Pro-Israel activists affiliated with Stop the Bomb distributed 3,500 flyers at the start of the Siemens annual stockholder meeting in Munich on Tuesday - International Holocaust Remembrance Day - calling for the engineering and energy giant to stop its business dealings with Iran to prevent a genocide against the Jewish state.
Stop the Bomb, a non-partisan coalition with chapters in Germany and Austria, advocates harsh economic sanctions on the Iranian regime to force suspension of its nuclear enrichment program.
In the bitter cold outside the massive Olympic Hall, 35 activists distributed flyers as over 12,000 stockholders entered. BÃ¤rbel Illi, a member of the German-Israeli friendship society in Stuttgart who traveled to Munich to pass out flyers, told The Jerusalem Post that "Siemens is quite deeply involved in business with Iran."
Illi noted that "too little" is being done in Germany to prohibit German-Iranian trade and prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
According to the "Siemens Iran" Web site, 350 employees are presently active in Iran and, in 2007, Germany garnered 465 million Euros in trade with Iranian customers.
A spokesman for Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) informed the Post that the German government approved 36 "dual-use" contracts, which can be used for military and civilian purposes, with Iran between January and November of 2008. He declined to comment on whether Siemens had secured permits for dual-use contracts. In the same period as the dual-use deals were authorized, German-Iranian trade grew by 10.5 percent over 2007.
Individual stockholders and members of Stop the Bomb gave voice to their rising displeasure with Siemens's flourishing commercial relationship with Iran. Shareholder Andrea Duchek asked CEO Peter LÃ¶scher and Chairman of the Board Gerhard Cromme for a breakdown of trade volume and slammed Siemens for its business "alliance" with "the main supporter of the Hamas terror regime." She demanded an immediate end to Siemens's commercial dealings with Iran.
Michael Spaney, a spokesman for Stop the Bomb, asked LÃ¶scher and Cromme how it was possible that Siemens, which "already profited from slave labor in Auschwitz and was also involved in other Nazi crimes," was once again acting "as an important mainstay of an anti-Semitic and terrorist regime?"
"What does the Siemens Managing Board have to say about the countless human rights violations in Iran, the brutal destruction of trade unions, the violent suppression of women, the terrorizing of minorities and the murder of homosexuals, as well as the threat to Israel?"
LÃ¶scher replied that "compliance and ethics have the highest priority in the area of human rights."
Spaney peppered LÃ¶scher with questions about Siemens's contracts. LÃ¶scher said Siemens provided Iran with "150 diesel-powered vehicles" valued at 294 million Euros, as well as the delivery of 13 gas turbines and 20 compressors to the firm Mahtab. Contradicting a Guardian news report from November, 2007, that asserted that Siemens "has pulled out of all new business dealings with Iran," LÃ¶scher confirmed Siemens's ongoing activity in Iran, stating that in December 2008 the company had sealed a 32m.-Euro deal involving three compressors, and referenced business transactions in the gas, oil and medical sectors.
He declined to comment on whether Siemens had provided Iran with surveillance technology which, according to media reports, can be used against Israel and persecuted minority groups in Iran.
Asked whether Siemens had commenced deals with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, a group designated a terror organization by the US government, LÃ¶scher gave no specific answers.
LÃ¶scher repeatedly told the shareholders that Siemens complied with the United Nations and European Union sanctions against Iran.
He said, however, that Siemens could not exercise influence over deals cut in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that facilitated the transport of merchandise to Iran. The free-trade zone in Dubai, UAE, is a non-regulated area that companies use to bypass European Union and United Nation sanctions.