German manufacturer Heckler & Koch (HK) will no longer sell weapons to Turkey. Sources within the defense company said that the decision was taken after a detailed review of Ankara’s human rights record.
“We only want to deliver to reliable countries, also countries that are unequivocally democratic, not corrupt, and are part of NATO or close to NATO,” an anonymous HK manager told the German-language Die Welt newspaper.
Turkey, as a result, was removed from the customer list. According to the Heckler & Koch employee, “the moral criticism of such exports can be understood.”
The HK manager pointed out that even if the company was willing to absorb the negative press headlines, it is nearly impossible for German companies to get export permits for human rights violators.
Experts told ARA News that there are strict laws in Germany regarding arms exports. In the past, Berlin was also reluctant to give permission for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.
Heckler & Koch’s decision is another foreign relations setback for Turkey.
Last week, Turkey slammed Vienna’s decision to restrict arm sales to Turkey. The Austrian government decided on 24 November to limit arms exports to Turkey amidst increasing human rights violations.
Since the July coup attempt, Turkish authorities have purged thousands of journalists, activists, academics and Kurdish politicians. More than 50,000 people have now lost their jobs and over 18,000 have been detained.
Many of Turkey’s most prominent Kurdish politicians have been imprisoned, including the co-Chairs of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). The Turkish government is also waging an international campaign against confederalist Kurdish parties.
In Turkey, security forces have been trying to crush a 38-year-old Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgency in its restive south-eastern provinces.
In Iraq, the Turkish military has been trying to displace parties and militias associated with the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).
In Syria, the Turkish Army and allied rebels launched the Euphrates Shield Operation to prevent Syrian Kurds from connecting their cantons.
The arms embargo by Austria and Heckler & Koch GmbH came after the European Union voted to freeze accession talks with Turkey due to its tarnished human rights record and ongoing crackdown against pro-Kurdish politicians.