Wounded British troops competing in Prince Harry's Invictus Games must bear the logo of the UK's largest arms exporter in an & # 39; immoral & # 39; sponsorship agreement condemned by veterans and humanitarian campaigners.
Members of the UK Invictus team will wear shirts bearing the BAE Systems logo for the first time when they compete in trials in Sheffield later this month after the company has paid a six-figure sum.
The gun manufacturer has sold billions of pounds of weapons worldwide, including to Saudi Arabia before its war in Yemen, which began in 2015. Since then, thousands of civilians have been killed or mutilated amid allegations of war crimes.
Members of the Invictus UK teams wear shirts bearing the BAE logo for the first time after the company has paid a six-figure amount for the sponsorship agreement & # 39; sportwash & # 39 ;. (Photo) Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in London on September 12, 2014
The gun manufacturer has sold billions of pounds of weapons all over the world. (Photo) Athletes compete in the men's 100 meters during Invictus Games 2018 in Sydney
Last night Amnesty International accused BAE Systems of renewing its reputation for & # 39; sportswashing & # 39 ;.
Former Special Forces soldier Ben Griffin, who served at the SAS in Iraq, said: & It seems very inappropriate for BAE to sponsor a team of disabled war veterans during a sports match when weapons provided by this company to Saudi Arabia are being sold, so many people have been injured, leaving them out. & # 39;
Prince Harry – who counts many members of Invictus UK as friends – is the patron of the Invictus Foundation, which is responsible for the Games. Around 350 Invictus competitors in the UK will carry the BAE Systems logo, of which 65 will subsequently travel to the Netherlands for the 2020 games.
BAE Systems is closely involved in the war in Yemen, where a coalition led by Saudi Arabia is carrying out air strikes in an attempt to restore the former Yemeni government.
The company has approximately 6,000 employees in Saudi Arabia who operate the hunters, missiles and other weapons used in Yemen.
Former Special Forces soldier Ben Griffin, who served in Iraq, said it & # 39; very inappropriate & # 39; seemed for BAE to sponsor the team of disabled war veterans. (Photo) A Typhoon from the Royal Air Force that rises in front of a banner from BAE systems in Gloucestershire
There have been countless allegations of war crimes committed by the Saudis, including the bombing of hospitals and schools.
On June 20, the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the export license granted to BSE Systems was unlawful because the British government had not assessed whether the Saudi-led coalition had violated international humanitarian law in Yemen.
Existing licenses between Great Britain and Saudi Arabia are currently being assessed, but remain in place.
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: & # 39; This is another example of big business with sports sponsorship to sportwash its reputation.
& # 39; For more than four years of devastating war in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has used British-made bombs that have killed thousands in random air strikes that hit hospitals, schools, weddings, and funerals.
& # 39; Is that really who wants to see Prince Harry as support for the Invictus Games? & # 39;
Royal author Penny Junor said: & # 39; It's an unfortunate partner choice. The Invictus Games was such a brilliant idea and is such a fantastic concept – Prince Harry at his best and Great Britain at his best.
& # 39; It was something to be so proud of and I am afraid this could tarnish the whole thing. & # 39;
Andrew Smith, director of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, added: & # 39; This is a totally inappropriate decision and a grotesque example of an immoral company that is throwing away its terrible practices. If BAE Systems wants to help war veterans, then the best thing it can do is stop casting weapons in war zones and fuel war and conflict.
& # 39; Prince Harry spoke last month about the need to remove the scourge of landmines.
& # 39; If he wants to promote peace, he must consider how he feels about the involvement of the largest arms companies in Britain in an event like this.
& # 39; It would be very difficult to think of a less suitable partner than BAE Systems – it is similar to having a cigarette manufacturer sponsoring cancer research or having Dracula as a blood bank sponsor. & # 39;
A spokesperson for BAE Systems said: & # 39; We are proud to be the presenting partner of Invictus UK and the opportunity it offers to support the competitors who have made significant personal sacrifices to serve our nation. & # 39;
A spokesperson for Invictus UK said: & # 39; BAE Systems' many years of dedication to our veterans and staff at home and abroad makes them well placed to support Invictus UK. & # 39;
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