Shame, shame, shame on you

Peace activists disturb arms lobby event with dance action

Today a group of peace activists took action at the Belgian Royal Military School in Brussels, where an arms lobby event is taking place. On the tunes of the disco-beat ‘shame shame shame’, the activists have blocked the entrance to the event.

The lobby event, organised by ‘Cercle Royal Mars and Mercurius”, aims at bringing together participants from industry and defence. Titled “Defence and Industry Together to the Future”, the events wants to provide “the opportunity to valorize your company directly with the key responsible within Defence”.

“This event is one of those typical events in the shady world of the arms industry. Policy makers and arms dealers meet each other, network and make deals. This will not make the world a better place. On the contrary. This will only increase the profits of the arms industry.”, states Bram Vranken, spokesperson from the peace organisation Vredesactie.

Controversial sponsors

The event is sponsored by United Technologies and Honeywell, both are among the biggest arms companies in the world and are highly controversial.

In 2012 United Technologies violated the arms embargo on China by selling military hardware. The hardware enabled the Chinese government to construct its own very first attack helicopter. Honeywell is an important supplier of the Israeli government. The company maintains the Israeli F15 en F16’s fighter jets which have been used for bombing the Gaza strip. In 2014 the Israeli military committed war crimes and killed thousands of civilians.

“These companies don’t mind about human rights or international humanitarian law”, says one of the activists. “The only thing they do care about is to increase their profits.”

There will be several arms lobbyists among the speakers at today’s event. One of them, Renaud Bellais, chief economist at the defence company Airbus, will be sitting on the opening panel “new partnerships defence-industry: opportunities for employment and economy”.

The lobby event will also provide in exposition space for arms companies. Among others, the Belgian company Sabca will exhibit its products. Sabca is an important producer of aircraft components and has contributed to the Turkish A400M aircraft carriers.

Heads of state discuss EU defence

The lobby-event takes place at the same time as an important European summit on defence. The financing of the arms industry is high on the agenda of this summit. At the beginning of June, the European Commission proposed to use 500 million euros for improving the competitiveness of the European arms industry through a European Defence Industrial Development Programme.

In theory an analysis of real security threats should form the basis of security policies, but in practice however an economic policy is the engine driving defence policies. Policy makers should serve the public interest, not work to increase the profits of a highly controversial industry.

“A world with more weapons is not a safer world. War only has losers, except for the arms industry.”, says Vranken. “Arms lobbyists determine our security policy. This has to stop.”