A Coventry-based activist shares his story of arms trade investments, cluster bombs, and challenging the world’s largest arms dealers with Blu-Tack.
If you’ve got something right under your nose, it gives you the opportunity to confront the reality of the arms trade in a way that cannot be dismissed as ‘none of our business’. It also means that you don’t have the problem of slogging half way across the country to put up banners for a couple of hours. I have discovered that drawing attention to your local arms company office can be as simple as sticking a sign up- and can make a significant campaign impact.
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This guest post comes from Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK and focuses on the UK drone industry. You can find out more at www.dronewars.net.
Drones, or as the industry prefers to call them unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are the latest ‘must have’ weapon system and many countries are seeking to acquire or develop various types of military drones. While Israeli and US companies dominate the drone export market(and are also involved in lobbying efforts to ‘relax’ the international controls on their export), drones are increasingly been seen by the UK arms industry as a growth area and already a number of smaller niche companies have been swallowed up by the big guns.
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Activists in Bristol have been busy, and this October succeeded in chasing an chasing an arms fair out of their town. But it seems one arms event just wasn’t enough for Bristol’s arms dealers. The day after the protest at the arms fair in Cardiff, the CEO of QinetiQ was in Bristol speaking to students as part of the University of West England’s “Distinguished Address Series”. Luckily, Bristol Against Arms Trade were waiting, and activist Aly Vernon explains what happened next.
QinetiQ work mainly on military technology – they make weapons, guidance systems, military aircraft- but also branch out into surveillance & security technologies (including technologies considered for ID cards) and ‘energetic materials’ (i.e. explosives). QinetiQ make a mint supplying arms to the beheading-regime in Saudi Arabia and run the UK Drones test centre in Aberporth, West Wales, where they test the Israeli-developed drones that have killed hundreds in Gaza. Read more »
From Israel to Hong Kong, the arms export controls system is broken.
The UK’s arms export policy rarely comes under as much scrutiny as it did this summer. As Israel launched its devastating attacks on Gaza which were to leave more than 2,000 dead, over 500 of them children, the UK’s arms sales and military collaboration with Israel were challenged from all sides.
Protesters occupied the roof of Israeli drones manufacturer Elbit Systems, shutting it down for two days.
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Underneath it’s nondescript acronym, the DPRTE – or Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition – claims to be one of ‘the UK’s leading’ arms fairs. The event brings together a whole host of companies looking to find out what’s new in the world of warfare. In its own words, it ‘provides a unique promotional, educational and engagement platform’.
Last year the DPRTE arms fair took place at the University of West of England (UWE) in Bristol. Bristol Against the Arms Trade and students from UWE were of course there to greet them. Major entrances to the campus and the conference building were picketed, traffic chaos across the north Bristol fringe ensued, exhibitors and visitors to the event were delayed, and lectures at the University were cancelled. Read more »
UPDATE: David will be undertaking the Great North Run again this year for CAAT. By sponsoring him you can help us to challenge the arms trade.
This summer one of our supporters, David Watson, pounded the pavements to raise some funds for a grateful CAAT , this is his story.
David finishes his run!
This time last year, I had never run more than 5 kilometres at my local park, so it’s fair to say that when I put my name in the ballot for the Great North Run (21 km), I was aiming to stretch my levels of endurance further than ever before. Despite having dodgy knees, I had to believe I could do it.
When I secured my place, I knew I had an ideal opportunity to raise funds for CAAT, but after only a fortnight I was within £150 of my £500 target, so I doubled it to £1000.
The Great North Run is hard because so much of it is uphill, so I decided to do a couple of easier half marathons as part of my training, starting with the Southend Half Marathon in June. A sweltering hot day saw me complete my first halfer with my knees intact in just under two hours. Read more »
You may have heard that the troubled Lockhead Martin F-35 Lightning II, Britain’s newest fighter jet, failed to turn up at this summer’s Farnborough Air Show after an engine fire occurred in one of its production models. This incident once again brought to the fore long-standing concerns about the poor reliability and exorbitant cost of the jets; which sell for the ‘modest’ price of $100m-a-unit. Unfortunately the UK has already bought 14 F-35Bs and is committed to buying 48 in total. Read more »
On September 21, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world will take part in the People’s climate march. Organized to put pressure on world leaders attending next Tuesday’s UN climate summit in New York to make meaningful commitments on climate change, it has been billed as ‘the largest environmental march’ in history. Read more »
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.
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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.
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.
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