On 26th September 2014, police in the Mexican town of Iguala in the state of Guerrero ambushed a convoy of buses carrying students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College to a protest march. Police opened fire, killing several students and bystanders, and abducted 43 students in police vehicles. The students have not been seen since.
The first anniversary of this mass disappearance saw demonstrations across Mexico and around the world. I joined campaigners outside the Mexican Embassy in London’s Mayfair, and spoke to the crowd about the UK’s complicity in the human rights abuses spiralling out of control in Mexico.
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.
How shameless is the government’s arms sales unit? Even as ordinary people across the Middle East are laying down their lives in the struggle for democracy, UKTI DSO organises a seminar to help arms companies to sell weapons to the repressive regimes of the region.
The event was called Middle East: A vast market for defence and security companies, it was presented by London Chamber of Commerce, and it was to be hosted in the City of London by Royal Bank of Scotland. (The very same RBS that Amnesty International recently forced to stop financing the makers of cluster bombs.)
On March 17th, BBC TV’s prime-time magazine programme The One Show aired a report about the UK’s hidden arms companies. For CAAT this report was a valuable opportunity to present our message to a mainstream audience of millions, and I was excited to be involved in making it.
The One Show’s report was prompted by news coverage of the UK’s arms sales to repressive regimes such as Libya and Bahrain. The programme’s makers contacted CAAT and decided to base the report on a map of arms companies around my home county of Nottinghamshire. I took One Show reporter Simon Boazman on a short guided tour of a few of the companies, including small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch, the target of a long-running local campaign.
Why is arms company BAE Systems encouraging schoolchildren to play with LEGO?
The company wants children to develop the skills it needs for developing high-tech weapons platforms, and has hit upon LEGO’s programmable robot kits called Mindstorms as a fun way to get kids interested.
Agenda item at Campaign Against Arms Trade’s weekly meeting: We’ve been invited to have a stall at the Rage Against The Machinegig in Finsbury Park on Sunday 6th June. Is anyone interested in helping run the stall?
“Me! Me! Me!”
I couldn’t believe my luck. Less than a month in the job and I got to see one of my favourite bands.