Mercenaries protest opposes Afghan war

7 October 2011 - 4:16pm
Press release

NEWS PEGS
Saturday, 8 October 2011  National demonstration marks 10 years of the Afghanistan war
2-9 October 2011              Week of action to campaign over armed military use of drones

WHEN?    12 noon-1.00 pm BST Saturday, 8 October 2011 
WHERE?  Trafalgar Square, London WC2 5DN
WHAT?    Activists dress as private military guards and wield replica guns

‘Companies have now made a killing for a decade’

Campaigners demanding British troops withdraw from Afghanistan will today dress as private military company guards and carry replica guns when they demonstrate against companies making a killing amid a decade of war there.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want will play a key part in the Stop the War Coalition rally today to mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghan war and will also protest over civilian casualties caused by the UK’s increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

The charity points out that lack of accountability of private soldiers has led to unchecked violence and abuses of human rights.

Six private firms have earned more than £240 million in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past five years.

In April the Daily Mirror reported the use of mercenaries to gather intelligence in Afghanistan amid creeping privatisation of the war.

Private security firms earlier provided bodyguards and police training, but Hereford-based Minimal Risk was contracted to take over intelligence work normally done by regular troops.

In February this year War on Want’s report The Great Game called for UK troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the charity has long pressed for UK government controls on mercenaries.

War on Want executive director John Hilary, who will speak at the mass assembly in London’s Trafalgar Square, said: “The growing use of unregulated private military companies and drones underlines how companies have made a killing in Afghanistan for a decade. Meanwhile development aid is being abused in order to pursue military goals and to privatise the Afghan economy. The government must withdraw troops now and support a political solution under UN auspices, based on Afghans’ self-determination, security and human rights."

The rally comes during a week of action organised by the Drones Campaign Network, which warns that Britain and the US have used strikes with drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Libya.


NOTES TO EDITORS:
•    The Stop the War mass assembly starts at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square, London WC2 5DN.
•    The War on Want report The Great Game can be downloaded at www.waronwant.org 

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728. pcollins@waronwant.org

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