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CANADA MUST PUT AN END TO SAUDI ARMS EXPORTS

    June 11, 2020

    MEDIA ADVISORY 

    June 11, 2020 

    CANADA MUST PUT AN END TO SAUDI ARMS EXPORTS  

    A broad coalition of civil society organizations, human rights organizations, labour organizations and concerned individuals are calling for the Canadian government to end arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. A vigil will be held on 11 June 2020 in London, Ontario, outside of General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada beginning at 1 pm, alongside demonstrations that will take place in cities across Canada and virtually. 

    Canada became a state party to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in September 2019. That same year, despite announcing a moratorium on new arms export permits to Saudi Arabia, Canada exported more than $2.8 billion worth of weapons to the Kingdom, representing approximately 75% of all non-US destined arms exports from Canada. In April 2020, Canada expressed full support for the United Nations Secretary General’s appeal for an immediate global ceasefire in all parts of the world, but later that month lifted its moratorium on new export permits to Saudi Arabia.  

    “The incompatibility of continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia with domestic and international arms control regulations has become impossible to deny,” said Cesar Jaramillo of Project Ploughshares. “Given continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Canada risks finding itself in non-compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty in its first year of being bound by this treaty. Each day that Canada continues arms exports to Saudi Arabia, its arms control and humanitarian credentials continue to crumble.” 

    Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate with disproportionate impacts on women and girls.  

    “The stakes are particularly high in Yemen, where years of conflict and war - including deliberate strikes on clinics and hospitals - have caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The threat posed by COVID-19 in these circumstances is horrifying. Now more than ever, Yemen needs peace,” said Christine Martin of Oxfam Canada. “The arming and equipping of a regime that systematically oppresses women, and that plays a central role in the war in Yemen and the militarisation of the region, is fundamentally incompatible with the Trudeau government’s pursuit of a ‘feminist foreign policy’ and undermines its efforts as a global gender champion,” adds Allison Pytlak of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. 

    The cross-country demonstrations on Thursday aim to illustrate socially productive alternatives to the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia. “Everyone has a right to decent work. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how war industries – including those which produce arms – have been able to shift production quickly to socially beneficial uses, including ventilators and personal protective equipment,” said Simon Black of Labour Against the Arms Trade. “We call for public investment in a rapid transition to peaceful green jobs that protects workers and their communities.”  

    Media Contacts: 

    Amnesty International: Lucy Scholey, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext. 236 lscholey@amnesty.ca 

    Amnistie internationale: Khoudia Ndiaye, directrice des communications, 514 766-9766 poste 5230 kndiaye@amnistie.ca  

    Labour Against the Arms Trade: Simon Black, Lead Organizer, 416-894-1662, sblack2@brocku.ca  

    Oxfam Canada: Paula Baker, Media Relations, 613-240-3047paula.baker@oxfam.ca   

    People for Peace, London: David Heap 519 859 3579 Wendy Goldsmith 519-281-3978. peopleforpeace.london@gmail.com  

    Project Ploughshares: Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director, 519-888-6541 ext. 24302. cjaramillo@ploughshares.ca  

    Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom: Allison Pytlak, Disarmament Programme Manager, allison.pytlak@wilpf.org