Prince Charles’ dance of shame

Charles dressing for a 'sword dance'
Prince Charles joined Saudi Arabia’s autocratic rulers in a ceremonial sword dance. Saudi Arabia executed more than 70 people last year, mostly by public decapitation with a sword. Image: AFP/Getty

This week Prince Charles flew to Saudi Arabia and danced for its autocratic rulers. The next day Saudi Arabia and arms company BAE Systems announced they had finalised their latest multi-billion pound weapons deal.

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.

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Nick Robinson at an arms dealers’ dinner

Update, 27 Jan 2014: Success!

Following formal complaints from CAAT, the BBC has said that its political editor, Nick Robinson, will no longer be speaking at the ADS dinner. CAAT is pleased that he has withdrawn but disappointed that the BBC has not recognised the obvious conflict between its reputation and values and those of the arms trade. CAAT urges the BBC to take steps to ensure its reputation cannot be co-opted in this way in the future.

Campaigners will be protesting outside the dinner at the London Hilton on Park Lane from 6.30pm on Tuesday 28th January.

Read on for more about the dinner and why it matters…

Nick Robinson speaks to camera
Image by tompage/flickr
The BBC’s political editor is endorsing arms dealers.

On 28 January, arms dealers will dine in London. The BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, is booked to entertain them.

Dining with death

Representatives of the UK’s largest weapons manufacturers will attend the “prestigious black tie event,” at the Hilton hotel in Park Lane.

They will include senior staff from BAE Systems, proud to arm some of the world’s most repressive regimes, and Finmeccanica, currently being investigated for corruption in India.

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Royal help for BAE

Picture of Prince Andrew in military uniform
Prince Andrew: Royal help for BAE

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.

> Please take action: the UK must support human rights not repression.

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Sending arms dealers to the Tower?

Have arms dealers realised the error of their ways and sent themselves to the Tower of London in penance? Sadly it seems not.

tower of london eventInstead the Tower is to host “one of the most prominent events in the defence and security calendar”: a lavish £200-a-head dinner, organised by the London Chamber of Commerce (LCC).

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The award BAE’s Olver wouldn’t accept

Symon eviction video still
A shareholder activist is evicted from the AGM

What do you get for leading an arms company facing billion-dollar corruption investigations?

Well, BAE’s outgoing Chairman, Dick Olver, has been given a knighthood for his “services to business.”

CAAT had already recognised Olver’s ‘achievements’ at the company’s recent AGM, presenting him with our own prestigious “Whitewash Award.”

Sadly, he was too shy to let us finish our heartfelt tribute – but you can read the full speech below, and watch a video of the award ceremony (with other highlights from Olver’s last ever AGM).

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Cathedral cancels arms trade event

S&P-dinner-cancelled

We’ve found arms trade events in some unlikely locations before: under the dinosaur in the Natural History Museum, or in the National Gallery, surrounded by paintings which ‘enrich life’.

But finding the Gala Dinner for an arms fair in a place of worship – a Cathedral no less – probably tops the bill!

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A night at the museum

The Natural History Museum is not the most obvious place to have an anti-arms trade protest – but then again it’s not the most obvious place to have the official welcome reception for an arms fair either. Yet it was under ‘Dippy’, the Museum’s famous diplodocus, that delegates from Farnborough International were to be found nibbling canapes and ‘networking’ on the evening of Monday 9 July.

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Will the Natural History Museum host Syria’s arms suppliers?

A sad-looking monkey says "Arms dealers in the Natural History Museum? How could they do such a thing?"I never thought I’d be asking such a question of an institution that has inspired me since my childhood.

Yet here we are: the Natural History Museum has confirmed it will host the official welcome reception for Farnborough International on 9 July. As arms dealers gather to toast their first day of business, will executives from Rosoboronexport, the primary weapons supplier to the Assad regime, be among them?

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