Noel Hamel had the following letter published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times on 22 November 2013:
“David Cameron used the opportunity of the Commonwealth Conference to criticise and publicise the human rights abuses still prevalent in Sri Lanka.
Vince Cable, responsible for licensing arms sales proscribed under international agreement from being sold to countries of human rights concern, carries on approving arms sales to Sir Lanka unperturbed.”
Great news — thanks to letters from several TRAKNAT supporters, Zac Goldsmith MP (Richmond Park) has signed early day motion 503 : ARMS SALES TO AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES sponsored by Caroline Lucas. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/503
EDM 503 states:
“That this House notes that the arms export priority markets for the UK Trade and Investment’s Defence and Security Organisation in 2013-14 included Libya, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; further notes that the UK hosts one of the world’s largest arms shows, Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi); agrees with the Committees on Arms Export Controls, in its report on Scrutiny of Arms Exports and Arms Controls, HC 205, published on 17 July 2013, that the Government would do well to acknowledge that there is an inherent conflict between strongly promoting arms exports to authoritarian regimes whilst strongly criticising their lack of human rights at the same time rather than claiming, as the Government continues to do, that these two policies are mutually reinforcing; is appalled that the Russian State Technology Corporation, Rostec, one of the main arms suppliers to President al-Assad of Syria, is exhibiting at DSEi 2013; and calls on the Government to end the promotion and export of military equipment to all authoritarian regimes.”
Zac is the only Conservative to sign so far out of 56 MPs.
Zac Goldsmith MP has asked a parliamentary question about the transparency of arms exports, and has received a written reply indicating that the requirement to report details of exports was dropped because of the “potential for it to impose unnecessary burdens on business”. The full text is at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-09-06a.167265.h.
We had a successful vigil on Friday outside the constituency office of Vince Cable MP to raise awareness of his department’s support for the arms fair. Here are some photos. There is another vigil on 13 September 2013.
TRAKNAT supporters will be holding vigils outside the constituency office of Vince Cable MP (2a Lion Road, Twickenham TW1 4JQ), on Friday 6 September 2013 and Friday 13 September 2013 5.30pm – 7pm, to draw attention to his Business Department’s (BIS) sponsorship of the world’s largest arms fair taking place in docklands on 10th to 13th September 2013. It is called the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition (DSEi).
BIS invites delegates from some of the most repressive regimes in the world, including Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were there – each of whom has turned weapons on democracy protesters. Egypt recently used British helicopters against protesters.
Vince Cable’s Department has invited Rosoboronexport the Russian arms exporter that supplies weapons to Assad’s in Syria to the DSEi. See list of exhibitors (listed as Russian Technologies State Corporation).
In recent years, Rosoboronexport has been Syria’s main weapons supplier, accounting for 78% of Syria’s imports of major conventional weapons according to Human Rights Watch (HRW 6.4.2012).
The range of weapons reported to have been sold to Syria includes: missile systems and MiG fighter aircraft (www.sipri.org); armoured vehicles (HRW 6.4.2012); an upgrade of battle tanks (CAST, February 2012); and a shipment of ammunition (Reuters 13.1.12). Source: CAAT.
If you are on Facebook, there is a Facebook event for 13th September which you can share with your friends.
Do come and join us. We call it a vigil because it is not a march, and is quieter than a demonstration.
Luddites200 are organising a series of meetings in London about the politics of technology, entitled Breaking the Frame. The first is on 8th July 2013.
Technology out of control? Drones, Killer Robots and the Arms Trade
Remote controlled drones have already caused many civilian casualties in the ‘war on terror’, and people in the target zones and in Britain are campaigning against their use. But the military is moving towards letting battlefield ‘killer robots’ take their own decisions without human input. Should we allow computers to decide who lives and who dies, and who is legally responsible for their actions? This first meeting in our ‘Breaking the Frame’ series on the politics of technology will address some of the ethical and ‘existential’ issues raised by the march of technocracy. There will be plenty of time for informal discussion.
When: 7pm Monday July 8th 2013
Where: Fairly Square cafe, 51 Red lion St London WC1R 4PF
The DSEi (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair is back this autumn (10 to 13 September 2013 at ExCel London), and plans are being made. Stop The Arms Fair is the umbrella group through which we coordinate our actions, so keep an eye on their web site at stopthearmsfair.org.uk. The big protest is on the Sunday this year, 8 September 2013.
Some of us from TRAKNAT will be going along. If you want to meet up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Another approach to opposing the arms trade is to focus on the financial and investment side. The web site www.noguns.co.uk gives you the information you need to bully your bank, pension fund manager or investment manager not to invest in the arms trade, and includes other background information and links. [Charles]
Zac Goldsmith meets Local Campaigners against the Arms Trade in Parliament
Local arms trade campaigners, representing a number of local groups including Amnesty, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the United Nations Association, Kingston Peace Council, and the Green Party, met with Zac Goldsmith MP at Portcullis House, Parliament on Monday [13 May 2013]. They urged the MP to call upon Vince Cable’s Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) department to do more to regulate the shady world of arms brokers.
Amnesty member and Richmond resident John Hatto said: “BIS issues licences to arms dealers to broker unlimited quantities of deadly weapons, including small arms, to some of the most repressive regimes in the world. We want Vince Cable’s department to clean up its act, create a public register of brokers and stop giving arms dealers free rein to broker as many weapons as they like.” John went on to say: “We were encouraged by Zac’s willingness to take up this issue directly with Ministers.”
Campaigners explained that the UK Government promotes weapons sales to some of the world’s most repressive regimes. The Government co-sponsors the world’s biggest arms fair, held biennially in the Docklands. To its shame BIS invites delegations from countries identified by the Foreign Office as having ‘the most serious human rights concerns.’ Zac reacted positively when asked to call upon the Government to be more open about its process for inviting delegates and to publish the criteria by which it selects them, as well as publishing a full delegate list in advance of the arms fair.
Over the last 10 years there has been a threefold increase in weapons sales to many developing countries in real terms. For example over one third of the world’s poorest people live India and Pakistan yet their Governments spend nearly 20% of their budgets on the military, but only 3-4% on health. Military spending dwarfs aid budgets. The group explained: “BIS does not even follow its own criteria for promoting weapons to developing countries. Both David Cameron and Vince Cable have been on weapons promotion tours of developing countries.” John Hatto said: “We call on Zac to ask the Government for a full review of its promotion of weapons to developing countries.”
Jim McCluskey has written about his reaction to Vince Cable’s defence of the arms trade at the meeting on 29th November 2012, in an article published by OpEdNews and entitled “The Global Arms Trade – You can not be serious, Dr Cable“.