A series of vigils organised by Midlands Christian Action (MiChA) of which Peace Hub is a partner organisation.
Join us outside HSBC on New St, Birmingham, this Lent for an hour-long peaceful vigil calling on HSBC to divest from the arms trade.
We will open and close with some short prayers reminding us that as Christians we are called to be peace-makers and to oppose violence where we find it in the world. In between, we will hold our vigil for an hour: with placards calling on HSBC to give up the arms trade for lent, and leaflets to explain to passers-by what we are doing.
Prayer Vigil at HSBC for Advent – 19th Dec 2018 at 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Why the Arms Trade?
UK is the world’s 2nd biggest arms exporter on average in the last 5 years, behind only the USA, with £53bn of arms exports in that time (Source: UK Trade & Investment)
Since 2010, Britain has sold arms to 39 of the 51 most oppressive regimes as defined by Freedom House, and 22 of the 30 countries on the UK governments own human right watch list. (Source: The Independent Sept 5th 2017)
UK Arms sales to repressive regimes have increased to £5bn since the last Election, mostly from increasing exports to Saudi Arabia, which is killing innocent people in an illegal war in Yemen. Exports to despots ahead of human rights (Source: The Guardian, Sept 10th 2017)
In 2011, the arms industry received subsidies equivalent to £13,000 per job. ( 55,000 people employed 0.2% of the UK workforce £700m subsidy) Money that could fund the renewable energy sector, which needs the same type of high skilled jobs. (Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade)
The arms trade needs banks and financial institutions to invest in it, in order to keep exporting the machinery of war around the world.
HSBC have £102m of shares in Boeing and £180m of shares in BAE Systems, who are the 2nd and 3rd largest arms companies in the world, amongst many others (Source: Stop Arming Israel, 2017).
Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channelled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws. (Source: The Irish Times)
HSBC says it has been withdrawing from arms trade investments. But War On Want found HSBC listed as a shareholder in all 19 arms companies they looked at who export to Israel, with investments totalling more than $1bn. (Source: War on Want, 2017)
Where else can I bank?
There are several banks committed to being ethical, including Triodos and Metrobank. Building societies also avoid investing in the most unethical funds, and as a customer you will have a say in how the society is run at their AGM.
This guide from ethical consumer allows you to rank UK current account providers by various ethical criteria, including their involvement with the arms trade (under ‘People’).
If you want to stick with HSBC, or one of the other major banks that finance the arms trade (Barclays, Lloyds, Halifax or Royal Bank of Scotland) then you could contact them, asking them to cease all investments, loans and banking facilities for arms trade companies.
At this time of year, Christians are preparing for Easter: the mystery and miracle of Jesus’ resurrection.
We believe the story of the resurrection bears a message of hope: the promise of fullness of life offered to all people. The possibility of the victory of life over death.
We believe we are called to speak out against the choice to profit from human suffering through investments in the arms industry; investments which perpetuate a spiral of aggression and injustice which is contrary to our faith in a loving and life-giving God.
We repent of our part in a world where greed, injustice and aggression feel like normality. And we offer a call for conversion: from the forces of darkness and death towards the promise of light and life. Amen
Who are MiChA?
Midlands Christian Action is a group of people who, guided and inspired by our faith in Jesus Christ, aspire to work for peace and justice for the whole of humanity and the whole of creation.
“Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Micah 4:2-4
Part of the Faith and Resistance Network. firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace Hub is a partner organisation of MiChA.