After security forces broke into camps of protesters in Egypt on Wednesday, killing hundreds, campaigners have called upon the UK government to end all arms sales with the country immediately.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) said that the crisis, which has so far caused the deaths of at least 638 people, including Sky News cameraman Mick Deane, demonstrates a need for the UK to act responsibly in its dealings with Egypt.
Sarah Waldon, a campaigner at CAAT, said, “The UK government is supposedly ‘deeply concerned’. On Wednesday night Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt told Newsnight that the British government is on the side of the Egyptian people. If that’s true, then it needs to stop the arms sales immediately – all of them.”
It was revealed in July that the government had authorised some 3,000 arms export licences with 27 countries. Sir John Stanley, chair of the House of Commons’ committee on arms exports control, said there were some “serious human rights concerns” with some of the deals.
Waldon added, “We are concerned that the government is supplying arms to regimes that are unstable and using these arms against their own people.”
Tensions have been growing in Egypt since 2011, when president Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign after demonstrations calling for an end to his regime.
Mubarak was replaced by Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt, but was overthrown by a military overthrow in July.
One woman told the BBC, “My son was in a peaceful sitting, defending his cause, defending his vote, defending freedom, and they shot him with a bullet in his heart”.
US senator John McCain also called for US military aid to be cut off to Egypt.