the spirit of non-violence, to resist these evils.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Please contact Nora Ziegler at londoncatholicworker@yahoo.co.uk 07923697218 or Tom Franklin at tom@franklin-consulting.co.uk 07989948221

Further information on faith groups involved

 

londoncatholicworker.org

@LndnCathWorker

putdownthesword.wordpress.com

@PutDownTheSword

More information about the DSEI arms fair can be found at:

Stop the Arms Fair: www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/about/dsei/

Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT): www.caat.org.uk