Canada probes Saudi use of armed ve­hi­cles

Free­land ‘deeply con­cerned’ about al­le­ga­tions that Cana­dian-made units used in crack­down against cit­i­zens

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

OT­TAWA — For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land says she’s “deeply con­cerned” about re­cent videos which ap­pear to show Cana­dian-made ar­moured ve­hi­cles be­ing used by Saudi Ara­bia in a crack­down against its own cit­i­zens.

Free­land says she’s in­structed her of­fi­cials to “ur­gently” in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter and de­ter­mine whether the ve­hi­cles in the videos were in fact ar­moured per­son­nel car­ri­ers made and ex­ported to Saudi Ara­bia by Ter­ra­dyne Ar­moured Ve­hi­cles, a com­pany based in New­mar­ket, Ont.

She says the in­ves­ti­ga­tion must be done “very care­fully” to be sure Canada is “act­ing on fully re­li­able in­for­ma­tion we can stand by.”

She’s not say­ing what ac­tion might be taken if the ve­hi­cles are proved to be Cana­di­an­made, other than to say “we will re­spond ac­cord­ingly.”

In the mean­time, Free­land says Canada’s con­cerns have been con­veyed to Saudi Ara­bia.

She’s also per­son­ally spo­ken to the Euro­pean Union’s for­eign min­is­ter, Fed­er­ica Mogherini, about Canada’s con­cern and in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter.

“We are ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to the de­fence of hu­man rights and we con­demn all vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights,” Free­land said Mon­day in a con­fer­ence call from the Philip­pines, where she was at­tend­ing meet­ings with her coun­ter­parts in the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions.

“We also are very clear that we ex­pect the end users of any and all ex­ports to abide by the terms of our ex­port per­mits.”

Ar­moured ve­hi­cles have ap­peared in video in news and so­cial me­dia posts from Saudi Ara­bia’s East­ern Prov­ince, where the Saudi gov­ern­ment is at­tempt­ing to stamp out un­rest among the re­gion’s mi­nor­ity Shia pop­u­la­tion. Some ex­perts have as­serted that the ve­hi­cles are Ter­ra­dyne Gurkha APCs.

Al­most from the mo­ment Justin Trudeau’s Lib­er­als took of­fice, his gov­ern­ment has been un­der fire for al­low­ing arms ex­ports to Saudi Ara­bia, which is widely de­nounced as one of the world’s worst abusers of hu­man rights and has been cen­sured by the Euro­pean Union and a num­ber of western coun­tries.

Cana­dian ex­port con­trols pro­hibit the sale of arms to coun­tries with a “per­sis­tent record of se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tions” of their own cit­i­zens’ hu­man rights. Yet the Trudeau gov­ern­ment is­sued ex­port per­mits in 2015 for the sale of Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics ar­moured ve­hi­cles to Saudi Ara­bia, a $15-bil­lion deal that had been ap­proved by the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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