Media release
For immediate release                            Friday, June 29, 2001

Did Canadian Weapons Kill Peaceful Protestors in Papua New Guinea on June 26?

Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade calls upon the Canadian government to immediately halt all exports of police and military equipment to PNG.

Canadian-made C7 "combat rifles" are likely the weapons used by Papua New Guinea (PNG) police to kill at least three peaceful protestors and wound 17 others in Port Moresby on Tuesday, June 26, 2001. 

University of PNG students were shot this week when their five-day, non-violent protest was violently dispersed by PNG police using teargas and M16 rifles.  <>

Diemaco, a "small arms" manufacturer in Kitchener, Ontario, has sold its automatic weapons to PNG.  Diemaco's entry in Industry Canada's online database of "Canadian Defence Company Capabilities" reports that it has "export experience" to Papua New Guinea. <>

The Canadian government has designated Diemaco to be "Canada's Centre of Excellence for Small Arms."  Diemaco produces several "small arms" in the C7 "Family of Combat Weapons." <>

The C7 is the Canadian version of the U.S. M16.  It is produced by Diemaco under licence from the U.S. Colt Manufacturing Company. <>

The university students shot by PNG police were engaged in a non-violent protest against the effects of corporate globalization, particularly the harsh structural adjustment and privatization programs that have been imposed on their country by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  They say that these programs will "result in 70 per cent of PNG's
publicly-held assets passing into foreign ownership."  The students had been camped out in the Waigani area of Port Moresby, where the PNG government office complex is located. <>

The "National," a PNG newspaper reported that on the night before the protestors were killed, "the quiet Waigani night   erupted with M16 automatic rifles blazing out blanks and bullets into the air and gas canisters into the small crowd."  After initially fleeing the site, many students later returned to the site of their protest. <>

On Tuesday, June 26, the police again dispersed the student protestors, this time killing four and wounding many more.  Editors of the PNG newspaper, the "Independent," state that: "The innocent blood of four university students is now on [the Prime Minister's] hands with many others injured.  Reports that the unarmed students had put their hands on their heads to show that they had surrendered, but were still gunned down by the state's police force is very serious and must be investigated." <>

There has been a "public outcry at government's handling of student-led protest."  The following leaders in PNG have called  for the resignation of Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta:
* President of the Banking and Financial Institutions, Ruben Elizah
* Opposition leader, Bill Skate
* Union leader, John Paska
* President of the Maritime Workers Union, John Mahuk

Meanwhile, the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) is hoping that this tragic incident will lead to a "public outcry" here in Canada. 

The fact that Canada is helping to arm dozens of governments that are well-known for using extreme violence in suppressing peaceful protests and strikes, should be cause for public concern.  However, most Canadians have no idea that Canadian industries are involved in the production and export of weapons systems.  The Canadian public is also generally unaware that our government not only allows such military exports, but it is actively promoting increased military sales through a wide variety of government programs.

COAT is calling upon the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to immediately halt all future exports of police and military equipment to PNG.

The Government of Canada claims to have a very strict set of guidelines to "closely control" Canadian military exports, particularly to governments that are at war or which may use Canadian weapons systems to abuse the human rights of their citizens.  However, overwhelming evidence compiled by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade proves that the reality of Canada's military exports is far removed from the government's rhetoric. ("Canada's Military Exports: Fuelling wars and abusing international human/labour rights," Issue #44 of Press for Conversion!)

Richard Sanders, coordinator of COAT, explains that: "The Government of Canada is deeply complicit in crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Various government departments, but especially the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and Industry Canada (IC), are blatantly aiding and abetting these international crimes
by actively promoting the export of a wide variety of Canadian military hardware to governments that are widely known to be engaged in war and/or that are violently repressing domestic human/labour rights."

For more information on Canada's military exports to dozens of the world's most violent and repressive regimes, refer to COAT's annual report, online at COAT's website.  This latest issue of COAT's quarterly publication, compiles a wealth of evidence from a variety of sources including:
(1) the latest DFAIT military export report,
(2) summaries of human rights and labour rights abuses committed by recipient governments and
(3) DFAIT and IC promotion of arms bazaars and other "business opportunities."

COAT is encouraging its supporters across Canada to send letters of concern and protest to:

1036 Wilson Ave., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2C 1J3
Tel: 519 893-6840 Fax: 519 893-3144
<> (Frank Johansen, Director of Sales & Marketing)

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
(613) 992-4211 (phone)
(613) 941-6900 (fax)

Pierre Pettigrew
Minister of International Trade
(613) 995-8872 (phone)
(613) 996-8924 (fax)

Hon. John Manley
Minister of Foreign Affairs
(613) 995-1851 (phone)
(613) 996-3443 (fax)

PNG Prime Minister
Sir Mekere Morauta

The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
tel: (202) 477-1234
fax: (202) 477-6391

International Monetary Fund,
700 19th Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20431
Tel: (202) 623-7000
Fax: (202) 623-4661

IMF Center
Tel: (202) 623-6869
Fax: (202) 623-6562