Peace Activists Protest at Arms Factory Sabca in Belgium: “Time to Stop Arms Export to War Zones”

By Vredesactie, May 27, 2021

Since the start of the Corona crisis, the Belgian government has handed out 316 million euros to the military aircraft industry, research from the peace organisation Vredesactie shows.

Today, twenty activists took action at the Brussels arms factory Sabca to protest the export of weapons to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The activists demand that the government stops the export of weapons to conflict zones. “War starts at Sabca, let’s stop it here.”

Today peace activists climbed onto the roof of the Belgian arms company Sabca, unfurled a banner and spread ‘blood’ at the gate. The activists denounce the export of Belgian arms to the conflicts in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Sabca is involved in supplying components to several problematic arms export cases:

  • The production of the A400M transport aircraft with which Turkey circumvents international arms embargoes to bring troops and equipment to Libya and Azerbaijan. In March the United Nations called the use of the A400M by Turkey in Libya a violation of the international arms embargo.
  • The supply of parts for the A330 MRTT refuelling aircraft used by Saudi Arabia to refuel fighter jets over Yemen
  • Sabca has a production site in Casablanca from where it maintains aircraft for the Moroccan air force, which is involved in the illegal occupation of Western Sahara.

Today, activists at the Sabca factory gate highlight the deadly consequences of that export policy.

Government aid for arms industry

Sabca was taken over by the Belgian government in 2020 through the investment fund FPIM.

“The FPIM has been investing in the military aviation sector for years,” says Bram Vranken of Vredesactie. “Since the Corona crisis, the arms industry has received millions of euros in state aid.”

According to research by Vredesactie, the federal and Walloon governments have together provided 316 million euros in support to Belgian arms companies since the start of the Corona crisis. This is done without any checks on whether these companies are involved in human rights violations.

Both through the arms export itself, and through investments, our governments are helping to maintain the conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Kharabakh and the occupation of Western Sahara. War literally starts here at Sabca.

“It is unjustifiable that the arms industry can count on millions of euros in state aid,” says Vranken. “This is an industry that thrives on conflict and violence. It is high time to put human lives above economic profit. It is high time to stop exporting weapons to conflict areas.”

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