CAAT Issues Condemnation of Weapons Fair

6 September 2001

CAAT will be protesting outside Defence Systems Equipment International (DSEI) from Tuesday 11 September to Friday 15 September. DSEI will be attended by many regimes embroiled in internal or external conflicts, entrenched in debt and countries that perpetrate human rights abuses. CAAT invite members of the media to join them.

Press and Media Meeting Point:

CAAT are expecting the day's protests to be larger than ever before. For safe passage through to our permanent protest site we recommend to meet at the following:

Kier Hardie, Recreation Ground, Canning Town, 9.30 - 10 a.m. Tuesday 11 September. Please contact CAAT office on 0207 281 0297 if you need a map faxed.

The shortest walk to the assembly point is from the Royal Victoria DLR station. Cross Victoria Dock Road into Munday Road, and then left into Appleby Road for the entrance to the Recreation Ground.

Canning Town station has Silver Link, Jubilee Line and DLR connections. If you are walking from here to the assembly point, come down Silvertown Way, then turn left into George Street, and straight across into Jude Street towards the Recreation Ground.

If you intend to arrive by car, take the A13 to Canning Town. Please park respecting local residents.

The issues behind DSEI

Countries officially invited by the UK government include:

Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, UAE, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Spearhead Ltd, the company who are running DSEI, have issued invites to:

Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay.

Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico,Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay.

Richard Bingley of CAAT said: "By handing the arrangements of DSEI to a private company the government is deliberately trying to distance itself from the embarrassing list of invites. The government is subverting it's ethical stance through the back door."

Development and Debt

DSEI attendees heavily indebted to the IMF include Ghana ($2.5 billion); Brazil ($2.9 billion);Jordan ($3.4 billion); Kenya ($89 million); Korea ($3.5 billion); the Philippines ($1.6 billion); Romania ($3 billion); Sri Lanka ($2 billion); Thailand ($1.9 billion); Turkey ($8.5 billion); Vietnam ($0.3 billion); ( http://www.imf.org). South Africa signed a £4bn purchase of predominantly UK equipment in December 1999. The deal is worth twice the SA housing budget and is one hundred times larger than SA's allocation for HIV/AIDS treatments. Tanzania receives an estimated £750m a year in aid from the World Bank/IMF, the EU, the UK and Scandinavian countries. This includes £35m-£70m from the heavily indebted poor countries' debt-relief initiative, championed by chancellor Gordon Brown.

Richard Bingley of CAAT said: "It is senseless of the UK government to preach about debt reduction and development when on the other hand it is enticing countries to purchase high-tech weaponry they can ill-afford."

Internal Conflict
Sri Lanka, Morocco, Angola, Nigeria, Algeria, Colombia, Russia

Example - Angola:
Angola: as its civil war continues. Both the government and the rebels, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), have been responsible for the violations; internally displaced persons has risen to an estimated 2.5 million, approximately 20% of Angola's population. ( http://www.hrw.org/report2001/angola/).

Incidents of deliberate mutilations have increased with UNITA rebels reportedly cutting off ears and hands. UNITA has increased its forcible recruitment of children and adults for its war effort, children as young as ten are seized and trained as soldiers. Offences committed by the government include a scorched earth policy, burning villages and killing civilians. Recent conflicts and human rights abuses were fuelled by new flows of arms into the country, although arms purchases by the government have declined. Ukraine, Russia, and Israel remain the main arms suppliers to Angola. All three will be present as DSEI. ( www.hrw.org/report2001/angola/ ).

Richard Bingley of CAAT said: "It's somewhat ironic, that the government spends so much time promoting the need for verbal solutions in Northern Ireland, yet finds it acceptable to support weapons trading outside of the UK in other bloody conflicts."

Human Rights Abuses
Algeria, China, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Uganda

Example - Algeria: Since the 1998 massacres there has been little success in ending the political violence that has ravaged the country for the last decade. Although levels of violence have diminished, 'brutal attacks on civilians and clashes between government forces and armed groups continue to claim 200 lives a month. ( http://www.hrw.org/report2001/angola/). Furthermore there are very few reports of perpetrators being caught and brought to justice. Thousands of people have disappeared after arrest by the security forces or paramilitary militias between 1993 and 1999, despite promises made in 1998 by the Algerian government that it would investigate the disappearances, no concrete action has been taken. (Amnesty International Report 2000, Amnesty International Publications, p29).

Richard Bingley of CAAT said: "The government should condemn human rights abusing countries instead of funding weapons fairs in the UK that positively welcome them."

Arming All Sides

DSEI indiscriminately promotes weapons sales to all sides of conflicts. Many of this year's invitees are from countries engaged in open hostilities, on the verge of conflict or in regions of extreme tension. For instance, India and Pakistan; Greece and Turkey; Israel delegates attend among invitees from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In Africa, the bloody civil war in Congo has been participated in by Uganda backing one side, and Angola, the other.

Richard Bingley at CAAT said:

"It's hideously absurd, that countries which spend most of their time at each other's throats can put aside differences for a week of retail therapy together."

For further information on DSEI please contact Richard Bingley or Kevin Mullen on +44-(0)-20 7281-0297 or 07947 230426. Alternatively, email media(at)caat·org·uk

ENDS

Page created 6 September 2001
 
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