Quakers lobby against Yemen arms sales

Despite widespread public opposition in Scotland, ‘weapons and military goods made in Scotland...are all in operation with the Saudi-led coalition forces.’

The Scottish Quaker parliamentary engagement officer Andrew Tomlinson is urging Friends to support a parliamentary motion on the Yemen crisis: The motion submitted by Alex Rowley MSP in July highlights the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen and raises concerns about the way in which the UK is enabling this conflict through the sale of armaments.

Writing in the Central Edinburgh newsletter Terrace Talk, Andrew Tomlinson said: ‘Many of you will have read the recent Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) report “Made in Scotland” which highlights the role that many Scottish companies are playing in this conflict. We have written to Ivan Mckee (Scottish government minister for Business, Trade and Tourism) expressing our concerns about this.’

The report showed that at least sixteen arms companies operating in Scotland have applied for military export licences to Saudi-led coalition members or worked directly with military forces since 2008. Despite widespread public opposition in Scotland, ‘weapons and military goods made in Scotland, from Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Midlothian, Glasgow and Lanarkshire, are all in operation with the Saudi-led coalition forces’, says the report.

Andrew Tomlinson added: ‘While this motion is largely symbolic, it can play a significant role in raising awareness of the issue and highlighting the strength of opinion within the parliament. If this motion gains significant support from MSPs it will make it easier to put pressure on the Scottish government to consider the ways in which Scottish companies, many of whom receive support from the Scottish government, are contributing to the crisis.’

Motions in the Scottish parliament can be supported by MSPs up to six weeks after their submission.

Friends are also being urged to support an Early Day Motion set up by MPs to demand action from the British government to end the arms sales to Israel that are fuelling the violence in Gaza and the West Bank. So far, 59 MPs have signed. Quakers have been writing to their MPs on the matter.

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