Stopping climate change also means stopping the vampires known as the arms industry

11 September 2019

On 10 September one of the world's biggest arms fairs began at London's ExCel Centre. In the week leading up to it, hundreds of protesters blockaded its set-up . Hiba Ahmad was one of those protesters and a member of Global Justice Now's youth network who helped organise the day of climate action on Friday 6 September to stop the arms fair. This is a transcript of her speech addressing fellow activists on that day.

Thank you all for being here today despite this godawful weather, thank you for standing in solidarity with communities across the world fighting the violent, planet-destroying imperialism of the warmongers looking to occupy our city for the next few days.

My name is Hiba Ahmad and I am a member of Our Future Now. For those of you who don’t know us, we are an autonomous group in Global Justice Now’s youth network fighting to create an inclusive, anti-capitalist, feminist, queer, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-ableist and ecological ‘future now’. 

I am here today to tell arms companies to do one and to introduce you to all the wonderful activists and comrades. They’ll explain why every committed environmentalist out there should not only work to stop climate change, but also stop the blood hungry warmongers who pollute and tear our planet apart, the vampires known as the arms industry.

I am also here today, blockading the set-up of the arms fair with you all, because I am a former refugee and current migrant. I have seen my country and people torn apart by the companies looking to sell arms here in the next couple of days.

I am a person whose land and community suffers every day from the trauma and pollution that the slow and fast violence of war creates.

The vicious cycle of war and greed

My home country of Iraq has been in continuous war since the early 1980s. These wars were partially due to the power-hungry and bloodthirsty Western-backed mass murderer and puppet Saddam Hussein. His US and UK backed war against Iran saw millions dead on both sides of the artificial border separating brethren communities, and his attacks on Kurdish and Shiite communities amounted to a genocide that the US and the UK governments, at the time, tried to cover up as Iranian.

But mostly, the wars Iraq has seen have been due to a thoroughly evil axis between fossil fuel companies, arms companies and the security sector looking for a good source of profit. The abundance of oil resources in Iraq made it a perfect target for a perpetual but very profitable war.

Because, think about it, corrupt politicians use taxpayer money to buy weapons off arms companies like BAE Systems, companies the ruling class all have shares in.

These purchases ensure that companies like BP and Shell can monopolise oil production in the occupied country, which generates mad profit for the oil industries, profit they share amongst themselves.

The oil extraction is then used to fuel more jets and tanks and armoured vehicles, which leads to more arms purchases, which leads to more fossil fuel extraction. The cycle goes on.

And with every bomb dropped and every gun fired, people have to live on deeply polluted lands where exploded and unexploded war debris leaks out and harms people with every rainfall and stormy wind.

Today, people are dying at unprecedented rates from horrible cancers in cities like Basra and Falluja thanks to the limitless greed of warmongers.  And children are born every day with life altering, and sometimes deadly, bodily disfigurations.

I wish I could say that this vicious cycle of war and greed is unique to my country but we have seen it time and time again in this century of unfettered, technologically advanced imperialist plunder. Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Honduras – these capitalist cycles of violence are fossil intense, and continue to destroy lives and tear apart communities after they officially end. The pollution from the wars is in our air, in our mind and bodies and on the lands.

I am here as a voice among many who have shared the same trauma and violence and the many who stand in solidarity with those who do. We are voices for healing, justice and power to the dispossessed and oppressed.

This week has been the culmination of the tireless work of organisations like the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. Our collective presence and joy in the face of state brutality is a reminder to them that we know of their evil and greed and we won’t stand for it.

No to war.

No to climate breakdown.

Solidarity with the victims of both, and justice for us all.

Photo: Darren Johnson/Flickr


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