Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – speakers at an international conference entitled ” Selling Death: why the international arms trade must be controlled” shed light on the human rights implications of the arms trade.
Attendees at “Selling Death: why the international arms trade must be controlled”, which was backed by former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, decried what they said was a “corrupt” arms trade that reaped huge profits for the “global military-industrial complex.”
The conference, organised by Egypt Watch, an independent research platform in collaboration with the Project for Peace and Justice, founded by Corbyn.
“The international arms trade is extremely profitable for the global military-industrial complex,” Osama Gaweesh, editor-in-chief at Egypt Watch, said as he opened the conference. “It is riddled with bribery and corruption which has been known to be a main source for arms co-operations.”
Abdullah Alaoudh, the director for the Gulf at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a nonprofit organisation that promotes democracy, echoed Mansour, noting the irony taking place in western countries.
“Despite the wide-ranging concerns in the US and the United Kingdom about Saudi Arabia military intervention in Yemen, both Washington and London continued their support and continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2019 during the Yemen war, ” said Alaoudh.
“These are the major democratic countries that are calling for democracy, for stabilising the region for protecting the interests of the people for supporting democratic values. Nonetheless you see these arms sales to most brutal authoritarian regimes and dictatorships in the Middle East.”
Richard Burgon, the Labour MP for Leeds East spoke of the UK’s involvement in arms trade deals, specifically in relation to Palestine and Israel. “The British government continues to authorise arms sales to Israel despite clear evidence that the weapons of the types authorised for sale have been used in violation of international war. This means the UK is providing material support for Israel’s illegal use of force.”
Director of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute Bianca Mugyenyi noted that: It’s important also to get one thing clear: it’s not just private companiesselling arms to foreign governments. The state apparatus is advancing it. ‘ And Canadian government departments grease the wheels of the arms industry. The LAV [light armoured vehicle] sale to the Saudi government… is a contract between the Canadian [government] and Saudi Arabia
Jeremy Corbyn, closed the conference by highlighting what he implied was the hypocrisy of the British government. “We are subsiding the destruction of Yemen and then patting ourselves on the back for giving money to Yemen in order to provide replacement water supplies, housing schools, hospitals, and all the other things being destroyed in the war in the first place.” In his final comments, Corbyn called on action to stop the international arms trade. “There’s no point complaining about the effects of war, of human rights abuses, of children dying of cholera in Yemen or peoples homes being destroyed in various places around the world if we don’t do something to stop the sales of arms that is being used to destroy those people’s lives.”