Suspend the $15-billion sale of LAV IIIs to Saudi Arabia and sign the Arms Treaty (ATT)
The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace is deeply concerned that the newly- elected Canadian government seems intent on completing the $15-billion sale of Canadian-made LAV III vehicles to Saudi Arabia initiated by the former government. The Canadian Government is able to stop or suspend exports under its export permit regime (Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press,19 Jan 2016). We strongly urge the government to suspend this $15-billion sale and find ways to grow employment in industries that support a peaceful and just world.
The LAV IIIs, to be supplied over 14 years, are clearly intended for domestic use. When the sale was first announced in 2015, Jonathan Manthorpe (iPolitics, 23 Jan 2015) wrote, ‘ According to reports in a variety of specialist military publications — including Jane’s, the UK-based group of defence industry publications — the LAV IIIs are for the National Guard (SANG), a 100,000-strong force …. whose prime task is to protect King Abdullah and the royal family from domestic opponents.’
Saudi Arabia is an absolute, hereditary monarchy with a very bad human rights record. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported on Saudi Arabia’s numerous executions and its repression of women, activists and those publicly practicing religions other than the officially approved one. This year, 2016, Amnesty International reported that women ‘continue to be subject to discrimination in law and practice largely because of a male guardianship system…and were also Inadequately protected against sexual and other violence’. On 2 Jan, 2016, in one day, across 13 cities, 47 people were beheaded, including Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Saudi Arabian, Shia cleric, who already had been arrested and tortured for his role leading a peaceful democratic uprising in 2011. Philip Luther of Amnesty International points out that 3 young men who were under 18 at the time of their arrest for participating in the uprising remain under threat of execution for ‘crimes’.they committed while they were children. It is horrible to think that products manufactured in Canada aid such murderous oppression.
In an article published on 13 Jan 2016 in NOW (an alternate weekly newspaper in Toronto), Mathew Behrens wrote that official Canadian export policy prohibits Canada from signing deals with countries ‘whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens … ‘ . He also reminds us that Canada is the only NATO member not to have signed the 2014 Arms Treaty (ATT), which lists armoured combat vehicles among controlled items of concern.
We strongly urge the government to be ‘the compassionate and constructive voice in the world’ Prime Minster Justin Trudeau spoke of the day after his successful election, and to suspend the $15-billion sale of LAV IIIs to Saudi Arabia and sign the ATT.