For Immediate Release: October 30, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First applauds Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for their continued campaign to stop the Pentagon from purchasing arms from Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport, which remains the top supplier of weapons to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. The organization’s praise comes as both senators spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this morning to discourage the Pentagon from engaging in future dealings with Rosoboronexport.
“Senators Cornyn and Blumenthal have been leaders in strengthening and deepening U.S. policy on atrocities. While thousands continue to die in Syria, the Department of Defense has actively worked to subvert House and Senate efforts that would end its contract with Rosboronexport. It is unconscionable that U.S. taxpayer dollars should be given to a company that continues to help bolster a bad actor in Syria and other conflicts around the world, “ said Human Rights First’s Sonni Efron.
Russia remains the top supplier of weapons to Syria, and Rosoboronexport has earned $7 billion in sales to the Assad regime, including the very weapons that have been turned against Syrian civilians. Concurrently, since 2011, the Pentagon has given more than $1 billion in no-bid contracts to Rosoboronexport and is planning to spend another $354 million for helicopters in 2014.
In his remarks from the Senate floor today, Senator Cornyn stressed that by purchasing weapons the United States is subsidizing mass murder of Syrian civilians and he vowed “I am going to continue to do everything I can to shine a bright light on the troublesome relationship the Department of Defense has with Rosoboronexport.” Senator Blumenthal, in his speech, argued that Rosoboronexport purchases “are, in effect, supporting enemy purchases,” and that the United States “can’t walk away from a problem that we created.”
Human Rights First encourages the Pentagon to seek alternatives to the Mi17 helicopter that do not endanger innocent lives and perpetuate human rights crises.
“The United States must not undermine its leadership in Syria by denouncing violence while supporting a company that enables atrocities in Syria,” concluded Efron.
For more information, read Human Rights First’s blueprint How to Stop Doing Business with Russia’s Arms Exporter. To speak with Efron, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at email@example.com or 202-370-3323.