Control Arms: Rolling around London… in a Tank!
Abby Mason UK Campaigns Communications Officer
28th Jun 2012
Yesterday, Oxfam and Amnesty International UK drove a tank around central London, startling passers-by and even getting stopped by the police for a documentation check.
Just days away from the start of the United Nations Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in New York, (2-27 July) the tank journey in London was part of a global day of action for the Control Arms campaign. Thousands of campaigners from around the world took part - from banana manifestos in Times Square to fake arms sales in Barcelona.
Whilst the vehicle was admittedly unorthodox, it was the perfect way to deliver its message - that the world needs a strong, uncompromising treaty to regulate the global weapons trade.
See the tank in action
They see us rollin'
We made our way from Parliament, down the Strand and up to Regents Park. En route, the tank's accompanying activists delivered letters to the embassy or high commission of the USA, Brazil, Kenya, South Africa and India - five countries recognised as regional power players whose commitment to the treaty could be more robust. Passing Parliament Square and Big Ben, the tank clad in its Control Arms banner was a sight to behold. As it made its way around, the Queen's cavalry arrived at the same time, for a very surreal stand off...
Read about the tank in the Daily Mirror
The London action also saw over 40 MPs lining up to give their support in the Houses of Parliament - and the UK Control Arms petition with over 20,000 names being handed in to 10 Downing Street.
Meanwhile in Parliament, Labour MP Chris Bryant questioned the PM on whether or not ammunition should be included in the treaty. Mr Cameron restated his support, saying "
We back the arms trade treaty, as we have done for a considerable amount of time, and lobby very vigorously on that issue," and he promised to write to Mr Bryant shortly on the specific issue of ammunition.
Make a difference today
At the moment, the sale of bananas is more regulated than the sale of semi-automatic weapons and tanks. This is madness and must change. At the UN conference, over 150 governments will meet for most of July where they have the chance to agree a new treaty which could bring the sales of arms under control, help prevent weapons falling into the wrong hands to help to save thousands of lives.
There's still time to sign the international petition, which will be given to Ban Ki-moon on 1st July by Control Arms.