By J. Power (Auth.)
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Extra info for Amnesty International. The Human Rights Story
It told the government that Pye Telecommunications, a well-known electronics firm, was supplying materials to the "State Research Center" which, Amnesty estimated, had killed between 100,000 and 500,000 people in the eight years of Amin's rule. Pye and other firms involved took the position that the morals of the case were n o t their responsibility. If the government wanted to forbid it, then they should legislate. Until then, they were free to sell to w h o m they wanted. T h e firms persisted in their competitive sales efforts, although Amin's regime was often in default of payment and despite the fact that one salesman was hammered to death by State Research Center agents, apparently on account of deficiencies in the supply of equipment by his firm.
Selling guns is a crude way of winning friends and influencing people. It is quicker and easier to administer an arms p r o g r a m than economic aid. It is also more profitable in the short term. The Russians seem especially to prefer it, in fact. In Africa, the Soviet Union spends about three times more on guns than butter. The third culprit is the competition between the Western nations themselves. At one time the United States was in the 42 arms trade business almost alone. These days both Britain and France are seriously at the game of outselling the Americans.
In December 1977, Amnesty convened in Stockholm an international conference on the death penalty. Delegates from fifty countries issued a declaration condemning executions committed or condoned by governments. In 1979, a report, The Death Penalty, was issued. It had been compiled by the research department, the legal office, and a young British barrister, Brian Wrobel. Wrobel had begun his w o r k with Amnesty International when he was sent to observe the trial in South Korea of eight members of the People's Revolutionary Party.