Homes not Bombs
"Because Canada should build homes, not blow them up"
PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West. Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800; firstname.lastname@example.org
Kitchener-Waterloo: (519) 745-1681, Guelph: (519) 836-2409
Hamilton: (905) 627-2696, Windsor: (519) 258-1555
CITIZENS' INSPECTION OF DIEMACO
November 10, 2000
"Canada's Centre of Excellence for Small Arms"
1036 Wilson Ave
We are writing with the greatest of concern that your self-described "family" of combat weapons is killing human families around the globe. As nonviolent activists who believe you cannot keep the peace with a gun anymore than you can teach the art of sobriety through drunkenness, we are hoping to enter into a dialogue with your company on transforming from a merchant of death into a sustainer of life and community.
Indeed, the $250 million in tax dollars which have gone to Diemaco to create weapons since 1980 represent a major theft from the poorest of the Waterloo region. Those millions spent on weapons are millions which were not spent on housing, child care, hospital beds, environmental cleanup, women's programs, and the things which make for healthy communities.
You may be aware that upwards of 2,000 people annually experience homelessness in the Waterloo region (numbers cited in the United Way-funded "Understanding Homelessness" report of 1999), that food bank use continues to skyrocket in the area, and that over 10,700 individuals are on waiting lists for affordable housing.
You may also be aware, but loathe to admit, that your weapons help displace and murder people around the globe, creating homelessness, hunger, and death for families in countries such as Yugoslavia or Iraq, where you proudly advertised your "participation."
The production of so-called "small arms" is on the same moral plain as the construction of "big" arms: ultimately, they kill on an individual or mass basis, and have no place in a civil society. There are in excess of 500 million "small arms" in circulation throughout the globe and, every day through work such as yours, the numbers grow.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned the production and use of these weapons. In a recent report, the ICRC concluded: "As international arms transfers, particularly of small arms, have become easier the promotion of respect for international humanitarian law has become vastly more difficult.
"The result is appalling levels of wanton violence and a stream of horrific images which threaten to immunize the public and decision-makers to ongoing violations of humanitarian law.
"The current pattern of transfers of small arms, light weapons and related ammunition, because it is largely outside of international control, should be a matter of urgent humanitarian concern. While the primary responsibility for compliance with international humanitarian law falls upon users of weapons, States and enterprises engaged in production and export bear a degree of political, moral and, in some cases, legal responsibility to the international community for the use made of their weapons and ammunition."
In light of the responsibilities and obligations that we as Canadian and world citizens bear, we are writing in the open and loving spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. to inform you that on the morning of Monday, January 15, 2001 -- King's birth date -- a series of Homes not Bombs Citizens Inspectors will be arriving at your factory to examine the premises and the weapons built within for violations of international and moral law. That month marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the war against Iraq, a war which, combined with brutal sanctions, has resulted in the deaths of almost 2 million Iraqis.
At the time of the war, Diemaco proudly proclaimed its support of the slaughter and its production of weapons for that slaughter. Since that time, the Iraqis have been subject to periodic inspections of potential weapons production sites. Despite the fact that your weapons have killed Iraqis, among others, there has yet to be a citizens inspection of your facilities.
Hence, we are training many individuals in nonviolence and principles of international law to carry out the required inspection. As things stand, it appears your ongoing production of rifles and machine guns and grenade launchers poses a real and ongoing threat to the majority of the world's population, as noted by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Our inspection is the first step in presenting a plan for the demilitarization of Diemaco and the support for a civilian-based manufacturing facility.
We provide you with this ample notice because we, unlike the world of arms sales, operate in the open. We intend no harm to any employee of Diemaco nor anyone who may be on the grounds that day, as we believe that violence can never be a satisfactory answer to violence. Again, we walk in the footsteps of the civil rights movement and Dr. King, who noted that a society such as Canada's that continues to spend more on war than on programs of social uplift "is rapidly approaching spiritual death."
The voices of the victims of war -- and the thousands of homeless victims of a war economy -- compel our presence at Diemaco today, Remembrance Day, and on King's birth date. We look forward to hearing from you about ways to facilitate this inspection.
In the intervening two months, we invite you to look inside yourselves, to see the homeless on our streets not as abstract figures but as human beings whose lives have been robbed of dignity and care by a society which spends over $800 billion annually on ways of killing one another and a mere fraction of that on ways of taking care of each other.
During that time, we hope you will take into deep consideration our sincere concerns, and get in touch with us at any of the above numbers to discuss this matter further.
(for Homes not Bombs)
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