“When people turn on their TVs and see this footage, they’ll say, ‘Oh my God, that’s horrible,’ and then they’ll go back to eating their dinners” ~ Hotel Rwanda
Watching the news over the last few days, I have felt my heart burn with rage, my limbs tremble with fear and my mouth burst with obscenities. But I have silently turned away from the thousands being crushed by military oppression in Libya, in Bahrain, in Yemen, in Gabon… Turned away to give up and jump into frivolous fun as innocent people die at the hands of military dictatorships. What’s worse is that those military killing the innocent are those we, in Britain, have trained and financially supported.
Gaddafi’s son, Saif, has declared that should the protests not stop, Libya will be break into civil war. Will this be the aimless heart-wrenching, gut-riling kind of war that Ken Saro-Wiwa described in Sozaboy? Will this be yet another opportunity for Western companies to use strife as a way of benefiting from the arms trade?
The UK has a significant arms trade with Libya and Bahrain. In the last Strategic Control Report (July – Sept 2010) the Foreign and Commonwealth declared that trade with Libya amounted to £181,767,817, including the trade of tear gas, crowd control equipment, and small arms training & equipment. That’s just the sales for a 3 month period!
//UPDATE: Libya has started to use its (British made) artillery and fighter planes to start firing on protesters! //
In the past Blair and Cameron’s friendship with Bahrain has meant that over 100 Bahraini military officers have been trained at Sandhurst and other military establishments. These officers are those who are actively killing and injuring innocent people, including young children.
These campaigns are only spreading. Yesterday and today protests spread to China and to Morocco. Yemen, Iran, and Algeria still burst with civilian anger and demand for change. Let us not be the people sitting down watching the military assassinate the millions who dare to cry out against their oppression. Let us not turn to our dinners while those who sell us the crop are killed for wanting something to eat.
For the sake of hope, act now.
Things you can do:
- Sign the Campaign Against the Arms Trade Petition and/or join them in their campaigns.
- Call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 1500, and ask them what the UK government is doing to prevent a massacre from happening in Western Asia. (For North Africa, contact Philippa Saunders on 0207 008 3886)
Twitter: @WilliamJHague & @foreignoffice
- Find out your MP’s contact details and call, email and fax them (don’t just email, try and do at least one of the others). Tell them that this is a humanitarian emergency and ask them what action they can take.
- Contact the media and ask them to cover what’s happening:
- Contact the BBC from here. Twitter – @BBCNews, @BBCBreaking, @BBCWorld
- Contact ITV on 0844 88 14150, and at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact Sky on email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Add any details for other media as a comment to this post. Also keep an eye on coverage and post here if any of them are doing well or badly.
- Facebook/tweet/email heavily about all of the above.
- Find news. Be wary of rumours, but repost any photos or news from various sources as widely as possible.
Post any other ideas as comments and we’ll add them.