- Activist attempts to put Saudi General Al-Asserie under citizens arrest ahead of speech at London think tank
- Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes in Yemen
- UK has licensed £3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015
Quaker activist Sam Walton has attempted to put Saudi General Al-Asserie under citizens arrest for war crimes in Yemen. Asserie was on his way to speak to the European Council on Foreign Relations, where he was met with protests. Sam was forced away by Asserie’s bodyguards. Videos of the altercation are available here and here.
General Asserie is a spokesperson for the Saudi Coalition in Yemen and a senior advisor to the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister. Asserie has been the public face of the brutal bombardment. In November 2016 Asserie told ITV that Saudi forces had not been using cluster bombs in Yemen, only for Saudi forces to later admit that they had.
On Tuesday, Asserie met with MPs to brief them ahead of a debate on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
It has been over two years since the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen began. Since then, 10,000 people have been killed and millions have been left without access to vital infrastructure, clean water or electricity. An estimated 17 million people are food insecure and require urgent humanitarian assistance.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:
- £2.2 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
- £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
- £430,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)
Sam Walton, who attempted the arrest, said:
Asserie represents a regime that has killed thousands in Yemen and shown a total contempt for international law. I tried to arrest him because of the war crimes he has overseen and propagated for, but he was surrounded by bodyguards who roughly forced me away. Asserie shouldn’t be welcomed and treated like a dignitary, he should be arrested and investigated for war crimes.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
General Asserie is a mouthpiece for a devastating bombing campaign that has killed thousands of civilians and destroyed vital infrastructure. He should not be getting invited to address parliamentarians and think tanks to whitewash the atrocities that are taking place. The voices that need to be heard are those of Yemeni people who are victim of a humanitarian catastrophe – not those that are inflicting it. If the UK is to play a positive role in bringing peace then it must end its complicity and end the arms sales.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, was at the protest. He said:
The Saudi regime has an appalling human rights record domestically and internationally. It tortures Saudi people and has supported crackdowns all over the Middle East, including Bahrain where Saudi forces have helped to suppress the peaceful pro-democracy movement. Asserie has been central to the regime and to whitewashing its terrible crimes.
The legality of UK arms sales is currently the subject of a Judicial Review, following an application by Campaign Against Arms Trade. 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 if the exports are compatible with UK and EU legislation. The verdict is still pending.