Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman faced widespread protests during his visit to London.
Protesters plastered huge billboards on buses and vans driving through the streets of London denouncing Bin Salman as a war criminal.
Human rights activists are appalled that Bin Salman, who is responsible for the slaughter of Yemeni civilians including children, should be invited to have lunch with the Queen. At least 13,600 civilians have been murdered since the Saudi-led war was launched three years ago.
Much of Yemen’s infrastructure including hospitals, schools, factories and grain storages have been bombed. The Saudis and their equally despicable allies have also imposed a siege of Yemen preventing much needed medicines and food reaching the people.
The siege has resulted in a cholera epidemic affecting hundreds of thousands of children. In Yemen a child dies every ten minutes because of disease and hunger. At least 22 million of Yemen’s 24 million people are suffering from malnutrition, according to the UN.
Some UN officials have said Saudi attacks in Yemen constitute war crimes.
Denouncing Bin Salman as the ‘chief architect of brutal war in Yemen’, peace activists and members of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) say they find it appalling that the British government would invite a man whose hands are drenched in the blood of innocent Yemeni children.
Of all Saudi officials, Bin Salman (BS) is directly responsible for the war in Yemen. As defence minister, the war is his to make, and end, if he wants. Yet he chooses to continue with a criminal policy of mass murder, destruction and starvation in Yemen.
Human rights groups have expressed grave concern that Bin Salman’s crimes have been facilitated by the sale of more than $6.4 billion of UK-made weapons to Saudi forces, including advance munitions and Typhoon fighter jets.
David Mepham, UK Director of Human Rights Watch, has said British supplied “weapons could be used to attack schools, hospitals, markets and mosques in Yemen.” In his article published in the Middle East Eye (March 06), he went on: “and when the Saudi-led coalition has already conducted scores of strikes that have violated the laws of war, many likely war crimes,” Mepham questioned the rationale behind British policy of supplying more weapons to a brutal regime.
“Human Rights Watch has documented 87 such attacks – Amnesty International, the UN and others have documented more. Moreover, none of these strikes have been properly investigated and no one has been held to account for the crimes committed,” Mepham wrote.
Like all Western regime, the Theresa May regime in London is also only interested in advancing the financial interests of death merchants. If that means a few million Yemeni children are starved to death, then that is considered a small price.
The Bani Saud are also notorious supporters of terrorists. Al Qaeda and its latest offshoot, Da‘ish are infested with Saudi citizens. Rapists, murderers and hardcore criminals were released from Saudi prisons in 2012 and sent to Syria in an attempt to bring down the government there.
Saudi Arabia also has one of the most appalling human rights records at home. Tens of thousands of political prisoners languish in numerous prisons. And the head choppers are busier than ever. More of these brutes are being recruited because of the number of executions taking place in the kingdom.
None of this bothers Theresa May. She stubbornly defends British-Saudi relations. “The partnership between the UK and Saudi Arabia already helps make both of our countries safer through intelligence-sharing which has saved British lives, and more prosperous, with thousands of jobs created in the UK and substantial opportunities for British companies in Saudi Arabia.”
So for her, Yemeni and Saudi lives do not matter; only British jobs and lucrative arms deals are important. Ms. May even had the gall to talk up the cosmetic ‘reforms’ that BS has undertaken.
“Saudi Arabia is changing. We have seen recent decisions to allow women to drive from June this year, a target for women to make up one-third of the Saudi workforce by 2030, and a move to develop sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism,” said Ms. May trying to put a positive spin on a despicable policy borne of greed.
There are, however, people in Britain that still have some conscience. Groups like Stop the War Coalition and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) appealed to supporters to make clear the “chief architect of Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen” was not welcome in London. Other groups that joined the protests include Global Justice Now, War on Want, Human Rights for Yemen, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Andrew Smith, spokesperson for CAAT, said: “The crown prince should never have been invited to Downing Street: he leads a regime with an appalling human rights record and has overseen the destruction of Yemen.
“The UK has armed and supported the terrible war since day one, and there is no doubt that arms sales will be top of the agenda [during BS’s visit]. Theresa May is putting the interests of arms dealers above the rights of Yemeni people.”
Maya Foa, director of rights group Reprieve, said: “Mohammed bin Salman’s long-overdue reforms in Saudi Arabia must not be used to mask the ongoing crackdown on the exercise of fundamental rights. Since his appointment as crown prince, the final death sentences of protesters, including a number who were children at the time, have been confirmed amid serious allegations of torture and an unprecedented number of executions.”
BS should be arrested during his visit to Britain and charged with war crimes. This will send a powerful message to all criminals masquerading as rulers in primitive kingdoms in the Middle East.