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Fuelling profit from conflict: NATO and the arms trade

Protesters take to the streets of Newport

When NATO defence ministers dine together aboard HMS Duncan later this week, arms companies will be rubbing their hands in glee as we, the public, continue to underwrite the cost of their promotion.

HMS Duncan is a BAE Systems destroyer ship. While BAE’s ship will be showcased at the dinner; its Typhoon planes will feature in an RAF “flypast” at Celtic Manor, the venue for this week’s NATO summit.

Public money will be spent on securing the dinner, as well as on paying for the warship’s time, the fighter jet’s flight, and the crew. This is probably only scratching the surface of the many ways in which UK-military personnel and public funds will be used to promote arms company sales over the next week.

The government has boasted that there will be “an array of army equipment and capabilities” on display throughout the week. When they say they will be showcasing Wales’ “cyber technologies and aerospace”, we know they mean; arms dealing. Read more »

Take action: Help Maryam

The repressive Bahraini government continues to abuse human rights and crack down on democracy protests. The UK has a close relationship with Bahrain but has failed to speak out about its human rights violations – instead it has prioritised trying to secure more arms sales to this authoritarian regime. We urgently need it to speak out now.

Maryam Al Khawaja is an inspiring human rights defender, who has fought tirelessly for justice for others. Now she needs our help.

Maryam Al Khawaja

CAAT took action with Maryam in May this year, forcing Prince Andrew to withdraw from a London conference which aimed to whitewash the abuses of the Bahraini government.

Read more »

UK must stop arming Israel

Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham

Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham

Last month Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, pronounced on Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine: “They have been supplying them, they have been supporting them… They cannot deny their responsibility for the acts that these people are carrying out.”

He is right, but the same could be said of the UK’s support for Israel in the bombardment of Gaza.

Since 2010 the UK government has licensed £42 million worth of military equipment to Israel, including targeting systems and drone components. Even the UK government’s own review found 12 licences for components that may well have been used in the bombardment of Gaza.

The government’s response to its own review was shocking. It said it would suspend the licences only if ‘significant’ hostilities resumed. Yet even when Israel renewed its attacks on Gaza, with a further seven days of conflict, it did not do so. Read more »

“War Starts Here”: Scottish activists target Selex

Campaign Against Arms Trade has been campaigning against Selex’s sponsorship of the Edinburgh Science Festival, and in April I took part in an awareness raising walk through the town, leafleting and singing. More recently a small group of us decided to try to get people thinking about how that company profits as part of the war machine.

Selex banner Read more »

Let’s talk about ‘legitimacy’, Science Museum

The Science Museum justified its plans to host a ‘welcome reception’ for arms dealers from Farnborough International by telling us that Farnborough International was a ‘legitimate organisation’.

So I went to Farnborough this week and saw what ‘legitimate’ looks like.

It was the most surreal and chilling day I have ever experienced. But for the arms dealers and military buyers attending, it was just business as usual.

I stood by the glossy stands of Israeli arms companies, promoting ‘battle-tested’ weaponry with slick videos of missile strikes and drone attacks, while outside, in the real world, the death toll in Gaza mounted.

Elbit stand at Farnborough 2014

Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems at Farnborough 2014.

Read more »

Arms dealers out of Church House!

Here’s the latest update from CAAT’s Christian Network.

Arms dealers at Church House: never again

Church-house-cropped-land-banner

This month, in the space of three weeks there will have been two conferences sponsored by some of the world’s largest arms companies at Church House, which also houses the administrative headquarters of the Church of England.

The Church House conference centre is run by a charity, whose president is the Archbishop of Canterbury and whose council includes “representatives of national church institutions”.

Hosting such events supports and legitimises the arms industry and the terrible destruction it causes. It helps sustain the status quo of huge military spending, at the cost of addressing real human needs.

Please take action now:

  • Sign our online letter to Archbishop Justin Welby asking him to ensure that Church House conference centre never again hosts such events.
  • Take part in a Silent Vigil as the arms trade conference commences tomorrow, Wednesday 9 July: meet at 10.45am outside Methodist Central Hall.

Read more »

William Hague: Hero or Hypocrite?

William Hague with Angelina Jolie and Brad PittIt was a surreal sight to see Foreign Secretary William Hague posing with Hollywood ‘s most famous couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the recent high profile Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Responding to media accusations that he was “hobnobbing” and “starstruck”, Hague defended the importance of his role at the summit, telling Radio 4 listeners that “this is about conflict prevention.”

So let’s take a look at Hague’s record on conflict prevention.

Read more »

Liverpool activists picket major arms fair

Liverpool activists picked the Undersea Defence Technology conference

Liverpool activists picked the Undersea Defence Technology conference

Last week the arms trade rolled into Liverpool for the annual Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) conference, and local activists were there to greet them.

UDT is an arms fair that focuses on naval arms and technology. It brings a number of oppressive regimes together with some of the biggest arms companies in the world.

We have requested a list of the countries in attendance, but we already know that this year’s event was attended by representatives from major arms companies such as BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Babcock.

On the first day of the conference, members of the newly-established Merseyside Peace Network welcomed the conference participants with a leaflet which was headed: “Merseyside Peace Network Opposes Arms Fair in Liverpool City Centre”. The conference delegates were also welcomed with the CAAT banner that read: “Arms Dealers Here Today. This is not OK”.

Read more »

No UK Troops for Ukraine War Games

The crisis in Ukraine is fast escalating into a civil and proxy war. Over 150 people have died in clashes between Ukrainian Soldiers and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, many of them civilians. In the bloodiest incident, more than 30 people were killed in Odessa when Neo-Nazis set fire to a trade union building. Most recently jets have dropped bombs on the city of Lugansk.

Given these circumstances, it is quite extraordinary that NATO is planning war games in Ukraine this July. UK and US troops are due to participate alongside Ukrainian troops in joint military exercises as part of NATO’s ‘Rapid Trident’ manoeuvres.

Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose

The Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose is being sent to take part in NATO war games

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Local actions: Christians campaign against BAE weapons factory in Penarth

Christians in Penarth protest and pray outside BAE Systems weapons factory

Christians in Penarth protest and pray outside BAE Systems weapons factory

The Penarth Christian Campaign Against Arms Trade group held a prayer vigil outside the BAE Systems Weapons Factory at Glascoed  to remember the children that have been killed by weapons and war. It was a moving and important event and Christians came from  Bristol, South and West Wales to take part in it.

Read more »