30 July 2012

Drone part manufacturer and 2012 sponsor GE must respect ‘Olympic truce’


Drone from beneath

Major Olympic sponsor GE is facing calls to honour the ‘Olympic truce’ by acting to stop the use of its drone components in strikes carried out by the US in Pakistan and Yemen.

GE Intelligent Platforms, which operates in Towcester, UK, describes itself as “The UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] Company,” and highlights in promotional material how its products are used in military drones, including control systems for the Predator – which is commonly used by the CIA to carry out strikes on alleged ‘militants.’ The strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, including at least 175 children in Pakistan alone.

Reprieve is calling on GE, as a Worldwide Partner to the Olympics, to honour the ‘Olympic truce’ – an ancient tradition that hostilities should be suspended during the Games, which was recently revived and received the backing of a UN resolution.

GE could fulfil its obligations by bringing pressure to bear on the US Government to suspend its programme of illegal drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, at the very least for the duration of the truce period.

Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith, has written to GE asking them to act. In the letter, he states:

“As proud sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics, I urge your company to respect and uphold the Olympic Truce. You could achieve this goal by publicly urging the US government to require that the CIA halt the deadly and illegal drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen at least throughout the duration of the Olympics. The people of Pakistan and Yemen would be grateful to you and so would their athletes present at the Olympics knowing that they can come and go to this extraordinary sports event without fear for their own lives or the lives of their families.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082.

2. A GEIP brochure confirms that their components are used in the control systems for Predator drones – the drones which the CIA uses to carry out strikes in Pakistan: “GE products helped to launch early UAV platforms, and we continue to develop products that will help advance UAS future operations […] Subsequent deployments have included our PPCM2 6U VME Dual PowerPC SBC in the Watchkeeper ground station [and] PPC4A 6U VME SBC in the Predator ground station.” – GEIP Unmanned Aerial Systems, p3.

GEIP refers to itself as “The UAV Company” on its website: http://www.ge-ip.com/news-events/detail/2786

3. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism puts reported civilian deaths due to CIA drone strikes in Pakistan at 482-849, including 175 children.  The numbers may well be higher, given the difficulty in identifying the victims in the inaccessible FATA region of NW Pakistan, and the lack of openness from the US Government concerning the programme. http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones

4. According to the United Nations, “The Olympic Truce, or ekecheria, is based on an ancient Greek tradition, dating back to the ninth century B.C. All conflicts ceased during the period of the Truce, which began seven days prior to the opening of the Olympic Games and ended on the seventh day following the closing of the Games, so that athletes, artists, their relatives and pilgrims could travel safely to the Olympic Games and afterwards return to their countries […] Since 1993, support for the Olympic Truce has grown steadily within the General Assembly, reaching the unprecedented unanimous co-sponsorship of the latest resolution. During these turbulent times, Member States are demonstrating their confidence in the Olympic Truce Ideal.”

http://www.un.org/events/olympictruce/background.shtml

The Olympic village’s ‘Truce Wall’ was opened this week: http://www.olympic.org/news/olympic-village-welcomes-2012-truce-wall/169115

5. Clive Stafford Smith’s letter to GE is available on Reprieve’s website http://www.reprieve.org.uk/media/downloads/2012_07_19_PUB_Letter_to_GE_on_Olympic_Truce.pdf

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