Credo Action

Tell Congress: Block arms sales to countries with records of human rights abuses

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The petition to Congress reads:

"The United States should not sell fighter jets, missiles or other military equipment to countries engaged in known human rights abuses. Block arms sales to human rights abusers and pass legislation to prohibit arms sales to countries with a record of abusing human rights moving forward."

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    Tell Congress: Block arms sales to countries with records of human rights abuses

    Donald Trump just approved a potentially illegal $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.1

    Simply put: The United States is not supposed to sell weapons to countries that are going to use them to target civilians.2 Saudi Arabia has consistently failed to live up to international and U.S. humanitarian standards in how it uses its weapons.3 But Trump, Tillerson and the rest of the current administration do not care. They are even including precision-guided missiles in the deal, which Saudi Arabia have used to directly attack and murder civilian and humanitarian targets in the past.4

    Congress has the power to stop this. Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act says that Congress has the power and authority to pass legislation to block or modify an arms sale at any time up until the weapons are delivered into foreign hands.5 It can block the sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia and pass laws that place conditions on our future arms sales so that we never sell weapons to human rights abusers again. We have to put pressure on Congress to make sure it takes action.6

    Tell Congress: Do not let the Trump administration to sell weapons to human rights abusers.

    During the Obama administration, there were limits to which countries the United States would arm. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken those fragile buffers away. The Trump administration has been sending clear signals to rest of the world that the current occupant of the White House has nothing but contempt for human rights.

    The arms deal with the Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian regime was not an aberration. Recently, Tillerson lifted all human rights preconditions on a major sale of fighter jets and other lethal weapons to Bahrain.7 By removing these preconditions, he sent a clear message to Bahrain, the same one that Trump is now sending to Saudi Arabia: As long as foreign governments give the United States money, the Trump administration will turn a blind eye to those governments’ acts of torture, genocide, oppression or any blatant human rights abuses and supply them with weapons of war.

    Tell Congress: Do not let the Trump administration to sell weapons to human rights abusers.

    Human rights groups and activists have long criticized U.S. arms sales to countries with known human rights abuses, including outcry that helped block a sale of precision missiles to Saudi Arabia.8 Saudi Arabia remains one of the highest volume customers of American weaponry.9

    We have known from the beginning that Tillerson is a billionaire who cares more about lining his pockets than about protecting people or the planet, just like Trump. Tillerson’s confirmation hearing was awash with red flags concerning his willingness to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses. He refused to call Vladimir Putin a war criminal for his involvement in Aleppo,10 denied that Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is a human rights violator11 and dismissed the unequal and oppressive treatment of many women in Saudi Arabia.12

    It is up to Congress to rein in this administration and make sure that we stop giving human rights abusers the tools they need to kill.

    Tell Congress: Pass legislation to prohibit arms sales to countries with records of human rights abuses, like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    Thank you for standing up for peace.

    1. Akbar Shahid Ahmed “The $110 Billion Arms Deal Trump Just Signed With Saudi Arabia May Be Illegal,” HuffPost, May 19, 2017.
    2. Kristine Beckerle, “U.S. Officials Risk Complicity in War Crimes in Yemen,” Just Security, May 4, 2017.
    3. Kristine Beckerle, “Trump to Reward Saudi War Crimes with Weapons,” Human Rights Watch, May 20, 2017.
    4. Sen. Chris Murphy, “Just What The Middle East Needs — $110 Billion More In Weapons,” HuffPost, May 20, 2017.
    5. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process,” accessed May 24, 2017.
    6. Human Rights First, “Congress Urged to Check Administration's Actions, Block Sale of F-16s to Bahrain,” March 30, 2017.
    7. Felicia Schwartz and Doug Cameron, “Tillerson Dropping Human Rights Conditions on Sale of F-16s to Bahrain,” The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2017.
    8. Helene Cooper, “U.S. Blocks Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia Amid Concerns Over Yemen War,” The New York Times, Dec. 13, 2017.
    9. David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, “Rex Tillerson to Lift Human Rights Conditions on Arms Sale to Bahrain,” The New York Times, March 29, 2017.
    10. David Bixenspan, “Rex Tillerson Refuses to Call Vladimir Putin a ‘War Criminal’ During Hearing,” Mediaite, Jan. 11, 2017.
    11. Jessica Taylor, “5 Top Moments From Rex Tillerson's Hearing To Be Secretary Of State,” NPR, Jan. 11, 2017.
    12. Ibid.