30. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

The International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) conference was held at Twickenham Stadium on the 26th to 29th January 2015, and TRAKNAT were there to protest.

Armoured vehicles may not be the most horrific of weapons but should we be helping the Saudi & Egyptian governments to upgrade their stock when we know they have been used against Bahraini citizens (the Saudi government) and local people (the Egyptian government)? Delegates from both countries and other repressive regimes were due to attend the conference.

We were mentioned in the Richmond and Twickenham Times of 30 January 2015, page 8, with a quotation from Mary H.

23. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Jim McCluskey has had this letter published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times of 23 January 2015.

Sir – I find it intolerable that our MP Dr Cable persists in licensing the sale of vast amounts of arms to one of the world’s most vicious and merciless regimes, namely that of Saudi Arabia. It is further shaming these atrocious sales have been abetted by the royal family (in the form of Prince Charles) and our current political leader Mr Cameron. What sort of leadership is this?

This barbaric regime has just sentenced one of its citizens, Raif Badawi, to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, 50 being inflicted every week.

Dr Cable’s arms shipments include weapons for subjugating the citizenry and keeping the vicious Saudi princes in power.

Dr Cable’s actions do not reflect the wishes of the people of Britain who oppose torture in all its forms. These shipments have got to stop.

JIM McCLUSKEY
Twickenham

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
Coordinator
Twickenham, Richmond and Twickenham Network Against the Arms Trade
14. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized
Handing in a letter about arms to Israel to Vince Cable's office

Press Release

Hampton resident and well known actor, singer and TV star John Altman, best known for his part as “Nasty” Nick Cotton in EastEnders, this week handed an Open Letter to Vince Cable calling upon the Twickenham MP to ban all arms sales to Israel. John presented the letter on behalf of a consortium of local groups, which includes Amnesty, the United Nations Association and Friends of the Earth. John explained “I have been sickened by the extreme brutality of the Israeli regime in killing so many innocent civilians in Gaza and their destruction of homes, schools and medical facilities. It is shocking to learn that local MP Vince Cable is actually responsible for sanctioning UK weapons exports to Israel, which may well have been used in this current conflict”

Spokesperson Wendy Hatto, secretary of Twickenham and Richmond Amnesty Group, said “As Business Secretary, Vince Cable is responsible for both controlling and promoting the export of UK weapons, some of which go to some of the most repressive regimes in the world and regions of conflict. He has to personally approve any arms exports.”

She went on to say, “As quoted in the Independent newspaper, since taking office he has granted export licences worth £42m to UK Companies to supply Israel with arms ranging from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles. Among the manufacturers given permission to make sales were two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by the Israeli air force as the “backbone” of its targeting and reconnaissance missions. The Hermes drone has been widely used during Operation Protective Edge, the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, to monitor Palestinians, pinpoint targets and guide in missile and smart bomb strikes.”

The Open letter, which has been sent to all local Churches, calls upon the local MP to take a principled stand on the issue and to speak out immediately against the disproportionate use of force by Israel and their killing of innocent civilians. It calls upon Vince Cable to use his powers under the 2002 Export Control Act to impose an immediate ban on all UK weapons and components to Israel and to revoke all weapons licences for Israel.

The event was organised by Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network Against the Arms Trade -TRAKNAT www.traknat.org.uk Contact: info@traknat.org.uk

TRAKNAT is comprised of Richmond & Twickenham Amnesty Group, Twickenham and Richmond United Nations Association, Richmond & Twickenham Friends of the Earth, Richmond & Kingston World Development Group, Richmond and Kingston Greenpeace, Richmond & Twickenham Green Party , Kingston Peace Council and Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign.


Open Letter to Vince Cable

Dear Dr Cable

We are writing to you as concerned local residents to urge you to stop all arms exports to Israel. We are horrified that UK weapons have been used to kill large numbers of civilians in Gaza, many of them children. We want to see a total embargo on all UK weapons to Israel. As Business Secretary, in your Trade and Industry and Export Control role, you are responsible for both controlling and promoting the export of UK weapons, some of which go to the most repressive regimes in the world and regions of conflict.

The Independent newspaper (August 2nd) has revealed that since you took Office you have granted export licences worth £42m to UK Companies to supply Israel with arms ranging from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles. Among the manufacturers given permission to make sales were two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by the Israeli air force as the “backbone” of its targeting and reconnaissance missions. The Hermes drone has been widely used during Operation Protective Edge, the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, to monitor Palestinians, pinpoint targets and guide in missile and smart bomb strikes.

Yet you remain silent while in Gaza nearly two thousand civilians are killed and thousands more horribly injured. The BBC has reported that over 25% of the dead are children. Very large numbers of homes, schools and medical facilities have been destroyed. Decent people round the world have been sickened by the extreme brutality of the Israeli regime (which you have helped to make possible) with its wanton slaughter of civilians including children, and the targeting of schools, hospitals and mosques.

It is time for you to take a stand. You cannot continue to ignore the plight of innocent residents of Gaza under attack from Israeli aggressors reportedly having used over 50,000 sophisticated weapons including high explosive ‘smart’ bombs, missiles and tank shells, some of these guided by drones that your exports have helped to build.

We urge you to immediately speak out against the disproportionate use of force by Israel and their killing of innocent civilians and to use your powers under the 2002 Export Control act to impose an immediate ban on UK weapons and components to Israel. You must revoke all weapons licences for Israel.

Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network Against the Arms Trade -TRAKNAT

TRAKNAT is comprised of Richmond & Twickenham Amnesty Group, Twickenham and Richmond United Nations Association, Richmond & Twickenham Friends of the Earth, Richmond & Kingston World Development Group, Richmond and Kingston Greenpeace, Richmond & Twickenham Green Party , Kingston Peace Council and Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign. www.traknat.org.uk

Contact: info@traknat.org.uk


PS

The handing in of the letter on Tuesday 5th August 2014 was reported in the Richmond and Twickenham Times — www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/11395635.Protesters_call_on_Vince_Cable_to_ban_arms_sales_to_Israel/

24. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

We have written a number of letters to the Richmond and Twickenham Times and The Guardian recently. Here are three of them.


Local MP and Business Secretary Vince Cable is responsible for licensing weapons exports from the UK. This week an influential committee of MPs, led by Sir John Stanley, revealed that Vince Cable’s Department is licensing exports of to Russia of sniper rifles, night sights, components for air-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, combat helicopters, depth charges and rocket launchers, small arms ammunition, gun mountings, body armour and military communications equipment. A total of 251 licences worth at least £132m remained in force, it said and went on to reveal that there has been an increase of 52 per cent in arms exports to Russia during the last 12 months despite Britain’s increasingly strident criticism of Russian support – including the supply of arms – for Ukrainian separatists, who have now been blamed for the killing of 298 people on board flight MH17.

In opposition Vince Cable voiced concern about UK exports to repressive regimes. Now he is part of a system that actively encourages them. Just what will it take to stop him being a pawn of arms dealers and stand up for his principles.


170,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war so far. Most of them were civilian. In the UK/US invasion and destruction of Iraq the medical journal Lancet stated that about 655,000 people died. The vast majority were civilians. What has this particularly got to do with the citizens of Richmond and Twickenham and readers of RTT?

The answer lies in the fact that the world’s wars are fuelled by the arms trade and Dr Vincent Cable, MP for Twickenham, is at the heart of the international web of arms disseminating countries. The UK is the fourth highest military spender on the planet. Just this week Mr Cameron is scheduled to announced a £1.1 billion ‘package’ of ‘defence’ spending. The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) tells us that ‘Most countries where major conflicts are taking place are recipients of UK arms’. These sales are made ‘..with little or no regard for the damage they might cause or the wider implications of supplying them’. The licences authorising British arms manufacturers to sell their wares are issued by Dr Cable as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. His department gives massive assistance to the legalized gun-runners with, unbelievably, 180 of his staff dedicated to arms sales whereas, by contrast, only 142 of his staff provide assistance to ALL other manufacturers.

All this is particularly vexing since Dr Cable is respected as a representative who conscientiously attends to the local problems of his constituents. Moreover there is little doubt that he is a man quite capable of standing up to the good-old-boys, business-as-usual militaristic brigade who have led us into such disastrous and illegal wars in recent years. If Dr Cable were to resist the establishment gun-runners this would give pause to the other states who support this death-dealing activity. Time to rethink Dr Cable. Ask your constituents if it was for this that they elected you.


Finally we, in the comfort zones of the world, are forced to realise a terrifying truth. It is not just the faceless unpeople of distant lands who are at risk of sudden death from the criminal activates of the rich gun-running states. Now a foot-soldier, a terrorist, a demented fundamentalist can potentially bring down an airliner flying at over 30,000 feet (‘Cover-up: rebels destroying all links to MH17 air atrocity’, 19.7.14).

Thanks to the arms trade the world is awash with weapons of all types. The UK government is a world leader in the selling of arms. The arms trade fuels the world’s wars and now we know that it puts everyone at risk.

The UK is at the heart of the international web of arms disseminating countries. It is the fourth highest military spender on the planet. The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) tells us that ‘Most countries where major conflicts are taking place are recipients of UK arms’. These sales are made ‘..with little or no regard for the damage they might cause or the wider implications of supplying them’. The licences authorising British arms manufacturers to sell their wares are issued by Dr Cable, MP for Twickenham, as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. His department gives massive assistance to the legalized gun-runners with, unbelievably, 180 of his staff dedicated to arms sales whereas, by contrast, only 142 of his staff provide assistance to ALL other manufacturers.

All this is particularly vexing since Dr Cable is respected as a representative who conscientiously attends to the local problems of his constituents. Moreover there is little doubt that he is a man quite capable of standing up to the good-old-boys, business-as-usual militaristic brigade who have led us into such disastrous and illegal wars in recent years. If Dr Cable were to resist the establishment gun-runners this would give pause to the other states who support this death-dealing activity. Time to rethink Dr Cable. Ask your constituents if it was for this that they elected you.

02. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Arms trade protestMore than 25 TRAKNAT members took banners and leaflets to demonstrate outside Vince Cable’s ‘Speaking Dinner’ with Baroness Shirley Williams at the Turk’s Head, St Margaret’s on 24 April 2014 to protest at his promotion of arms to human rights abusing regimes.

TRAKNAT members explained to Shirley Williams and guests, including Greg Dyke, Lord Oakshott and Geoff Pope that British made small arms and armoured vehicles were used to suppress democracy protesters in Bahrain and that British made helicopters were used against civilians in Egypt. The group explained that it is Vince Cable’s Business Department that is responsible for the promotion and sale of these weapons.

Shirley Williams listened carefully as group members explained that Vince Cable was critical of many aspects of the arms trade before taking office but now, in office, he lets arms brokers transfer unlimited quantities of arms. These include assault rifles, and combat shotguns to some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya and Egypt. A spokesman for the group explained that Vince Cable has reneged on a commitment to Parliament to require brokers to submit details of weapons transfers and for this to be made Public.

TRAKANT member Harald Molgard said “Vince Cable’s Business Department works hard to sell arms to countries where some of the world’s poorest live including India Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa. He fails to see the moral case for not promoting weapons to countries with large populations of very poor people. He doesn’t seem to realise that weapons expenditure diverts resources from development. India, which has a third of the world’s poorest people and where only 30% have access to rudimentary sanitation, is a priority market for arms sales for his Department”.

Thanks to all who turned up to make the event such a success. Thank you to so many Amnesty members who came and also Ian and his friends from London CAAT. Martin’s banners were great — thanks for making and transporting them Martin. Roger’s great photos have gone with a press release to the Richmond and Twickenham Times who have promised to report on the event. Press publicity is everything and it’s great that we have a professional photographer in the group — thanks Roger.

Arms trade protest

11. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

TRAKNAT supporters will be a demonstrating outside The Turk’s Head in St Margarets on Thursday 24 April 2014, where Vince Cable MP will be holding a dinner with other Liberal Democrats.

We will be publically challenging Dr Cable on his actions as Business Secretary:

  • His failure to act to stop promoting arms and signing export licences to human rights abusers
  • His U-turn on transparency, which allows arms brokers to do there dirty work without public scrutiny
  • His support for the arms fair

The dinner starts at 7.00pm. Assemble for the demonstration at 6.30pm. All welcome, just turn up.

The Turk’s Head, 28 Winchester Road, St Margarets, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1LF

It’s best to go by bus 37, or train as parking can be difficult.

Details of the dinner are at http://www.trlibdems.org.uk/events/2014/04/spring-dinner-special-guest-speaker-baroness-shirley-williams/.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/535044339949070/.

29. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Jim McCluskey has had this letter published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times of 28 March 2014:

Business Secretary, local MP, Vince Cable has a long and shameful record of supporting arms dealers.  His Department sponsors trade fairs so UK Companies can sell weapons to some of the world’s most repressive regimes.  Dr Cable has overseen the signing of export licences for weapons that have been used against protesters in Bahrain and Egypt.  Now things have moved closer to home with Esher-based Beechwood Equipment, in the past responsible for promoting the sale of illegal leg irons, gang chains, shackles and shackle bracelets, exhibiting at this week’s Security and Policing Fair at Farnborough; an event sponsored by Vince Cable’s Department.

Dr Cable has tried to justify selling arms to the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia by declaring that if we did not sell them arms then someone else would. This is not a plea that would be greeted favourably by a judge in the case of a bank robber, for example (If he didn’t rob the bank someone else would!). All such appalling transactions take place under the heading of the ‘defense’ industry. The only people the Saudi Princes are likely to need to defend themselves against are their own citizens when the Arab Spring inevitably reaches that part of the Middle East.

Just what will it take to persuade our local MP to return to the principles he once espoused in opposition?

Jim McCluskey

22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

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.”

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

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.