Tear gas shipment to Bahrain stopped over human rights

A spokesman for South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, which has to approve military exports, confirmed in a subsequent interview with The Lede that proposed shipments to Bahrain from two defense contractors had been stopped. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/sale-of-tear-gas-to-bahrain-blocked-over-concerns-raised-by-rights-groups/?ref=world The spokesman, Lee Jung-geun, said that two South Korean companies had asked the agency about “the possibility” of exporting tear gas canisters to Bahrain. It was, he said, a step often taken by South Korean firms to complete contracts with foreign clients before submitting a formal request for an export permit.
“After discussing the matter with other government agencies, we have told them to hold it,” Mr. Lee said. “We made that decision, considering the situation of Bahrain reported in the media, political instability there, people reportedly killed and injured there because of tear gas, and the complaints from human rights groups.”
One of the companies, DaeKwang Chemical, did not respond to an interview request from The Lede, but its chief executive told The Financial Times that “growing pressure from human rights groups” made it unlikely that its planned sale of three million shells to Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, which oversees the police force, would ever go through. The same company acknowledged last year that it had sold a million tear gas shells to the kingdom in 2011 and 2012.
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry released a statement on Wednesday saying that officials have “not been informed by South Korea of any ban on the export of teargas to Bahrain.” The statement also said officers only use tear gas “as a necessary and proportionate measure and in public order and riot control situations.” The gas is deployed, according to the ministry, “entirely in compliance with international law.”
Despite dozens of deaths and the frequent use of gas to disperse demonstrations since 2011, the authorities in Bahrain have repeatedly denied the use of excessive force to disperse protests. In October, however, an extensive report from Physicians for Human Rights accused Bahrain of “Weaponizing Tear Gas.”

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