Protests held in Britain against arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Amnesty International has staged a protest against Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been killing civilians in its airstrikes in Yemen.
The international human rights organization delivered five 1.8m long replicas of the Paveway IV missile, with the words “Made in Britain, destroying lives in Yemen” emblazoned on their sides to Downing Street on Whitehall in London on Friday.
According to Amnesty, the British government has sold 2,400 missiles and 58 warplanes to Saudi Arabia in the last year alone, enabling it to continue its war against Yemen.
“We’re drawing as much attention as we can to the fact that the UK government is selling arms to Saudi Arabia and we absolutely know what is happening in Yemen, and where Saudi Arabia is in terms of the war in Yemen,” Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen told RT at the protest.
Allen also called for an end to the British arms deals with Riyadh, saying they violate international law.
“We’ve seen 3,000 people dead, 700 children, hospitals and schools bombed, and it is arms from the UK being sold to Saudi Arabia. It is breaking the international arms trade treaty. We want the UK government to stop doing that,” she said. “We want to see the arms trade treaty upheld.”
Reports said last week that the British arms sales to Saudi Arabia will face a parliamentary inquiry.
“We have launched this inquiry to understand what role UK-made arms are playing in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Have the criteria set by the government for granting arms export licenses in the region been respected, and what should be the consequences if they have not?” said conservative MP Chris White, who chairs the powerful cross-party committee on arms exports controls.
The European Parliament last month passed a resolution demanding the imposition of an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia as the kingdom continues with its deadly military campaign against neighboring Yemen.
Also late last month, Amnesty International urged an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, saying it has documented violations of human rights, including possible war crimes, by the warring sides in Yemen ever since Saudi Arabia invaded the country last year.
On February 26, the Control Arms Coalition also called on all countries joining the discussions on the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, saying Riyadh and its allies have been using the weapons for gross violations of human rights and possible war crimes in Yemen.
According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia’s imports for 2011-15 increased by 275 percent compared with 2006–10. Britain and France are the main European suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia. The British government has licensed USD 7.8 billion in sales of arms, fighter jets and other military hardware to Riyadh since Prime Minister David Cameron came to power in 2010. France also signed USD 12 billion in contracts with Saudi Arabia in 2015 alone.
The UN human rights chief has held Saudi Arabia responsible for the killing of the majority of civilians in Yemen.
Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March last year. The Saudi military strikes were launched to bring the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi, back to power.
At least 8,400 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed and 16,015 others injured since March 2015. The strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.