Friends protest DSEI

Hundreds of Friends flocked to London to protest against the DSEI arms fair

Friends with one of the DSEI protest banners. | Photo: Courtesy of Oxford Meeting.

Hundreds of Quakers flocked to London this week to take part in the Roots of Resistance (RoR) mass protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands.

The ‘No Faith in War’ day started on 3 September with a morning Meeting for Worship in the road blocking the entrance to the ExCeL centre. The day before Quakers gathered at Friends House for a briefing session ‘to make sure our hearts and minds are prepared’. The briefing day also included ‘action preparation’ of making banners, as well as workshops on protest singing, ‘know your rights’ and ‘spiritual grounding for witness’.

Maya Metheven, a Quaker from Bradford, said: ‘Thousands of people around the world will be killed and maimed by the arms deals that will be happening… My faith does not allow me to let this pass unnoticed.’

As in previous years, the focus of protest against DSEI, which included other peace and faith groups, was to target the setup of the fair in the week preceding the event as trucks arrived laden with military equipment. Friends from all over the UK sang peace songs in a sea of banners that Meetings have been creating for months, including one declaring ‘Guns kill daddies and mummies’ by Bessie White from Brentford and Isleworth Meeting who also has work displayed in the Art the Arms Fair exhibition.

Meetings from all around the UK brandished banners, including mini ones created for the event. Some have already been on display at the Peace Hub in Birmingham. Meanwhile, the Peace Museum in Bradford has asked if Friends would be willing, after Stop DSEI week of action, to loan or donate some to the museum. RoR tweeted: ‘They’ve been very impressed with your amazing creativity!’

Cherry Lewis, from Swindon Meeting, said she is taking part because DSEI is ‘just obviously wrong… I hope our witness will raise awareness of the fair and make some of the people involved think more about what they are doing’.


Correction 6/9/19: The location of the Meeting for Worship on 3 September was amended, it was held at the site of the protest, not at Friends House. In addition, plans for the mini banners have been changed, they will no longer be formed into a tapestry

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