Prince Andrew is in action right now, propping up dictators and BAE’s weapons sales. He’s not alone: senior Ministers, members of the RAF and civil servants are all at the Bahrain International Airshow helping promote BAE’s Typhoon warplanes to Bahrain’s dictators.
King Hamad of Bahrain has overseen a brutal crackdown on his own people. Those who speak up for democratic reform face being tortured and locked up, or sent into exile.
Bahrain has no military need for BAE’s Typhoons, but it does have a political need: it knows that buying UK weapons can also buy UK silence on Bahrain’s human rights abuses.
Our action stops arms sales
We know our action can make a difference. Last month an international campaign stopped a massive shipment of tear gas from South Korea to Bahrain. The order would have been for more tear gas canisters than Bahrain has people. Tear gas has caused at least 30 deaths in Bahrain since 2011, injured thousands and is even fired into people’s homes as a form of collective punishment.
We supported the campaign with action online and protests at the South Korean embassy, helping create international pressure on the South Korean government to act. And every email, every tweet and phone-call – every early morning protest – added up to an amazing result: together we stopped the shipment. South Korea announced it would not allow the sale, citing “unstable politics … people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups.”
Public action stopped the sale of weapons which would have been used to intimidate, maim and kill – and set an important precedent.
MPs are speaking out, but we need more pressure
MPs here are already concerned about the UK’s role in Bahrain. Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has given a warning on arms sales, saying both “the government and the opposition in Bahrain view UK defence sales as a signal of British support for the government.”
It has also urged the government to include Bahrain as a “country of concern” in its next human rights report – this is due soon.
But we need more pressure now: please write to your MP today.