FAO Newsdesks - 13th March 2001
CAAT Activists Protest at Arms Trade Conference
CAAT activists today target an arms trade conference in the heart of London operated by Smi Conferences. Smi brings together high level government and military attendees including Procurement Directors, Program managers and International Business Development Directors.
Martin Hogbin said "SMI profits from the global arms market by arranging and hosting military symposia for the international arms trade. These conferences allow military multinationals to come together and develop aggressive strategies for creating new arms markets and exploiting existing regions of tension and militarised states to the fullest extent."
He continued "They are reducing warfare to a mercantile product to be packaged, marketed and sold."
The conferences provide companies with an opportunity to showcase their latest weapons and hardware and in the past have covered areas of strategic interest to arms dealers such as:
Israeli defence procurement:
Israel is currently internationally criticised for its use of excessive force and human rights abuses against the Palestinians.
Directed energy systems:
Laser Weapons are banned by UN convention and here they are being openly touted for their 'offensive capability'. Other energy weapons include microwave, infra-sound and Isotropic radiators. These controversial new technologies have primarily civilian control applications. When used, there is no forensic trail - the abuse of these weapons is untraceable.
As warfare moves into densely populated civilian areas the only possible result is more civilian casualties and human rights abuses. Since the end of the WWII the balance of war casualties has shifted so that more than 90% are unarmed civilians.
South African Defence procurement:
South Africa continues to be an extremely controversial arms customer with serious developmental problems and social deprivation. Despite this billions of pounds of weapons are being sold to the South Africa government.
Indian Defence Requirements in the 21st century:
The continued military build up of a nuclear power that is in border conflict in Kashmir with Pakistan is alarming in itself. India is a country where 1 in 5 people have access to clean water and 50% of the population are illiterate. There is little need for more forced marketing in the tools of death to this country.
Central and Eastern Europe Defence markets:
For countries that are just emerging from the cold war dependency on Russia and are fragile democracies more weaponry can only lead to a destabilisation and deprive their citizens of much needed social spending.
CAAT contact: Alan McLaughlin or Robin Oakley on +44-(0)-20 7281 0297 or 0958 449 006 (mob 24 hours)