Andrea Needham writes: On 29 January 1996, I was one of a group of women who disarmed a Hawk warplane at BAE’s Warton factory in Lancashire. The plane was destined for Indonesia, where it would be used in the ongoing occupation and genocide in East Timor.
The official justification for the Government’s unquestioning support for the arms trade is that it is vital to safeguard “national security”. CAAT’s Arms to Renewables campaign argues that we must shift priorities to tackle the root causes of insecurity.
What is security?
For individuals in the UK and all over the world, security means having basic needs met and feeling safe in our homes and communities.
In contrast, the Government views security almost exclusively through a military lens. Its National Security Strategy is based on military force and the projection of power. Continue reading “A New Vision of Security”
From Israel to Hong Kong, the arms export controls system is broken.
The UK’s arms export policy rarely comes under as much scrutiny as it did this summer. As Israel launched its devastating attacks on Gaza which were to leave more than 2,000 dead, over 500 of them children, the UK’s arms sales and military collaboration with Israel were challenged from all sides.
The repressive Bahraini government continues to abuse human rights and crack down on democracy protests. The UK has a close relationship with Bahrain but has failed to speak out about its human rights violations – instead it has prioritised trying to secure more arms sales to this authoritarian regime. We urgently need it to speak out now.
Maryam Al Khawaja is an inspiring human rights defender, who has fought tirelessly for justice for others. Now she needs our help.
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.
“Social reforms which involve expenditure are at a standstill; we are making drastic cuts in the supplies for education and for housing; our hospitals are seriously embarrassed; our industries are crippled; our unemployed number more than 1,500,000, and yet in the last financial year we spent more than 23 million upon armaments. No wonder the taxpayer grumbles and the financiers shakes their heads.”
– Major General Sir Frederick (Barton) Maurice in 1921 (1)
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.