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A Model for US Activists: British Protesters Challenge UK Arms Sales to Saudis


January 16, 2018
Campaign Against the Arms Trade

Saudi Arabia is the UK's biggest arms customer and most shameful relationship. One of the world's most authoritarian regimes, its repression at home and aggression abroad is propped up and supported by UK arms sales. The UK's military support for the Saudi regime makes us complicit in its wrongs. The UK must end all arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia.

https://www.caat.org.uk/get-involved/act-now/petition/stop-arming-saudi

Stop Arming Saudi Arabia:
British Activists Challenge UK Arms Sales

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade

Saudi Arabia is the UK's biggest arms customer and most shameful relationship. One of the world's most authoritarian regimes, its repression at home and aggression abroad is propped up and supported by UK arms sales.

Not only does it brutally repress its own population, it has used UK weapons to help crush democracy protests in Bahrain, and now UK-made warplanes are playing a central role in Saudi Arabia's attacks in Yemen.

The conflict has triggered a humanitarian disaster and risks destabilising the region further. The UK has continued to support Saudi air strikes in Yemen and provide arms despite overwhelming evidence that war crimes may have been committed. The UK should never have been arming repressive Saudi Arabia in the first place. The UK's military support for the Saudi regime makes us complicit in its wrongs.

Campaign Against Arms Trade is taking legal action against the UK Government to stop the arms sales.





What Will It Take to Stop Arming Saudi Arabia?
Campaign Against the Arms Trade

What does a regime have to do -- how many breaches of
international humanitarian law must it commit? --
before this Government deem it an unacceptable partner to deal in arms with?

-- Brendon O'Hara MP, December 2016


LONDON -- For two years the government has refused to stop its immoral and illegal arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ignoring and denying the overwhelming evidence that UK weapons are being used in violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

CAAT's legal challenge to the UK government's decision to continue to licence the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia continues. [See stories below -- EAW]

Saudi Arabia is the UK's biggest arms customer and most shameful relationship. One of the world's most authoritarian regimes, its repression at home and aggression abroad is propped up and supported by UK arms sales.

Not only does it brutally repress its own population, it has used UK weapons to help crush democracy protests in Bahrain; now UK-made warplanes are playing a central role in Saudi Arabia's attacks in Yemen.

The UK has continued to support Saudi air strikes in Yemen and provide arms despite overwhelming evidence of repeated breaches of international humanitarian law.

This is in clear violation of UK's own guidelines on arms sales, and European and international law, and makes a mockery of the government's claims to rigorously control arms exports.

The UK should never have been arming repressive Saudi Arabia in the first place. Our military support for the Saudi regime makes us complicit in its wrongs. The government refuses to act, so we have to.


UK Arms Sales: Immoral and Illegal
UK-made weapons are being used in Saudi Arabia's
devastating attacks on Yemen -- attacks which have
killed thousands and created a humanitarian disaster

Campaign Against the Arms Trade

The UK government has continued to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen despite overwhelming evidence of repeated breaches of international humanitarian law.

Throughout the bombing the government has continued to insist that the UK has "one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world."

Yet these rules say that sales should not be allowed when there is a clear risk that the items might be used for "internal repression" or in the "commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law", or where they "would provoke or prolong armed conflicts."

By any common-sense interpretation of the rules, sales to Saudi Arabia should never have been allowed. CAAT is challenging the continuing arms sales in the High Court.


Liam Fox Should Use Turkey Visit
To Promote Human Rights, Not Arms Sales

Campaign Against the Arms Trade

LONDON (January 12, 2018) -- The International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, is travelling to Turkey today for a trade visit. The government says that the visit "will build on the strong foundations laid by the Prime Minister and President Erdoğan in January 2017 when they established the UK-Turkey Trade Working Group." Fox will meet with President Erdogan and other government ministers including the Defence Minister.

According to the government press release, "Dr Fox will also see how the partnership between BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is helping to deliver Turkey's TF-X indigenous fighter programme. The contract for the initial design phase of the fifth generation fighter aircraft was concluded in August 2017 and is worth around £100 million."

The UK has licensed over £415 million worth of arms to Turkey since Erdogan took power in August 2014, including £115 million of arms since the attempted coup in July 2016.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
The Turkish government is taking increasingly authoritarian steps to quash dissent and punish opponents. There have been major attacks on free speech and press freedom, as well as serious allegations of torture and repression.

If Fox wants to do the right thing for Turkish people then he must use his visit to push for human rights and meaningful change, not arms sales. He should put the interest and rights of Turkish people above arms company profits."


A recent poll from Opinium found that 68% of UK adults oppose arms exports to Turkey (with only 13% supporting).


Trials Start for Activists Arrested for
Protesting Against DSEI Arms Fair

Campaign Against the Arms Trade

LONDON (January 9, 2018) -- Tomorrow will see the first trials of 2018 for activists that were arrested last September for protesting against the Defence & Security Equipment International arms fair (DSEI). 43 activists will be on trial for 'obstruction of the highway' in the weeks ahead.

The guest list for DSEI featured all of the biggest arms companies in the world, as well as military delegations representing a range of human rights abusing regimes and dictatorships: including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Philippines, Turkey and Thailand.

The defendants on trial tomorrow are Matt Fawcett, Bryony Moore, Brigid-Mary Oates, Guillame Chome (all from Yorkshire CND), Angie Zelter, from Knighton in Wales, Margaret Bremner from Edinburgh, Randall Harford from Bristol, Barbara Cookson from Liverpool and Genny Scherer, from London. All have been charged with 'obstruction of the highway.'

Over 100 people were arrested for protesting against the arms fair. Some have had charges dropped, with 43 activists on trial at Stratford Magistrates Court over the coming weeks and months. Trials will take place on:
* January 10-12, 17-18 and 24-25
* February 01-02, 07-09, 14-16 and 21-23
* March 07-08

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
The policing at DSEI was totally inappropriate and very heavy-handed, with over 100 arrests for taking part in peaceful protests and direct action. The protesters rightly opposed the presence of human rights abusers and arms dealers. The way that the police behaved was bang out of order.

London is a global city, with thousands of residents who have fled the same regimes that were attending DSEI. The police should have been looking at the despots, dictatorships and torturers that were in attendance, not intimidating and criminalising those that stood up to them.


Polling done prior to DSEI found that 76% of UK adults oppose arms exports to repressive regimes and 64% oppose government support for arms fairs that include representatives from governments with poor human rights records.


Challenging the Government in Court
Campaign Against the Arms Trade

CAAT is challenging the UK government's decision to continue to licence the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

In a judgement handed down on 10 July 2017 the High Court refused our Judicial Review of the government's decision to keep arming Saudi Arabia. But the legal battle doesn't end here. We will fight this every step of the way and have already begun the process of appealing the judgement. Read about the case so far and view the legal documents.

For more than two years the government has refused to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia -- despite overwhelming evidence that UK weapons are being used in violations of International Humanitarian Law in Yemen.

Given the evidence we have heard and the volume of UK-manufactured arms exported to Saudi Arabia, it seems inevitable that any violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the coalition have involved arms supplied from the UK. This constitutes a breach of our own export licensing criteria.

Ignoring massive public pressure to stop the arms sales, the government has instead done everything it can to maintain its relationship with Saudi Arabia, the UK's biggest arms customer.

Our Action Continues
We can't and won't let this stand. The devastation caused by the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen continues. More than 10,000 have been killed; millions more face starvation and disease and a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes.

The complicity of the UK is undeniable. The government itself admits that UK-made combat aircraft, missiles and bombs are being used in the bombing. Instead of stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia it licensed the sales of an astonishing £3.3 billion more weapons since the start of the attacks on Yemen.

* The legal battle doesn't end here. We will fight this every step of the way and have already begun the process of appealing the judgement. But we need your support to keep up the challenge.

* Meanwhile, Parliament must hold the government to account. Please take two minutes to email your MP now.

* Take action to stop the deals before they start in September, when military buyers from Saudi Arabia will be shopping for weapons at the DSEI arms fair in London. Join the massive protests to shut it down.

* Weapons made in the UK are being used in Yemen. Find out more and target your local arms supplier.

* ACTION: Sign and share our Stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia
petition
.

The Export Controls System Is Broken
Throughout the bombing the government has continued to insist that the UK has one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world.

These rules say that sales should not be allowed when there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where they would provoke or prolong armed conflicts.

By any common-sense interpretation of the rules, sales to Saudi Arabia should never have been allowed.

If, as the government claims, these rules don't prevent arms sales to Saudi Arabia -- one of the world's most repressive regimes, using UK-made planes and missiles in bombing that has killed thousands of people, destroyed schools and hospitals, targeted funerals, weddings and food warehouses -- then what would they prevent?

However good the rules are on paper, they are of little value if they are not applied in practice. Our challenge exposes the fundamental flaws in the current system: the government's focus is on securing further business not controlling arms sales. And it doesn't use the rules to limit arms sales: instead it uses them to legitimise them while carrying on with business as usual.

We must challenge this and call for fundamental change. It should not take legal action to make the government follow its own rules.

As long as terrible crimes are being committed with UK weapons and with our government's support, this struggle needs to continue.

Tony Blair's intervention to stop a corruption investigation into arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Prince Charles' sword dance for the Saudi king were all part of the campaign to sell the Typhoon aircraft now bombing Yemen.

The current government's refusal to act illustrates once again the enormous power of the arms lobby and the pernicious nature of the UK-Saudi relationship -- a relationship that fuels instability and repression, corrupts our own political system and makes us complicit in Saudi Arabia's crimes.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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