Quakers protest against the arms trade

Dozens of Quakers headed for London this week to join protestors against the world's largest arms fair. Hundreds from peace movements held vigils to protest, their banners saying: “War starts here".

6 protestors around banner from Barnsley
Peacefully protesting as delegates arrive at the arms fair (Photo: Michael Preston)

Every two years the DSEI arms fair (Defence Security Equipment International) brings together members of the military, police and security forces from around the world, with thousands of arms companies. Deals are done as they exhibit the latest weapons and military technology.

As delegates arrived at the Excel Centre, they walked past hundreds who were singing songs of peace. Quaker Roots, Pax Christi and many more, joined Stop the Arms Fair, resisting the arms trade.


The arms trade is wrong and hosting this event, trading lives for money, is profoundly immoral."

- Oliver Robertson, Quakers in Britain


During a series of outdoor meetings for worship ministry gave space for messages from those whose lives are wrecked by weapons.

Rosie Horsley, of Quaker Roots, read a message from Yemen, from a humanitarian, activist and young mother who was excited to be pregnant. Then the war started with 1,000 airstrikes the first night. Excitement turned to despair as neighbours were killed and there was famine, malnourished children and the economy collapsed. “I would be calling my parents saying our last goodbyes." Then her son became her hope and strength.

Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain was at the meetings for worship where he heard Quakers expressing “their deeply held conviction that the arms trade is wrong and that hosting this event, trading lives for money, is profoundly immoral."

Daniel Jakopovich, of Quakers in Britain said, “The arms trade is rooted in the economics of brutality. It causes untold human and non-human animal suffering. It devastates countries and the environment. And it incarcerates humanity's potential."

Quakers' book of discipline, Quaker faith and practice says this:

“We are called to live 'in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars'. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation of war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God."