Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) is a coalition of groups and individuals working for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. Every year, groups around the country hold events at the beginning of June as part of the “Stop the Arms Trade Week”. This year, the week falls between 1st and 8th June and London CAAT is marking it with two events. The first is on Sunday 1st June in and around the N1 Centre near Angel Tube. As part of our “Islington Divestment” campaign, members of the group will be manning a stall and asking for signatures on our petition.
The Islington Council Pension Fund holds well over three million pounds in investments in arms companies. The largest of these holdings is the £1.88 million of BAe shares that they own. Given that Islington boasts a proud history of celebrating diversity, we are asking how it can defend these investments, which support companies whose business fuels conflict in areas that some Islington residents have fled. We are calling on the council to set standards that the rest of London can follow by divesting from this murderous trade and put the money into ethical investments.
Those who would like to can sign the petition online at http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/19612.html or could email Andrew Cornell, the councillor who is Chair of the Pension sub-committee at email@example.com . Islington is just one of the councils that holds such investments, and it is not the council with the biggest. You can get details of your own council’s holdings from the CAAT website.
On Wednesday 4th June from 11am to 2pm, members of the group will be leading a guided tour of “The Merchants of Death”. Meeting at the clock tower on Victoria Street outside Victoria Station, we will walk between the offices of thirteen companies in Central London. Obviously, we will take in major military producers and arms dealers such as BAe Systems, Boeing UK, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. Among these “Merchants of Death” there is a long history of corruption, sometimes involving countries with serious records of human rights abuse, which underlines how indiscriminate the trade is.
In addition, the guides will inform those present of the details of some of the numerous corporate mercenaries who have their offices in Central London. These include Spear Communications, Aegis Defence Services, Erinys International and ArmorGroup. These Private Military and Security Companies are making a killing out of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a trade worth more than $100 billion. PMSCs outnumber British soldiers in Iraq by a ratio of more than 6:1.
London CAAT encourages everybody to become involved in the Stop the Arms Trade Week. Whether that means joining us for one of the events, signing a petition, emailing your councillor or even talking to friends or colleagues about the trade, you can do your bit.
Robin Yu is a co-ordinator for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This post was written by Robin Yu