It was billed as the “auction of dreams”- but Liberal Democrats arriving for their spring fundraiser in Twickenham were met by protesters with placards, Vince Cable masks and some uncomfortable truths.
With Baroness Shirley Williams attending as the after dinner speaker and guests including Greg Dyke, Lord Oakshott and Geoff Pope it must have been embarrassing for Vince Cable to have his track record of support for the arms industry laid bare.
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.
On this day, two years ago, a group of Bahraini citizens gathered at the “Pearl Roundabout” to call for democratic freedoms and equal rights for the majority Shia population. They were part of the “Arab Spring”, the wave of protests that swept the region in 2011.
The ruling regime responded with violence. Peaceful protesters were met with bullets and teargas. Some of the weapons used by the police and military came from the UK.
The new year has brought CAAT a small but important campaign victory. For the first time, it seems that the Minister responsible for Human Rights at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be consulted on priority markets for promotion of arms exports. Continue reading “A tale of two committees”
On Monday 9 July, Betsy Barkas visited Farnborough International arms fair: a major event on the arms fair calendar. It takes place every other year, alternating with the DSEI arms fair in London. This year, Farnborough ran from 9-15 July.
On 26 April, Sam Walton took the stage to disrupt Vince Cable’s speech at a government arms sales conference.
We didn’t think we’d get in. The UKTI DSO Symposium is the biggest event of the year for Britain’s exporters of “defence & security” gear – so you’d think they’d have better security.
We wandered into the hotel past the police and made our way towards the entrance to the Symposium. Not having the faintest idea where anything was, we were helpfully directed to the ground floor where registration and the first networking and mingling of the day was taking place. Amazing how far a nice suit can get you.
Since the New Year, at least ten people have been killed by security forces in Bahrain. Three were killed in custody. Others suffocated on tear gas, which has been fired into people’s homes where they can’t escape.
We have known of Bahrain’s horrific human rights abuses since a year ago when the crackdown on protest began, but the UK continues to arm the kingdom regardless. In Vince Cable’s words last week: “We do business with repressive governments and there’s no denying that.”
The UK government should go beyond the call for an Olympic truce and take steps to end the arms trade says Kaye Stearman.
It’s good to see the UK government leading the call for a worldwide truce during the 2012 London Olympics. UK diplomats worked overtime to sign up every UN member state to co-sponsor the truce resolution, including South Sudan, the UN’s newest member, and Kiribati, one of the most isolated.