Yemenis hold vigil, vow steadfast fight against Saudi atrocities
The October 8, 2016 Saudi air raid killed at least 155 people and wounded over 520 others, prompting an international outcry and strong criticism even from Riyadh’s close allies.
Witnesses said at least two air-dropped munitions penetrated the roof of the al-Sala al-Kubra community hall in Sana’a and detonated a few minutes apart during the funeral ceremony for the father of a senior Houthi official.
The incident was one of the deadliest in the Saudi bombing campaign which began in March 2015 in a bid to eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall a Riyadh-friendly regime.
On Saturday, relatives of the victims gathered in the Yemeni capital to remember the carnage, holding pictures of their loved ones and candles.
Ali Abu-Mehm, a relative of one of the victims, said, “We have now come out with candles in the memory of the martyrs in the consolation of the Great Hall and send a message that we are steadfast.”
Ibrahim Samadi, who sustained injuries in the incident, called on “the international community to launch an investigation into this issue, which is contrary to all international norms, rights and laws.”
Saudi Arabia initially denied that it was behind the bombing, but a few days later admitted to the attack.
“Because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries,” the Saudi investigations team said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced the October 8 atrocity as an apparent war crime.
“After unlawfully attacking schools, markets, hospitals, weddings, and homes …, the Saudi-led coalition has now added a funeral to its ever-increasing list of abuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW. “The US, UK, and other coalition allies should send an unequivocal message to Saudi Arabia that they want no part in these crimes.”
Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on its war on Yemen and enlisted the cooperation of dozens of its vassal states as well as Western countries.
The protracted Saudi offensive, which has been accompanied by a naval and aerial blockade on Yemen, has so far killed over 12,000 people and led to a humanitarian crisis and a cholera outbreak.
Earlier this week, the United Nations blacklisted Saudi Arabia for killing and injuring 683 children in Yemen and attacking dozens of schools and hospitals in 2016.