Germany: activists target Rheinmetall HQ

In the foreground are dozens of small coffins. In the background people stand with yellow banners

In May, activists from Greenpeace and Urgewald in Germany have taken action at the headquarters of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, highlighting the impact of weapons produced by the company on civilians around the world. The action marked the company's annual general meeting and used coffins to represent the "countless" civilians killed with weapons and ammunition produced by Rheinmetall. Despite a ban on exports from Germany to Saudi Arabia, Rheinmetall subsidiaries are still exporting weapons and ammunition to Saudi and other members of the coalition. Urgewald accused Rheinmetall of circumventing Germany's arms export licensing system by exporting first to subsidiaries and joint ventures outside Germany.

In March, researchers from the South African human rights organisation Open Secrets, released a report outlining the impact of weapons sold by Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) - a subsidiary of Rheinmetall based in South Africa - in Yemen. The report identifies instances where mortars produced by RDM may have been used in attacks against civilians, such as an incident in the attack on Hodeidah's fishing port that killed over 60 and wounded over 100. The report highlights evidence that the weapons were produced either by Rheinmetall in Germany, RDM in South Africa, or at the Al-Kharj factory in Saudi Arabia, which was built by RDM and produces, among other things, mortar shells. The factory was opened in 2016 with a presidential blessing from Jacob Zuma. The report concludes "Rheinmetall  and  RDM  are  not  only  export-ing   individual   weapons   systems   to   Saudi   Arabia  and  the  UAE.  They  are  increasingly  playing a central role in exporting and setting up weapons factories for their customers, re-gardless of their human rights records."

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