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Action Alert: End US tear gas & military aid to Egypt, Tunisia & Israel

6 February 2011 | Adalah NY

Egyptians, Americans and people worldwide have been outraged in the last days by the photos, twitter messages and news articles showing that the tear gas canisters fired by Egyptian police at peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Egypt are “Made in USA.” While we are seeing these pictures now from Egypt, we have seen similar ones in recent months from Tunisia and Palestine. All three places have had in common repressive governments, armed by US companies with tear gas and other weapons. All three have used extreme violence against unarmed protesters who were demanding basic human rights, maiming and even killing protesters with impunity.

In all three places, Combined Systems Inc., a US company based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, is providing the tear gas – often under its brand-name CTS, an acronym for Combined Tactical Systems – that these governments are employing to crush protest, deny human rights and cling to power.

Israel, Egypt and Tunisia’s CSI tear gas may have been supplied under the US’s massive military aid to these governments, despite those governments’ clear records of severe human rights abuses. Israel receives $3 billion in US military aid annually, including $1.85 million of “tear gasses and riot control agent” from 2007-2008. Egypt receives $1.3 billion in military aid annually, and Tunisia has received an average of around $15 million annually. At a minimum the US State Department has reviewed and approved the sale of US-made tear gas to those governments.

WRITE NOW to the US State Department and tell them to stop using US tax dollars to provide tear gas and other weapons, and to stop approving military sales to repressive governments like Egypt, Israel and Tunisia that use US equipment and weapons to deny basic human rights.

WRITE NOW to executives from CSI and from their major investors Point Lookout Capital Partners and the Carlyle Group, demanding that CSI stop providing tear gas that is used by repressive governments like Egypt, Tunisia and Israel to deny the right to protest.

Egypt: As one example, Agence France Press reported on January 28th that, “Dozens of the canisters made by Combined Tactical Systems in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, were fired at crowds on one Cairo street on Friday, littering the road surface along with rubble and spent shotgun cartridges. Many protesters have been injured through tear gas inhalation and by being hit by the canisters themselves, with the security forces sometimes firing them straight at demonstrators.” Human Rights Watch staff reportedseeing dead protesters in Alexandria with “massive head wounds from tear gas canisters we [HRW staff] were told had been fired directly at their heads at close range.”

Tunisia: According to CNN, “The photograph posted in Tunisia was of a 40 mm riot CS smoke projectile, made by a company called Combined Systems Inc., which describes itself as a ‘tactical weapons company’ and is based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania…. Its warning label reads: ‘Danger: Do not fire directly at person(s). Severe injury or death may result.’ That warning is apparently not always followed. Lucas Mebrouk Dolega died in Tunisia on January 17, three days after being hit by a tear gas grenade at close range. The 32-year-old was a photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency.

Palestine: In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in 2009 Israeli soldiers fired extended range CSI canisters directly at Bassem Abu Rahmah from the West Bank village of Bil’in, killing him, and directly at US citizen Tristan Anderson in the village of Ni’ilin, seriously inuring him. Bassem’s sister Jawaher Abu Rahmah died on January 1, 2011 after she was overcome by tear gas at a protest in Bil’in the day before. CSI tear gas canisters littered the ground in the village of Bil’in after the protest. In May, 2010, US citizen Emily Henochowicz was shot directly in the face by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister, causing the loss of her eye. For more detailed information on CSI and Israel’s use of tear gas against Palestinians, Click Here.

Email the United States Department of State and Combined Systems Inc. to demand an end to the shipments of tear-gas to be used against unarmed demonstrators.