Arms control campaigners take armoured tank through streets of London to call for tough Arms treaty

Final talks for historic new treaty are set to begin on Monday 2 July

Londoners were today (Weds 27 June) in for a surprise as arms control campaigners drove an armoured battle tank through the streets of the capital to call for an effective new international Arms Treaty.

Campaigners from the Control Arms Coalition, of which Amnesty International and Oxfam are part, took the 17-tonne decommissioned gun tank around Parliament Square and along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, before heading off to deliver urgent appeals to the embassies of five countries – India, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya and the United States – all of which are critical to the talks which begin next week (2 July).

Currently, there are no global legally-binding controls upon the international trade of guns and military equipment – including battle tanks.  Consequently for decades weapons have been used to kill, maim and torture civilians in both conflict and non-conflict situations. The poorly-regulated Arms has fuelled conflict and driven people around the world into deep poverty.

Amnesty International has documented several incidents where tanks have been used to commit terrible atrocities against ordinary people. It has recorded how tanks have been used to fire at civilian areas in Syria, to terrorise families in Libya, and to shell civilian areas in conflict zones, such as in parts of South Sudan.

An historic new international Arms Treaty has the potential to substantially reduce the chances of tanks, and all other military hardware, weapons and ammunition ending up in the wrong hands.  However it is dependent on governments around the world – including the UK – agreeing to not compromise on key principles, including human rights and sustainable development when they meet at the United Nations in New York next month.

Amnesty International’s Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said:
"Armoured tanks are – thankfully – not a regular sight on the streets of London. But tragically tanks and other military equipment are used on a daily basis to decimate the lives of thousands of people in places around the world. When governments meet next month to discuss an international Arms treaty, they must not compromise on binding rules that will prevent the sale of tanks such as these to destinations where they are likely to fuel serious human rights violations or drive poverty even deeper."

Anna MacDonald, Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control, said:
“Driving a tank through central London is a dramatic way of highlighting all that is wrong with the Arms today. The new treaty must close all existing dangerous loopholes which allow irresponsible and immoral arms deals to take place each day.

“Negotiations start in New York next week and this is our last chance before they begin to underline how important it is that the prospective Arms Treaty really makes a difference to people’s lives.”

The London event part of a global day of action on Wednesday 27 June that will see people in dozens of countries across the world demand world leaders deliver a strong Arms Treaty.  This includes a mass rally in Times Square New York, a drama in Madrid, parliamentary debates and petition handovers to governments in every region of the world.  Hundreds of thousands of people have already signed the global petition calling for an end to the irresponsible trade in arms.

Notes to the Editor

  •  A UK petition will also be handed into No.10 Downing Street at 4pm on Wednesday. Photographers are invited to attend.

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