Thank you for your support in 2019

Thank you for every petition you signed, every gift you gave, every action you took part in this year. Here are some of the year’s highlights in our fight together for a more just and peaceful world.

Reasons to feel hopeful in 2020

1. CAAT win at the Court of Appeal  

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, crowd and outdoor
Campaigners celebrate outside the Royal Courts Of Justice, London. PHOTO: Darren Johnson

On 20 June, CAAT won its appeal against the UK government’s decision to license the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia. The Court of Appeal concluded that it was ‘irrational and therefore unlawful‘ for the Secretary of State for International Trade to have granted licences without making any assessment as to whether violations of international humanitarian law had taken place.

As a result of this landmark decision, the government must retake all decisions to export arms to Saudi in accordance with the law. It has stopped issuing new arms exports licences to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt, for use in Yemen

The Government is appealing the Court’s decision, so we will bring you news when we have it. In the meantime, 57 applications for export licences under consideration at the time of the ruling mean hundreds of millions of pounds of arms sales remain on hold, and a new £10 billion deal for the sale of 48 more BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon jets, agreed in March 2018, has not yet been finalised.

2. DPRTE arms fair on the run

The Government-backed Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) arms fair was successfully chased out of Birmingham’s NEC in March, having already been forced out of Cardiff following protests.

Activists from the peace movement, trade unions, and Yemeni and Palestinian groups came together to plan a day of creative action that was never needed. The threat of protest was enough for the event to be moved away from scrutiny and behind military wire at Farnborough. 

The arms fair will be at the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre again in 2020. Contact events@caat.org.uk and join the campaign to shut them down. 

3. Our resistance is global

Activists stage a die-in outside the Japan DSEI arms fair, Chiba, November. PHOTO: War Resisters International

Fellow activists around the world have been taking incredible inspiring actions. Thanks to creative non-violent action by Auckland Peace Action and its allies, New Zealand’s Weapons Expo has now been cancelled, chased out of three host cities – Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston! 

Meanwhile in Japan, activists organised a huge rally and die-in outside the first ever ‘DSEI Japan’ arms fair in Chiba in November. Arms trade events were banned under Japan’s constitution until a few years ago, when a change made by the Government allowed the sale and transfer of arms.

4. European worker solidarity with Yemen

Saudi state-owned ship the Bahri-Yanbu was met with protests as it tried to dock in European ports this year, as workers stood in solidarity with the people of Yemen. While French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right to sell arms to the Saudi regime, French activists blockaded the port of Le Havre for two days in May, forcing the Saudi ship to set sail without its military cargo on board. 

Later that month the Saudi state faced more embarrassment as workers in Marseille refused to load another state-owned ship, the Bahri Tabuk, with military equipment destined for Yemen.

At the Bahri-Yanbu’s next port, Genoa, Italian dock workers joined forces with unions and campaigners including Potere al Popolo (Power to the People), and refused to load the ship. The group released a statement saying “We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen.” Power to the People indeed.

5. DSEI Week of Action 

Dabke protest at DSEI by Hawiyya Dance Company PHOTO @ShahdAbusalama viaTwitter

In September, LGBTQIA+ activists, green groups, people of faith, migrant groups and many more came together to resist the world’s largest arms fair coming to London. Each day was themed around a different issue linked to the arms trade from Borders to Climate Justice, because in the words of Audre Lorde, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” The struggle against the arms trade must be anti-racist, anti-capitalist, antipatriarchal, and actively centring those most directly affected by its devastating consequences.

During seven days of action, the roads outside the Excel centre saw hundreds of people using their bodies to block delivery of military equipment. As well as direct action there were faith meetings, Palestinian dabka dancing, solidarity protests with Rojava and Hong Kong, a play led by the young activists of Advocacy Academy, music, film screenings and much more.

6. Kurdish solidarity action against Brighton arms factory 

Brighton Against the Arms Trade “weapons inspectors” seal off #Brighton arms factory EDO-MBM in November. PHOTO @BrightonAAT viaTwitter

A big shout out to Brighton Against the Arms Trade who successfully blockaded EDO MBM Technology in November, the factory exposed by The Guardian as having developed drone parts used by Turkey in the bombing of the Kurds in Syria. “Weapons inspectors” sealed off entry to the factory which has also supplied aircraft components to Saudi Arabia and Israel used in attacks on Gaza and Yemen.  Read more on how a small factory in Brighton has helped Turkey on its way to becoming the second biggest user of armed drones in the world

7. A bumper year for institutions ditching unethical sponsors

2019 saw huge wins for the movement for ethical sponsorship. Art Not Oil successfully persuaded The Festival of Making to drop British arms company BAE Systems as its main sponsor, and lesbian magazine Diva dropped BAE’s staff network from its 2019 Diva Awards shortlist after complaints from LGBT and peace groups.

Feeling the heat from climate strikers and activists, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced it had listened to its youth strikers and ended its sponsorship deal with BP in October. The National Theatre swiftly followed  suit, announcing its decision to drop Shell’s funding, citing the climate emergency and the role of theatre in shaping culture and encouraging understanding. 

It’s not just oil and arms under the spotlight. The National Portrait Gallery turned down a £1m grant from the Sackler Foundation after artist Nan Goldin led a campaign against the Sackler family’s funds, whose pharmaceutical investments are profiting from the US opioid crisis.

Thank you for your support for the petition to the New Scientist this autumn, calling for an end to sponsorship of their annual New Scientist Live event by BAE Systems and BP. The momentum gained this year against unethical sponsorship promises fertile ground for the campaign to continue in 2020.

8. International Criminal Court called on to investigate arms companies 

On 12th December CAAT joined the European Center for Constitutional Human Rights, Yemeni organisation Mwatana for Human Rights and other international organisations, in calling on the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate executives of transnational arms companies and Government officials for their potential complicity in violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. A 350 page dossier was submitted, focused on 26 specific airstrikes which unlawfully killed or injured civilians, and destroyed or damaged schools and hospitals.

The criminal responsibility of arms companies and Government Ministers exporting and authorising arms to the Saudi-led coalition has never been challenged, yet they have played a critical role in the violations of international humanitarian law, and in creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We’ll let you know how this ground-breaking legal action progresses, and whether those responsible will be brought to court.

Thank you for everything you do to support CAAT’s work. Here’s to resisting together in 2020.

Oil & war; 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests

Protesters stand outside the British Museum in lines holding onto large banners/ a 'living tapestry' with messages about war, colonialism, the Iraq war and fossil fuels painted on
Cover photo by Safa Kadhim

On the 16th Feb, and to mark 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests, BP or not BP?, and many others took over the British Museum; targetting specifically the BP-sponsored Assyria exhibition. This was part of a series of actions, that also included the action at the press launch of the exhibition in November. Iraqi members of the group also set up an alternative exhibition in Feb-March, with works of Iraqis in Iraq and in the diaspora exposing the realities of BP in Iraq. Here you can read why we protested on the 16th.

An overview of the takeover on the 16th can be found here and Culture Unstained also released a detailed report with FOIs from the British Museum on the recent I am Ashurbanipal exhibition.

Biggest protest in British Museum's history over BP and Iraq

Hey British Museum, did you really think that putting a BP logo on looted objects from Iraq was even a tiny bit acceptable? *Cue largest protest in museum's 260 year history* 🏛✊🏽

Posted by BP or not BP? on Thursday, 28 February 2019
Video of the action on the 16th February 2019
Continue reading “Oil & war; 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests”

Solidarity with the Stansted 15

Credit: Drawnoutthinking.net

Mel Strickland is one of 15 activists that blocked a government deportation flight chartered to transport people for repatriation to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone .

The activists were charged and convicted under repressive “antiterror” legislation, and could face years in prison. CAAT stands in solidarity with the activists as they appeal the appalling verdict. Mel has also taken action on environmental issues and against the DSEI arms fair.

I was part of a group that successfully stopped a charter flight at Stansted airport in March 2017 through peaceful means. We were deeply concerned about secret charter flights that take place in the middle of the night from Stansted airport. On these flights, people are deported en masse to countries where commercial flights don’t often go. Read more

Tolpuddle Festival report

Joe with the CAAT stall

Tolpuddle festival banner

Every summer, thousands of people flock to the small village of Tolpuddle to celebrate trade unionism and the town’s six famous martyrs. Over the years, the festival has become something of a rallying point for trade unionists and labour activists across the country, and CAAT was here this year with a stall in the martyrs’ marquee to promote our Arms to Renewables campaign.

Continue reading “Tolpuddle Festival report”

The election is over – what next?

Cartoon saying "Now What?!!"

The outcome of the General Election and the daunting prospect of continued austerity and increased cuts to public services has no doubt left many campaigners feeling deflated. There is no way around it- the next five years will be challenging and difficult.

Continue reading “The election is over – what next?”

Time to Act: No War! No Warming!

730timetoactIn his book Capitalist Realism: Is There no Alternative? Mark Fisher sharply argues that when it comes to thinking about changing entrenched social norms and priorities our lives have become dominated by an attitude of resignation and fatalism.

Fisher’s argument can be easily applied to mainstream discourses around climate change and militarism. Just as capitalism dominates the horizon of the possible, talks and ideas for a future without fossil fuels and wars are often rejected as mere utopian fantasy. Indeed, the ‘no alternative’ ideology has such a totalising effect that many seemingly treat ecological catastrophe and the arms trade as facts of nature that simply cannot be reversed, despite hard evidence and rational arguments for the opposite. Continue reading “Time to Act: No War! No Warming!”

A New Vision of Security

The UK sells arms to over 100 countries across the globe, including many abusive regimes, or those in conflict, even selling arms to both sides
The UK sells arms to over 100 countries across the globe, including many
abusive regimes, or those in conflict, even selling arms to both sides

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”

Italian campaign against F35s purchase reaches Parliament

NO F35

You may have heard that the troubled Lockhead Martin F-35 Lightning II, Britain’s newest fighter jet, failed to turn up at this summer’s Farnborough Air Show after an engine fire occurred in one of its production models. This incident once again brought to the fore long-standing concerns about the poor reliability and exorbitant cost of the jets; which sell for the ‘modest’ price of $100m-a-unit. Unfortunately the UK has already bought 14 F-35Bs and is committed to buying 48 in total. Continue reading “Italian campaign against F35s purchase reaches Parliament”