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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Global Day of Action on Military Spending protest

Ian Pocock reports on London CAAT’s protest as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending

London CAAT members carry out a die-in on the steps of the Treasury

On Tuesday 12 April I took part in a protest London CAAT organised to coincide with the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Ten of us turned up outside the Treasury and stayed for an hour to engage with passersby and Treasury staff.  A die-in halfway through the hour attracted a lot of attention and was an eye-catching way to make our point. Inventive chants such as Welfare not Warfare, A&E not BAE and Sure Start not War Start also helped, as did the loud-hailer. Continue reading “Global Day of Action on Military Spending protest”

Diary of a peace campaigner

Rhiannon Rees recalls her busy week of meetings and actions in October 2010.

Peace campaigners in the London area have had a busy week, and I have been fortunate to get around and meet some fantastic people. Last week was also ‘Quaker Week’, and I went to two of the talks at the Quaker Centre in Euston that illustrated how Quakers are involved in working for peace.

Tuesday 5 October: Andree Ryan spoke at the Quaker Centre about the time she had spent as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Israel/Palestine. These are trained volunteers of all faiths, who spend several months living and working alongside Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, observing and reporting on the daily brutality and hardships of the Israeli occupation and helping to negotiate some mitigation of the hardships and defuse some tense situations by their presence. The programme is co-ordinated by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) under the auspices of the World Council of Churches.

Inspired by the courage of the Ecumenical Accompaniers, I took the rather less brave step of joining the monthly vigil against Trident in Parliament Square, which is organised by London Region CND and takes place from 5-7pm on the first Tuesday in the month. Since the Peace Camp was ejected and the green has been blocked off by hoardings, we have to display our banners on a narrow strip of pavement close to the rush-hour traffic, but we gave out 350 leaflets and I hope reached some MPs. Continue reading “Diary of a peace campaigner”