Sunday, 18 November 2007

St Athan 'Defence' Academy

Peace activists in Wales are disappointed with the military training project 'the St Athan Defence Academy'.

For background information see here; here; here; and here.

It a very sad siutation to be in, where Wales is willing to pour £14 billion pounds into defence and war, and puts nothing into peace. How about establishing a Peace Academy where people learn the power of negotiation and other peaceful resolution techniques?

The Cluster Munition Coalition pointed out that one of the major companies involved in the academy, Raytheon, has been involved in manufacturing devices that carry cluster munitions in the past. The Coalition have said that in 2005 a European Parliament resolution was introduced to ban investments in companies, such as Raytheon, that have produced cluster munitions. In response to this, Norway and Belgium have already endorsed this call. Liverpool City Council has also recently adopted a similar position.

Yet the Welsh government has ignored all of these concerns, and instead launched a high profile development project with Raytheon. Raytheon is a central member of the Metrix Consortium that was awarded the St Athan Defence Training Academy contract in January 2007. The St Athan Defence Academy has been supported by all of the main political parties in Wales and sold to the public on the basis of alleged benefits to the economy.

It is shocking to hear that the Assembly has laid a welcome mat for such companies, especially after other governments have turned their backs on them.

Raytheon is still producing the AGM154 Joint Standoff Weapon, which according to its website:

"is a family of low-cost, highly lethal weapons that can engage a wide spectrum of targets – from soft targets to hardened point targets – over a range of threat environments by using highly integrated Global Positioning System and Inertial Measurement System guidance.”

A spokesperson from the Coalition group said:

“It has been reported that a Raytheon device hit the Shu’ale market in Baghdad in 2003, killing at least 62 civilians, and that a Raytheon device hit Qana in Lebanon in 2006, killing at least 28 civilians, including 16 children.”

Weapons are not 100% accurate. Their use will lead to civilian and military deaths. Do we want that associated with Wales? Dim Diolch.

The "threat to the safety and security of this country and its people" (Rhodri Morgan) cannot be alleviated by a £14bn pound academy. The threat, created after the UK and the UK illegally invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, can only be reduced by thinking about peaceful ways to live in this world together, instead of trying to blast each other out of existence.

It is particularly surprising that Plaid Cymru signed up to the St Athan's Defence Academy - it's exactly the sort of thing they would have been protesting against previously.

No comments: