The arms trade on your doorstep: Coventry activists target Lockheed Martin

A Coventry-based activist shares his story of arms trade investments, cluster bombs, and challenging the world’s largest arms dealers with Blu-Tack.

If you’ve got something right under your nose, it gives you the opportunity to confront the reality of the arms trade in a way that cannot be dismissed as ‘none of our business’. It also means that you don’t have the problem of slogging half way across the country to put up banners for a couple of hours. I have discovered that drawing attention to your local arms company office can be as simple as sticking a sign up- and can make a significant campaign impact.

Activist with a T-shirt reading "Arms Dealer" and an arrow pointing sideways stands next to an arms fair delegate

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Referendum: Swiss say no to new fighter jets

Sicherheit zuerst! Ja zum Gripen am 18 Mai.
Referendum poster: “Security first! Yes to Gripen on 18 May”

Many European governments have used the situation in the Ukraine as justification to increase military spending. But only in Switzerland do people have a direct say in their country’s military policy. And the signal that the Swiss people sent out last Sunday was very clear: Buying expensive weapons systems is not a priority.

In a national referendum, 53.4% of the voters rejected the purchase of 22 Swedish JAS Gripen E fighter jets. The deal was worth £2 billion immediately and £6.6 billion including operations and maintenance over the next few years. The government had proposed the procurement to replace the ageing F-5 Tiger fleet that will be put out of operation next year.

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Keep water cannons off the streets of London

police baton 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.

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Birth defects: Iraq’s toxic legacy

Paediatrician Dr Samira Alaani examining another case at Fallujah General Hospital.
Paediatrician Dr Samira Al’aani examining another case at Fallujah General Hospital.

During the occupation of Iraq, the city of Fallujah bore witness to some of the most intense US combat operations since Vietnam, with 2004’s Operation Phantom Fury widely condemned for its ferocity and disregard for international law.

Paediatrician Dr Samira Al’aani has worked in the city since 1997. In 2006 she began to notice an increase in the number of babies being born with congenital birth defects (CBD). Concerned, she began to log the cases that she saw. Through careful record keeping she has determined that at Fallujah General Hospital, 144 babies are now born with a deformity for every 1000 live births.

This is nearly six times higher than the average rate in the UK between 2006 and 2010, and one strong suspicion is that contamination from the toxic constituents of munitions used by occupying forces could be the cause.

Now a new nationwide study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), has the potential to catalyse efforts to understand and confront the issue, but only if science can be allowed to rise above politics. For years there have been huge problems with funding, political bias and delays. Continue reading “Birth defects: Iraq’s toxic legacy”

The ‘arms for dictators’ scandal isn’t new. It is cross-party, well-established and has been going on for too long

The British government actively promotes the Eurofighter Typhoon to foreign government. This scene comes from  the Farnborough arms fair in 2012.
The British government actively promotes the Eurofighter Typhoon to foreign governments. This scene comes from the Farnborough arms fair in 2012.

The fringe issue of arms export criteria became headline news today (17 July),  with The Independent’s splash on an “‘arms for dictators” scandal. A parliamentary report by the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) raised a few eyebrows, but the embarrassment of the government approving arms sales to 25 out of 27 of the countries blacklisted as human rights abusers will soon vanish.

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British arms and the euro crisis: hand-in hand?

Demonstration in London on the Global day of Action Against Military Spending.
Demonstration in London on the Global day of Action Against Military Spending.

Are the British and European arms industries partially to blame for the euro crisis and the austerity craze it inspired? According to a new report by Frank Slijper of the Dutch Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Transnational Institute, the answer may very well be yes. Continue reading “British arms and the euro crisis: hand-in hand?”

Vince Cable: Constituents speak out

Protesters with banners outside Vince Cable's constituency office
Protesters outside Vince Cable’s constituency office

Paul Tippell is a member of Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network against the Arms Trade (TRAKNAT, www.traknat.org.uk), which is co-ordinating a public meeting on 29 November to quiz Vince Cable and Zac Goldsmith on the arms trade. We spoke to him about how constituents are lobbying the Business Minister, and his tips for the future.

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London CAAT visits Brighton to support Summer of Resistance

London CAAT outside Brighton Free Radio London CAAT display their banner outside Radio Free Brighton.

London CAAT group took a day trip to Brighton to support Smash EDO’s “Summer of Resistance”.

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Bath peace activists drive out drone conference

Peace activists in Bath protest against the proposed Drones conference
Peace activists in Bath protest against the proposed Drones conference

Monica Pearce of the Bath Stop War Coalition tells how Bath’s famous Assembly Rooms were booked for a conference on military drones, organised by Clarion Events, and how sustained protest forced them to back down.

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There’s no CHARM in depleted uranium

Campaigners outside the MoDAneaka Kellay of the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) explains why the UK government should stop its support for depleted uranium munitions and take responsibility for the contamination caused by their past use.

On 8 November campaigners dumped 2.3 tonnes of imitation “depleted uranium” (DU) dust on the steps of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London. The reasons were twofold – to remind the MoD of their responsibility for contaminating areas of Iraq and Kuwait during the 1991 and 2003 conflicts and to cancel plans to extend the life of the UK’s last remaining DU round, the inaptly named CHARM3.

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