A letter a day to number 10. No 1,533
Thursday 25 August 2016.
Dear Mrs May,
Figures from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute in 2015 show that between 2010-14 Britain was the 6th biggest arms exporter in the world.
The Guardian reports that, ‘More than £3bn of British-made weaponry was licensed for export last year to 21 of the Foreign Office’s 30 “human rights priority countries”, a huge increase from £170 million in 2014.
What is the point of the Foreign Office holding a list of countries with a record of human rights abuses if it is not just ignored but we export arms to them?
Apparently the UK ‘approved licences for the sale of £7.7bn of arms last year’. A government spokeswoman said, “The government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms-export-control regimes in the world.” Really? The arms trade is not morally neutral, it is not just another business and we should be striving to end it, not escalate it.
The world is ravaged by war, there are about 21 million refugees globally according to Amnesty International, the number of civilian deaths from war are an atrocity, 180,000 people died in 42 conflicts in 2014 alone.
There is nothing to be proud of in war and yet the arms trade is allowed to promote their deadly wares in grand and obscenely named arms fairs, London being home to the world’s biggest, Defence & Security Equipment International, which was found to be selling illegal arms by Stratford Magistrates Court. The judge found, “[There is] clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing at DSEI and compelling evidence that it took place in 2015. Protesters arrested for blockading the event were acquitted by the court.
War is the ultimate failure of governments who wrap it up in jingoistic patriotism and heroism. There may indeed be heroism among those called to fight wars, but there is none in war itself which is the ultimate form of terrorism.
On 7th August I asked why there is no Department for Nuclear Disarmament, I’d like to add why is there no Department for Peace? Perhaps a start might be for the Queen to give up her role as Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s armed forces.