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Continuous arms export impedes peace process

Margot Käßmann

Margot Käßmann now acts as patron of the new campaign against arms trade

Prof Margot Käßmann has been named the new patron of the “Outcry Campaign – Stop the Arms Export”, an anti-weapons campaign recently initiated in Germany. Since launching the campaign in May 2011, the association has grown exponentially and now links together more than 100 organisations.

“The alleged export of 200 Leopard type-2 battle tanks to Saudi-Arabia would send a disastrous message to the peace movement in the Arab world. I am convinced, and this position is indeed shared by both Christian churches (both Catholic and Protestant) in their GKKE report, that supplying weapons and equipment, which is then used in wars and for the purpose of oppression within states by dictatorial regimes is an ongoing scandal of German foreign and economic foreign policy. In order to achieve the basic goal of banning the arms trade we have set ourselves in this campaign., To achieve this goal we need to be able to rely on a broad range of organisations supporting us”, Margot Käßmann explains her move to join the campaign.

In the context of the Ecumenical Peace Decade tagged “Greed. Power. War.”, which is taking place from 6-16 November 2011, the coming weeks will see rallies against arms exports to countries like Saudi-Arabia throughout Germany. “For me, it’s inconceivable that Germany exports weapons to countries with poor human rights records. This contradicts any claim for supporting human rights. How are we supposed to explain such an attitude to the people who stand up for freedom and human rights in their own country?”, emphasises Ms Käßmann.

“Our campaign against arms exports reflects the consensus which exists in our society: People do not want Germany arming the world! By permitting weapons exports, the German government acts completely contrarily to the peoples’ opinion. That is what we are making known, until all parties - during the national election campaign in 2013 -  commit to putting an end to this shamefully undemocratic behaviour through an effective arms export law ”, says Christine Hoffmann, a campaign’s spokeswoman and Pax Christi’s secretary-general.

Also a spokesperson of the campaign and of The German Peace Association (DFG-VK), Mr Jürgen Grässlin, has condemned the consequences which the lethal G36 rifle produced by Heckler & Koch has caused in countries such as Libya, Mexico, Saudi-Arabia and Georgia: “Two thirds of all victims of war die from bullet wounds. Heckler & Koch, Europe’s largest weapons producer, is selling this deadly rifle across the globe. All means of control have failed. The assault rifle has also made its way to Georgia, Libya and Mexico illegally. The Outcry Campaign is demanding an immediate ban of all rifle exports and a withdrawal of the G36 licence granted to the Saudi Arabian dictatorship.”

The extent to which the German taxpayers are covering arms exports abroad is completely unacceptable, not only in times of a financial crises: “Not only does the German Parliament permit arms exports to countries which according to German criteria regarding weapons exports should not receive any arms supplies; but additionally, the German Parliament increasingly secures arms exports with public deficiency guarantees the German taxpayers are liable for, in case a buyer of German weapons fails to pay the supplier. We demand that these public deficiency guarantees be restricted to the export of civil products to non-military recipients” , says Mr Paul Russmann, peace officer at the German organisation Living without Armament (Ohne Rüstung Leben) and a spokesperson of the campaign.

Media contacts: campaign’s spokespeople:
Christine Hoffmann, Tel.: 0049-30-200 76 78 12; Mob.: 0049-177-528 35 30
Jürgen Grässlin, Tel.: 0049-761 76 78 208, Mob.: 0049-170 611 37 59
Paul Russmann, Tel.: 0049-711 62 03 93 72, Mob.: 0049 -176 28 04 45 23