Wednesday 9 September 2009

Catholic Workers Arrested for Exposing Bloody DSEi Arms Fair

London Catholic Workers Katrina Alton and Martin Newell poured red paint on to a sign advertising the DSEi Arms Fair [this morning at 8.30am]. The red paint represents the blood of the victims of the arms fair, on [the walkway which is the main pedestrian entrance to the arms fair by Custom House DLR station]. …

The two raised a banner which read “FORGIVE THEM FATHER; THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”. They remained there kneeling in prayer for 45 minutes while several Arms Dealers took photos and one spoke with Fr. Martin. The two were surrounded by a dozen police officers and arrested for criminal damage, they were taken to a local police station.

Katrina Alton said, “Today the DSEi Arms Fair is proudly trading in arms and weapons that cause death and suffering to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable in our world. As a Christian I believe these children, women, and men are my brothers and sisters. Their voices are silent and their stories are not writ large on advertising stands or at multi billion pound ‘Fairs’: they remain hidden, “out of sight out of mind”. My love and compassion for these victims, faith, means that in faith and solidarity I cannot remain silent or hidden. So our action today is a visible sign that in the heart of our community this week the powerful and the greedy are trading in the blood of the poor: and that blood is on my hands too.

By pouring ‘blood’ over the DSEi sign I am hoping to bring out into the light what is happening here today, and challenge these powerful and rich people to think what a difference could be made right now if all this money and resources was used to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick just as Jesus asks us to do.

Martin Newell said, “This red paint, our actions today, are for the victims. The victims of the arms trade may not know where their suffering has come from – they may only know that their families have been killed, their homes destroyed, their means of survival wiped out. They may not know the words DSEi, EXCEL, arms fair, arms trade, or capitalism. But those who are working here today, those who work in and for the arms trade, do know that they make a living at the expense of the blood of the innocent. We hope and pray that our action here today will touch those hardened hearts, and open the eyes of those who see but do not perceive, so that hearts of stone will be changed into hearts of flesh. We expect to pay a price for our convictions and our conscientious objection to this arms fair. But I pray that this too will be a small part of my journey to seeing the truth from the perspective of the victims.”

The London Catholic Worker is a part of the international, radical, pacifist, Catholic Worker movement. We offer hospitality and welcome to the poor and homeless, refugees and other migrants. At the same

time we resist the forces of injustice and violence that create so much suffering, poverty and insecurity.

Katrina Alton and Martin Newell are members of the London Catholic Worker (LCW). They live and work in the LCW house of hospitality for refugees in Hackney. They also work in the LCW drop-in and community café. Katrina Alton is 42 years old. Martin Newell is also 42.


NOTES: 1 – DSEi – Defence Services Export International – is the second largest arms fair in the world. It is organised by Clarion Exhibitions as contractors on behalf of the Trade and Industry Department of the UK Government (UKTI) . There were more demonstrations at the UKTI offices in central London on Tuesday. Arms firms and buyers for governments from all around the world come to DSEi to do business.