10 years on from the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising and the UK is still arming repression in Egypt

  • UK has licensed at least ¬£218 million worth of arms to Egypt since the 2011 uprising
  • Licences include small arms, ammunition and armoured vehicles. UK has also provided police and military training
  • Today marks 10 years since ‘day of anger’ that marked start of Egyptian uprising

 

Campaign Against Arms Trade has called for the UK Government to end its arms sales and support for the repressive Egyptian authorities. Today is the 10th anniversary of the ‘day of anger’ which saw a brutal crackdown on mass pro-democracy protests by the Egyptian authorities.

January 25th 2011, was the first of 18 days of protest which preceded the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as President. One leaked government report found that over 800 protesters were killed by Egyptian police over the course of the uprising.

At least 1,300 people were killed during protests in July-August 2013. Since then, hundreds of people have disappeared, either killed or imprisoned by the police or army, and tens of thousands of people have been put in prison.

After these massacres, EU countries agreed to suspend and review licences for ‚Äúany equipment which might be used for internal repression‚ÄĚ. The UK government¬†paused 48 of its¬†agreements to supply Egypt with arms. However, the sales quickly resumed.

Since President al-Sisi took power in 2014, Egypt has seen some of the worst human rights abuses in its modern history. A 2019 submission to the UN by human rights groups¬†concluded¬†that “torture is a systematic practice in Egypt.”

Despite the repression and abuse, the UK continues to supply Egypt with a range of military equipment and the government has designated it a ‘core market‘ for further arms sales. In¬†2015¬†and¬†2020, Sisi made high-profile visits to Downing Street.

Since January 2011, the UK has licensed at least £218 million worth of arms to Egypt. These arms sales include:

  • ¬£49 million worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)
  • ¬£49 million worth of ML10 licences (components for aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • ¬£22 million worth of ML1 licences (small arms)
  • ¬£2.6 million worth of PL5001 licences (Security and para-military police goods)
This is a conservative total that does not include arms sold using the secretive and opaque Open Licence system. This allows weapons to be transferred without a total value being published.
A Freedom of Information request by CAAT found that the UK has also provided training to the Egyptian police as recently as 2019, as well as military training for the Egyptian armed forces.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: 10 years ago, millions of people across Egypt took to the street in protest against the violent repression of the Mubarak regime. The UK was among the arms-dealing governments that had ignored the atrocities until then, just as it is willingly ignoring them today.

The Egyptian authorities have an appalling record of torture and other abuses. The arms sales need to stop, and so does the hypocritical foreign policy that has allowed Boris Johnson and his colleagues to talk about the importance of human rights while providing an uncritical political and military support for Sisi and his brutal forces.”

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