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Saudi Leopards

Last week the Dutch parliamentary year finished, with on Thursday voting on hundreds of motions. Twelve of them were on arms export policy issues, many of them referring to the political storm in the Middle East and North Africa. The minister of Foreign Trade, Henk Bleker, was quick to advise against all motions. Nevertheless, late-night voting showed majority support for three of them,... read more >

Arms export policy used as greenwash

Thanks to mobile phones, the use of European weapons against brave Arab people demanding democracy is well-documented. Many Europeans were shocked, and journalists and parliamentarians publicly asked how this could have happened. We do have European arms export regulations, don't we? We were supposed to take human rights into consideration. Some people said this proves the need for a United... read more >

Secret meeting place for shady arms conference

Next Thursday (9 June) arms dealers and government officials meet in Amsterdam for the third annual Netherlands Offset Conference. This conference is about orders foreign defence corporations are obliged to place with Dutch companies when the Dutch military buys something from them (so called 'compensation orders'). For 445 Euros participants can network and listen to speakers from... read more >

Shareholder values

EADS is a Dutch public limited company (“NV”), with headquarters in the university town of Leiden. When this pan-European enterprise was set up in 2000, the Netherlands happened to be both tax haven and neutral ground, quite in the centre of Europe. Initially EADS, one of the world's largest arms companies, was just a letterbox company, registered in Schiphol. But after its... read more >

No dialogue with tanks and soldiers

With hardly any foreign journalist in the country the little news that is getting out of Syria comes through people who take great risks filming demonstrations against the brutal repression by the Assad regime. Hundreds of short movies have been uploaded on YouTube. Many of these show tanks and armoured vehicles used to intimidate and terrorise the demonstrators. An estimated 850 people have been... read more >

Supplier of Libyan cluster bombs claims compensation

In April The New York Times and Human Rights Watch revealed that Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi had used cluster bombs in attacks on residential areas in the western city of Misrata. The little-known cluster bomb turned out to be a MAT-120 mortar round that carries 21 submunitions up to a range of 5,500 to 6,800 meter. With its MAT-120, Spanish company Instalaza was one of the first... read more >

Spring sales at the Dutch military

In April Dutch Defence minister Hillen announced long-expected defence cuts as part of austerity measures in response to the economic crisis. As much as 12,000 jobs will be lost over the next year and some 6,000 people will lose their jobs. Sad as this may be for the people involved, even after the cuts the military will be one of the largest employers in the country with some 54,000 people on... read more >

Escalating border conflict no problem for Dutch arms trade with Thailand

The Thai-Cambodian border conflict has escalated over the past months. On 22 April at least six soldiers were killed and thousands of villagers had to flee to safety. Troops on both sides of the border have regularly exchanged fire since February. Thai and Cambodian soldiers have used guns, tanks and rockets in the fight over the territory that surrounds the 11th century Hindu temple of Preah... read more >

Global arms industry targets growth market in Rio

According to the latest figures of peace research institute SIPRI the world’s military spending continued its upward trend in 2010 with an increase of 1.3 per cent in real terms to a staggering $1630 billion. Not only is the amount completely beyond imagination, it goes against the European trends of falling military budgets. On the other side of the Atlantic spending is still going up. The... read more >

Damen expanding in Vietnam

Dutch shipyard group Damen has signed a contract with the Vietnamese government aiming at a “step up in cooperation and transfer of technologies”, Jane’s Defence Weekly is reporting today. The agreement was formalised in Hanoi by Vietnam’s deputy defence minister and Damen representatives. Damen entered into a joint venture in 2007 with Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group... read more >

Airbus Military manipulates Oxfam figure to bolster arms sales

Something that has struck me for years is the rather explicit nature of arms industry advertising. All military magazines have them. Promoting arms that ‘hit-to-kill’, clamouring being ‘battle proven’, or announcing ‘new tools for new rules’. In a way you get used to it. Occasionally though, I still get caught by amazement. As when I saw this recent ad by... read more >

Arms trade with Libya: yes-no-yes-no

Last year the potential sale of night vision equipment to Libya was debated at the highest government level in the Netherlands. Documents obtained by Campagne tegen Wapenhandel through the Dutch Freedom of Information Act reveal how human rights concerns were bought off for the sake of migration control. Important background: in 2004 an EU arms embargo was lifted, not because colonel Khadafy had... read more >

Security concerns in Yemen

For weeks protesters in Yemen have called for an end to president Saleh's 33-year-long rule. In response, the president sent tanks onto the streets of Sanaa. Last week Saleh forces killed over 40 protesters. Tanks and troops were also sent to the southern city of Aden.   Until just a few weeks ago President Saleh was an appreciated Western ally in the war against al-Qaeda. Yemen allowed... read more >

Saudi tanks ready to crush dissent - with Thales Nederland equipment

Today Saudi protesters called for a "Day of Rage" . But the Saudi regime, one of the world's most repressive has made public protests illegal. Still several hundred people went out on the streets of Riyadh last week, as well as in other cities in the oil-rich country. They shouted slogans against the monarchy and demanded the release of political prisoners. The Saudi Interior... read more >

Dutch queen selling frigates to Oman

Woke up this morning with the news that the queen's highly controversial state visit (now reduced to 'just a dinner') to Oman was all about selling frigates to the sultan. De Volkskrant, which broke the news, adds a new twist to what has become a hotly debated issue in the Netherlands. While at first the whole visit appeared to be centred around the Dutch stake in the port of Sohar... read more >