Amnesty International Belgium has launched a campaign to protest against the presence of Liege-based weapons manufacturer FN Herstal at an arms fair in Abu Dhabi. The campaign takes the controversial form of a barrage of text messages, which made the news recently when it was used against Flemish environment minister Joke Schauvliege, leading her to conclude that climate protesters were involved in a massive conspiracy – a remark that would later lead to her resignation.
The campaign by the French-speaking arm of Amnesty consists of sending a message to a certain Raimundo, who is representing FN at the arms fair. Participants are asked to send him an order for “a mitraillette with Andalouse sauce” – the name given to a baguette with hamburger and fries inside, named after a machine gun – and “two pistolets with pâté”, referring to the bread rolls known as “pistols”.
The aim of the campaign: to distract Raimundo to such an extent that he is “unable to sell his toys” at the fair.
According to a recent report by Amnesty, the Minimi machine gun manufactured by FN (photo) has found its way to fighters in Yemen, having been exported first from Belgium to the United Arab Emirates, before being passed on to an Emirates-backed militia in war-torn Yemen. Belgian and EU law forbids the sale of arms to the fighting factions in the civil war in Yemen, an embargo which Amnesty says is being circumvented by FN sales to the Emirates.
“It beggars belief that FN Herstal is going to advertise its Minimi guns in the Emirates, just after we brought to light how the UAE passes these weapons on to a militia in Yemen which has been accused of war crimes and other serious offences,” commented Patrick Wilcken of Amnesty.
Meanwhile, the Flemish wing of the organisation stressed it was not taking part in the SMS campaign against FN, and would protest in another way.