NGOs against German arms trade with Turkey

German Christian democrats/Social Democrats governments are known for granting approval to sale arms worth billions of euro to crisis and war zones. Foreign and finance minister, Sigmar Gabriel, stands out as a hard worker for the weapons lobby, and has topped Germany’s arms sales.

The coalition government SPD-Christian Democrats (CDU), led by Angela Merkel, announced that arms sales would be done with extreme care. Nonetheless, the lack of sensitivity when it comes to arms exports and the signing of the latest arms trade agreements during the 4th Merkel government have mobilized civil society organizations.

More than a hundred NGOs decided to monitor the Berlin government’s green light to arms trade and set up an International Information Network called “Global Net – Stop the Arms trade”. The Network was officially presented on Thursday at a press conference in Berlin.

Leopard tanks under the spotlight

The information network brings together organizations from many countries outside Germany. They all focus on Erdogan and his arms deals. German-made Lepoard II tanks used by the Turkish army in the massacre and occupation of Afrin will also be investigated for crimes committed in the region.

The Information Network, which will examine whether the military supplies sold are within the framework of agreements approved by the government, will publish results of its investigations on a platform published on Internet. Investigations will be carried out interviewing journalists, war correspondents, doctors and activists.

Jürgen Grässlin, an activist speaking at the press conference said: “The weapons industry is a long and well-established organization worldwide. This is why, to counter it, today more than ever we need a strong and well-organized peace movement.”

Grässlin added that the Network will investigate legal and illegal weapons sales around the world and underlined that “if we detect illegal sales we will file criminal charges immediately”. 
Activist Grässlin noted that not only Germany’s weapons sales are on the spotlight, but also every sale carried out by any other country will be soon investigated. Special attention is to be paid to the US $110 billion weapon deal with Saudi Arabia.

Grässlin also underlined that as far as arms sales to Turkey go, Germany has certainly set an example in history for it. Stating that Leopard II tanks killed Kurds in Afrin, Grässlin added that Saudi Arabia is also using German weapon technology in Yemen.

In the coalition agreement of the new Merkel government, formed last March, remarks were made especially on the issue of arms trade with Saudi Arabia: “The federal government envisages that the countries involved in the war in Yemen should not be sold arms”.

However, it turned out that the Merkel government had forgotten these remarks and continued with arms sales since its establishment. Likewise since 20 January 2018 when Turkey begun its attacks and subsequent invasion of Afrin, 4 million 400 thousand euros worth of items such as bullets were sold to Turkey.

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