If the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has his way there will be water cannons on the streets of London by this summer.
When the Mayor announced his support for plans to allow the Metropolitan Police to use water cannon in the capital it came despite widespread public opposition. Johnson’s own consultation had only 59 responses that were in favour of bringing in water cannons, compared to 2,547 against.
The reason that so many people are concerned about the introduction of the cannons is because they are weapons. Their impact on a crowd is indiscriminate and they have been known to injure and blind those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the receiving end.
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.
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.
Stop The Shipment campaign succeeds as South Korea ends tear gas sales to Bahrain
The Stop The Shipment campaign was launched in October to prevent a massive shipment of over 1.6 million rounds of tear gas from South Korea to Bahrain. CAAT supporters worked with Bahraini and South Korean activists to put pressure on the authorities to stop the deal.
Now DAPA, South Korea’s arms export licensing agency, has announced that due to political instability and pressure from international rights groups they are going to cease all tear gas exports to the Bahraini dictatorship. This is a major victory and is thanks to everyone who supported the campaign.