Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster's support for arms to Indonesia sale criticised
Published 16/01/2014 | 01:30
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has come under fire for welcoming the Thales arms contract to Indonesia, after its government was criticised for persecuting Christians.
Thales – which builds a range of missiles used by countries across the globe – employs some 500 staff at Belfast and Crossgar.
Mrs Foster, along with Prime Minister David Cameron, welcomed news of a £100m deal for the weapons firm to supply the Indonesian Ministry of Defence.
"Thales is a world-class defence company with a global reputation and has been working hard to secure new export business," she said. "This valuable contract represents a breakthrough in air defence sales for Thales UK and will help sustain jobs at the firm's sites in Northern Ireland."
But her support has come under fire, as the Indonesian government has been cited by Human Rights Watch and criticised for the persecution of Christians.
It comes after the DUP held a Commons debate in recent months, demanding the UK government do more to stop Christian persecution.
Patrick Corrigan, from Amnesty International, said: "Since the lifting of an arms embargo to the country in 2005, Indonesia has been spending billions on tanks, guns and planes designed to bolster the strength of its already powerful military.
"Meanwhile, the last year has seen an increasingly repressive human rights climate within the country and a worrying lack of progress in addressing past abuses.
"Selling arms to countries like Indonesia should only be considered if there are absolutely watertight guarantees over them not being used to commit human rights violations, a key demand of the UN arms trade treaty the UK rightly helped champion."
The minister was not available for comment.