In recent weeks, international headlines have been dominated by conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. What may not be apparent is the role played by Nottingham-based arms company Heckler & Koch. It has emerged that Georgian elite forces fighting in the province have been illegally armed with Heckler & Koch assault rifles.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Georgian military "used indiscriminate and disproportionate force resulting in civilian deaths in South Ossetia". However, that hasn't stopped these war criminals from becoming customers of Heckler & Koch.
Upcoming Event: Monthly picket outside Heckler & Koch's Nottingham offices from 4pm Monday 8th September at Easter Park, Lenton Lane.
When Heckler & Koch applied for permission to supply 230 assault rifles to Georgia, the German government said no, on the grounds that Georgia is involved in a war. But as any successful arms company knows well, there are many ways to get around these obstacles, and sure enough, the German-made weapons showed up in Georgia anyway!
To quote the head of BITS, "It doesn't matter how these weapons landed in Georgia; whether they were illegally exported from Germany, whether a licensed exporter violated German laws or whether a recipient of the weapons who acquired them legally in Germany, further exported them."
The point is, that's just how the arms industry works.
And which department of Heckler & Koch is responsible for sales to Georgia and other non-NATO countries (Georgia expects to become a member of the alliance in 2009)? Check the corporate website: It's Heckler & Koch GB, based at Unit 3, Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2PX (map).
So next time you see pictures of wretched South Ossetian civilians clutching the bodies of their loved ones amid the shredded ruins of their homes, just remember: a company in Nottingham helped to make that happen.