21. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Paul Tippell has sent the following letter to Vince Cable MP.

Dear Dr Cable

Imprisonment and Flogging of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi authorities have sentenced Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate. 50 lashes will be carried out in public each week for 20 weeks. The first of these was inflicted last Friday the 9 January. This is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law. http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/flogging-raif-badawi-saudi-arabia-vicious-act-cruelty-2015-01-09

Saudi is a barbarous regime which regularly publicly executes people by beheading, uses amputation as a punishment, tortures prisoners and oppresses women. The regime totally supresses any form of political dissent and imposes brutal treatment on anyone who criticises the Government. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2300656/Saudi-Arabia-beheads-murderer-CRUCIFIES-body.html

As a Government Minister may I urge you to publically condemn the treatment of Mr Badawi and call upon the Saudi authorities to immediately release him. Further will you consider raising the matter within the Cabinet with a view to seeking an official public UK Government condemnation of Saudi for Mr Badawi’s treatment.

Arms Promotion and Licensing for Saudi Arabia

Both Price Charles and David Cameron have travelled to Saudi for weapons promotion – clearly they care little about the human rights situation in the country. But I know in opposition you were very concerned about human rights and boycotted a visit by the Saudi King http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7066754.stm You said of Saudi Arabia, “the human rights record is appalling”. You also cited the regime’s arms deal with the British firm BAE and the row over alleged corruption surrounding it.

As Business Secretary you are responsible for UK Arms Export licensing. You are also responsible, jointly with the FCO, for the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), a large Government department which actively promotes weapons sales to most of the most repressive regimes in the world. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are priority markets for the DSO.

During the period from May 2011 to July 2014 your Export Control Department has authorised licences for over £309m of weapons that could be used for internal repression in Saudi. (ML 1,2,3,4,6,13, PL5001) These range from small arms and ammunition to armoured vehicles. In addition over 2000 ‘open licences for an unlimited quantity of weapons have been authorised. This data does not include licences for over £3b of helicopters, aircraft and drones.

There is a very ‘clear risk’ that Saudi will use these weapons to to crush political dissent when the ‘Arab Spring’ finally arrives in their country. Saudi used British made armoured cars to assist the Bahrain Government to crush political dissent in Bahrain in 2011. The Bahraini authorities used UK weapons against demonstrators in 2011-12 when so many were killed and imprisoned. This was a massive failure of your Department to consider, when issuing export licences, the likelihood of internal repression based on the “foreseeability” of how the regime’s security forces might react when a situation reaches crisis; rather than waiting for a crisis to occur before the necessary evidence emerges to trigger a review of existing and pending licensing decisions.

Dr Cable, I urge you to use your powers under the 2002 Export Control Act to issue Section 9 Guidance for your officials which will required them to take into account the “foreseeability” of how the regime’s security forces might react when a situation reaches crisis rather than basing their risk assessment on the current situation. Further I call upon you to ask your officials to undertake an immediate review of the licences that I have enumerated (ML 1,2,3,4,6,13, PL5001) and to urge you to initiate action to suspend/revoke them.

Dr Cable the 2002 Act gives you these powers, I urge you to have the political courage to use them whilst you are still in office.

Paul Tippell
Twickenham, Richmond and Twickenham Network Against the Arms Trade

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