[DEBATE] : (Fwd) More signs of the times: guns and activists
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Sep 8 10:33:43 BST 2006
Merchants of Death Not Welcome in Cape Town
An Umzabalazo we Jubilee and Ceasefire Statement on AAD 2006
8th of Sept. 2006
At the Air Force Base Ysterplaat, from the 20th to the 24th of September
2006, arms and aerospace companies from across the world will man stalls
in a bazaar of weaponry, exhibiting their wares in plain daylight. This
arms bazaar is called, quite deceptively, "Africa Aerospace & Defence –
These arms companies will exhibit the latest and greatest in machinery
designed for only one purpose, the killing of human beings. Husbands,
fathers, son, daughter and infants will all die because of this
machinery. This is the harsh truth behind arms expos; they supply arms
for countries to go to war with other countries and against their own
Often, as was in the case of South Africa's own Arms Deal, these weapons
are bought on credit, essentially diverting the country's future
resources away from much needed social investments like healthcare and
education. Not only do innocent civilians die from missiles, they also
die because funds were diverted from clean water to arms purchases.
The irony behind this expo of death is that South Africa should know
better: Throughout the country's violent history, some of the very same
companies exhibiting at AAD 2006 sold military equipment to the
Apartheid State, which was used in the repression of South Africa's
black majority. For example, Dr. Beyers Naudé complained, in a
Daimler-Benz shareholder meeting (June 1989, Berlin), that:
"But Daimler-Benz does just not help us to prevent this violence. The
police shoot demonstrators, they even shoot mourners at funerals, as
happened, for example, in Langa. They shoot from cars driven by
Daimler-Benz engines. How am I supposed to understand your statement
that you are ready to help prevent the situation to turn into violence?
You will only succeed in doing so, if you cease supporting the military."
DaimlerChrysler has yet to apologise for supporting and prolonging
Apartheid, and will be exhibiting at AAD 2006.
Today, Mercedes-Benz (a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler) is still making
engines for armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Only now, those engines
will be installed in APCs built in South Africa for export to conflict
zones throughout Africa and the rest of the world. The Gila APC, with a
Mercedes-Benz engine, will be displayed at AAD 2006 in a bid to find
buyers. The Gila APC, with includes machine-guns and/or cannons, is
manufactured by Ivema, a South African, black-empowerment company. South
Africans should know better than to be willing participants in the
global arms trade.
The U.S. military budget request by the Bush Administration for Fiscal
Year 2006 was $441.6 billion while 2005 was $420.7 billion. This
includes the Defence Department budget, funding for the Department of
Energy (which includes nuclear weapons) and "other" which the source
does not define. It does not include other items such as money for the
Afghan and Iraq wars.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook 2006
reports that military expenditure reached $1118 billion (current dollars
in June 2006) - a 34% rise in the ten years since 1996. This increase
has been accompanied by a 15% rise in the combined arms sales of the 100
largest arms-producing companies. The United States was responsible for
80% of the increase in 2005 (48% of the total) and its military
expenditure accounts for almost half of the world total. The United
Kingdom, France, Japan and China follow far behind with 4-5% each.
Although China and India, the world's two emerging economic powers, are
spending only a fraction of what the USA is spending, the Institute
says, they are demonstrating a sustained increase in their military
expenditure and are contributing to the growth in military spending.
Sadly 50% of the worlds hungry live in India and 35% of its population –
350 million – is considered food insecure. The arms race between
Pakistan and India is obviously a contributing factor to its enormous
defence spending but it is also a willing buyer and if the US continues
to court it as a strategic partner, it will be encouraged to spend more
on arms - preferably from US companies.
Umzabalazo we Jubilee, Ceasefire and their allies decry this invasion of
merchants of death, parasites would wish to make fortunes off the
slaughter of other human beings. Umzabalazo we Jubilee and Ceasefire
call upon the Government of South Africa and the City of Cape Town to
cancel AAD 2006 and avoid an impending orgy of death for debt.
For more information, please contact:
Ceasefire National Executive Member
Umzabalazo we Jubilee Coordinator
Cell: +27 82 682 9177
SA police shoot unionist 4 times
September 7, 2006, 15 hours, 44 minutes and 28 seconds ago. By Mahap Msiza
A senior official of a South African trade union is reportedly in
hospital after being shot by the country's police four times, at close
Oupa Mbhele, an official of the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union
(Satawu), was wounded in his knees and lower legs and underwent surgery
at the Garden City Clinic, where he is reportedly in a serious condition.
Mbhele was possibly shot with rubber bullets - "at close range" in
Johannesburg on Tuesday during a protest action in Johannesburg.
Satawu has accused the police of trying to murder its Gauteng official.
The union - which is an affiliate of the labour federation the Congress
of South African Trade Unions - has opened a case of attempted murder
against the SA Police Service.
The union said in a statement on Thursday that the name and identity of
the offending officer "is known to Satawu" and that it will be following
the matter closely.
The incident follows a report released recently by the country's Freedom
of Expression Institute in South Africa on the conduct of the country's
law enforcement agencies which suggests that these agencies are being
used to silence organisations that are perceived to be anti-government.
The Freedom of Expression Institute's (FXI's) report found that
“legislation to regulate marches and protests is being misused by the
authorities to isolate and target groups opposed to the government's
The report noted "a disturbing pattern where organisations that
stridently oppose the government's macro-economic strategy and denounce
the continued impoverishment of the masses are finding themselves
isolated and targeted by local municipalities and [the government's] law
South Africa's largest labour federation, the Congress of South African
Trade Unions (Cosatu) - commenting on the report - said that the FXI
report was in line with its appeal to parliament to intervene in the
controversy over the recent banning of a number of protest marches.
The FXI said in many instances, the marches are deemed to be illegal
because local authorities, in contravention of the Regulation of
Gatherings Act, have refused to issue permits for them, and that though
the Act holds the notion of a demonstration as a right and not as being
contingent on the approval of the state, this right is often not
respected by local authorities,” it said.
According to Cosatu, the report reinforces the concern expressed by its
central executive committee in May at “the combination of many processes
to marginalise any opposition”.
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