Free Saudi blogger Raif Badawi


This January 2017 video from England is about a vigil outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London to mark the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi‘s 33rd birthday.

Saudi government kills Yemenis, British government helps


This 16 August 2016 video is called Yemen: deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike on MSF hospital kills at least 11.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

CAAT: investigate British complicity in Yemen war crimes

Friday 13th January 2016

PARLIAMENT must support an independent probe into the government’s complicity in war crimes in Yemen, campaigners told MPs yesterday.

Labour international development select committee chairman Stephen Twigg said such an investigation is “long overdue” as he bemoaned the “glacial” progress made by Saudi Arabia on its own investigations.

Britain has licensed over £3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015.

Committee on arms exports controls chair Chris White said there is an “urgent need” for Britain to suspend sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia until a UN investigation into alleged breaches of humanitarian law is completed.

The Tory MP warned that if ministers fail to do so, Britain risks damaging its international reputation.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) said: “The UK government has been complicit in the destruction of Yemen and the humanitarian catastrophe that has been forced upon the Yemeni people.

“Parliament must stand with those caught in the middle of the devastating conflict and support an international investigation into the human rights abuses that are taking place.

“For any investigation to be credible then it must be independent. The government has relied on investigations and evidence provided by the Saudi-led coalition itself.

“This is a regime that has a proven contempt for human rights. If it cannot be trusted to hold free and fair elections then how can it be trusted to investigate itself for war crimes?”

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are currently subject to a judicial review which will be heard in the High Court between February 7 and 9 following an application by CAAT.

The claim calls on the government to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen while it holds a full review into whether the exports are compatible with British and EU law.

British government helps whitewashing Saudi war crimes in Yemen: here.

No food, no medicine, no money, no world support: Yemenis faces mass death by starvation: here.

Saudi royal air force keeps killing civilians in Yemen


This video says about itself:

Refugees fleeing war in Yemen struggle in war-torn Somalia

17 August 2015

Thousands of Yemeni and Somali refugees still make their way across the gulf to Somalia. It’s a war that forced them to flee from one warring country to another, and the weak and vulnerable bear the brunt of the conflict. Mohamed Hirmoge reports.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today, about Yemen:

The Saba news agency reported yesterday that two Yemeni civilians and an African had been killed on the road from Bab al-Mandab to Moca in a coalition attack by a US made Apache helicopter.

Air strikes on Sanaa also resumed on Sunday following the failed offensive [by Saudi coalition invasive forces].

Yemeni graffiti artist palliates wounds of Saudi war


Dirty Legacy: graffiti art by Murad Subay

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Banksy‘ of Yemen: with my graffiti I want to cover up bullet holes in walls

Today, 10:00

If you’re walking down the street in Sanaa, capital of Yemen, you can not ignore the works of the ‘Banksy of Yemen’. The buildings may be destroyed by all the bombing, but they are not ugly: on the walls is still the graffiti art of Murad Subay.

“When in 2011 the war began, it broke many hearts,” Murad tells the NOS. “But not only hearts were broken, also houses and streets. At that moment I decided to go on the road and to start making graffiti art. I wanted to cover up the ugliness of the war. To make the bullet holes disappear into the wall. I succeeded in that through graffiti.”

Some works by Murad are purely artistic, others have political overtones. The artist invites residents of Sanaa also to help with the artwork. “So people can make their voices heard and express their opinion about the war. Art is not just entertainment, it can be used for so much more stuff. Art gives a voice and provides communication, especially if people can see it so clearly in the street.”

Graffiti by Murad Subay

Drawing

The 29-year-old Murad lives with his parents, three sisters and four brothers in a house in Sanaa. He studied English and got his diploma in 2012.

“I started drawing when I was 13. My parents encouraged me, and thus I could teach myself a lot of things. In 2012 I made my first graffiti work, resulting in a campaign so I could make work all across Sanaa.”

The war has changed a lot, he adds. “It has so much effect on me. On all people.” Murad cites the shortage of basic necessities such as electricity and water, and the economic consequences of the war.

“These things have a big impact on me personally, but also on my work. It is no longer possible to travel freely in Yemen. It is also sometimes far too dangerous to be on the street to make the work.” …

Graffiti by Murad Subay

Murad has already gained much fame in Yemen, he is also called the ‘Banksy of Yemen’. “Banksy is a great artist, a genius. My work resembles that by him because we use the same technique. But the way we work is different,” Murad says.

“I want to involve as many people as possible in my art. If I make a work of art and people walk past, then I invite them always to help me and give their opinion. This allows us to launch a political debate in a non-violent way.”

‘Stop British government militarism’


This video says about itself:

15 December 2016

The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has rejected calls to follow America’s lead and stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is spearheading a bombing campaign in Yemen.

By Zoe Streatfield in Britain:

SNP demands end to Tory militarism

Saturday 31st December 2016

Salmond slams ‘shamefully stained’ relationship with Saudis

The Scottish National Party (SNP) urged the British government yesterday to abandon “knee-jerk militarism” and adopt an “ethical and effective” foreign policy in the new year, following months of Western-backed bloodshed in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Theresa May has faced cross-party opposition to her continued sales of arms to the Saudi regime, which has used the weapons in indiscriminate attacks on Yemen that have killed numerous civilians.

The SNP condemned Tory ministers’ “shamefully stained” relationship with Saudi Arabia and called for an independent inquiry after reports emerged that outlawed British-made cluster bombs have been used on targets in Yemen.

Ms May has also faced criticism for her government’s participation in coalition air strikes in war-torn Syria, which have helped to create a massive refugee crisis.

SNP international affairs spokesman Alex Salmond said: “For the UK government, the new year should be one of recognising and correcting the errors in their foreign policy approach and one where they adopt a more ethical and effective approach that abandons military obsession and instead puts humanitarian and political efforts at its core.”

The MP and former party leader warned: “You cannot arm regimes with stained military tactics with one hand and then raise the other to proclaim the need to uphold human rights.

“The lessons are clear for all in the last year, from the lessons of Libya to Yemen and Syria.

“The SNP have consistently called for a wider strategy, rather than knee-jerk militarism, and we will continue to hold the Tory government to account on these crucial issues.”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade warned that arms exports had “fuelled a humanitarian catastrophe” in Yemen, while fallout from the “botched and immoral wars” in the Middle East remained a cause for concern.

Mr Smith added that if Britain was to play a more positive role on the world stage, then “militarism and war must give way to an approach that provides humanitarian relief for those in need and promotes peace and democracy.”

Saving Saudi Arabia’s vultures


This video says about itself:

4 June 2008

This bearded vulture has developed an incredibly cunning method of eating carcass bone marrow – although patience is a virtue as this bone breaking technique can take seven years to perfect! Another amazing nature video from the wild African desert. From the BBC.

From BirdLife:

Saving the vultures of Saudi Arabia

By Dr. Mohammad Shobraq, 21 Dec 2016

An overview of the vulture species that nest in Saudi Arabia, the threats they are facing and what BirdLife is doing to help them.

Vultures are one of the most threatened families of birds in the entire world and their decline has been shockingly rapid. Some species in Africa and the Indian subcontinent have declined by over 95% in the last few decades, a rate faster than even that of the Passenger Pigeon or Dodo.

The biggest driver of these declines is human impact; either by poisoning (either intentional or otherwise) or from persecution. As a result, many old world vultures are now Critically Endangered – meaning they are at risk of going extinct in our lifetimes.

And while vultures may not be the most sympathetic-looking of birds, these efficient scavengers are vital in preventing the spread of disease, locating and picking clean carcasses before disease spores can develop. Thus, their demise leads to economic, social and environmental problems.
How do vulture declines affect humans?

Vulture populations are currently collapsing at an unsustainable rate across Africa and the Middle East, largely due to poisoning – either as an unintentional consequence of farmers lacing cattle carcasses with poison to deter predators from livestock, or more intractably, intentionally, as poachers poison elephant carcasses to kill vultures, as the sight of circling vultures overhead alerts authorities to the poachers’ illegal activities.

Their decline mirrors that of an earlier decline of vultures on the Indian subcontinent, which occurred due to widespread use of a veterinary drug, diclofenac, which proved toxic to vultures. What subsequently happened in the Indian subcontinent should serve as a reminder to humanity of the importance of vultures to the ecosystem.

In this region, poisoning saw vulture numbers plummet from approximately 40 million in the nineties to up to about 10,000 individuals in 2003, which led to an increase in poverty and unemployment in India, where villagers used to clean the bones by feeding bone tissue to vultures, then grinding them and selling them once again as Calcium powder for the agriculture industry.

In addition to this, the disappearance of the vultures led to health problems due to an increase in the numbers of stray dogs, which moved in to take the place vacated by vultures in the food chain.

A study has estimated that the numbers of stray dogs surged by 5.5 million between 1992 and 2003. This rise in numbers led to a spread of rabies in rural areas until it became one of the most deadly diseases in India in recent years, with the number of dog bite casualties reaching about 40 million cases between 1992 and 2006. This in turn led to the increase of funds spent on covering health and social problems.

It is estimated that the associated health costs absorbed by the Indian government as a result of the decline of vultures between 1993 and 2006 amounts to US$34 billion.

In Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, the number of vultures have declined significantly. Of the five species recorded in the region, all are threatened; some at a local level, the rest on a global scale.

Lappet-faced Vulture

The Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus is one of the species that nests in the kingdom; but unlike the others, which lay their eggs on mountain slopes, the Lappet-faced Vulture builds its nests on trees. The kingdom contains the largest number of Lappet-faced Vultures of all the countries in its range in the region. Recent studies show that this species has disappeared from the Levant and its numbers have decreased in some areas of the eastern Arabian Peninsula – therefore it is now categorized as Endangered. The Lappet-faced Vulture has a powerful beak, which can cut the skin of dead animals.

Griffon Vulture

The Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus nests in mountain slopes along the Sarawat Mountains (Western Arabian Peninsula) and the mountains of Aja and Salma (Ha’il Region) and Tuwaiq Mountain (Plateau of Nejd). Additionally, migratory flocks arrive from Central Asia, Palestine and Iraq.

Egyptian Vulture

The Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus is also locally known as Al Alia by the people of the desert, and it has an old Arabic name, Al Anouk. Although it is known to nest in the kingdom. some migratory flocks arrive in order to spend the winter there, and some of them pass by the country during their journey to reach their wintering areas in Africa.

Bearded Vulture

Numbers of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetys barbatus have decreased in recent years and it is now endangered at the regional level (the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant). It may no longer nest in the kingdom.

Cinereous Vulture

The fifth species, Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus, is a migratory bird that arrives in autumn to spend the winter in Saudi Arabia.

Why are vultures declining?

To identify the causes of the deaths of vultures in the world, I would like to start mentioning the main reason, which drew the world’s attention to this issue, behind the decline in numbers of these birds in the Indian continent which was the use of human medicine to treat animals.

Studies carried out by biologists and veterinary doctors showed that the cause of the deaths, after analyzing many samples of dead vultures, was the use of the Diclofenac by livestock owners used to ease the pain of the cattle. When cattle dies, vultures feed on them, leading to kidney failure and death. The use of Diclofenac is now banned in India.

Unfortunately, despite the knowledge of this problem in many countries, the medicine is still used in European vulture-range countries such as Italy and Spain.

There is a strong opposition by environmental organizations, including BirdLife, to stop the use of this medicine to protect European vultures populations.

As previously mentioned, poisoning is also a major threat to vultures. In Africa, some large farm owners put poison in carcasses to kill lions and hyenas – vultures then swoop in to feast on the carcass and are also killed.

In recent years, illegal elephant and rhinoceros poachers have started poisoning animal carcasses in order to kill vultures. Vultures use their incredible sight to swiftly recognize the location of fresh carcasses, and the sight of circling vultures can alert the guards of the poachers’ location.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, scientific studies conducted by researchers from the Saudi Wildlife Authority indicate that a huge number of deaths of vultures come as a result of poisoning.

Another reason that has led to the deterioration of the number of vultures in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world is pesticide spraying. Vultures, despite their stomachs’ impressive ability to digest the tissue of the animal that has died as a result of viral or bacterial diseases, are vulnerable to the toxic chemicals used in insect eradication. Deaths of Griffon Vultures have been recorded in Saudi Arabia in regions where pesticides are used to control populations of desert locust.

Other causes of the deterioration are disturbances to nesting sites, especially those that nest in trees like the Lappet-faced vulture.

Compounding these issues, vultures are late bloomers; the Egyptian vulture doesn’t reach maturity until it is three, and others reach it at the age of 11 years, such as the Lappet-faced Vulture. It also tends to only lay one egg at a time, so it can take struggling vulture populations a long time to bounce back even after rigorous conservation work.

The incubation period for the chick lasts between 9-12 months, meaning that the reproductive period, for certain types such as the Lappet-faced Vulture, requires a significant effort by the parents. Therefore, the inconvenience of nesting disturbances can affect the reproduction of these birds and might lead in lack of production thus resulting in a decrease in their numbers.

Finally, another threat is poorly-planned powerlines, windfarms and roads, which result in the death of thousands of vultures across Europe and Asia every year.

BirdLife will continue to work together with key organizations to develop a multi-species action plan for vultures that defines clear conservation and management actions for all threatened vultures.