Saudis crush Bahraini democrats with Canadian arms

This video is called Bahrain – Nurse Got Shot By Bahrain Dictator Government and Saudi Military.

From the Ottawa Citizen in Canada:

Canadian arms used by Saudis to crush protest

Ontario-made armoured vehicles helped put down unrest in Bahrain

By Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen February 24, 2012 12:00 AM

Canadian arms companies were given free rein last year as the federal government tripled the amount of military weapons and ammunition licensed for export to foreign countries to more than $12 billion.

The largest benefactor at $4 billion was Saudi Arabia, which is believed to have used Canadian-made armoured vehicles to help put down antigovernment protests in neighbouring Bahrain during the early days of the Arab Spring.

The government figures, tabled in the House of Commons a few weeks ago, do not say exactly what Canadian made arms the government approved for export or how much was actually delivered.

But the total in government-approved arms export licences for Saudi Arabia was more than 100 times the $35 million approved in 2010.

The Middle Eastern kingdom also has quietly purchased hundreds of LAV-3s from General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ont., over the years and was expected to receive more than 700 last year.

The LAVS are synonymous in Canada with this country’s combat mission to Afghanistan, where the wheeled, armoured vehicles earned their stripes as the military’s main workhorse.

Video and photos shot by protesters and media outlets in March 2011 showed Saudi troops using LAV-3s to suppress an uprising inspired by events in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and opposed to Bahrain’s ruling Khalifa family.

More than 30 protesters were killed, hundreds wounded and nearly 3,000 arrested in the joint Saudi-Bahraini crackdown, which was largely ignored by Canada and other Western states because of Bahrain’s strategic relationship with the U.S.

In announcing this past June that General Dynamics Land Systems had been awarded a contract to provide up to 82 more LAV-3s to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Defense Co-operation Agency wrote the deal would “serve to make a key strategic partner … more capable of defeating those who would threaten regional stability and less reliant on the deployment of U.S. forces to maintain or restore stability in the Middle East.”

Saudi Arabia also has a poor human-rights record, with laws discriminating against women and religious minorities as well as bans on public protests and free speech.

“Saudi Arabia responded with unflinching repression to demands by citizens for greater democracy after the pro-democracy Arab Spring movements,” reads a recent Human Rights Watch report.

The United Kingdom and Australia were second and third after Saudi Arabia in approved export licences for weapons and ammunition at $3.5 billion and $1 billion, respectively. The government also approved $58 million in arms exports to Afghanistan as well as $20 million to Egypt, $60 million to Jamaica and $149 million to South Africa.

The figures do not include exports to Canada’s largest arms customer, the U.S.

Arms control activist Ken Epps said that while the Conservative government has ended the practice of tabling annual reports on Canadian arms sales, the country has consistently ranked among the top 15 countries, and often breaks into the top 10.

Epps acknowledged the apparent increase will be a boon for some segments of the Canadian economy, particularly the manufacturing industry, which has been hit hard by layoffs and plant closures in recent years.

But Canada also has an obligation to ensure it doesn’t sell arms to countries with poor human-rights records, he said, or governments that will use the weapons against civilians.

“The LAV-3 and other similar vehicles that Canada has supplied to the Saudi Arabian National Guard are exactly the kind of equipment that would be used to put down demonstrations and used against civilian populations,” he said.

“I think this is an example of where economic expediency has overridden the guidelines.”

Given the involvement of SNC Lavalin and other Canadian firms in Libya and across the Middle East, Parliament needs to take a serious look at what the country’s companies are around the world, said Steven Staples, president of the Ottawa based Rideau Institute, which sounded the alarm about the LAV exports to Saudi Arabia last year.

“People (are) upset with Canadian companies that are involved in aiding dictatorships,” he said.

“It’s pretty clear that these exports are going to pernicious human-rights violators. They’re being used with very clear evidence to suppress this Arab Spring uprising that we’re all celebrating in the West.”

TOP 10 EXPORT DESTINATIONS In order to export military weapons and ammunition, export licences must be granted by the federal government. The following countries received the most approved licences in 2011, by dollar value, rounded up to nearest dollar:

Saudi Arabia $4,023,866,082

Britain $3,574,454,437

Australia $1,030,532,670

Italy $418,897,031

United States $416,127,523

Germany $400,739,034

Netherlands $288,821,972

New Zealand $232,585,158

Switzerland $201,495,678

Israel $181,930,982

Swedish weapons sold to dictatorships: agency: here.

The SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing and military services companies, 2010: here.

Saudi special needs twins chained for 8 years: here.

Oh Canada! Imposing Austerity on the World’s Most Resource-Rich Country: here.

20 thoughts on “Saudis crush Bahraini democrats with Canadian arms

  1. Bahrain: 1,200 labourers from India, Bangladesh demand better wages

    Some 500 Asian workers went out on strike at an Asker construction camp, demanding better wages last week. Over 500 workers at a Khamis camp and 200 others at a Salmabad camp have also started strikes separately, the Daily Tribune reported February 20. All three construction sites are overseen by the same company.

    The labourers at the Asker camp said that they had been promised a pay rise in January. The company subsequently refused and instead some workers received lower wages than previously.

    The Daily Tribune reported that when the workers did not appear for work, company officials came to the camp with policemen and tried to take seven of the employees back with them to the police station. But other workers on hand prevented it and tried to air their grievances to the company officials, who rejected them.

    The officials then pasted a notice, which stated that the workers had to report to duty by February 19 and those who did not “are free to leave the organisation.”

    Ninety percent of labourers in the company are Indians and the rest are from Bangladesh.


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