The Australian government has decided to financially support the Arms Industry with a gift of 3.8 Billion in low interest loans to heavy industries making arms for export. This support will also extend to creating a new portfolio within the Defence Department called The Defence Export Facility.
Strangely, the prompt for this decision was a study carried out in Stockholm by the International Peace Research Institute. This study named Australia as way down the list of Arms Exporters. The then Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne responded by focusing government efforts on a goal of pushing forward into the top 10 arms exporters world wide.
There is real concern that these Australian made arms will be sold to the hungry Saudi Arabia now engaged in a horrific and destructive war in neighbouring Yemen. Our government has refused to rule out the potential sale and has already signed off on 37 permits to sell arms to the the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
I have always been profoundly proud of Australia's effective gun control and the fact that we did not consider arms to be an important industry.
The amazing Helen Keller once said that "Although the world is full of suffering it is also full of the overcoming of it."
There are so many people engaged in fighting this industry in inventive and positive ways.
At The Fair Trader we stock jewellery from two amazing and Fair Trade Organisations who use the metal from gun casings and cluster bombs to make a jewellery collection they call Bullets to Beauty.
The first of these is my favourite product within our store!
The Article 22 jewellery was created to raise funding for the removal of remaining Cluster Bombs from the beautiful country of Laos. During the Vietnam war the US and Allies launched more than 580.000 bombing missions on Laos, dropping more than 2 million tons of munitions. They were not at war with this small nation. Laos was bombed consistently for the whole nine years of the Vietnam conflict. Of the bombs dropped around 80,000 did not explode on impact and remain waiting in Laos soil.
Article 22 repurposes the cluster bomb metal to make the most stylish and gorgeous jewellery and every piece of the stunning Article 22 jewellery provides substantial funding towards the work of MAG (The Mines Advisory Group). MAG works to remove arms from post conflict areas. And the jewellery is absolutely stunning! Beautiful jewellery that funds rescue work in our world. Below are the stunning Article 22 Dome Earrings, modelled by ethical fashion activist, Emma Watson. So elegant!
The other amazing jewellery range is made by the Entoto Beth Artisans. The jewellery is made in a shanty town on Mount Entoto outside Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The precious women who live there are our poorest producers, having been made to leave their family and village after receiving a diagnosis of HIV. They come to the shanty town to find community and shelter. They have won the support of Bethlehem Brahana, a social entrepreneur who is enabling the group to find retailers like us to support their work.
The jewellery is made from scrap metal and machine gun casings left from the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The metal is melted down and formed into beads and the women call the jewellery they create 'Bullets to Beauty'.
These women have so very little and work hard to provide for themselves and their families. They take this destructive metal and make jewellery of such beauty, and such style! I look at their pieces in our store and I feel I am seeing what resilience looks like.
Our producers teach us every day that despite intense hardship beautiful things are possible!
Please come into our store or even our online store and just look at our beautiful jewellery, if you love it please help us support these producers through a purchase in-store or online. We cannot continue our work without your blessing, prayers and support.
And Thank You to each one of you.
Bron and John and The Amazing Fair Trader Team.