Questions for BAE

Weapons manufacturer BAE Systems holds its Annual General Meeting today, but it’s not taking questions from shareholders.

We understand why it would want to hide from scrutiny: this is a company with plenty to be ashamed of. But as it continues to profit from violence around the world, we still have #QuestionsforBAE

A line of people hold placards in front of BAE Systems background

BAE Systems is the UK’s largest arms company, and the sixth largest in the world. It is one of the primary beneficiaries of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and profiting from the war in Yemen and it provides weapons to over 100 other countries around the world

Every year, as ‘token shareholders’, holding single shares in the company, CAAT supporters are able to attend BAE’s Annual General Meeting, question the Board and hold the company’s leadership to account.

This year, understandably, no public meeting can be held – but the company has taken this opportunity to remove any opportunities for shareholder engagement. We understand why: it doesn’t like answering awkward questions about its complicity and support for violence and human rights abuses around the world.

But these are important questions, so we’re asking them anyway. With your help to spread the word we can make sure it can’t escape scrutiny for its deadly work. #QuestionsForBAE #BAEAGM

Supporting repression in Saudi Arabia

BAE’s arms sales have supported Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian leaders for decades, helping them maintain their grip on power. When we ask BAE about the regime’s abuses, they talk up ‘reform’ within Saudi Arabia, while also denying any responsibility: “We are not here to judge the way that other governments work, we are here to do a job under the rules and regulations we are given.”

Yahya Assiri, a Saudi Arabian human rights activist, explains that Saudi authorities use weapons purchases to buy allies “to strengthen the regime and enable it to carry out more violations.”

Ameen, an Arabian human rights activist, tells BAE Systems it is a partner-in-crime with the Saudi regime. “Do you think you can wash your hands of what is happening in my home?”

Let’s be clear. Your weapons brought nothing but terror, wars and instability.”

Julia, from ALQST, tells BAE Systems that reforms in Saudi Arabia introduced by Mohammed bin Salman “such as finally granting women the right to drive or to apply for their own passport … are at the very best cosmetic.”

The Kingdom’s political allies and business partners like BAE Systems continue to use the reformist narrative to legitimise their deals with the Saudi authorities –“We say this has to stop.”

Joshua asks “When will BAE Systems realise that instead of having a benign influence, these extensive dealings with Saudi Arabia only serve to give a green light for human rights abuses to be committed?”

  • Read ALQST’s report into human rights in Saudi Arabia in 2019, a year in which the authorities “continued on their course of cracking down on any and all critical voices, targeting journalists, activists and bloggers in fresh waves of arrests”.

Complicity in the Yemen war

BAE’s weapons have been playing a central role in the Saudi-led Coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen. CAAT calculates that BAE has sold at least £15 billion in arms and services to the Saudi military since the start of its attacks on Yemen.

Ahmed Al-kolaibi, a human rights activist from Yemen, tells BAE Systems: “The arms trade must stop. The Saudi-led coalition must stop. And we call for an end to the war, to lift the blockade and help Yemenis to fight Covid-19.”

Reem from health advocacy charity Medact wants to know how BAE Systems justifies continuing to ship weapons and parts to Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, given calls from members of the UN Security Council and even from the UN Secretary General for a Global Ceasefire.

Anna has a powerful challenge for BAE Systems about its potential legal responsibility for complicity in possible crimes under international law committed in the war in Yemen.

“Whenever BAE Systems is asked about its exports to countries engaged in war, conflict or internal repression, the response received is that the company abides by the legal and policy framework set out by the government. But this is a useful fiction. “

Andrew Feinstein, author of the ‘Shadow World, Inside the Global Arms Trade’, Executive Director of Shadow World Investigations – and owner of a single share in BAE Systems, has two related questions.

Contracts with Israeli arms companies, marketing battle-tested weapons

Huda has #QuestionsForBAE about its ethics programme, in relation to its contracts with Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms company. Elbit markets its weapons as battle-tested, because they test them on Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Ceren Sagir, a member of Solidarity with the People of Turkey asks about BAE’s support for Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian government.

Research funding

BAE is training and supplying the Saudi bombing offensive in Yemen, where 2 million children are now without education. Ben a student at Oxford, where BAE provides research funding, asks “why is my education facilitating the disruption of the education of millions of others?”

Arms to Ventilators?

After news that BAE had joined the ‘Ventilator Challenge UK’ consortium, Caroline from CAAT asks about BAE’s plans to diversify in the future to create more socially useful products, including tackling the climate crisis.

Help to spread the word and make sure BAE can’t escape scrutiny for its deadly work.

Share the videos on Facebook and Twitter.

#QuestionsForBAE #BAEAGM

16 Replies to “Questions for BAE”

    1. But people first and stop selling these arms Saudi Arabia. The British will manage with out your profits. But people are dying because of your weapons and been imprisoned. How can you live with yourself.

  1. Thanks for this.
    What if the Secretary General’s appeal for a global ceasefire was taken up fully and BAe went out of business

  2. I look forward to seeing BAE’s replies to all these questions. Sadly, though, I think they will have little effect on policy because that is geared to obtaining maximum income – which means, of course, maximising arms sales to whoever will buy them. This company, like the current government, appears to be completely devoid of morals.

  3. why dont you make a petition we can all sdigh to bring some justiv=ce to bear .
    Say Yes to Peace .

    Amnesty International could be good to also involve ??

  4. Dear BAE,

    For many years now you’ve bought and destroyed the lives of these communities, why do you think it’s right to trade in blood and death?
    Is there a streak of humanity in you that you have to support Bashir Assad? We know what’s wrong with you, you have no conscience!
    You can run as far as you like but you can’t hide your crimes against
    humanity, they’re there for all to see! Not only God knows what you’re doing, you’ll have to answer to Him too! What’s your story?

    The $ spent on arms exceeds the $ which would keep these countries in healthy & safe GDP! Keep their nations alive, safe and healthy! STOP SELLING ARMS TO THESE CRUEL, IMMORAL, MINDLESS REGIMES, INVEST IN LIFE, IT’S FOR LIVING!

    Love conquers all, death by violence and evil does 0!

    Yours in mercy,
    Mr. & Mrs. W. J. & S. M. Lodge

  5. Good people who lead and materially benefit from the activities of BAE, who forced you to feel numb to the hurt these activities cause? What happened to your humanity and empathy with other human beings? What holds you back from transforming BAE so it is an institution for good in the world, because we all deserve a world right for everyone? Why do you choose an allegiance to profit, an allegiance that requires anyone to be mean, vicious and harmful, when you can choose allegiance to your own [and everyone else’s] humanity?

  6. I am ashamed of my UK government-We have to stop this murdering of innocent people

  7. So many voices to show what is really going on to enhance PROFIT, regardless of human suffering and further consequences. Well done
    CAAT !

  8. I have a proposition to reframe business activities of BAE and other weapons manufacturers, to begin the process of aligning them with values of our shared human destiny on planet Earth:

    Whenever an armament is offered for sale, a corresponding sum to the sale price, shall be deposited in a UN refugee fund.
    Since weapons are typically sold as ‘defence’ products, it is should only be under exceptional circumstances that they are used.

    Upon usage, the purchaser’s deposit is forfeited for funding the alleviation of the inevitable human misery, typically migration/refugee management, health care services and temporary education facilities.

    Any weapons purchaser can at any point (for example at regime change, or after peacemaking dialog has result in conflict resolution), return their weapons for controlled destruction, and full refund of their deposit.

    The price tag for weapons must reflect their real cost. This cost (weapon + deposit) must be included by the manufacturer, and carried by the purchaser. It is unacceptable (and against the rules of a market economy with a level playing field!) that civil society is forced to pay the costs resulting from armed conflict.

    Otherwise we are all subsidizing the life cycle costs of weapons manufacturers.

  9. For years bae systems have been selling weapons which are used to kill and torture innocent people around the world I am ashamed to think that our government whether labour, Tory or coalition have done nothing to change this you can add Blair and Bush to the names of the murderers around the world 1,000,000 march but Bliar just ignored us, money is king.

  10. Thanks CAAT for the videos – shared some on Facebook. I really hope this information gets communicated to the public. Let the truth be known.

  11. The real problem is that if BAE did not supply the arms someone else WILL
    What we have is stop regimes wanting to BUY arms.

  12. One way of stopping BAE and the likes is for them be held to account and be liable for the damage they have caused. Pay all costs refugee camps, aid, rebuilding homes loss of income loss of family, medical care.
    Like the polluter pays principle⁷

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