Wed 16 Nov, 2022

The World Cup has given the Qatari dictatorship a huge propaganda platform. But it has also put their appalling human rights record under the microscope like never before. Ross Greer MSP

Since the Tories were elected in May 2010, the UK has licenced £3.4 billion worth of lethal weaponry to the Qatari regime forces who will be policing this year’s World Cup.

The sales have continued unabated, even as the Qatari police have unleashed repressive crackdowns and committed human rights abuses, according to UK government statistics analysed by human rights campaigners and the Scottish Greens. 

Qatari officials and security forces have been condemned for their inhumane treatment of LGBTI+ groups and of migrant workers in particular, with world leaders and human rights groups speaking out.

Analysis by the Guardian of data from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka found that as of early 2021, an average of twelve migrant workers from those nations had died every week in the decade since Qatar won the selection to host this year’s men's football World Cup.

Yet under successive  governments, both Tory and Labour, the UK has approved the sale of high impact weapons while also effectively endorsing the regime with their attendance at this year’s World Cup. UK government figures show that licences include.

  • £2.6 billion worth of ML10 licences (aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £765 million worth of ML4 licences (grenades, missiles, bombs, countermeasures)
  • £20 million worth of ML1 licences (small arms)
  • £4.2 million worth of ML3 licences (ammunition)

Equipment approved includes machine guns, ammunition, weapon sights, assault rifles and ‘anti-riot’ shields, according to UK government statistics seen by the Scottish Greens, who have condemned the Tories’ complicity and demanded an immediate halt to all arms sales to the regime.

Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP said:

"The World Cup has given the Qatari dictatorship a huge propaganda platform. But it has also put their appalling human rights record under the microscope like never before. 

"One reason why the regime has been able to inflict the atrocities and abuses that it has against LGBT+ people, women, migrant workers and others is because of the vast international support it has received from complicit governments like the one in Westminster. 

“These abuses have been happening for years, and Downing Street has armed and supported the regime every step of the way. Every time the UK government approves an arms sale it is complicit in the suffering of ordinary people in Qatar. 

“It is also sending a loud and clear message that the rights of Qatari people and human rights defenders don't matter, that their lives are less important than arms company profits.

“The UK Government must halt these sales and end its support of a regime with such a horrendous record of human rights abuses. To do otherwise is to be knowingly complicit in the oppression and violence.”

Notes

Every three months the UK government publishes quarterly arms licence reports: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data#quarterly-reports 

These have been compiled by human rights campaigners. 

An overview of UK arms licences to Qatar since 2010 is available at https://caat.org.uk/data/exports-uk/overview?region=Qatar&date_from=2010-05 

A breakdown of licences by weapon type is available at 

https://caat.org.uk/data/exports-uk/rating?region=Qatar&date_from=2010-05 

Guardian analysis of migrant worker deaths in Qatar, February 2021:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/23/revealed-migrant-worker-deaths-qatar-fifa-world-cup-2022 

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