Medic and people carry the body of a boy following a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen’s capital Sanaa September 22, 2015. Photo: Reuters
by Azza Rojbi, originally published on Fire This Time
On the night of April 22, Yahya Jaafar was surrounded by family, friends, and neighbours as they were celebrating his wedding when a Saudi-led airstrike hit the wedding party. What was supposed to be a memorable night of love and celebration for Yahya and his bride, turned into a disaster. As Yahya described in an interview with RT Ruptly, “The whole world turned red…This bombing caused the complete destruction of buildings and people. Many people died, many were wounded, some lost their hands, some lost their legs.”
Local health sources put the death toll from this horrendous crime by the Saudi-led coalition to between 20-50 people, as some bodies are still believed to be buried under the rubble. The majority of the victims were children and women including the bride.
The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) received some of the wounded after the airstrike in a hospital it supports in Hajjah, Yemen. In a press release following the attack João Martins, MSF head of mission in Yemen said, “What happened in Bani Qays is appalling. Among the 63 wounded our teams have treated, 13 are children. These people arrived at the hospital in garlands traditionally worn to celebrate marriage. None were armed or arrived in military uniform.”
Footage that emerged online showed chaos and scattered remains of the people that were brutally killed by the Saudi-led bombing. One striking image was that of a young boy clinging to his dead father’s body and refusing to let go while rescuers are trying to pull him away. This is a war crime! Where is U.S. Ambassador to UN, Nikki Haley’s indignation and fiery speeches at the U.N. in defense of the children of Yemen? Where are the U.S., U.K. and France’s condemnation of the senseless killing of civilians in Yemen? Where are their tears for the people of Yemen?
This atrocious crime by the U.S. backed Saudi-led coalition against the people of Yemen is not an isolated incident. For over three years, the Saudi-led military coalition has been pounding Yemen with daily airstrikes under the pretext of reinstating legitimacy and stability to the country.
Bringing stability to the people of Yemen? Really?! Let’s look at some of the Saudi-led coalition’s criminal track record against the people of Yemen:
- April 23, 2018: 18 killed and 13 wounded in the early morning when US-Saudi aggression warplanes bombed a petrol station in Abis district in Hajja province.
- April 22, 2018: 20-50 killed and 63 wounded when an air strike hit the wedding party.
- April 20, 2018: 20 people were killed in an air strike by a Saudi-led military coalition in southwestern Yemen. The attack hit a bus transporting passengers south of Taiz province.
- April 9, 2018: 15 people, including children, were killed by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in the southwestern city of Taiz. The airstrike hit a civilian house in the Dimnat Khadir district.
- April 2, 2018: At least 14 were killed and 9 wounded when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike destroyed a house in a camp of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. 7 children were killed.
- September 28, 2017: 135 people, majority women and children, were killed when Saudi-led airstrikes hit a wedding party in Yemen’s central Taiz province.
- August 23, 2017: At least 51 people were killed in an airstrike that hit a hotel on the outskirts of Sana’a.
- January 10, 2017: At least 8 children lost their lives, and 15 others were critically injured in an airstrike from Saudi-led forces that hit an elementary school to the northeast of the Yemeni capital Sana’a.
- October 8, 2016: 155 people were killed and at least 525 more wounded when two airstrikes, about three to eight minutes apart, hit the packed Al Kubra hall in Sana’a, Yemen during a funeral.
- August 8, 2016: 15 food factory workers including six women were killed and eight others wounded after the Saudi-led coalition bombed a potato chip factory in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
- January 21, 2016: 26 people were killed, including an ambulance driver and civilian rescuers and as many as 48 more were injured after a Saudi led coalition airstrike hit the village of Dhahian.
- January 10, 2016: 6 people were killed and 7 were injured after the Saudi led coalition airstrike struck an MSF supported hospital in Razeh in Saada province, in the North of Yemen.
- March 15, 2016: 106 people were killed, including 24 children after the market in Khamees, a town in northern Yemen, was destroyed in two airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition.
- June 3, 2015: 55 people including 35 children and 11 women were killed when a Saudi led coalition airstrike hit a cluster of houses in al-Eram, a village in the North West of Sa’da basically decimating an entire community.
- July 24, 2015: 65 people killed and 42 injured when airstrikes targeted two residential compounds of the Mokha Steam Power Plant, which housed plant workers and their families.
- May 6, 2015: 28 people were killed, including 7 women and 17 children, after the Saudi led coalition airstrikes hit a cultural center and a home in Sa’da City. These horrific killings and destruction are examples of Saudi Arabia’s style of bringing ‘democracy’ and ‘stability’ to Yemen and the region.
In addition to the daily bombing, Saudi Arabia and its coalition is also imposing an air, sea and land blockade on Yemen, creating huge shortages of many essential items and crisis in the country to the edge. According to the United Nations, the war in Yemen is now the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people — 80 percent of the population — in desperate need of aid and protection and more than half of the country left without basic medical services.
What a farce! As the humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsens, it is becoming harder for the Saudi-led coalition to justify the war. As they continue to bomb the children of Yemen daily, the Saudi government and its allied UAE government announced a joint $930 million donation to the United Nations’ Yemen Humanitarian Fund. Indeed this is a farce and clear attempt by the Saudi-led coalition to wash their bloody hands of the war crimes they’re committing in Yemen.
In an article by NPR, Yahya Nasser, a Yemeni who works at a relief organization in Yemen, said in response to the news about the donation, “We don’t need money from Saudi Arabia…What we need is for them to stop the war.”
This hypocrisy is not exclusive to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. According to an investigation published recently by the Toronto Star, “Canada has sent $65 million in humanitarian aid to help Yemenis suffering amid a brutal war. It has also exported $284 million worth of weapons and military goods to the countries bombing Yemen. ”
This number doesn’t include the $15 billion sale of Canadian-made armoured combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia approved by the Trudeau government. How can the government of Canada claim to care about helping the Yemeni people in this humanitarian crisis, while providing weapons to the countries responsible for creating this crisis in the first place?
In the same article, the Toronto Star quotes Anthony Fenton, an academic who follows Canada’s arms exports to the Middle East. He uses local reports and photos posted to social media to track the use of Canadian weapons in Yemen. “There is not a shred of doubt Canadian equipment is being used in Yemen…We track this on a daily basis, and there hasn’t been a week since this war began that there hasn’t been some sighting of Canadian goods being used.”
The title of an article published by CBC in 2016 summed up this situation well, “Let’s not kid ourselves, Canada is in the war business.”
Why the war on Yemen?
The United States is a direct accomplice of all the war crimes committed against the people of Yemen. The U.S. military has been providing aerial refueling for planes flying with the Saudi led coalition, it is also providing targeting intelligence to the military coalition and continues selling weapons and armament to the Saudi government and some of their allied countries. Saudi Arabia’s government and its imperialist allies continue to claim that their real intentions in Yemen are to bring back legitimacy by reinstating Yemen’s former president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. Over three years of bombing and killing and they still want us to believe that their goal is peace and stability in the region!
Further clear proof that the U.S. backed Saudi coalition has no real interest in peace or stability in Yemen, was the Saudi announcement about the assassination of Saleh al-Samad, the president of the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council. Samad was killed days before he was scheduled to meet with Martin Griffiths, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, on April 28 to discuss the possibilities of reaching a negotiated settlement to Yemen’s war.
In an interview with the New Yorker: Shireen al-Adeimi, a Yemeni analyst and doctoral student at Harvard said, “It’s an assassination…Any group that assassinates political leaders gives a strong message that they don’t want peace talks. Imagine if the Houthis had sent missiles to Saudi that killed Mohammed bin Salman.”
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have no interest in peace or the well-being of the Yemeni people. Their goal is to expand their hegemony in Yemen and the region in a desperate move to quash the formation of an independent government; to protect its shaky and unstable monarchy; as well as to impose on Yemen a corrupt pro-imperialist government to serve their interests.
Yemenis deserve Peace
“I want nothing for myself. I want these children to be happy and to live in peace,” those are the words of Alhaga Misk, a 55-year-old grandmother. She shared them with UNICEF workers on the ground in Yemen. What Misk wants for her children is what all Yemenis families dream of, peace and prosperity. As peace loving people living in Canada, the United States, and around the world, we must support the struggle of the Yemeni people for peace and self-determination. We must demand an end to the U.S. backed Saudi-led bombing campaign on the country and the lift of the blockade to allow commercial goods and humanitarian aid to reach people in need.
In Canada, it is our human responsibility to point out the hypocrisy of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and hold them accountable for their complicity in the atrocious crimes against the people of Yemen. We must demand the cancellation of Canada’s $15 billion arms deal and other weapons and military goods to the Saudi government.
Together let’s join the brave people of Yemen in their struggle for peace and dignity!
All Foreign Troops Out of Yemen!
Lift the Naval, Aerial and Land Blockade on Yemen!
Azza Rojbi is a Web Developer, Human Rights Advocate and member of the Vancouver based peace and justice organization, MAWO (Mobilization Against War and Aggression). Follow Azza Rojbi on Twitter: @Azza_R14