Send More Beams That Kill
Hey guys… you know how, in my last post, I was connecting ‘Mindwarp’ (in which the slimey Mentors of Thoros Beta are selling hideous weapons to Thordon) to the matter of British weapons sales to savage dictatorships like Suharto’s Indonesia, etc?
Well, have a look at this delightful report from Al Jazeera about what riot police have been up to in Bahrain (I warn you: the report linked to features images of wounded people and others in great distress).
Bahrain was memorably described by David Mellor on the Today Programme (shouldn’t it be anagrammatically renamed the Toady Programme when he’s on it?) as a “quasi-democracy”.
It would appear that five people have been killed in this last attack. (Before we get too locally self-righteous, we should remember what Alfie Meadows went through at the hands of the British police recently.) The attack on the protestors in Bahrain was launched using weapons of exactly the types sold to the Bahraini authorities by British, i.e. guns, rubber bullets, teargas and grenades. Apparently we also sell Bahrain machine guns and ammunition. Everything, in other words, that a “quasi-democracy” needs for quasi-violent quasi-suppression of protestors exercising their quasi-democratic quasi-freedom.
This morning, the Guardian has this and this to say about British Government policy in the wake of the savage attack on protestors. A sample:
Britain announced a review of licences granted for arms exports to Bahrain which it would “urgently revoke” if the sales criteria had been breached in their use, after it emerged that types of crowd-control weapons similar to those used in the crackdown were supplied by British companies. Despite concerns among activists over Bahrain’s rights record, British firms were last year granted licences, entirely unopposed, to export crowd-control weapons that can lead to fatalities in use.
Oh, thank God! A “review” (that’s all right then!) after it “emerged” that Bahrain’s government have been using weapons to attack and hurt and kill people! One wonders what we imagine they were going to use these weapons for… decorating their office walls?
The Guardian also says:
According to the Foreign Office’s own records and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK has also supplied Libya – which has warned in an SMS message that it will use live ammunition against protesters – with similar weapons and ammunition. Sales to both Bahrain and Libya were actively promoted by the UK government’s arms promotion unit, the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation.
Despite the widespread unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa, British arms manufacturers this weekend will be attending IDEX, a major arms fair in Abu Dhabi, to promote sales throughout the Middle East region.
Despite the warnings from HRW and other organisations of a worsening rights situation in Bahrain, the Foreign Office’s own statistics reveal that the number of arms exports licences continued to increase in 2010 from 34 to 42 with no licences being refused. Arms exports to Libya, where lethal force has already been used against demonstrators, appear to have followed a similar pattern with exports last year including tear gas, and £3.2 million worth of ammunition including for crowd control..