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The Quakers of Belgium and Luxembourg express dismay at Eurosatory arms fair

From 11 to 15 June 2012, Paris hosts more than a thousand producers and users of the latest means to kill. At the last exhibition in 2010, buyers from Ghaddafi’s Libya were amongst the official guests. Others came from countries that have turned weapons against civilian populations, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Israel.
Spokespersons for Belgium and Luxembourg Quakers called for this Eurosatory to be the last.

In the guise of a progressive technological and commercial fair, the banalisation of killing is taken to new heights. Nowhere in the glossy Eurosatory publicity is there reference to blood and death, to casualties and destruction. Instead, the focus is on the celebration of the latest, often electronic and robotic, equipment for ‘defence’, ‘security’, or’protection’. George Orwell would take grim satisfaction in these examples of ‘doublespeak’.

Belgium and Luxembourg Quakers, like thousands of others, like the millions who have been the on the receiving end of war and like many of those who have delivered war, are convinced that our societies ’focus on military responses to the world’s many problems – far from solving the problems – creates even more; it exacerbated rather than alleviated.

Eurosatory, by encouraging the development and purchase of weaponry by armies and ‘security’ services across the world, things worse. It certainly does not promote solutions. The world would be a grim place, indeed, if there were no alternatives at hand, but there are. Fortunately or unfortunately, we’ve been unable to create a structure in which, in the words of T.S. Eliot, ‘no one needs to be good’.

Economic welfare and development will come not from selling weapons but from focusing on a sustainable future for all, reducing the gap between rich and poor, creating useful employment, and addressing human suffering across the world.

Belgium and Luxembourg Quakers call on economic and political decision-makers to focus their energies on building peace and not on selling, through the Eurosatory festival of destruction, the seeds of our own destruction. To survive and prosper, the European Union must disassociate itself from Eurosatory and invest its efforts in peaceful and sustainable livelihoods.

Quakers salute those Friends who are going to Paris during this event, not to exhibit their weapons, but to demonstrate against them and to demonstrate for peace, to remind the participants that they are fouling their own nests. Coming from many countries of Europe, they are a reminder that the European Union was built on the embers of a World War in order to secure peace between nations and people, not to prepare for more war.

Since the 1650s, Quakers have witnessed to their belief that true religion is a personal inward experience, a direct link with God and a consequent transformation of everyday life. We know that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone. This is the origin of our long-standing witness to peace.

The web address of Quakers inBelgium and Luxembourg is: www.qkr.be

Press contact: Edward Haasl on +3216 22 82 54

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