Amnesty International Stages New York City “Bananafesto” Action in Times Square June 27, Ahead of Historic Arms Treaty Talks at United Nations

Press Release
June 20, 2012

Amnesty International Stages New York City “Bananafesto” Action in Times Square June 27, Ahead of Historic Arms Treaty Talks at United Nations

Activists to Issue “Bananafesto,” Pass Out Bananas On New York Streets, Deliver “Killer Facts” on Electronic Billboards, Inspired By Stunning Irony:

Bananas Are More Strictly Regulated Than Weapons Worldwide

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(New York) – On Wednesday, June 27, in Times Square -- ahead of historic U.N. arms control talks starting in July -- Amnesty International will launch a month-long campaign to support a global treaty to stop weapons from getting into the hands of dictators, warlords and others who use them to abuse human rights.

Inspired by the stunning irony that bananas are subject to strict global trade rules while conventional weapons flow around the globe with few constraints, Amnesty International will stage a mass rally, issue a “bananafesto” to support a strong arms trade treaty and hand out bananas to passersby.

The Times Square event from 10 a.m. to noon will draw hundreds of activists wearing bright yellow t-shirts who will hand out bananas from yellow “weapons cases” while electronic billboards deliver “killer facts” and video images showing the destructive power of small arms globally. (The event will start at Duffy Square- the northern triangle of Times Square, located between 45th and 47th Streets, Broadway and Seventh Avenue).

“As incredible as it may seem, there are stricter international regulations on bananas, dinosaur bones, and bottled water, than on guns and bullets,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. “Thousands of Syrians have died over the last year, because China and Russia are supplying arms to a brutal regime that is using the weapons and military hardware to commit atrocities against its own people. This is our best chance in a generation to rein in the arms flow that facilitates terror, repression, and other grave human rights abuses in Syria and around the world. The Obama Administration and other U.N. member states must seize this opportunity to stop irresponsible arms transfers. If we can adopt a strong treaty, we could save tens of thousands of lives and stop fueling armed conflicts. Worldwide, someone dies every single minute in armed conflicts that are fed by these weapons that flow so freely.”

The human rights organization is making the point that weapons sales globally should be at least as strictly regulated as bananas are currently in the global marketplace.

In fact, weaknesses and loopholes in existing national, regional and multilateral arms control mechanisms allow arms-producing countries, independent arms merchants and others to sell weapons to the highest bidder with little or no consideration of how and against whom the weapons will be used.

The Arms Trade Treaty would create international standards to regulate conventional arms trading and transfers. Negotiations on the final text will begin July 2 at the United Nations and continue through the month of July.

Amnesty International has concluded that 60 percent of the human rights abuses and atrocities it documents – from mass rapes and disappearances to executions and the recruitment of child soldiers – involve the use of light weapons.

After years of campaigning to put the treaty on the United Nations’ agenda, the human rights organization is planning a month of advocacy and activities in New York and around the world to make sure governments include meaningful human rights protections in the document.

On June 27, activists around the world will be staging events to support a strong arms trade treaty.

Amnesty International plans to deliver more than 200,000 petition signatures to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 3, urging states to support an effective treaty.

The organization’s key demand is that the arms trade treaty must include a “Golden Rule” to prevent arms transfers when there is substantial risk the weapons will be used to commit serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

Pressure is growing for a strong treaty. Most European Union and Latin American countries support strong human rights protections in the treaty. However, some of the major arms exporting countries, including the United States, China and Russia, are arguing for weaker rules that cover a narrower range of weapons.

For more information about the arms trade treaty visit: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/military-police-and-arms/arms-trade.

To sign Amnesty International’s petition calling for an arms trade treaty that respects human rights, visit: http://www.clickboom.org.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.