NGOs urge arms companies to boycott Bahrain defence conference over human rights concerns

In October 2017, rights groups called on AeroVironment, BAE Systems, Bell Helicopter, and Lockheed Martin to withdraw their participation from the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC). Military equipment sold to Bahrain at BIDEC could allegedly be used to commit further atrocities against civilians in Yemen and suppress basic human rights in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Defence Forces are part of the UN-blacklisted coalition fighting in Yemen, which is allegedly responsible for over 10,000 civilian casualties. A report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also expressed concerns regarding Bahrain’s “ongoing trend of major harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders.”

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited AeroVironment, BAE Systems, Bell Helicopter, and Lockheed Martin to respond to the allegations. The companies did not respond.

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Company non-response
6 November 2017

AeroVironment did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited AeroVironment to respond to human rights concerns regarding its participation in the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference. AeroVironment did not respond. 

Company non-response
6 November 2017

BAE Systems did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited BAE Systems to respond to human rights concerns regarding its participation in the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference. BAE Systems did not respond.

Company non-response
6 November 2017

Bell Helicopter did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Bell Helicopter to respond to human rights concerns regarding its participation in the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference. Bell Helicopter did not respond. 

Company non-response
6 November 2017

Lockheed Martin did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Lockheed Martin to respond to human rights concerns regarding its participation in the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference. Lockheed Martin did not respond. 

Article
17 October 2017

Bahrain’s first major arms fair, brought to you by British organisers

Author: Olivia Alabaster, Middle East Eye

Geopolitical rivalries and accusations of human rights abuses were ignored, as the first international arms fair in Bahrain opened its doors, with pavilions from both the US and Russia. The Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC) 2017, which runs over three days, is being organised by British company Clarion Events..[The conference] was condemned by human rights activists, who challenge Bahrain's years-long, violent campaign against dissent and protests against the government. "The UK public do not want our taxes to be spent promoting weapons sales to Bahrain and the other human-rights abusing regimes attending BIDEC," echoed the Campaign Against Arms Trade, in a statement...The UK has sold at least $85m of arms to Bahrain between 2000 and 2016, according to data from the Stockholm international Peace Research Institute. From June 2016 to June 2017, Bahrain’s government arrested, tortured, threatened or banned from travel at least 169 activists and opponents or their relatives, an Amnesty report said...A spokesperson for the UK government’s Department for International Trade Defence and Security Organisation...[said]:"I can confirm that [the UK government] takes a number of factors into account before deciding to exhibit at overseas exhibitions...You will be aware that the UK has one of the most stringent export licence criteria."

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Article
13 October 2017

Companies warned to boycott Bahrain’s defence exhibition

Author: Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

Arms sold at Bahrain’s upcoming defence exhibition may be used to commit further atrocities in the Yemen conflict, NGOs have warned companies. Companies have been urged to boycott next week’s Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC) in a letter signed by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR). The letter calls on BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA), Bell Helicopter and AeroVironment not to participate in the event, nor advertise or sell products to the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), until Bahrain withdraws from the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Bahraini authorities used BAE’s armoured vehicles to crush protests in 2011, according to CAAT. The NGO also reported that BAE’s warplanes have played a central role in Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen...

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