Homes not Bombs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 4, 2000
Canada's Leading "Small-Arms" Manufacturer Rejects Open Citizens' Inspection Slated for January 15;
Homes not Bombs Plans to Proceed with Nonviolent Direct Action
In a move highlighting the anti-democratic nature of the weapons business, weaponsmaker Diemaco of Kitchener, Ontario, has rejected a request by the nonviolent direct action group Homes not Bombs to conduct a citizens' inspection of their facility on Martin Luther King Day, January 15, 2001.
Representatives of Homes not Bombs, undeterred, promise that there will nonetheless by a peaceful demonstration the morning of Monday, January 15, and that citizen inspectors trained in nonviolence will attempt to enter the grounds to inspect the factory for violations of international law.
Diemaco's resfusal to allow an inspection comes on the heels of a new Amnesty International statement, released November 30, which declared, "At the dawn of the 21st century, it is scandalous that those who supply small arms are not subject to proper monitoring and control." A United Nations Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons will be convened in the fall of 2001.
Diemaco, the "logistics and defence division" of Heroux-Devtek and the self-proclaimed "Canadian Centre of Excellence for Small Arms ," received a Notice of Impending Citizens' Inspection from two dozen members of Homes not Bombs on Friday, November 10.
After a brief meeting with two Homes not Bombs representatives that day, Diemaco officials said they would be in touch. In a letter received today from Diemaco Human Resources Manager Frances Vegh, Homes not Bombs was informed that "while we respect your right to express your views, we would like to point out that Diemaco is a private company and for obvious reasons is a secure facility with access limited to those people who do business with us."
The letter (full text below) talks proudly of Diemaco's "product," but never lets on that its product consists of weapons of mass destruction which fire 900 rounds of ammunition per minute.
"We are disappointed at Diemaco's response, but we are nonetheless committed to carrying out the citizens' inspection on January 15," says a Homes not Bombs spokesperson. "Diemaco claims to be a private facility, but it would not exist without the massive infusion of public funds which have been used to build grenade launcher systems, machine guns, assault rifles, and a range of death-dealing paraphernalia. These public funds would have been better spent on the social infrastructure of Waterloo region -- women's shelters, affordable housing, youth centres, environmental clean-up, etc."
Since 1980, Diemaco has received over $250 million in Canadian taxpayer money to provide weapons for the Canadian Armed Forces, and has made hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons deals with NATO countries, New Zealand and Australia. Due to government restrictions on the disclosure of Canadian military export information, it is unknown what other countries have received Diemaco weapons.
"Diemaco limits access to those who do business with them, but the last check of human rights violations and war crimes committed by NATO countries against the people of Iraq and the Balkans, for example, shows that our concern about what is going on in their factory is more than justified," said Homes not Bombs' spokesperson. "In addition to Diemaco proudly trumpeting their support for and involvement in the war against Iraq, it is likely that Diemaco-supplied weapons to the Canadian Forces have been used against First Nations peoples struggling for justice."
Homes not Bombs will be sending a new request to Diemaco in the hope of keeping a door open to dialogue, and Diemaco will be receiving a visit later this month from Santa Claus, who hopes to spread his message of peace and goodwill to the Kitchener-based merchants who profit by manufacturing the instruments of death and destruction.
If these attempts to open the doors of Diemaco are unsuccessful, Homes not Bombs concludes it has no option but to proceed with the nonviolent inspection January 15, even if that results in the arrests of its members.
Text of letter
Logistics and Defence (sic) Division
1036 Wilson Ave.
Kitchener, ON Canada N2C 1J3
Tel: (519) 893-6840
Fax: (519) 893-3144
Subject: Letter requesting access to inspect facility, dated November 10, 2000
While we respect your right to express your views, we would like to point out that Diemaco is a private company and for obvious reasons is a secure facility with access limited to those people who do business with us.
We must, therefore, respectfully decline your request to inspect our facility.
I would like to point out to you that sales of our product are made through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Canadian Government Agency and highly regulated. Sales are made to the Canadian military and our NATO allies. We do not sell to the commercial market.
In closing, we, and our employees, are proud of our role in supporting Canada and NATO's peacekeeping (sic) efforts.
Frances M. Vegh
Human Resources Manager
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