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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

Fine Gael MEPs call for investigation into whether EU arms exports have been used against US civilians

The five MEPs co-signed a letter to Josep Borrell ahead of a debate in the EU parliament next week.

A protester holds a sign that reads
A protester holds a sign that reads "Stop Killing Us" in Seattle
Image: Ted S. Warren/PA Images

FIVE FINE GAEL MEPs have called on the EU’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs to publicly condemn the excessive use of force against US citizens.

Sean Kelly, Mairead McGuinness, Deirdre Clune, Frances Fitzgerald and Maria Walsh also asked Josep Borrell to investigate whether any EU arms exports have been used against US civilians.

The joint letter was written in response to Black Lives Matter protests taking place across the world, following the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd last month.

The 46-year-old was laid to rest in his hometown of Houston earlier this week, more than two weeks since a video showing his final moments, when a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, went viral.

There has been widespread condemnation of the killing by protesters since, as well as of the treatment of those who have demonstrated more widrely against systemic racism and police brutality.

“In recent weeks, we have watched, in horror, the events following the killing of George Floyd in the United States,” their letter says.

“The death of George Floyd was appalling and the circumstances surrounding his death were deeply upsetting.”

The MEPs expressed worry at what they describe as a “heavy-handed response” in some cases towards protesters and journalists, and criticised such responses as “unacceptable”.

They also hit out at an “absence of moral leadership” from political leaders in the US, but also warned against considering the issue of racism as solely an American problem.

“We must be vigilant against racism and racial inequality in all its forms, look hard at our own societies, listen to those speaking out about their own experiences, and tackle the scourge of racism head-on,” the letter continues.

“We have countless examples of racism here in the European Union, be it in the form of hate-speech, discrimination based on skin colour, or even acts of violence.

“Racism in every form is unacceptable and must be eliminated from our society.”

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The five MEPs called on Borrell to issue a public statement condemning the excessive use of force towards citizens in the US, and to ask political leaders there to work towards a de-escalation of tensions.

They also asked for efforts to be made at EU level to identify instances of racism and xenophobia within the European Union and to put in place the appropriate tools to eliminate them.

And they asked Borrell to investigate whether any EU arms exports have been used against US civilians, and to suspend such exports if this was found to be the case.

The European Parliament is set to debate the ongoing situation in the US next week.

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