Yesterday activists gathered at the five-star Okura hotel in Amsterdam to protest at the Annual shareholders meeting of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company (EADS). This weapons company is known for producing (parts of) nuclear weapons for France. Krista van Velzen from IKV Pax Christi (an ICAN Partner in the Netherlands) was one of the concerned shareholders that went into the meeting to ask critical questions and ask the company to stop producing nuclear weapons and the shareholders to stop investing in these inhumane weapons.
Van Velzen: ‘For tax reasons this French company has settled in the Netherlands, which is why hardly anybody in the Netherlands knows this nuclear weapon producer even exists, including the Dutch media. By protesting we raise public awareness and the awareness of the company shareholders. Right now these investors may see a profit from investing in nuclear weapons, they are responsible for maintaining an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction though. How comfortable does that make you feel? Why not invest your money in something positive and sustainable?’
The Dutch Campaign against the Arms Trade arranged shares for four critical shareholders. Besides the production of nuclear weapons questions were raised on drones, corruption and the delivery of weapons to Syria.
‘I asked the CEO’s if they would stop their nuclear weapon programme, especially since a majority of countries worldwide are calling for their elimination and banks and pension funds have already started divesting from these inhumane weapons. Their sole response was that they were proud to be contributing to the French Force de Frappe (nukes arsenal). It made me wonder, how anyone could really be proud of being part of this war machinery, or was it really the paycheck and the bonuses they get that they were proud of?’
Quite a few Dutch banks invest in nuclear weapon producers, such as ING and ABN Amro. Having been campaigning for a ban on cluster munitions in the past I know how sensitive people are about what banks do with your savings. For good reasons the image of being a nuclear weapons bank doesn’t contribute to the image the bank wants to create of itself towards their clients. And that’s why campaigning on disinvestment is fun: success is waiting around the corner!
Do you want to know which banks or pension funds invest in nuclear weapons? Go to www.dontbankonthebomb.com.
[Photos are made by IKV Pax Christi and Martin Broek]