Andrew Smith | 31.01.2014 00:42 | Anti-militarism
On February 3rd – February 4th the Christian activists, including a Methodist minister, will be on trial at Stratford Magistrates Court for peacefully blocking an entrance to the arms fair while they prayed and sang hymns.
On the same day that they were arrested, two companies were thrown out of the arms fair for selling torture equipment, but they were not arrested or charged.
Those on trial include Dan Woodhouse, a trainee minister in the Methodist Church. He will be joined in the dock by PhD student Chloe Skinner, caterer Chris Wood, teacher James Clayton and writer Symon Hill. The campaigners could face up to three months in prison for breaching Section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has voiced his support for the campaign, saying that case should be seen as an opportunity for the public to voice their views on the government's support for the arms industry.
The former Archbishop explained, "We still badly need an honest debate about the arms trade – about the kinds of modern armaments that seem to contravene any defensible ethical framework, especially the refinements of anti-personnel weapons which cause most moral scandal. This case has opened up the possibility of such honesty and I hope the chance will not be wasted.”
The campaigners have also received support from comedian Mark Thomas who said "The biennial arms fair in the docklands has a proven track record of illegal activity. Time and time again the organisers and the police fail to stop companies from offering illegal torture equipment. If the organisers and the police and HRMC do nothing to stop this then I applaud the individuals whose conscience compels them to take a stand."
The action came the day after the UK government admitted that the guest list for the event included oppressive regimes such as Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. The five campaigners were arrested and charged with aggravated trespass after several hours at Camden Police Station. None of them were offered the option of a caution even though they had no prior convictions.
For further information or to speak to one of the defendants please contact CAAT at email@example.com or call 020 7281 0297.