From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:06:44


                         by Robert Nowell 
                      Religion News Service 
LONDON--The Presbyterian Church of Scotland has sharply criticized 
Britain's heavy involvement in the arms trade, especially to Third World 
    The report, by the denominations Church and Nation Committee, makes 
special note of Britain's continuing arms deals with Indonesia, which has 
been accused of oppressing the people of East Timor.  
    Britain is Western Europe's second largest arms exporter and fifth 
worldwide. "It is a matter of deep regret that an arms industry is 
necessary, and so it is perverse for the government to encourage and 
protect it," the committee said.  
    "The idea that improving national security is simply a case of 
acquiring the most up-to-date weaponry has to be challenged. The idea that 
an economy which relies heavily on the production of life-denying equipment 
can be a healthy one also has to be challenged.  
    "Rather than making it easy for the arms industry to find new markets, 
the government should be making it easier for companies to diversify into 
life-enhancing products."  
    Eighty percent of all British arms exports go to Third World countries, 
according to the report.  
    When the Church of Scotland's general assembly meets in  
Edinburgh May 20-26, it will be asked to call on the British  
government to stop military training of Indonesian personnel and make 
future deliveries of Hawk aircraft dependent on "substantial improvements" 
of human rights and the prospects for peace in East Timor.  
    The report also cited British arms dealing with Saudi Arabia, which, 
the church said, has repressed religious minorities and  
political opposition.  
    The British government "does not accept that there are  
sufficient grounds for concern over human rights abuses" in Saudi Arabia, 
the report charged.  

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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