Turkey: activists take action against arms shipment as military operation begins

A photo taken at dawn. In the foreground a number of people are lying on the road attached together with metal tubes. In the distance are a number of vehicles on the road.
Activists in Bristol block an arms factory.

As Turkey begins its military attack on Kurdish regions in northern Syria, leaving dozens killed and tens of thousands fleeing their homes, activists are taking action against arms shipments to the Turkish military, and some states are responding by suspending arms shipments.

In Bristol, UK, four activists used lock-on tubes to blockade a site operated by arms companies BAE Systems, MBDA and Airbus. The group blocked the entrance for four hours. BAE Systems have a £100 million deal with the Turkish Air Force to develop a new fighter jet, and the UK has exported over a billion pounds of arms to Turkey since 2014. WRI affiliate Campaign Against Arms Trade called for an immediate arms embargo - the British government announced a suspension of new arms export licenses to Turkey, but will continue delivering orders that have already received a license.

Two states - Finland and Norway - have announced suspensions of arms sales to Turkey. The Finnish government has announced they will block all new arms export licenses to Turkey while the conflict continues - this will impact all future arms exports licenses, and WRI affiliate Sadankomitea (Committee of 100) are part of a call for the government's action to be extended to include the cancellation of all existing arms exports to Turkey.


Norway took similar action, announcing an immediate suspension of arms sales - though the act was described as "largely symbolic", with relatively small exports of around 24m Norwegian Korne (£2 million, €2.4m, $2.6) worth of arms sales in 2017.

A similar symbolic decision was taken by the government of Flanders, the Dutch speaking region of the Belgium.

The vast majority of Dutch MPs backed sanctions against Turkey, including withdrawing military cooperation and a halt on arms deliveries to Turkey.

In Germany, the Aktion Aufschrei campaign called on the German government to stop all arms exports to Turkey, and to cancel existing arms export licenses: https://www.aufschrei-waffenhandel.de/presse-video-audio/presseerklaerungen/11102019-aktion-aufschrei-sofortiges-ruestungsexportverbot-gegen-tuerkei/ The German government announced they would not allow any more weapons to be exported that could be used in the conflict.

France also suspended all arms shipments to Turkey, and called on the European Union to consider an arms embargo against Turkey. The EU shipped $50m of arms to Turkey in 2018, mainly from Italy, Spain, UK and Germany.

Do you know of other action against arms shipments to Turkey? Let us know! Email info@wri-irg.org

Updated 14/10/19 to include news of Germany and France.

Updated 17/10/19 to add information about the UK.

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