business human rights

UK arms sales to the Middle East

In the papers today, another story about Syrian soldiers firing into protesting crowds. 17 people were shot dead last week, 112 over the weekend. It’s entirely possible that they used British ammunition. It’s not the first time our equipment has been used this year to suppress calls for the democracy that we enjoy ourselves.

Bahrain: Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more arrested and beaten since protests began in February.
Recent UK arms sales to Bahrain include: Assault rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, CS hand grenades, tear gas.

Egypt: Over 400 people died and 6,000 were injured before Hosni Mubarak resigned.
UK arms sales to Egypt: Machine guns, bombs, missiles

Libya: Several thousand dead, the country is now in civil war.
UK arms sales to Libya: ammunition, tear gas, armoured cars.

Oman: Relatively peaceful, but several deaths reported.
UK arms sales to Oman: ammunition, pistols, submachine guns, tear gas, CS and stun grenades.

Saudi Arabia: No protests here, but Saudi troops are operating in Bahrain, where they have been assisting in the destruction of Shia mosques.
UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia:  Vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, tear gas, sniper rifles

Syria: An estimated 350 people have died since the start of protests in March.
UK arms sales to Syria: small arms ammunition

Yemen: At least 45 killed in a massacre on March 18th.
UK arms sales to Yemen: ammunition

Britain controls 20% of the world’s arms sales. This is nothing to be proud of. Our industry props up oppressive regimes, and our condemnation of human rights abuses ring hollow.

We’re remarkably tolerant of these oppressive governments and their totalitarian heads of state. The Kings of Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia are even invited to the royal wedding, although Bahrain has wisely declined.

Sources: BBC, Guardian, BBC , SIPRI 

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