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    UK Ships Arms Worth Millions to Venezuela, While Alleging Human Rights Abuses

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    It's been revealed the UK has sold military equipment worth millions to Venezuela since 2008, despite Foreign Office "concern" about human rights in the country. The exposure suggests the UK may be more than willing to sell weapons to any state willing to pay - and official concern for human rights in certain countries may not be entirely earnest.

    The figures show $3.25 million in military goods have been sold to Caracas since 2008, including components for military radar, weapon sights, military aircraft engines and crowd control equipment.

    Despite this trove, the UK government has been volubly condemnatory of both the former government of Hugo Chavez, and Nicolas Maduro's current administration, in particular for their response to large-scale protests.

    Given the UK's status as the world's second-largest arms exporter, it's perhaps unsurprising even state-mandated enemy countries have been able to acquire British-made arms — however, that Venezuela features on a government report listing 30 countries where the UK is concerned about the state of human rights and democracy maximizes the hypocrisy.

    Perversely, the introduction to the report states promoting the values that Britain "holds dear" is not an "optional extra, still less a vainglorious addition to our diplomacy" — it is in keeping with "centuries of tradition, part of who we are."

    Venezuela is not alone in this regard — in fact, Campaign Against the Arms Trade figures indicate the UK has exported arms totaling $5.3 billion in value to 22 of the listed nations since 2015. In 2016 alone, $389 million was sent to Saudi Arabia, US$324 million to China, US$12 million to Egypt and $5.2 million to Turkmenistan.

    Two conclusions one might draw from this epic disconnect are the UK government is not as concerned with human rights as official rhetoric so frequently suggests — and many countries are charged with human rights abuses not out of genuine outrage, but political motives.

    Similarly, the UK took a leading role in denouncing the response of Bashar al-Assad's government to the foreign insurgency in Syria, and attempted to effect his removal from power on that basis — but condemnation of any kind of the government of Bahrain has been entirely absent from mainstream discourse.

    An attempted uprising in the country by genuine dissident citizens was brutally suppressed by government forces, and more generally the ruling monarchy has been condemned by a variety of human rights groups for its record of political repression of genuine dissidents within its borders, which has seen unarmed protesters fired upon by government forces, opponents detained without charge, and the use of torture to extract confessions.

    Furthermore, the UK government approved sales totaling $370 million Saudi Arabia in the six months after the infamous October 2016 airstrike on a funeral hall in Yemen, which killed 140 and injured hundreds. The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of purposefully targeting civilians in the Yemeni civil war, and the UN has warned the UK could be complicit in Saudi war crimes.


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    arms exports, defense industry, hypocrisy, arms trade, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Michael Fallon, Nicolas Maduro, United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Venezuela
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