Netwerk Vlaanderen vzw Vooruitgangstraat 333/9 1030 Brussels Tel: +32 (0)201 0770 Fax: +32 (0)201 0602 Press spokesperson (Dutch speaking): Inez Louwagie +32 (0)498 682 940 firstname.lastname@example.org Press spokesperson (French speaking): Bernard Bayot +32 (0)473 301 113 email@example.com
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Activists from the campaign “My Money. Clear Conscience?” today symbolically demined the headquarters of AXA in Brussels. A landmine clearance team went in search of landmines, cluster munitions and other controversial weapons. This action is needed more than ever, as research from Netwerk Vlaanderen reveals that AXA invests heavily in two new US landmine producers.
New landmines in the United States...
Last year George W. Bush made a significant change in the direction of the landmine policy of the United States. Instead of keeping the promise to sign the Ottawa Treaty (the international treaty banning anti-personnel landmines) in 2006, Bush has opted to renew the production and use landmines for the US army. Companies such as Textron and ATK have already received large sums of money for the development of these weapons, and hope to receive the green light from the Pentagon in December to begin production.
... with investment from AXA
Netwerk Vlaanderen reveals today that the financial group AXA is investing heavily in ATK and especially in Textron. AXA's investments in Textron- both direct and via investment funds- account for no less than 28.84% of the shares in the company. The shares in ATK and Textron are worth more than $2.7 billion.
After three years of campaigning against investments in the weapon industry by AXA, Dexia, Fortis, ING and KBC, Netwerk Vlaanderen shows once again that AXA is lagging hopelessly behind the other financial groups when it comes to taking social responsibility for investments. While the other four banks have started to work on stricter policies for investment in weapon producers AXA still sees no problem with investing in anti-personnel landmines.
Evidence that another policy can be followed can be found with KBC. This bank group already decided in August 2005 that Textron should be put on the black list of companies that are excluded from investments. ATK and other producer of cluster munitions, landmines and uranium weapons have been on this list since 2004.
Landmines are the pariahs of the weapon world
Landmines create primarily civilian victims, a large number of which are children. Since 1975 there have already been 1 million victims of landmines. Victims that survive must cope for the rest of their lives with severe injuries and amputated limbs. Since 1997 there has been a treaty banning anti-personnel mines, the Ottawa Treaty. Through the success of this treaty, anti-personnel mines are already banned in over ¾ of the world. Belgium played a pioneering role in bringing this treaty into being.
The demining team from the campaign “My Money. Clear Conscience?” demands that AXA group immediately ends her investment in landmine producers.
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