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Issue #1879      July 31, 2019

Stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE!

New evidence proves beyond doubt that the Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS) is selling weapons to the UAE and Saudi armed forces, despite company denials. Both countries are the subject of allegations of war crimes in the war in Yemen.

“Secrecy and lies are being used to conceal from the Australian people that Australian manufactured weapons are being used in appalling human rights violations. Transparency, honesty, and morality are being sacrificed to profits,” said Denis Doherty from the Anti-Bases Coalition.

“Pouring more weapons into the region will cause more deaths and destruction but will boost the super profits of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon,” he said.

New evidence

Secret photos taken in a warehouse at Sydney Airport record four EOS consignments for export in June and July, two each to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

One of the photos shows a pallet of EOS weapons parts destined for the “UAE Armed Forces, Joint Logistic Command” in Abu Dhabi.

Sales to Saudi Arabia

Earlier this year EOS CEO Dr Ben Greene stated that his company has no direct contracts with the Saudi government but does export RWS units to the US-based company Orbital ATK which then exports them to Saudi Arabia.

However a photo shows EOS is sending Remote Weapons System (RWS) items directly to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Arms and Explosives in Riyadh, without an intermediary.

Remote Weapons System

The EOS RWS is a collection of sensors and a swiveling mount set around a small cannon, heavy machine gun or missile launcher which is mounted on military and light vehicles and fired remotely.

EOS CEO Ben Greene said the RWS significantly enhances lethality and protection without compromising mobility, and at low cost.”

EOS Chairman Fred Bart claimed in April that, “No EOS product has ever been deployed to or used in Yemen”. The claim is hard to believe when the Australian government and the company refuse disclose who the end user is or what guarantees they have received from end users about how or where the weapons systems will be used.

Government criticised

The Australian government is facing increasing criticism for granting EOS defence export licences and providing the company with a $36 million subsidy to support its exports.

A growing arms trade with Middle East countries was part of the Turnbull government’s Defence Export Strategy which the Morrison government is continuing. This includes $3.8 billion government spending to make Australia the 10th largest arms exporter in the world. It is currently the 20th largest.

Australia is a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty that says signatories must block any arms deal if there is evidence that the weapons will be used against civilians. However, it is hard to see how the government can comply with this requirement when it admits that it does not run any checks once the product has left the country.

And Australia violated its treaty obligations during the 24-year Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

Victims of the war

It is highly probable that Australian-made weapons are being used in the war in Yemen which has left 80 percent of the population – about 24 million people – in need of life-saving humanitarian help.

The war, which began in 2015, has displaced more than three million people and brought widespread famine and disease.

Recent reports suggest that as many as 100,000 people have been killed, many of them civilians, and about 80,000 children have died from the effects of war including starvation.

International action

The UK Court of Appeal has declared that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful. Germany, Denmark, Finland and Norway have suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The US Congress had been blocking sales of military weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE but in May president Trump defied the block to restart sales.

In May, efforts were made to prevent French weapons being loaded onto a Saudi Arabian ship in France.

In May, French and Italian waterside workers refused to load weapons for Saudi Arabia until an agreement was reached to load only non-lethal materiel.

Growing opposition

In Australia there is growing opposition to the bloody arms trade.

The Anti-Bases Coalition, Save the Children, Amnesty, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and other groups recently formed the Australian Arms Control Coalition to lobby the government to suspend the sale of weapons systems to Saudi Arabia until the country can prove they will not be used to commit war crimes.

In Sydney a monthly vigil organised by the Anti-Bases Coalition has been held since February outside the head office of EOS to draw attention to the Australian government’s supply of weapons to the major protagonist in the Yemen War.

JOIN the VIGIL

Outside EOS Sydney office
75 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Thursday 8 August12 noon to 1pm
Enquiries Denis 0418668098

Next article – Editorial – In Australia we also celebrate the national day of Cuba!

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