BAE spies with their (…) eyes

I used to live, for several years, in Eastern Europe. I have since resigned myself to the fact that there probably is a nice little folder with my name on it somewhere in the Belarussian KGB archives documenting most of my life (where I went, conversations I had etc.) in Minsk. It’s a chilling thought.

What had I done to deserve being spied on? I worked as a volunteer with people with disabilities. How subversive! I always tried to shrug being spied on off as something you get when you live in a country which is under authoritarian rule. As Belarus wasn’t “my country” I could always leave if I didn’t like the spy-thing.

Well – I have left. I am back in “my country” and here I am worried that I was being spied on again. BAE Systems have previously used agents to obtain all sorts of personal and confidential information on CAAT staff and supporters. This time round Paul Mercer of LigneDeux Associates, who was hired by BAE systems has received a confidential CAAT e-mail and passed it on to BAE systems.
Continue reading “BAE spies with their (…) eyes”

Reed Elsevier AGM protest

I am from Cornwall and doing two weeks work experience with CAAT as part of my degree course in journalism. Its only my second day at CAAT but so far its been very exciting being in London. Yesterday we held a protest outside the AGM meeting of Reed Elsevier who run arms fairs as a subsidiary business.

Protest at Reed Elsevier AGM with smiling policeman

Some of the CAAT team went into the meeting as shareholders and asked questions to the board asking them to justify their involvement with the arms trade, especially in the face of their links to healthcare and the loss of their rating as an ethical company to invest in. They also asked questions about the invitation to arms fairs given to human rights abusers and suspects of genocide.
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A timely reminder

A sobering reminder of why opposing the international arms trade and working for de-militarisation across the world is increasingly vital was provided to me today. The latest report published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the catastrophic effects on the world that climate change is seemingly certain to have.

There are of course many moral reasons to oppose the arms trade. The sickening spectacle of executives such as Nicholas Prest and his shareholders, who profited handsomely from Alvis’s sale of armoured vehicles to Indonesia, used by the Indonesian Army in their horrific campaign of atrocities in Aceh in the early years of this century, is reason enough in many eyes.

Climate change is going to radically alter the global security environment in negative ways. As the UN notes “a warming world will place hundreds of millions of extra people at greater risk of food and water shortages and threaten the survival of thousands of species of plants and animals…floods, heatwaves, storms and droughts are all expected to increase, with people in poorer countries suffering the worst effects”. Most wars, both civil and international, take place in the poorer countries.

As the human race appears no more able to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner than it has for centuries, the negative effects of climate change are certain to increase the amount of war, killing and suffering in the world in the decades to come. The existence of the international arms trade, and the arms companies which develop ever more destructive weapons system in their quest for more and more war profits is going to exacerbate this problem in many terrible ways.

Clubbing, Chilling and Campaigning

Isabel and I went to the Synergy Project last night. It was great fun! We took my friend Larissa from Ukraine along who is visiting at the moment. She said she had never seen so many alternative-looking people in one place. At the moment she is still in bed recovering from sub-culture shock :).

We set up the CAAT stall quite nicely. Here it is:
CAAT stall at the Synergy Project

People were really chilled and friendly and it was great chatting to them about CAAT’s work. We handed out flyers about our BAE Systems AGM protest on 9 May and about the Reed Elsevier campaign (this is the publishing house which besides academic publishing likes to run arms fairs). Our FREE CAAT badges were really popular with people.

I loved the atmosphere and the conversations. One nice guy told me he’s just been to see Landscape with Weapon at the NT and apparently it’s great. So I thought I’d share this with you.

The rest of the night was dancing…

Stop the Death Trade in London

London CAAT met at 11am today to start our “Central London Arms Trade Crawl” outside BAE’s headquarters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this first leg we were emphasising the corrupt nature of the trade in death in our home city. The secluded Carlton Gardens, where the firm that the government won’t allow to be investigated for corruption shares a building with investment bankers, is a few hundred metres from Buckingham Palace. Crime evidently pays very well.

After forty minutes of chatting with and handing out leaflets to some of the people coming in and out of the building and those around it we began the short journey to the far busier Haymarket. At noon we were outside New Zealand House, which houses the offices of Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, the parent company of Ashok, which agreed to sell military trucks to Sudan despite the embargo there. The focus here was on the indiscriminate nature of the trade and the mention of Darfur was a definite catalyst for passers by to agree to sign our petition.
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News from Bristol

Sorry I am so late in posting this. But it is a good time for it, as we have just had a successful public meeting this evening organised by Bristol CAAT, on the title “A law unto themselves: BAE, the arms trade and corruption”. The speakers were Nick Gilby (fellow blogger here) and Nick Hildyard of Cornerhouse.

We relaunched Bristol CAAT just about two years ago – we’ve been a bit on and off to be honest, based most of the time round a few most active people, but we’ve managed to put on a number of pretty good events – public meetings, dayschools, forums, protests at careers fairs where arms companies were recruiting and the like – as well as a very good research programme carried out by students at Bristol University, Tom, Maeve and Sarika, pulling together information on the activities of local arms company bases – including major BAE and Rolls Royce plants. Lately, we’ve had a few new people getting involved and enthused, so we’re hoping to become more active in the near future.
Continue reading “News from Bristol”

Stop civil servants pushing arms!

Hi, it’s Anne here – a brand new CAAT volunteer. I was down at the Shut DESO demonstration yesterday. DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation) is a government agency which promotes the UK arms export business. It employs about 500 civil servants. About thirty people turned up which is great for a mid-morning, mid-week demo. DESO were holding their annual symposium at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre near Westminster Abbey, and we stood outside waving our banners and handing out leaflets to passers-by. Around 300 leaflets were handed out so lots of people will get the chance to learn about the influence of arms companies on government policies and CAATs campaign to Shut DESO.

CAAT supporters protesting at the DESO annual symposium

It was a lovely morning standing in the sunshine talking to other protesters. Some of whom had come from as far a field as Reading and Cambridge. At 1:00pm we made our way round the corner to the Treasury to hand in a petition calling for the closure of DESO. It had been signed by over 10,000 people including such prominent names as writer George Monbiot, comedian Mark Thomas and economist Samuel Brittan. CAAT staffer Anna Jones and Chris Cole from the Fellowship of Reconciliation handed in the petition at the front desk.

Rikki from Indymedia came down to bear witness. Look at the fantastic pictures he took!

UCL UNION votes to support the Disarm UCL campaign !

Hey,
I’ve been so busy lately that I forgot to tell you about this really cool campaigning success we had at Disarm UCL last week:

Quick reminder: we are campaigning to get UCL to sell its disgraceful 1.5 million pounds worth of arms shares. We tried to get UCL Union support on this. And now we’ve got it 🙂

We presented our motion for ethical investment at the UCL Union Council meeting and they voted overwhelmingly in favour of our motion ! The motion states that the Union will fully support our campaign to get UCL to divest its’ shares in arms companies Cobham plc and Smiths Group. Read the details here.

This is fantastic news for us. Continue reading “UCL UNION votes to support the Disarm UCL campaign !”

Bribing for Britain

On Thursday 15th March I am giving a talk to the very active Bristol CAAT group. Do come along if you can – details are here.

The subject is very topical – corruption. The title of my talk will be “the Ministry of Defence and the bribe culture: from active participation to passive complicity”.

It is easy to think in the current climate with the focus of corruption allegations very much on BAE Systems that the root of the problem lies with them alone. But the British Government is not as clean as it likes to point out.

In 2003 the MoD attacked a Guardian article which stated that “The government’s own arms sales department [DESO] is directly implicated in bribery abroad”. Continue reading “Bribing for Britain”