Yesterday CAAT supporter and anti-arms trade campaigner Sylvia Boyes was convicted for “obstructing the highway” during a protest at a the DSEI arms fair in London last September.
Over the last few weeks a number of activists have either been found not guilty or had their charges dropped, but Sylvia, 70, was fined a total of £440 for ‘obstructing the highway.’
Not only is the financial punishment totally disproportionate to the alleged ‘crime’, but it also shows the completely muddled priorities of the British legal establishment. As Sylvia said, “When you are dealing with the sale of weapons and torture instruments which are being used to hurt so many, what can I as a human being do that is proportionate with those facts?”
Charles was in Saudi Arabia at the request of the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. BAE’s share price was set to fall this week unless agreement could be reached on its latest sales of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, so the UK government sent in the royals to seal the deal. As a Buckingham Palace spokesperson has said “Middle East potentates like meeting princes.”
Human rights organisations had highlighted Saudi Arabia’s appalling record on human rights and urged Charles to use his visit to promote reform. Instead he has sent a clear signal of support for repression.
Please sign CAAT’s petition to challenge the Royal Family’s complicity in arms dealing.
One of the most positive contributions to the independence debate has been the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to a ‘do no harm’ exports policy in the event of a Yes vote.
Last month the Scottish Government’s Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf, wrote a well received blog for The Herald that presented the Scottish Government’s vision in contrast with the current UK one, saying “our good work globally will not be undermined by the selling of arms to some of the world’s most brutal dictators as has been done by previous UK governments.”
I was very impressed, but I wanted to know more about which governments Yousaf and his colleagues see as ‘brutal dictators’ and which they see as potential partners. The UK’s links with regimes that abuse human rights are well known, so I contacted Yousaf on Twitter to ask him to clarify what criteria the Scottish Government would hope to apply in an independent Scotland.