Christians on trial in London for resisting arms and torture trade
Five Christians will go on trial in London on Monday 3rd February for peacefully resisting the arms and torture trade.
Supporters of varied religions and none plan to hold a vigil outside the court. All peaceful people are welcome!
The trial will take place at Stratford Magistrates’ Court in east London on 3rd and 4th February. On each day, supporters will gather form 9am. There will be a moment of silence, to remember the victims of the arms trade, at 10am each day.
Those who cannot turn up in person are invited to join in the moment of silence wherever they are or to pray about the case at another point in the day. We hope to see you there! For updates, Twitter users can follow @PutDowntheSword as well as Christianity Uncut (@Christiansvcuts). There will also be information on the Christians Against the Arms Fair page on Facebook.
The defendants are all supporters of Christianity Uncut. Some are also involved in the Speak network. They say they have been encouraged by a large number of messages of support and encouragement.
They have been backed by former Archbishop Rowan Williams, US Christian leader Tony Campolo and British comedian Mark Thomas.
The five Christians – James Clayton, Symon Hill, Chloe Skinner, Chris Wood and Daniel Woodhouse – were arrested on 10th September 2013 as they nonviolently blocked a bridge leading from Custom House station to the Excel Centre, where the London arms fair was being held. They were joined in the blockade by Angela Ditchfield and Alison Parker (who were not arrested).
Kneeling down, they prayed and sang hymns, along with others who stood nearby with a banner reading “This is a dead end. There is another way.”
By blocking the bridge, the Christians delayed arms dealers trying to enter the fair for nearly an hour. Several trains full of arms fair participants were backed up outside the station.
On the same day, two companies were thrown out of the arms fair for displaying illegal torture equipment, after the issue was raised in Parliament and the media. The torture dealers were neither arrested nor charged. It is those who sought to stop them who are in the dock.
The defendants and their supporters are inspired by Jesus’ example of nonviolent resistance, by the people who resisted World War One a hundred years ago and by the activists resisting oppressive regimes such as those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers came to the London arms fair to buy weapons.
We’re all praying that God will guide everyone involved next week.