Last weekend I took part in a panel discussion at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). The question and answer session with the audience followed the screening of a documentary film entitled ‘We Are The Giant’ which was showing as part of the Take One Action Film Festival. It was not a film for the faint-hearted, narrating as it did the stories of ordinary individuals whose lives are transformed by the Arab Spring uprisings and their own stand on human rights in places like Libya, Syria, and Bahrain. Anyone who has any doubt about the suffering experienced by those countless refugees fleeing war and persecution we see featured daily in news reports would do well to watch this film. The bravery and determination on display against terrible odds is utterly inspiring and epitomised by my fellow panellist on the evening Maryam al-Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights activist and protagonist in the film. For years now Maryam and her family have been targeted relentlessly by the Bahraini state. Her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a leading human rights worker has been tortured in the most horrific way imaginable and is currently serving a life sentence for leading a campaign of non-violent resistance against the oppressive state authorities. Maryam herself has been sentenced in absentia to one year in prison by the Bahrain authorities, but remains determined to continue to expose abuses in the Gulf state that was once her home before exile in Europe. One of the main questions Maryjam was asked to address by the audience during the discussion in line with the Take One Action theme of the film festival was what action we as individuals can take to address the crises currently playing out in places like Syria and Bahrain? How can we help bring political pressure to bear at source against such countries to support democracy and human rights alongside a collective response to the refugee fallout from conflict? In the case of her own country, Bahrain, Maryjam points to the fact that the UK has been a steady supplier of arms to Bahrain over many years. Last year the British government signed a defence agreement with Bahrain to set up a UK naval base at Mina Salman. Bahrain too is a regular invitee to arms fairs including Farnborough International while over the years hundreds of Bahraini military officers have been trained by the Ministry of Defence at Sandhurst and other top colleges in the UK. These, insists Maryjam, are the pressure points on which human right activists need to focus and that we as individuals should make a point of letting our politicians know is at odds with any ethical foreign policy. Bahrain is not alone in this regard of course. Right now the UK government continues to do arms deals and other business with many unsavoury regimes. Tackling the issue of the international arms trade where it exacerbates conflict and supports aggression is at least a start in helping prevent already tense situations boiling over into all out conflict and the humanitarian toll that inevitably results. The time has come for us all to bring pressure to bear where it matters, helping to ensure that security is not dominated by military, arms and commercial interests alone.