Scottish parliament passes motion to halt US arms exports amid George Floyd protests

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The successful proposal was supported by 52 votes to 0 with 11 abstentions in a move to back the Black Lives Matter movement. It says the parliament “stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and considers that the UK government must immediately suspend all export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US”.

Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP who put forward the successful motion, said the “weapons of oppression”, which the UK government has allocated active export certificates for, were being used by a “racist state” to “brutalise marginalise communities”.

The same amendment also called for the creation of a slavery museum in Scotland “to address our historic links with the slave trade”.

Protesters in the US have seen police cars ploughing into crowds, use of teargas and baton rounds against peaceful gatherings.

International journalists and reporters were also targeted in arrests as well as being shot at while working on the field covering the demonstrations.

After the vote, MSP Mr Harvie said: “In the weeks since George Floyd’s brutal murder the world has been watching the appalling systematically racist police brutality and the systematically racist political establishment in the US that underpins that inequality.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has been inspiring and it needs to be heard right around the world: that racism exists in this country as well.

“I’m delighted that today the Scottish Parliament agreed a Green amendment in an anti-racism debate calling for an establishment of a Museum of Slavery to really shine a light on this country’s grim past connections with slavery and how the inequality of that history perpetuates even now.

“But our amendment also called for an immediate halt of UK exports of tear gas, rubber bullets, and riots gear to the US.

“Those weapons of oppression are being used by a racist state and it is unacceptable for us to be exporting them, putting those weapons into the hands of people who will brutalise marginalised communities.

“It’s important that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.”

US is one of the world’s largest consumer of UK arms, with almost £6bn worth certified for export since 2010, according to government export license records.

The licences involve £18m worth of ammunition, including “rubber bullets”, smoke and pyrotechnic rounds, CS gas grenades, and teargas.

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Teargas and rubber bullets are sold via an “open licence” procedure meaning the value of exports is not publicly declared. In total three separate licences were authorised for this provision.

Since 2010, Britain has licensed £800m of small arms to the United States with campaigners arguing a portion of which has possibly been destined toward police forces.

Assault rifles, sniper rifles and other guns were included in the transactions.

Around £2m in security goods such as riot shields were also included in licenses.

Speaking of the Scottish Parliament vote, Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “This is a welcome and important statement of leadership from the Scottish Parliament.

“It sends a very clear message and sets an important precedent. Now it is time for Westminster to act.

“The violence we have seen from police forces across the US has been appalling and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

“There must be an urgent investigation into what UK weapons have gone over, and if any of them have been used against protesters. There must also be a guarantee that these types of weapons will not be sold again.

“Police violence and racism are global issues. One reason why we have seen such a strong response to the brutal killing of George Floyd is because these issues are familiar to people around the world.

“While we stand in solidarity with campaigners in the US, it is also vitally important that we challenge the hypocrisy and complicity of governments like the one here in the UK.”

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