Activists call for "demolition" of government arms sales unit as budget cuts loom

18 June 2010

Hundreds of anti-arms trade campaigners will take action in the week of 19-27 June, Stop Week, organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). They will call for the demolition of the government's arms sales' department: a timely message in the week of the budget. While front-line services are under threat, campaigners will point to the large and disproportionate financial support the arms industry enjoys from the British taxpayer.

In 2009, UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), the unit of the civil servants and armed forces tasked with boosting arms company sales abroad, held meetings with a disturbing list of customers. These included Algeria, an authoritarian regime that intended to use its purchases for internal security purposes, and Libya, ranked by Transparency International as one of the 50 most corrupt regimes in the world.

Local activists will put pressure on newly elected MPs to make sure the vast support for the arms industry is targeted in the budget cuts. A delegation of local supporters in Kingston-upon-Thames will meet Vince Cable, the minister responsible for UKTI, to put the case for closure. London-based activists will set up a mock demolition site outside the UKTI's office in Victoria on Monday 21 June.

Hundreds more CAAT supporters will meet with and write to their MPs, and take the message to the public with stalls and events on high streets in England, Wales and Scotland.

Anne-Marie O'Reilly, CAAT's Local Campaigns Co-ordinator says:

Our message is clear: the days when the arms industry can sit back and enjoy hand-outs from the taxpayer are over. We must end the cosy relationship between government and arms companies. Its cost to the world in terms of bloodshed, human rights abuses and corruption is well established, but now it is clear Britain can no longer afford the financial cost either. No wonder hundreds are responding to our calls for action and taking part in Stop Week this year.

For further comment please contact CAAT's Press Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.

Notes

1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade together with progressive demilitarisation within arms producing countries. Around 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters and CAAT is strictly non-violent in all its work.

2. Stop Week begins on Saturday 19 June and will continue until Sunday 27 June. The week will see a variety of activities by anti-arms trade groups around the UK. These include:
East Anglia - Norfolk CAAT will give a visual presentation at the Norwich Peace Camp on Saturday 26 June. CAAT's local group will also lobby their MPs.
Humberside - Hull CAAT will use the week to focus public attention on why UKTI DSO should be demolished and will also lobby local MPs.
North West - CAAT supporters in Macclesfield will hold an information stall in Macclesfield on Saturday 19 June inviting passersby to sign a UKTI demolition order.
Scotland - Edinburgh CAAT will hold a stall in Princess Street on Thursday 17 June and will host a week-long display at Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, while encouraging people to write to their MPs.
Wales - Penarth CAAT will organise an information stand with a giant demolition order for UKTI DSO in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, on Saturday 26 June.
West Country - In Trowbridge leaflets on UKTI DSO will be distributed from a Peace Table on 25 and 26 June. (The latter is Armed Forces Day.)
West Midlands - Birmingham CAAT group will hold an information stall in Birmingham with UKTI demolition orders on Saturday 19 June with a fundraiser at the Moseley Festival on 10 July.

3. As the Government considers new spending cuts, CAAT has issued a new briefing paper outlining the case against Government arms export promotion. Private gain, public pain the case for ending Government's arms selling describes the activities of United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) and outlines the ethical, economic and security arguments against arms export promotion.

4. UKTI Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) provides support for arms companies in their export-related activities. This includes promoting weapons sales worldwide, including to countries in conflict and regimes with a documented record of human rights abuse.

ENDS

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