CAMPAIGN AGAINST ARMS TRADE has called for an investigation into the use of UK-made tear gas in Oman.
This follows the publication of images by journalist Phil Miller of Declassified, which show the use of tear gas canisters made by Derby-based PW Defence. The model in the photos appears to be the N225/227/229 – Rubber Bursting CS Grenade produced by the company.
This week there have been widespread protests in Oman, with protesters demanding jobs and reforms. They have been met with tear gas and other weapons by the Omani police force.
The UK has licensed over £16 million worth of tear gas to Oman since 2015 and has also provided police and military training to Omani forces. The real value will be far higher, as there have also been multiple open licences which allow for an unlimited transfer of tear gas canisters.
In March, representatives from Oman attended the Security and Policing arms fair, a secretive online event organised with the UK Home Office at which arms, border, policing and surveillance companies gather to exhibit equipment and technologies. Oman is one of the world’s largest buyers of UK arms, with over £1.6 billion worth of arms licensed since 2015, including fighter jets, small arms and tank components.
In 2020 the UK Government announced that it was spending £23.8 million to triple the size of a major British naval base in Oman.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The last few days have exposed the authoritarian character and abuses of the regime in Oman. For decades now the UK has armed and supported the dictatorship, helping to secure its position regardless of the threats and abuses that it has inflicted on opponents.
“The images are very damning and must not be ignored. There must be a full investigation into the use of UK-made tear gas or other weapons in the attacks, and an end to the shameful policy that allowed for them to be sold in the first place.
“These arms sales are also a sign of the close political and military relationship between the UK government and the Omani authorities. The arms sales must stop, and so must the policies that have allowed them to continue for so long.”
* Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade