Australia: Stop supplying military exports to countries committing genocide in Yemen!

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‘Man-made’ humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi-led war in Yemen which began in 2015, is being called the ‘world’s worst humanitarian crisis’ (International Rescue Committee). With over 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, 56,000 people killed and 11 million on the brink of starvation, this war has been catastrophic. According to Save the Children reports, 80,000 children under the age of 5 may have died from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) between April 2015 and October 2018.

While the blockade is killing some through starvation, others are dying at the hands of Saudi airstrikes. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have accused the Saudi led coalition for war crimes and for its use of ‘cluster munitions, lethal explosive weapons banned under international law’ (Amnesty International). It has been estimated that since 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has conducted ‘18,000 airstrikes, one-third of which have hit non-military targets’ (International Rescue Committee).

Australia’s complicity

Australia continues to support Saudi Arabia both diplomatically and militarily. According to the DFAT website, ‘Australia and Saudi Arabia enjoy a friendly relationship’ as well as being Australia’s ‘second largest trading partner in the Middle East region’ (DFAT).

On a militarily perspective, the recent release of Internal Defence Department documents and parliamentary hearings reveal that ‘since the beginning of 2016, Canberra has granted at least 37 export permits for military-related items to the United Arab Emirates, and 20 to Saudi Arabia’ (ABC News). These weapons are going into the hands of people who are disproportionately killing innocent children, women and bombing hospitals, schools and homes.

In addition, Australian mercenaries have been fighting alongside the Saudi coalition. Australian major-general Mike Hindmarsh was leading the UAE forces on the ground in Yemen, and countless other Australians are working with the Saudi-coalition under private military contractors (ABC News).

What we are demanding?

  • A halt of arms and military assistance to Saudi Arabia and members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
  • Reconsider Australian-Saudi relations
  • Raise the Yemen crisis in Parliament

Australia Director of HRW Elaine Pearson has said, “Australia should impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Saudi Arabia until Saudi Arabia not only curtails its unlawful airstrikes in Yemen but also credibly investigates alleged violations.”

Diana Sayed, the crisis campaigner at Amnesty International Australia further stated, “Australia is obliged under the Arms Trade Treaty not to authorise weapons transfers to countries where there is an overriding risk these weapons could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law. By transferring conventional arms to Saudi Arabia, Australia may indeed be in breach of the Arms Trade Treaty.”

As one Yemeni child dies of starvation every 10 minutes, we are running out of time to make a difference (UNICEF). Countries like Germany, Norway and Belgium have already cut off arms supplies to Saudi Arabia because of human rights violations in Yemen (Washington Post). It’s time for Australia to do the same. Pledging certain amount of aid to Yemen, while continuing to profit off this war is not good enough. We need direct, strong and vocal statements which hold the invading forces in Yemen accountable. We need action from our government that doesn’t display hypocrisy but true concern for the circumstances of the dying Yemeni population. It is evidently known that the war in Yemen would end tomorrow if Western support was removed, therefore your support of these demands could greatly alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.  Let’s ensure that Australia stands on the right side of history!