Paris: International rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked France to reconsider allowing Russia's state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport to take part in an upcoming arms exhibition in Paris over supply of arms to Syria.
The EUROSATORY 2012 defence expo will take place at the Parc d'Expositions, north of Paris, June 11-15. It will host over 400 defence companies from 47 countries, including 14 companies from Russia.
"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," said Jean-Marie Fardeau, the France director at HRW.
HRW has already urged governments and companies around the world to stop signing new contracts with arms exporters such as Rosoboronexport, which supplies weapons to Syria.
Rosoboronexport is planning to showcase a number of models of armoured 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 armoured vehicle and a new Ural armoured truck at the Paris show.
"Our hope is that if there is a Rosoboronexport booth at EUROSATORY, it is a very lonely place. 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," said Fardeau.
Syria, the largest importer of Russian weapons in the Middle East, recently signed contracts with Rosoboronexport for the supply of 24 MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets and eight Buk-M2E air defence 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.
According to latest UN estimates, 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.
Moscow has repeatedly said Russian-made weaponry supplied to Syria could not be used against protesters, but Russia will continue selling weapons to Syria under existing contracts observing both international law and bilateral obligations.
First Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 13:26