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1000 Red Crosses Fill Parliament Lawn

1000 Red Crosses Fill Parliament Lawn

1000 PEOPLE DIE EVERYDAY FROM SMALL ARMS

Friday 9 June 2006

Every year, throughout the world, roughly half a million men, women, and children are killed by armed violence – that’s one person every minute.

Together with international celebrities and activists Nicolas Cage, Joseph Fiennes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson and Arundhati Roy over 12,000 New Zealanders have joined one million people calling for an international treaty on small arms trade by lending their faces to the Control Arms Million Faces global petition.

These faces will be presented to the Minister for Disarmament Phil Goff at 2.45pm, Monday 12 June at Parliament, in front of 1000 red crosses on Parliament's lawn representing the number of people killed every day by small arms around the world.

The unregulated trade in small arms has become a key factor in conflicts worldwide – including those escalating in our own neighborhood – as seen recently in The Solomon Islands.

“Millions of people are killed by unregulated arms trade, and many, many more are injured, terrorized and subjected to violence,” says Ced Simpson, Executive Director of Amnesty International NZ. “They have truly become the weapons of mass destruction.”

“It should be completely unacceptable that rich countries that make and sell these weapons could block an international treaty for their control,” says Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director Barry Coates. “As we’ve seen all too often in the Pacific, the combination of injustice and easy access to guns is a recipe for chronic instability and under development.”

Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA have been working for more than one year on the Million Faces campaign to promote an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) - the first piece of international legislation designed to regulate the global trade in firearms. They will be presenting the Million Faces petition to the United Nations, in just over 2 weeks, demanding a global arms trade treaty.

In the last decade, every single United Nations arms embargo has been contravened because different countries maintain conflicting laws that govern the enforcement of trade barriers. Arms brokers are able to bounce munitions around arms embargoes with ease - often it is just a matter of finding the right shipping company with a suitably lax departure point. The result is a steady supply of high-powered firearms to countries embroiled in armed conflict. /ENDS

Editors Notes: THE FACTS Small arms are the current weapons of mass destruction being used in the world. Lack of control on the arms trade is fuelling conflict, poverty and human rights abuses worldwide. Every government is responsible. By 2020, the number of deaths and injuries from war and violence will overtake the number of deaths caused by killer diseases such as malaria and measles. From 1998 to 2001, the USA, UK and France earned more income from arms sales to developing countries than they gave in aid An estimated 300,000 children are working as soldiers in conflicts around the world. ‘Leaked’ firearms are the most common instruments of gun crime and violence in the Pacific. “A gun is as easy to get as a packet of cigarettes.” Evan Jean Lollas, 34, serving life for murder in the USA, 1997

THE CAMPAIGN Amnesty, Oxfam and IANSA believe that an ATT - a treaty based on over-arching international laws - would go some way to restricting the sale of weapons to states and factions with a track record of human rights abuses. Our international campaign is coming to a close and New Zealand has featured heavily throughout. The New Zealand government was one of the first to publicly support an Arms Trade Treaty - and over 12,000 New Zealanders have joined the international photo petition urging other governments to adopt an ATT at the upcoming UN Review Committee on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms.

Barry Coates (Executive Director of Oxfam NZ), Ced Simpson (Executive Director of Amnesty International New Zealand) and Philip Alpers (IANSA Representative) will present the petition to the Minister for Disarmament Phil Goff, in front of 1000 red crosses on Parliament lawn, representing the number of people killed each day by small arms around the world. For more information please go to www.controlarms.org

Over 1 million people have signed the Control Arms Million Faces petition – made up of photos and self portraits from around the world – calling on decision makers to implement an International Arms Trade Treaty to control the arms trade which are fuelling conflict, poverty and human rights abuses worldwide.

On June 26 a New Zealand delegation will join other nations at a UN Summit in New York to discuss the treaty. The Million Faces petition will send a powerful, global message to the world's governments at this time.

ENDS

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