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. Continue reading “UK must stop arming Israel”
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.
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.
Here’s the latest update from CAAT’s Christian Network.
Arms dealers at Church House: never again
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.
It 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.
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”.
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.
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.
In the past the authorities in the United States have been much more successful in prosecuting foreign bribery by their companies than the authorities in Britain.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s latest report on steps taken to implement and enforce the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in the United Kingdom is far more scanty than that for the United States (even after allowing for the fact the economy of the United States is much bigger than the UK’s). Further, since the Bribery Act 2010 came into force in the UK almost three years ago, there has been no conviction of anyone for foreign bribery under the Act. And last year, in 2013, there was only one conviction of someone for foreign bribery under the previous legislation. So how can the UK improve its record, and what should those wishing to see this happen do?
Many European governments have used the situation in the Ukraine as justification to increase military spending. But only in Switzerland do people have a direct say in their country’s military policy. And the signal that the Swiss people sent out last Sunday was very clear: Buying expensive weapons systems is not a priority.
In a national referendum, 53.4% of the voters rejected the purchase of 22 Swedish JAS Gripen E fighter jets. The deal was worth £2 billion immediately and £6.6 billion including operations and maintenance over the next few years. The government had proposed the procurement to replace the ageing F-5 Tiger fleet that will be put out of operation next year.