Friday, October 07, 2016

UK aiding and abetting repression

War on Want said in its report  “Arming Repression: The new British Imperialism in the Persian Gulf,” Britain had been selling harmful crowd control devices, used to suppress dissent during anti-government demonstrations.

"From the sale of vast quantities of tear gas and other crowd control tools, to the training of sniper units used to put down pro-democracy protests, the UK government, working closely with a large number of private companies, are key partners for repressive regimes in the [Persian] Gulf, with devastating consequences for democracy and human rights,” said Dr. Sam Raphael, the report’s author and Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Westminster. He added “In addition to UK support for the illegal Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen – through arms sales, targeting advice and intelligence sharing – our report details for the first time the sheer scope of weapons exports and training provided to regimes in the [Persian] Gulf in order to police their own populations”

Britain regards Persian Gulf states as vital partners in securing the UK’s energy interests. According to the report, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are among the Persian Gulf countries regarded as priority markets. The two Arab kingdoms have been widely criticized by international advocacy groups for their human rights record.

"This is the latest chapter in the long and violent history of British imperialism in the Persian Gulf. The UK government’s renewed military and economic strategy is putting the UK’s access to oil ahead of any commitment to democracy and human rights. It’s time for an immediate ban on exports of arms and repressive technologies where there is a risk of use for internal repression or human rights violations,” said John Hilary, executive director at War on Want. "The government has a serious case to answer when clandestine meetings between public intelligence and security agencies form the basis of the UK’s role in arming repression in the Persian Gulf. It’s time the government came clean on the personnel, objectives and activities of the government’s secretive Gulf Strategy Unit,” he added.  

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