Campaigners call on UK government to stop exporting arms to Egypt

By agency reporter
24 Jun 2014

As three Al-Jazeera journalists have been sentenced to seven years in prison, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has called for an immediate end to all arms sales to the Egyptian regime. This follows the recent mass trial that recommended the death penalty for 683 people – including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie.

In 2013 alone, the UK approved £51 million of arms licences to Egypt, including assault rifles, pistols and components for military vehicles and aircrafts. Since the Arab Spring the UK has approved over £70 million of military licences, which represents a ten-fold increase on the three years prior to it.

CAAT says the UK has continued to sell arms to Egypt following the military coup in late June 2013, only revoking a handful of arms licences in July after the military massacred dozens at a sit-in. In October 2013, following a review, the UK government revoked seven further licences as they concluded that the weapons could be used for internal repression. At the same time the government lifted the temporary suspension on 24 licences and maintained it for another 16.

All exports of military equipment, whether or not they can directly be used in repression, send a message of UK support to the recipient regime, and undermine calls to respect human rights. The UK government should immediately revoke all extant export licences to Egypt and any the processing of applications in the pipeline, said CAAT

Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: "The Arab Spring should have seen a re-evaluation of how the UK does business with Egypt, but instead it has been treated as a business opportunity.

"When the UK sells weapons to the Egyptian government it is not just giving them military support, it is also giving them political support and the UK's explicit endorsement. If the UK government is on the side of Egyptian people then it needs to recognise the unstable political situation and stop all arms sales immediately."

[Ekk/4]

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