The international Catholic Movement for peace, Pax Christi, is urging Catholic Universe readers to “stop the arms trade”, amid strong condemnation of the UK’s continuing arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
The call comes after Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt defended the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia after coalition forces carried out a deadly air strike on a busy Yemeni market, which left at least 51 people, 40 of whom were children, dead.
Pat Gaffney, general secretary of Pax Christi, warned that greed is the chief factor behind the arms trade and has called on our readers to help put an end to it.
“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade,” Ms Gaffney told The Catholic Universe.
Mr Burt has faced repeated calls to stop the sale of arms to Riyadh after the strike on 9th August. However, he defended the UK’s position on arms sales, stating that Saudi Arabia was under attack from Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.
“The coalition acted in support of a legitimate government, they’re currently having missiles fired at civilian targets in their own states,” he said. “I don’t see the political justification for withdrawing our arms.”
Mr Burt claimed that arms exports to Saudi Arabia are assessed against strict criteria.
“The key test is whether there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, we take this very seriously and keep the licensing decisions under careful review,” he added.
However, Human Rights Watch said the attack which hit the bus added to the coalition’s “already gruesome track record of killing civilians at weddings, funerals, hospitals and schools in Yemen” and urged countries to “immediately halt weapons sales” to Saudi Arabia.
Ms Gaffney also rubbished the response from the UK Government.
Read more about this story in this week’s Catholic Universe.
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Picture: A demonstrator, dressed as Jesus with a crown of thorns, protests against the Arms Trade outside the European Aerospace and Defence Seminar. (Matthew Fearn/PA).