Cluster bombs on aisle 4, torture gear on 3

British Defence Minister Liam Fox is proud of U.K. arms traders. He welcomed dealers and customers from around the world to the 2011 Defence and Security Equipment (DSEi) arms fair in London.

Authoritarians come from far and wide to select the best weaponry and gear needed to suppress uprising multitudes. Leaders in Belarus, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Eritrea, Syria, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and other areas of extreme repression rely on developed nations for tools needed to suppress liberty.

The arms fair’s focus on commerce results in little respect for human rights issues. Therefore, few people were surprised that illegal weapons were on show. Organisers of the UK’s leading arms fair are under pressure to explain why the event was used to promote illegal torture equipment and cluster bombs.

Cluster munitions have been banned by the UK and most civilized nations, excepting the USA, which continues to deploy these inhuman devices in various theatres around the world. The Guardian wrote, Companies ejected from London arms fair for ‘promoting cluster bombs’

“The world’s largest arms fair has thrown out two exhibitors after they were found to be promoting cluster munitions that have been banned by the UK and condemned by more than 100 other countries.

“The organisers of the London exhibition said they had been unaware that the material was available and an investigation had been launched. But campaigners rounded on the Defence and Security Equipment International fair, saying it was “unbelievable” that more thorough checks had not been undertaken.

“The action was taken after Caroline Lucas, the Green party leader, discovered that Pakistani arms manufacturers were actively promoting “banned cluster bombs” at their pavilions. Details of the munitions were in brochures readily available to potential customers…”

The issue has arisen before at DSEi. In 2003, The Guardian reported:

“Cluster weapons were on show yesterday at the opening of Europe’s largest arms fair in London Docklands despite an appeal from the organisers to hide them away.

“The controversial weapons, which pose a potential threat to civilians because they contain many bomblets which can fail to explode in the initial attack, were on offer at the stand of an Israeli arms company, Israel Military Industries Ltd.

“The firm said it could provide new types of cluster weapons, now described as “cargo ammunition”. One is called Bomblet M85, which, IMI’s catalogue says, has been tested successfully in England.

“The company has manufactured tens of millions of the bomblets for Nato, central and eastern European, and Asian countries…”

Categories: International

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