The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair is taking place again this September in East London. It is one of the largest arms fairs in the world, and the UK is the 2nd biggest arms dealer in the world. It sells weapons to some of the most repressive regimes on Earth, including Saudi Arabia, which has been bombing Yemen for over 6 years. This has contributed to what the UN has called the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the world.
Quakers are again joining forces with other people committed to peace in order to #StopDSEI, which is a marketplace of death and destruction. A series of actions are being planned by the Stop the Arms Fair coalition.
We have been working with Pax Christi and Quaker Roots to organise a silent, candle-lit vigil on 13 September in solidarity with victims of the arms trade. Participants of all ages are welcome, and Quakers in Britain staff working with youth, children and families will be on hand.
Quaker Roots, a community of Friends building a creative, vibrant and radical response to the DSEI arms fair, is holding preparation briefing sessions on Monday 13 September at Friends House in London. It is also planning two meetings for worship on 14 September, the first day of DSEI, and a walking vigil to the HQs of arms companies in London on 15 September.
Here are some more details about these events.
DSEI In-person briefings - Organised by Quaker Roots
13 September at 11:30am and 2:00pm
Location: Friends House, Euston Read more
DSEI Peace Vigil - Organised by Pax Christi, QPSW & Quaker Roots
13 September at 7.00pm to 8.00pm
Location: Next to the ExCeL Centre, Royal Victoria Square, London E16 1AB Meet: 6.15pm (young people), everyone else 6.30pm, South side of Royal Victoria DLR station, by the roundabout on Seagull Lane
Meetings for Worship on first day of DSEI - organised by Quaker Roots
14 September at 9.00am and 2:00 pm
Location: ExCeL Centre, Crystal building, ExCeL Centre, Royal Victoria Dock. Meeting outside the Crystal building and then walking to a space where people can witness together.
Walking vigil to arms company HQs in London - organised by Quaker Roots
15 September at 11.00am
Location: Meet in the Friends House Garden, Euston
For the latest details about these events you can sign up to updates from Quaker Roots by email (sign up here) and by Telegram (click here to join the channel once Telegram is installed on your phone).
Blog : Witnessing against the arms trade at DSEI
"Our Quaker community is a gathering together of peacemakers. We gather, we sit together in silent worship, and we disperse again, knowing that the work of peace cannot be accomplished in our meeting houses, it can only begin there.
We are convinced that the making of peace demands us to return to our world in love, to stand firm in public, to confront the “powers and principalities", and to assert that in this time of permanent war, no government which involves itself in the arms trade, no government relying on and colluding with a militarised system, can govern well or for the benefit of all. We are resolute and will not submit before a governing hand that subsidises, facilitates and profits from the sale of weapons to ruthless dictators in our name."
Ann Bettys, a Quaker from Huddersfield Meeting and a member of the Quaker Roots core team, has written a blog which outlines the Quaker action taking place against the DSEI arms fair. It also shares some ideas for Quakers who wish to take action outside London. Read more.
Global Campaign on Military Spending UK – take part in its inaugural Annual General Meeting
The Global Campaign on Military Spending UK (GCOMS UK), of which QPSW is an active member, is the UK branch of a global network that raises awareness about the humanitarian, ecological and other costs of the UK government's commitment to militarism. GCOMS UK was reconstituted last year and has helped to initiate and coordinate a promising spike in anti-militarist activity.
Last year a new steering group came together to increase the focus and impact of the campaign, and new funding has provided it with some longer-term stability. The network is keen to open up the discussions to include all supporting organisations and grassroots campaigners. The inaugural Annual General Meeting of the network is going to be held at 2.30-4pm on Sunday 3 October. The agenda for the meeting is available here.
Friends are invited to take part in the AGM either as individuals, as representatives of their Local & Area Meetings, or as delegates of other local peace and justice groups they are involved in. The success of the network and of its campaigns in large part depends on the commitment, energy and initiative of grassroots peacemakers. Help us to shape the future of this important new network for peace and demilitarisation!
You can sign up here to receive occasional notices from GCOMS UK.
Blog: Rebuilding society through peacemaking and disarmament
Daniel Jakopovich, Peace and Disarmament Programme Manager for Quakers in Britain, wrote a blog piece which discusses the urgent need to rethink militarist priorities in order to build back better after the pandemic.
“Times of crisis expose existing inequalities and other sources of violence in society. If we are to build a humane, just and sustainable society, peacemaking and disarmament must be our guiding lights.” Read more
Inviting QPSW Staff to speak or facilitate a workshop
Occasionally, we receive a request for a QPSW staff member to come and speak to a Meeting about a specific issue that is of concern to them or more generally about the issues that we work on. We can also help facilitate discussion about the different ways in which Quakers can take action for peace.
Recent workshops which the Peace and Disarmament Programme helped facilitate were on the topic of opposing the increase in military spending and on new ways of thinking about peace and security.
If you would like to hold a meeting on this or some other peace-related topic, please email Daniel Jakopovich, Peace and Disarmament Programme Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twenty years on: reflecting on 11 September attacks
Twenty years ago a horrific set of terrorist attacks took place in the United States, killing and wounding thousands of people. The attacks and the military response to them by the US, the UK and other NATO member states contributed to a cycle of violence which resulted in immense suffering, death and destruction. Quakers in Britain reflect on the attacks, read more.