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Amnesty Launches Campaign Against London Arms Fair & Bahrain is First Attendee

2015-09-17 - 9:33 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Amnesty International UK launched on Monday (September 14, 2015) a campaign on its website against London Arms Fair hosted by Britain this week in the Excel Center. Amnesty asked the members to sign a petition demanding the British government to stop the trade in illegal torture equipment.

Oliver Sprague, Amnesty's Arms Programme Director said: "We want to see the end of the UK playing the dirty role of matchmaker between trader and torturer."

"This shouldn't be happening - there are laws in the EU that prohibit the trade in torture equipment. But savvy companies are exploiting loopholes to trade in these items," Amnesty stressed.

Amnesty further stated that as the London Arms Fair gets started once again, "We have a real chance to stand up, be counted and tell the UK government that they must fight to strengthen these laws and hold those who trade in torture equipment to account."

Amnesty also pointed out that the EU is reviewing the law: "We need the UK to insist it prevents torture equipment from being traded under our noses."

For its part, The Guardian said in an article entitled "DSEI weapons fair: authoritarian regimes descend on London" that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain are among 61 countries the UK government has invited to biennial event.

The Guardian pointed out that this year's Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition coincides with a government drive to increase arms sales to countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, by far its most lucrative single market for weapons.

More than 1,500 companies will exhibit their wares, including the US and UK giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and BAE Systems.

Meanwhile, Amnesty added in the statement included in its campaign that the exhibition will host "all kinds of governments, including known human rights abusers."

"Alongside guns, tanks and killer drones, the exhibition also comprises offers for illegal torture equipment - we have in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2013," Amnesty added.

"At past London arms fairs, campaigners have discovered a variety of illegal torture equipment advertised for sale, including electric shock stun guns and batons, leg-irons, and belly, body and gang-chains," the Guardian highlighted.

The Guardian said it had identified nine companies that had violated UK law at DSEI events between 2005 and 2013.

British arms exports are worth about £7bn a year, and the industry says it employs about 350,000 people. Campaign against the Arms Trade says the figure includes about 100,000 people employed only indirectly in the arms trade, for example by providing services and managing the defence estate.

"Unsurprisingly, the UK government wants to keep this quiet. So we're running the ad campaign they never wanted you to see," Amnesty further stressed.

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