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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: [email protected]
Twitter: @bhwatch

October 25, 2013

#STOPTHESHIPMENT CAMPAIGN GAINS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT IN FIRST WEEK

Protesters in front of the South Korean embassy in London on Oct 18

Protesters in front of the South Korean embassy in London on Oct 18

One week ago today, Bahrain Watch launched a campaign to stop a massive tear gas shipment to Bahrain.  The campaign, called #StopTheShipment (http://stoptheshipment.org/), is based on what is apparently a leaked Bahraini government tender document, soliciting proposals for the provision of more than 1.6 million tear gas canisters.

#StopTheShipment seeks to stop tear gas shipments to Bahrain by putting pressure on manufacturers and export licensing authorities. Several international human rights groups have documented the indiscriminate, inhumane, and sometimes deadly way in which Bahrain’s security forces have used teargas since the start of protests in February 2011. This includes mass teargassing of residential areas, shooting the gas directly into people’s homes as they sleep, and firing canisters directly at protesters’ heads and necks.  Since 2011, 39 deaths in Bahrain may be attributable to tear gas, according to Physicians for Human Rights.

#StopTheShipment targets Bahrain’s current tear gas suppliers: Rheinmetall Denel in South Africa and Germany, and DaeKwang Chemical and CNO Tech in Korea.  In the past week, there has been a groundswell of support and interest from NGOs, the media, and others. Speaking to the Financial Times this week, a senior executive at DaeKwang Chemical confirmed that his company had sent about one million units of tear gas to Bahrain between 2011 and 2012.

Response from Korean Government

Bahrain Watch understands that a Korean journalist contacted the Korea DAPA, one of the two authorities in Korea responsible for issuing tear gas export licenses.  A spokesperson apparently told the journalist that an unnamed company had requested permission from DAPA to export tear gas to Bahrain.  The spokesperson also revealed that DAPA was currently consulting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the matter.

Notable endorsements

A number of prominent activists, academics and journalists have endorsed the #StopTheShipment campaign, including Noam Chomsky, journalist John Pilger, David Graeber, Norman Finkelstein, Hamid Dabashi, David Barsamian and As’ad Abukhalil. A full list will be available shortly on the campaign website.

Letter writing campaign

Campaign participants have used the campaign website to send more than 33,800 emails to tear gas manufacturers and regulatory bodies in South Korea, asking them to not export tear gas to Bahrain.  There have been more than 11,000 tweets on the #StopTheShipment hashtag.

Protest actions

Our campaign partners, Campaign Against Arms Trade, have organized two protests in front of the South Korean embassy in London: one on October 18, and one on October 25 (photos).  At the October 18 protest, a delegation entered the embassy to deliver a letter to the South Korean Ambassador.  The Ambassador refused to meet them and called the police.

Support in South Korea

  • The powerful Korean Confederation of Trade Unions sent a letter of complaint to DAPA, the South Korean government body in charge of regulating tear gas exports, demanding that they refuse to grant the export license for the planned shipment.

  • Amnesty International’s Korea chapter has launched an urgent action targeting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which participants send e-mails calling on the Foreign Minister to halt tear gas exports to Bahrian.

  • Korean peace activists have announced they plan to hold a press conference next week.

Media coverage

The #StopTheShipment campaign has received widespread coverage in the international media, including the BBC, the New York Times and the Financial Times. A full listing is below:

Pro-government newspaper Gulf Daily News described our campaign as an attempt “to deny Bahrain’s police force the ability to defend itself against attacks.”

Human rights groups statements

Several human rights groups have issued statements urging action against tear gas exports to Bahrain, including Human Rights Watch, IFEX, Human Rights First and our campaign partner Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. Meanwhile, European Parliament member Marietje Schaake submitted written questions to the European Commission regarding tear gas exports to Bahrain.  One question explores whether South Korea’s tear gas exports to Bahrain are consistent with the human rights provisions in its Free Trade Agreement with the EU.

You can campaign with us by following @StopTheShipment, or you can receive updates by following @BHWatch or our Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based advocacy. About Bahrain Watch: https://bahrainwatch.org/about.asp

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