The chairman of British arms manufacturer, BAE systems, has defended his company’s extensive deals with Saudi Arabia, describing the Saudi monarchy as an appropriate customer for its weapons and services.
“We are not here to judge the way that other governments work, we are here to do a job under the rules and regulations we are given,” Sir Roger Carr said Wednesday, after being confronted by shareholders affiliated with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) movement, during an annual general meeting.
Press TV reports:
The shareholder-turned-activists interrupted Carr five minutes into his speech while carrying posters denouncing BAE’s complicity in Saudi Arabia’s year-long military campaign against Yemen that has killed more than 9,500.
The posters bore the caption: “900 children killed in Yemen. Stop arming Saudi Arabia!”
“We will stop doing it when they tell us to stop doing it,” Carr (pictured below) said in response, insisting that Riyadh, as a crucial ally to London, was an entirely appropriate customer for his company.
The two shareholders were carried out of the venue and Carr kept on with his speech. But towards the end organizers were forced to switch off the microphones to prevent activists from taking over the podium.
— CAAT (@CAATuk) May 4, 2016
Around 30 activists with links to the CAAT had bought shares in the company to gain access to the AGM.
Earlier on Wednesday, a group of UK lawmakers called on the UK government to consider suspending weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.
“It is deeply disappointing that the UK government does not accept that breaches of international humanitarian law have taken place in Yemen,” the committee of MPs said in a report.
According to Amnesty International, the UK government sold 2,400 missiles and 58 warplanes to Saudi Arabia last year alone, enabling the regime to continue its war against Yemen.
BAE has employed 5,300 people in Saudi Arabia, who provide support to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and the Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF).
In 2016, 22 BAE Hawk warplanes were purchased by the Kingdom. BAE also brokered a mammoth £1.6 billion deal with the Riyadh in 2012, which included the supply and support for 22 Hawk fighter jets and 55 PC-21 Pilatus training combat planes.
On Tuesday, another British peace group, Sisters Against the Arms Trade, blockaded a missile factory owned by MBDA, in which BAE has a 37.5% stake.
A United Nations panel said this year that the Saudi-backed coalition has targeted civilians and have committed crimes against humanity in Yemen.
It noted that UK military sales to Saudi Arabia had soared since last March, amounting to nearly £3 billion between April and December 2015, just below 40 percent of total UK arms sales in that period.
— Sarah Reader (@SarahReader0) May 4, 2016
— Mubarak A Salah (@Mubarak_A_Salah) April 25, 2015