Saudi royal air force kills Yemeni school children

This video says about itself:

Saudi bombs unlawfully targeting Yemen schools – Amnesty

12 December 2015

Saudi Arabian airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen have deliberately targeted schools, killing students and making education impossible for many children, a new report from Amnesty International suggests.

Published on Friday, the report claims 34 percent of Yemeni children have not been to school since the conflict began in March. Some 1.8 million children in the country do no attend school, and many have been killed in airstrikes supposedly targeting rebels.

During the nine month conflict, 5,000 people have died and 27,500 have been injured. The war has also devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, with hospitals and roads destroyed, making humanitarian aid difficult to deliver.

In the report, titled ‘Our kids are bombed: schools under attack in Yemen’, Amnesty investigated five airstrikes which took place between August and October 2015 in Hodeidah, Hajjah and Sana, and appear to have targeted schools.

Amnesty says the strikes were unlawful because they targeted civilian objects and “disproportionately harmed civilians and civilian objects in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack,” as well as failing “to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives.”

Five people were killed and 14 injured in the strikes, as well as disrupting the education of 6,550 Yemeni children.

Amnesty says UK and US companies are complicit in the illegality of the airstrikes as both countries sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.

“Under Article 6 of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which came into force in late 2014, a country is prohibited from authorizing an arms transfer if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms would be used in the commission of attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party,” the report warns.

Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International, said airstrikes against schools are depriving Yemeni children of a normal life and the right to education.

“Schools are central to civilian life, they are meant to offer a safe space for children. Yemen’s young school pupils are being forced to pay the price for these attacks. On top of enduring a bitter conflict, they face longer term upheaval and disruption to their education – a potentially lifelong burden that they will be forced to shoulder.”

Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) told RT the UK must stop trading arms to Saudi Arabia to prevent further incidents occurring where civilians are killed.

“This is another sign that the UK’s arms export system is broken. For decades the UK has focused on pouring arms into the Middle East and one of the results of that is the humanitarian catastrophe being unleashed on Yemen,” he said.

“The UK needs to end arms sales to Saudi and revoke all licenses for arms that are being used in Yemen. By continuing to arm and support the Saudi bombardment the UK is complicit in the destruction taking place,” he added.


From MSF/Doctors Without Borders:

Yemen: At least 10 children killed and three wounded while walking back home from school in Taiz

21 January 2016

Testimony by Michele Trainiti, MSF project coordinator in Taiz, Yemen.

“We arrived to Al Hurair area, in Al Houban quarter in Taiz town on Tuesday 19 January after receiving a call from a contact in the area, saying that an airstrike had affected children and a teacher and they need our support in treating the wounded people.”

“We rushed to the area, which was near the frontlines that surround Taiz city, to provide medical assistance to the wounded people. According to two mothers of the two wounded girls and some other bystanders, 10 children and one teacher died and three injured in the attack … Apparently the kids were walking back home from school when the airstrike took place.”

“One mother said, the children were coming back from school when they passed by a tank and they heard the whistle of a bomb coming. There was a big explosion and the kids were pushed up in the air. Aisha, my daughter can’t remember anything after that.”

“The area is a dangerous frontline with heavy and continuous clashes. When we arrived, we saw that it’s an empty land that has no constructions on it. We only saw a burning tank and few destroyed notebooks on the ground and papers everywhere. People in the area said the wounded children were transported to Al Rufai hospital.”

“On our way to the hospital we found two families on a motorbike with two injured girls discharged by the hospital and on their way home. The kids were still covered in blood; they had shrapnel wounds from the blast. They were in pain and one of them was in a clear state of shock. We discussed with the family, and found out that the children did not receive tetanus vaccines, therefore we decided to refer the two wounded girls to the MSF mother and child hospital in Taiz.”

“The wounded girls spent the night in our hospital for observation and today we decided to refer them to a Gulf hospital that has good surgical services because Aisha (13 years old) has a foot fracture and is in need of a surgical intervention to stop the continuous bleeding in her left leg, while Ashjan (7 years old) has a large foreign body in her knee that appeared to have entered via her upper posterior thigh and needed surgical removal. Both mothers are very anxious and worried about their children’s status.” Another sad example of how civilians are caught in the middle of this ongoing indiscriminate war.

Wounded Yemenis scared of going to hospitals, as Saudis bomb these

This video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi Arabia Bombed ‘Doctors Without Borders’ & Schools In Yemen

12 January 2016

On Sunday, a hospital in northern Yemen supported by Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym, MSF) was bombed, killing at least five people and destroying several buildings that were part of the facility. Ten people were injured in the attack, including three of the group’s staff.

Read more here.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Attacks on hospitals mean people in Yemen are now too scared to go for treatment, MSF says

The international humanitarian-aid charity says hospitals have become ‘targets’ in ongoing conflict

Adam Withnall

People in Yemen have stopped going to hospitals because they are being seen as “targets”, a charity has claimed.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said the latest bombing of the Shiara hospital in Saada, which killed six and injured seven, was part of a “worrying pattern of attacks to essential medical services”.

Juan Prieto, general coordinator for MSF’s projects in Yemen, said more than 100 incidents involving hospitals meant people were scared to visit them for all but the most serious emergencies.

“Medical facilities that should be places of healing for the population, no longer seem to be safe for the patients or for the medical staff operating in them,” he said.

“People still consider hospitals a target and try to avoid them as much as possible. The only cases that we are receiving are emergencies and mass casualties following attacks.”

MSF health workers returned to work at Shiara hospital as soon as it was confirmed the attack was over, Mr Prieto said, in spite of the fact that it has been hit by missiles or air strikes three times in the last year alone.

Staff and patients alike feel “uneasy and threatened” because of the failure to protect medical facilities from the ravages of war, he said.

“Nevertheless, our staff have returned to their positions albeit apprehensively. They are more determined than ever, given the situation in the country and the specific needs in Razeh, to continue working for the population.”

David Cameron defended Britain’s support for Saudi Arabia in its country’s widely-criticised Yemen campaign on Monday. …

Yet even as he spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reports were coming in that Saudi-led air raids had struck a group of civilian police buildings in Sana’a.

At least 15 police officers were killed and more than 20 were wounded, according to local medics and residents.

British government-Saudi Arabian government relations

This video from the USA says about itself:

As Saudi Arabia Executes Sheikh al-Nimr, Will U.S. Respond by Cutting $50 Billion in Weapons Sales?

4 January 2016 – After Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday along with 46 others, protesters in the Iranian capital of Tehran responded by torching part of the Saudi Embassy. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia responded by severing ties with Iran. With Saudi Arabia and Iran backing opposing groups in Syria and Iraq, and on opposite sides of the conflict in Yemen, we examine how this will impact both regional tensions and the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Under the Obama administration, the United States has entered a record $50 billion in new arms sales agreements with the Saudis.

“If the Obama administration wants to show its displeasure with this execution and try to bring an end to the war in Yemen, there’s got to be a distancing from Saudi Arabia, beginning with cutting off some of these arms supplies,” says William Hartung, senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor and director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. We also speak with Toby Jones, an associate professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University and author of “Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia,” and with Ali al-Ahmed, the founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs.

By Felicity Arbuthnot in Britain:

Britain and the Saudis: allies in atrocities

Thursday 14th January 2016

PRIME Minister David Cameron’s government can claim absolute consistency in just one policy: towering, jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

They follow in Tony Blair and his tantrum-prone, nail-biting successor, Gordon Brown’s footsteps as they attempt to market potential war crimes and illegal assaults as democracy-bringing, despot-vanquishing acts of mercy.

Recent events have again highlighted their contempt for human life, human rights and international law.

On Saturday January 3 Saudi Arabia announced it had executed 47 people.

Last September Saudi Arabia was elected chair of the UN human rights council panel that appoints independent experts, due (according to the Guardian) to Britain’s “secret vote-trading deals with Saudis to ensure both states were elected to the [council], according to leaked diplomatic cables.”

This was “after Riyadh sanctioned more than a hundred beheadings so far [in 2015] — more, it is claimed, than Islamic State [ISIS].”

So much for the integrity of the British and UN institutions.

According to legal action charity Reprieve, the: “executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. The bodies were then hanged from gibbets in the most severe form of punishment available in the kingdom’s law.”

Amnesty International is specific: “The death penalty breaches two essential human rights: the right to life and the right to live free from torture. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.”

Reprieve has now updated executions in Saudi Arabia for 2015 to “at least” 158 people. Among 2015 highlights of the country’s justice system include a 19-year-old woman gang-raped by seven men, subjected to 200 lashes and jailed for six months. Moreover, her lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem was banned and had his professional licence revoked.

The response to this barbarism from Britain, which has enjoined in the destruction of the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria in the last two decades in the name of freeing citizens from “regimes” who “kill their own people,” was expressed by Foreign Office Minister Tobias Elwood as “disappointment.”

Invited on the BBC’s Today programme on January 8 to condemn the primitive inhumanity of the executions, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declined, faithfully echoing Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by stating that those shot, beheaded and hung from gibbets were “terrorists.”

As Reprieve has pointed out, “of those facing execution in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the vast majority — 72 per cent — were convicted of non-lethal offenses … while torture and forced ‘confessions’ were frequently reported.”

Further: “Far from being ‘terrorists,’ at least four of those killed were arrested after protests calling for reform — and were convicted in shockingly unfair trials. The Saudi government is clearly using the death penalty, alongside torture and secret courts, to punish political dissent.

“By refusing to condemn these executions and parroting the Saudis’ propaganda, labeling those killed as ‘terrorists’, Mr Hammond is coming dangerously close to condoning Saudi Arabia’s approach.”

He was not alone. UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon was merely “dismayed,” on the day of the mass murders, however when the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked by protesters enraged at the killing of respected cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Ban “deplored the violence.”

Masonry clearly has far higher value than mortality at UN headquarters.

Four days later when the Saudis were accused of an attempt to bomb the Iranian embassy in Yemen and dropping (US-made) cluster munitions in a populated area, Ban ignored the embassy attack and was merely “troubled” and expressed “concern” about the latter, in spite of saying that “use of cluster munitions in populated areas may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature.” Britain was blind, deaf and mute.

US President Barack Obama’s spokesman referred to a “list of concerns” regarding Saudi Arabia’s shooting and head-chopping rampage, confirming gently that “mass executions would rate highly in that list of concerns.”

For most in the real world it would “rate highly” in horror, outrage and unequivocal condemnation with immediate imposition of draconian trade and travel sanctions and withdrawal of diplomatic missions as has been meted out to countries for considerably lesser outrages, indeed even imagined ones, think Iraq and “weapons of mass destruction.” The White House was though also very exercised by the “violent” attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Well it would be. Forget concerns about tyrants who “kill their own people.” Last November alone the US administration approved a $1.29 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. This was despite concerns about the country’s interference in Yemen.

Raed Jarrar, government relations manager for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) points out that it is “illegal under US and international law to transfer weapons to human rights abusers, or to forces that will likely use it to commit gross violations of human rights.”

Moreover, “there is documented evidence that such abuses have been committed by almost all US allies in the region.”

According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), “David Cameron has overseen £5.6bn of military licences” to Saudi Arabia.

CAAT demands that due to the “mass executions and bombing of Yemen, the UK must stop arming Saudi Arabia,” which it says is by far the largest buyer of British arms licences included fighter jets, tear gas, military vehicles and targeting equipment. Sixty-two per cent of British adults oppose the sales.

CAAT’s Andrew Smith states: “The Saudi regime has a history of locking up bloggers, executing critics and cracking down on dissent. Despite this they can always rely on getting almost uncritical support from countries like Britain that prioritise arms company profits over human rights.”

Smith emphasises that British “bombs and fighter jets have been central to the destruction of Yemen. As long as Saudi Arabia enjoys the political and military support of the most powerful Western nations, then it will continue oppressing its own population and those of neighbouring states.”

The British government may though at least finally be held to account, hopefully setting a precedent.

Lawyers working for CAAT have called for a judicial review challenging the government’s decision to export arms to Saudi Arabia.

A letter sent to the government has asked Business Secretary Sajid Javid to comment within 14 days on whether it will:

– Agree to suspend licences for the export of military equipment and technology to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen pending the outcome of a full review.
– Agree not to grant further licences for the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia pending the completion of such a review.

Rosa Curling of law firm Leigh Day, representing CAAT, said: “The UK government is under a clear legal obligation to ensure any military equipment and/or technology exported from this country to another, is not being used in breach of international humanitarian law.

“Given the widespread and credible evidence that the Saudi authorities are breaching their international obligations in Yemen, we can see no credible basis upon which the UK government can lawfully continue to export arms to them.

“We hope our client’s letter will cause the government to reconsider its position and suspend all licences with immediate effect, pending a proper investigation into the issue.”

Those executed or threatened with death in Saudi jails were not, of course, waging war against Allah. Some were simply availing themselves of the human right to write, blog and protest in the country of a Western ally — a West which, with the UN, shames all in its selective attitude to humanity and human rights.

UK’s soft diplomacy approach to Saudi Arabia is not enough, say families of juveniles still on death row. Exclusive: Families of three juveniles on Saudi death row say nothing has changed and they still have ‘the sword over their necks’, despite apparent UK intervention: here.

What’s the real story behind Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric al-Nimr? Here.