9-23-2011By Crimes Against Humanity Program
Human Rights First
Cables released by Wikileaks reveal that Slobodan Tesic, a Serbian arms dealer, contracted in 2009 to sell $95 million worth of sniper rifles, antiaircraft guns, and other arms and ammunition to the Yemen Ministry of Defense. As scores of unarmed protestors continue to be killed by the Yemeni government in renewed violence this week, possibly by these same weapons, Human Rights First renews its call for the United States to actively pressure the networks that enable brutal violence against civilians and grave human rights abuses.
Tesic has previously been connected with weapon sales in Liberia, Libya, Iraq, and elsewhere. He is subject to a U.N. travel ban for violating an arms embargo in Liberia. In 2002, he shipped “enough bullets to kill the entire population of Liberia,” enabling the former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s alleged war crimes. The arms dealer is also connected with weapon sales to Iraq and to terrorist regimes. Despite Tesic’s clear embargo violation and connection with atrocities, he was able to work with the Albanian Ministry of Defense to bring weapons into Libya in 2010, and contract with the Yemeni government in 2009. The influx and proliferation of weapons in the region has helped fuel significant violence against civilians and other human rights abuses.
Enablers like Tesic not only empower authoritarian government crackdowns on civilians; they also work across international networks and represent a broad threat to larger U.S. security interests. The Obama administration and its international partners should work diligently to target the third-party enablers and supply chains that allow weapons to flow to leaders who use them against civilians. U.S. condemnation, multilateral action, and targeted Treasury Department measures against known enablers of atrocities, and the individuals transacting with them, can effectively disrupt those illicit activities and must be a priority for the administration.
For more information on third-party enablers, see our briefing paper Disrupting the Supply Chain for Mass Atrocities