Halloween protest exposes skeletons in cupboard
The UK government claims that Egypt owes it £100 m, but that it doesn’t know where that debt came from. But in the last few days we have uncovered information in the National Archives that shows that part of Egypt’s debt to the UK does, as we suspected, come from arms sales to Mubarak and his predecessor Sadat.
Some of the dodgy deals with Mubarak backed by the UK’s Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) include the construction of a tank factory and supply of Rapier missiles. And it’s not just Egypt, the UK is expecting hundreds of millions from Indonesia, Iraq and Kenya for deals done with their former dictators.
On Monday, campaigners from around the country took part in a creative, Halloween-themed, protest outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to call for an immediate audit of these ‘Dictator Debts’ and the cancellation of those which are found to be unjust. Demonstrators handed in more than three thousand more postcards calling for Vince Cable to take action.
The demonstration in London coincided with the first conference of the Cairo-based Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debt. Dina Makram-Ebeid, who spoke in London on behalf of the campaign, said “If the U.K government is in earnest in its support for democracy in post-revolutionary Egypt, it should be telling the Egyptian people what they are paying for and not demanding that they carry the burden of repaying illegitimate loans. Dropping Egypt's debt is fundamental to achieving the goals of 'bread, freedom and human dignity' that the people revolted for early this year".
Earlier in the day in London over 50 people learnt about how these secretive debts came about at a workshop organised by Jubilee Debt Campaign with speakers from Campaign Against Arms Trade and the Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debt. This was followed by a visit to parliament to speak to MPs face to face about the issue.
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