International human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on France to reconsider allowing Russia’s state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport to take part in the upcoming EUROSATORY 2012 arms exhibition in Paris over arms supplies to Syria.
The EUROSATORY 2012 defense expo will take place at the Parc d’Expositions north of Paris on June 11-15. It will host over 400 defense companies from 47 countries, including 14 Russian companies.
“France shouldn’t have it both ways – it can’t be a leading voice calling for an end to grave violations in Syria and imposing an arms embargo, while allowing Syria’s main arms dealer to come to Paris to promote its weapons and land new deals,” Jean-Marie Fardeau, France director at Human Rights Watch, said on Saturday.
HRW has already urged governments and companies around the world to stop signing new contracts with arms exporters such as Rosoboronexport, which supply weapons to Syria.
Rosoboronexport is planning to showcase a record number of models of armored vehicles, including the fully upgraded T-90S main battle tank, BMPT tank support fighting vehicle, Kornet-EM anti-tank missile system mounted on a Tigr armored vehicle and a new Ural armored truck at the Paris show.
“Our hope is that if there is a Rosoboronexport booth at EUROSATORY, it is a very lonely place,” Fardeau said. “Rosoboronexport’s potential clients should shun any new business with the company until it stops selling arms to Syria while such grave crimes are being committed.”
Syria, the largest importer of Russian weapons in the Middle East, has recently signed contracts with Rosoboronexport for the supply of 24 MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets and eight Buk-M2E air-defense systems.
A contract for the supply of Bastion anti-ship missile systems armed with SS-N-26 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles is currently being implemented.
Up to 12,000 people have been killed in clashes between the government and opposition forces in Syria since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad last year, according to latest UN estimates.
Moscow has repeatedly said that Russian-made weaponry supplied to Syria could not be used against protesters and Russia will continue selling weapons to Damascus under existing contracts observing both international law and bilateral obligations.