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Yemen’s Plight and Britain’s “Creative Clout”

Arms Sales and Advice on Killing

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | January 23, 2016

Today, I want to speak about the once-in-a-generation chance we have, together, to improve the way we enhance the cause of human rights, freedom and dignity.

— David Cameron. Speech on the European Court of Human Rights, January 25. 2012

In June of 2014, speaking in his official residence,10 Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on business:

“Britain has huge creative clout around the world … From Asia to America, they’re dancing to our music, watching our films and wearing our designers’ latest creations”, he trilled.

He omitted to say “and dying under our bombs.”

In December, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein warned, regarding the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen:

I have observed with extreme concern the continuation of heavy shelling from the ground and the air in areas with high a concentration of civilians as well as the perpetuation of the destruction of civilian infrastructure – in particular hospitals and schools …

Yemen’s Ministry of Education’s data shows more than 1,000 schools inoperable, 254 completely destroyed, 608 partially damaged and 421 being used as shelter by those displaced by the Saudi-led, UK-assisted onslaught. Some destroyed schools were attacked repeatedly. Thus they were not errors, or that obscene US dreamt up whitewash for atrocities: “collateral damage.” The US also supplies “intelligence” for air strikes.

Three Medecines Sans Frontier medical facilities have also been destroyed and this month the Noor Center for the Blind was hit – twice. Abdullah Ahmed Banyan, a patient, said:

People with disabilities are being struck in their residence. Around 1.30 am, two missiles hit the live-in quarters of a home for the blind. Can you imagine they are striking the blind? What is this criminality? Why? Is it the blind that are fighting the war?

As in Afghanistan and Iraq, those other favourite targets of the US, UK and their allies, wedding parties, have again become victims. One gathering in two large tents bombed last September, killed thirty eight people. Another wedding celebration attack reportedly killed one hundred and thirty. In the country’s capitol, Sanaa a wedding party hall was also destroyed – what is this criminal obsession about weddings? The Chamber of Commerce was also destroyed.

Definition of war crimes include “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected …” and “attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives.”

None of which deters the UK from joining in. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed to Parliament that UK troops are helping the Saudi military identify targets. He said there had been “no evidence of deliberate breach of international humanitarian law.” He clearly has not bothered to do the research.

There is worse. Apart from aiding and abetting potential war crimes, the British government is profiting in eye watering sums from the human misery, deaths and destruction with arms sales to Saudi Arabia increasing by 11,000 percent in one three month period alone.

In spite of the United Nations stating that civilians are being disproportionately killed in Yemen, in just one three month period last year arms sales rose to over one Billion £s, up from a mere nine million £s from the previous three months.

The exact figure for British arms export licences from July to September 2015 was £1,066,216,510 in so-called “ML4” export licences, which relate to bombs, missiles, rockets, and components of those items.

Angus Robertson, Leader of the Scottish National Party in Parliament, is outraged, accusing during Prime Minister’s Questions this week, that:

Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen, including a large number by the Saudi air force and they’ve done that using British-built planes, with pilots who are trained by British instructors, dropping British-made bombs, who are coordinated by the Saudis in the presence of British military advisors.

Isn’t it time for the Prime Minister to admit that Britain is effectively taking part in a war in Yemen that is costing thousands of civilians lives and he has not sought parliamentary approval to do this? (Independent, January 20th, 2016. Emphasis added.)

Allan Hogarth for Amnesty International again confirmed that British advisors are “… actually located in the Saudi control room.”

David Cameron waffled inadequately with dismissive arrogance and supreme economy with the truth, that Britain was insuring that “… the norms of humanitarian law” were obeyed. Comments redundant.

Two days ago at Yemen’s Ras Isa port on the Red Sea, an oil storage facility was hit killing five people. The attack destroyed the part of the compound used to load tanker trucks with refined products for domestic distribution. So now a people, many of whom the UN has warned are facing near starvation, will face further shortages to cook what little they have and to heat

So much for Cameron’s vow to “improve the way we enhance the cause of human rights, freedom and dignity.”


MSF paramedic, civilian first responders killed in Saudi double-tap airstrike in Yemen

RT | January 22, 2016

Almost two dozen people, including civilian rescuers and an ambulance driver from an MSF-affiliated hospital, have reportedly been killed after Saudi-led coalition planes carried out repeated airstrikes on the same target in Sa’ada province, Yemen.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirmed the fatal air raids in Sa’ada, saying the “planes went back to bomb areas already hit.”

“An ambulance driver from an MSF hospital [was] killed,” the NGO wrote, explaining that the first responders at the scene had been trying to help those wounded in the first round of strikes.

The ambulance had just picked up the victims when a direct strike killed everyone inside it, said the director of the Jumhuriya Hospital in Sa’ada province, according to the New York Times.

Yemen’s Health Ministry has strongly condemned the coalition’s actions as a “heinous massacre” that first targeted a residential building in Sa’ada, Saba news agency reports, citing ministry spokesperson Dr. Nashwan Attab.

According to reports, at least 20 people were killed and another 35 wounded, in what the medics claim was a deliberate attack. Following the initial air raid in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada, first responders rushed to the scene to care for the wounded. But the planes soon returned to strike again in an attempt to “completely eliminate the few remaining medical staff in the province,” Dr. Attab said.

WARNING! DISTURBING VIDEO, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

“There are still people under the rubble and it is difficult to get them as a result of targeting by Saudi aggression of paramedics and medical personnel in the region,” he added.

Earlier this week, MSF said that the Saudi coalition continues to engage civilian targets on the ground, in particular medical treatment facilities, noting that over 100 hospitals have witnessed attacks since the Saudi-led intervention began last March.

The constant bombing of health clinics in Yemen has created conditions in which locals fear for their lives and try to avoid hospitals at all costs, MSF said. The United Nations has criticized the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen for the disproportionate number of civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure.

The UN estimates that the violence has resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties, with more than 5,800 people killed in Yemen since March.

READ MORE:

Yemeni hospitals seen as targets, people ‘avoid them as much as possible’ – MSF

January 24, 2016 - Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , ,

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