UK Government approved export of crowd control equipment to Hong Kong, says CAAT

By agency reporter
June 13, 2019

Police in Hong Kong have used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and batons to violently disperse protests opposing the new Extradition Bill. At least six people have been taken to hospital after inhaling tear gas.

Pictures from the ground suggest CS grenades, manufactured by the UK-based Chemring Group are being used by the police against protesters, the Omega Research Foundation has reported.

The UK government has granted a number of licences allowing the export of a wide range of crowd-control equipment, including CS hand grenades, anti-riot shields, body armour, and crowd control ammunition to Hong Kong. These include two Open Licences granted in 2015 and 2016, allowing an unlimited quantity of material to be exported for five years.

The most recent licence was granted in December 2018 (the latest month for which data is available).

Sarah Waldron of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Jeremy Hunt talks of the need to preserve Hong Kong's rights and freedoms, yet the UK is actively assisting the suppression of these freedoms through its supply of tear gas and other anti-protest weapons.

“The Government should immediately revoke all current export licences for such equipment as a first practical step to showing solidarity with the people of Hong Kong.”

UK tear gas was also used against Umbrella Movement democracy protesters in Hong Kong in 2014. Police used considerable amounts of tear gas to try to disperse protests calling for a free election for the Chief Executive of the territory. Images from the ground showed that at least some of the gas used was provided by UK arms company Chemring, which subsequently confirmed that it was a long term provider of tear gas to Hong Kong.

Prior to the 2014 protests, the UK government had granted seven licences for the export of tear gas to Hong Kong between the start of 2010 and January 2014 worth £180,000, as well as an Open Licence which allowed unlimited quantities to be exported.

* Omega Research Foundation https://omegaresearchfoundation.org/

* Campaign Against Arms Trade https://www.caat.org.uk/

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