Belgian court hears arguments to end arms export to Turkey

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Activists protesting in front of the Palace of Justice in Brussels
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Author(s)
Vredesactie (Peace Action)

Activists demand better control on end use of Flemish arms exports

Today a Belgian civil court will hear the arguments by a coalition of NGOs to end the export of military components to the Turkish air force. Earlier this year Vredesactie and CNAPD, supported by Amnesty International Belgium, sued the Flemish government for its involvement in the production of the Turkish A400M military transport planes. Turkey uses these planes to fuel conflicts across the region and violate international arms embargoes.

The NGOs Vredesactie and CNAPD, supported by Amnesty International Belgium, filed a lawsuit against the Flemish government earlier this year. The organisations want the Flemish government to stop the export of components for Turkish military aircraft. Today their plea will be heard in the Belgian Tribunal of First Instance.

"The Flemish government is acting in violation of the Flemish arms trade decree by allowing transfers of military technology to Turkey, despite evidence that this violates international arms embargoes. We hope that the court will force the Flemish government to stop these exports", say the organisations.

Since 2013, the Flemish arms companies Asco Industries, Sabca Limburg and Du Pont de Nemours have been supplying parts of the engine, wings and landing gear of the Turkish A400M military transport aircraft. This aircraft plays an important role in the supply of weapons and mercenaries to the armed conflicts in Libya, Syria and Azerbaijan, which violates international arms embargoes on those countries. Earlier this year, a report by the United Nations panel of experts documented 34 flights by Turkish A400Ms to Libya in violation of the UN arms embargo.

Protest at the court

Activists gathered during the court session and unfurled a banner at the Palace of Justice in Brussels. They demanded an end to arms exports to conflict areas and stricter controls on the end use of Flemish arms exports.

"The Flemish government chooses to export weapons without knowing the actual end-user, which fuels conflicts and jeopardizes the right to life", the organisations say.

The Flemish arms industry mainly produces high-tech components. These components are primarily exported to other European member states, the United Kingdom and the United States, where they are integrated into larger weapons systems. Last week, 15 Belgian civil society organisations launched an open letter to the Flemish government to urgently improve end-use controls.

The court ruling is expected in early 2022.

Author information

Vredesactie (Peace Action) is a Belgian pluralistic movement that makes a radical plea for a society in which conflicts are settled without violence or the threat to use violence. Vredesactie supports the development of grassroots non-violent action and formulate proposals for a pacifist policy. 

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About the authors

Vredesactie (Peace Action) is a Belgian pluralistic movement that makes a radical plea for a society in which conflicts are settled without violence or the threat to use violence. Vredesactie supports the development of grassroots non-violent action and formulate proposals for a pacifist policy.