7 March 2011
Anti-arms activists to petition 10 Downing Street "This is NOT OK"
On Wednesday 9 March, anti-arms trade campaigners will call on the Prime Minister to end government support for arms sales and for the DSEi arms fair, scheduled to be held in London in September 2011.
The action reflects widespread public revulsion at UK arms sales to despotic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa who have used UK weaponry against peaceful protesters. A recent YouGov poll for the Sunday Times showed that 76% of the British public thought it was wrong to sell arms to Libya.
The petition is part of Campaign Against Arms Trade's campaign "This is NOT OK" that highlights the government's promotion of arms sales to repressive regimes and countries in conflict.
The petition reads:
The government claims it has a "responsible" attitude to arms sales. Yet it spends public money on persuading some of the world's worst human rights abusers and most unstable regions to buy weapons and says it wants to do even more to promote arms sales! This is NOT OK.
In September 2011, the government will help organise a massive arms fair, DSEi, in London. Thousands of arms dealers from across the globe will gather to deal in death. Clarion Events, the private company that owns the arms fair, defends its role by arguing that it is part of the legal arms trade. This is NOT OK.
The petition includes hundreds of personal messages to the Prime Minister, demanding an end to the government promotion of arms exports and no further sales to repressive regimes and areas in conflict.
The petition will be presented by a delegation of CAAT staff and supporters, including Azeldin El-Sharif of the British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign.
Azeldin El-Sharif says:
Libyans in exile are watching and reporting as Gaddafi's regime tries to crush opponents using weapons sold by the UK and other EU countries. For many years we have been campaigning to stop the British government selling weapons systems to the Gaddafi dictatorship.
Sarah Waldron, CAAT Campaign Coordinator, says:
Sadly, arms sales to Gaddafi were not a one-off event but part of a targeted sales campaign by UKTI Defence & Security Organisation. The UK routinely supplies repressive regimes, even though it must know that these weapons are likely to be used for internal repression. Mr Cameron's visit to the Middle East, accompanied by arms company bosses, show that his focus is on increasing, not restraining, arms sales. This is Not responsible and This is Not OK."
For further information or an interview please contact CAAT's Outreach Coordinator, Anne-Marie O'Reilly on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or email outreach(at)caat·org·uk . CAAT spokespeople will be available for interview and photographs will be available.
- The petition will be handed in at 10 Downing Street at 2pm on Wednesday 9 March. The delegation will be available for interview before and after the event.
- The petition is still open for signing. It can be found on www.caat.org.uk. Signatories are encouraged to add their own messages.
- CAAT's campaign "This is NOT OK" is was launched on 17 January, the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower's farewell address, where he warned against the unfettered growth of the "military-industrial complex". The simple slogan highlights the unethical basis of the Government's enthusiastic support for the arms industry and arms exports.
- Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. Around 80% of CAAT's income comes from individual supporters..
- Prime Minister David Cameron toured the Middle East from 21 February to 23 February, accompanied by a high-level trade delegation including eight arms companies executives. Recent UK arms sales to the Middle East include tear gas and crowd control ammunition to Bahrain and Libya - see CAAT press release of 18 February 2011 for further information.
- Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi), is one of the world's biggest arms fairs and has been held in the ExCel centre in East London's Docklands every two years since 1999. The next DSEi is scheduled for 13-16 September 2011.
- UK Trade & Investment's Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) is the government unit that 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.
- The British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign (BLSC) campaigns for justice and freedom for Libyans living under Gaddafi's dictatorship and works for the civil liberties of Libyan exiles in Europe. More information at www.blsc.org.uk