Activists block trucks at company transporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, demand Canada stop fuelling war in Yemen
Action Network and World BEYOND War Canada
HAMILTON, Ontario (January 25, 2021) —-Members and allies of anti-war organizations World BEYOND War and Labour Against the Arms Trade are blocking trucks at Paddock Transport International, a Hamilton-area transportation company involved in shipping Canadian-made, light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
The activists are calling on Paddock to end its complicity in the brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed almost a quarter of a million people, and calling on the Canadian government to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
“The demonstration is part of a global day of action against the war on Yemen featuring more than 300 organizations in 17 countries,” says Rachel Small of World BEYOND War.
“People across Canada are demanding the federal government immediately end arms exports with Saudi Arabia and expand humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen.”
Yemen today remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Over 4 million people have been displaced because of the war, and 80% of the population, including 12.2 million children, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. To add to the already dire situation, Yemen has one of the worst Covid-19 death rates in the world – it kills 1 in 4 people who test positive.
This humanitarian crisis is a direct result of the Western-backed, Saudi-led war and indiscriminate bombing campaign that has raged against Yemen since March 2015, as well as an air, land and sea blockade which prevents desperately-needed goods and aid from reaching the people of Yemen.
Despite the global pandemic and calls from the United Nations for a global ceasefire, Canada has continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has exported over $750 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, part of a $15 billion arms deal.
“Most Canadians don’t realize that weapons manufactured here continue to fuel a war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people,” says Simon Black, a professor at Brock University and member of Labour Against the Arms Trade, a coalition of peace and labour activists working to end Canada’s participation in the international arms trade.
“Countries like Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden have all cancelled their weapons deals with Saudi Arabia,” he says. “There’s absolutely no reason why Canada can’t do the same and help end this war.”
Light armoured vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, in London, Ontario, are being transported to port by Paddock Transport International, where they are loaded onto Saudi ships (see https://www.facebook.com/chris.hanlon.8626/posts/10157385425186615).
“A child in Yemen dies every ten minutes because of this horrific war. As a parent, how can I ignore that tanks made in Canada are rolling right by me on their way to the worst humanitarian situation on earth?” says Small.
“Working people in Canada want jobs that contribute to a better society, a clean environment and a peaceful world, not those that manufacture weapons of war and hurt and kill innocent men, women and children,” says Black.
“Canada must join other democracies throughout the world and immediately end its production and export of weapons to Saudi Arabia.”
UN agencies and humanitarian organizations have repeatedly documented that there is no military solution possible in the current conflict in Yemen. The only thing the constant supply of arms to Yemen does is prolongs hostilities, and increases suffering and numbers of the dead.
In September 2020, a report by the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen specifically named Canada as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen through ongoing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.
On September 17, the one-year anniversary of Canada’s accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of civil society organizations representing a cross-section of Canadian labour, arms controls, human rights, international security and peace organizations wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau reiterating their continued opposition to the Liberal government’s issuance of arms exports permits to Saudi Arabia. The letter was part of a pan-Canadian day of action against arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the second of its kind in 2020.
The ATT is an international treaty that governs the arms trade. It requires states to assess weapons exports and determine if there is a risk they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law. It also prohibits weapons exports to countries where there is a “substantial risk” they would undermine peace and security. Canada has been a state party to the ATT for one year and is legally bound by the treaty.
The September 17th letter to Prime Minister Trudeau was the fourth such letter raising concerns about the serious ethical, legal, human rights and humanitarian implications of Canada’s ongoing weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. The signatories have yet to receive a response from the Prime Minister or relevant Cabinet ministers on the matter.
Legal obligations under the ATT have not deterred the Liberal government’s support for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. In the same year that Canada acceded to the ATT, its arms exports to Saudi Arabia more than doubled, increasing from almost $1.3 billion in 2018, to almost $2.9 billion in 2019. Arms exports to Saudi Arabia now account for over 75% of Canada’s non-US military exports. Canada’s pledged humanitarian aid for Yemen, $40 million, pales in comparison.
Yemen Day of Action
(January 25, 2021) — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with US backing and support, have waged a brutal war on Yemen since 2014 with horrifying results.
• The war’s staggering death toll of over 100,000 people.
• The worst humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world according to the UN.
• An estimated more than 24 million people in the country, which was already one of the poorest on the planet prior to the war, in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021.
Today, we’ve come together in an internationally coordinated “Day of Action” on Yemen, with over 260 organizations across 17 countries participating. Together, we’re demanding:
- Stop all foreign aggression on Yemen
- Restore all foreign aid to Yemen and reverse the Houthi foreign terrorist designation
- Lift the blockade on Yemen and open all land and seaports
- Stop arming Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
During his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Secretary of State-designate Anthony Blinken said President Joe Biden’s administration would end US support for Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen. That’s great, but the new Biden administration has hundreds of issues pulling at its sleeves. We need to make sure the voices for Yemen are heard loud that the time for action is now to ease the tremendous suffering.
The United States is uniquely positioned to be able to ease the suffering in Yemen. As newly elected President Biden works to undo some of the worst policy courses, Yemen should be at the top of his foreign policy list. The reasons go on and on.
In addition to those that perished as a direct account of the fighting, thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease, and poor health.
Almost 10 million Yemenis are considered “one step away from famine.”
An estimated 2 million children are acutely malnourished, including almost 360,000 children under five years old who are struggling to survive.
With only half of the country’s 3,500 medical facilities fully functioning, almost 20 million people lack access to adequate healthcare. And almost 18 million do not have enough clean water or access to adequate sanitation.
The urgency is real. Yemen truly can’t wait a minute longer.
The war in Yemen has killed over one hundred thousand people and devastated the country. The U.N. calls this the largest humanitarian crisis on Earth. Half the country’s people are on the brink of famine, the country has the world’s worst cholera outbreak in modern history, and now Yemen has one of the very worst COVID death rates in the world: It kills 1 in 4 people who test positive. The pandemic, along with the withdrawal of aid, is pushing more people into acute hunger.
During the course of the presidential campaign, you promised that when you were elected you would listen to the will of the US Congress and the American people and end our participation in the war. You also said that you would stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies and make them the ‘pariah’ states that they are.
It’s important that you fulfill these promises immediately. In addition, it’s imperative that you reverse the Houthi foreign designation, which will impede the flow of critical humanitarian aid and exacerbate the ongoing conflict, famine, and medical crisis. The people of Yemen are running out of time and need immediate relief.
The authoritarian governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE cannot be trusted with US weapons. They’ve used them to commit war crimes in Yemen, and they’ll keep doing so if you don’t put a stop to it. Use the power of your office to put an end to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis immediately.
Thank you for working for peace in Yemen,
P.S. Help spread the word today on social media. Here’s a toolkit you can use with graphics and sample posts.
- Restart US aid to Yemen
- Stop foreign aggression on Yemen.
- Stop weapons and war support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
- Lift the blockade on Yemen and open all land and sea ports.
- Restore and expand humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen.
- Hashtags: #YEMENCAN’TWAIT #Yemen #globalceasefire #STOPARMINGSAUDI
• Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/YACofCalifornia/