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Britain and the death trade it denies

1 September 2011 18:05

The British government pledged to stop selling arms to repressive regimes including Bahrain back in February but the promises were nothing more than a bunch of lies.

Britain sold millions of pounds of arms used for internal repression to dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa including Libya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia just a few months ago.

London issued arms export licenses worth £30.5 million for shotguns, small arms ammunition and sub-machine guns to the regional countries where ruling regimes were brutally suppressing peaceful demonstrations between February and June this year.

This comes as the Foreign Office claimed back in February that the government has revoked all munitions export licenses to Bahrain over what Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said in a statement was the “changing situation in Bahrain”, a euphemism for killing of protesters by riot prevention equipment partly supplied by Britain.

The government also claimed at the time that arms export licenses to Libya were ended due to what the Foreign Office acknowledged was “the use of lethal force against demonstrators” and the fears that British arms could be used against protesters.

However, the reality behind the claims was “business as usual” with British warmongers using the uprisings in the North African and Middle Eastern countries to increase their arms exports by 30 percent between February and June compared with last year breaching even their own export regulations not to mention human rights principles.

This is while, the British arms exports rules say the government will “not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.”

According to the spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade Kay Stearman, the revelation is not “surprising” as it shows the government is continuing its past policy of apparently arming tyrants.

“This is very, very shocking, but sadly not surprising. It just goes to show that all the government’s fine words about defending democracy and not selling arms to tyrants were just that – words. It is business as usual,” she said.

Her remarks were echoed in those of chief executive of War on Want John Hillary.

“It is outrageous that Britain should still be exporting arms to a region in such crisis. We’ve seen the murderous consequences of these arms exports in country after country. It is unacceptable for the government to be supporting arms export licenses to the Middle East,” he said.

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