After almost a year of bombs raining down on Yemen during the power struggle between Houthi rebel forces and those loyal to the government, over 6,000 people have been killed and far more injured.
Rebel forces have been attacked by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, who’s air strikes have devastated the country, targeting and destroying fundamental infrastructure such as homes, hospitals and schools that were still in use. In February alone there was a documented number of 168 innocent civilian deaths and a further 193 injured. And that is not counting any unreported deaths or injuries.
And yet, for a country that is usually so wonderfully outspoken, the UK has been surprisingly quiet on this issue. The loss of these innocent lives has been somewhat missing from our headlines. This undeniable abuse of human rights has somehow been ignored. And these horrifying war crimes have been forgotten.
I wonder why that is?
Because the UK has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, which have more than likely been used in this conflict with Yemen. The UK government claims that it monitors the use of UK military equipment by the Saudi-led coalition “very carefully”, however there is undeniable evidence of a UK-made bomb which was used to demolish a civilian building. And yet these arms sales still continue. This is in stark contention with the Arms Trade Treaty which the UK itself helped establish in 2014.
Amnesty UK Director, Kate Allen, said:
‘This was depressingly predictable. Amnesty has repeatedly warned that UK-made weapons were likely to end up causing civilian casualties in Yemen, but those warnings have been recklessly ignored.”
How much longer does this have to go on for, and how much worse does this have to get before we stop sticking our heads in the sand and continue keeping so uncomfortably quiet about this?
Of course, Saudi Arabia is considered an “important strategic ally” to the UK, but surely such unscrupulous human rights abuses are far too high a price to pay for advancing our economic and trade interests. Apart from anything else, as a country that has a history of being a beacon for human rights, our credibility is withering away with every day that we continue to be complicit in the killing of innocent civilians.
Surely we have a duty as human beings to put human rights first.
We must find our humanity and call on our government to halt the supply of weapons which could be (and evidently they are) used to commit such unforgivable acts on other human beings.
Image courtesy of Ibrahem Qasim via Flickr