More 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.
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/.
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?
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 email@example.com .