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News brief: Halifax peace activists call for end of Canadian weapon sales to Saudi Arabia

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KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Protesters gathered at the Eastern Passage location of Raytheon Canada Limited this morning to demand that Canada end weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, a country engaged in well-documented atrocities and war crimes against the Yemeni civilian population.

Raytheon’s US-based parent builds precision-guided missiles that kill and maim civilians and children in war-ravaged Yemen. Raytheon Canada Ltd supplies its parent in the US through subcontracts, including $63 million in missiles and components with Raytheon Missile Systems.

“This war started in 2015, and since then $5 billion has gone to Raytheon for bombs and weapons. As a result there are now 5 million people who are  one step away from famine,” says Kathrin Winkler, a member of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace, who attended the rally. 

“The current blockade (by the Saudi-led coalition) has not allowed any medication, any COVID assistance, any food to women and children who are starving,” Winkler says. “We do not want to have companies here that ship arms and kill on other shores.” 

Canada itself is also a major weapon supplier to the Saudis. This flow of Canadian weapons continued uninterrupted even during a moratorium on weapon sales because of the brutal murder of Jamal Kashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. 

Newly released figures show Canada sold nearly $3 billion worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in 2019 – more than double the total of the previous year, according to the Guardian. The bulk of the exports were light armoured vehicles, part of a deal with the Saudis worth C$14.8bn. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is one of the worst human rights offenders in the world.

“We are this little group here, trying to raise awareness of this invisible war. It’s not that we are against those people whose profession it is to be in the military. But we must reinvent it. We need a force for peace. We need a force to protect one another in these global pandemics. It’s time for change and the world is begging for it,” says Winkler.

See also: Where a job is more than just a job – Raytheon missiles kill Yemeni kids

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