UK Government found to be selling tear gas to countries with human rights violations

Peter Stoddart is a member of the YCL’s Central Committee

A report published by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has found the UK Government has been selling tear gas to countries on its own human rights watch list, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The report found that “The UK government has authorised tear gas exports to a third of the world’s 195 countries, including one in five of the nations listed on the UK’s own human rights concern list.

Licences to 70 countries have been approved since 2008, with some exports listed as going to national militaries and police implicated in human rights concerns. Some of these state actors have used chemical irritants in quelling pro-democracy demonstrations in the Middle East, disrupting migrant protests in France and Kuwait and opposing striking garment workers in Bangladesh.

Details are limited, but their report has shown one export to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was worth over £6 million back in 2014. The deal included tear gas and various other “crowd control ammunition“.

Similarly, in Bahrain, the UK Government has issued numerous licenses for exporting tear gas to the island nation. Reports have found more than a dozen people have been killed through its use in the country.

The UK’s Human Rights Watchlist is of course botched by its political biases, meaning countries like the USA and Israel, with their obvious violations of basic human rights are ignored. However, the fact that the Government willingly disregards it to make a quick buck is depressing. The UK has long been an ally to despots and dictators the world over, and this report shows very little has changed.

As protestors demonstrated last month in London, the UK Government and its allies in the arms industry are making a fortune out of the death and misery of those overseas.

The YCL protestors said: “We call on all fellow workers in all industries who are asked to support war, climate change or anti-working class projects to rebel and do as much damage to those companies and shareholders who want to damage us.

These companies have no moral or material understanding of the world. All they see is profit in return for wanton destruction all over the world. We should follow the YCL’s lead in London and step up all efforts to combat these human rights abusers where the UK Government obviously won’t.

Peter Stoddart

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