By World BEYOND War, March 28, 2023
From March 25-27, peace groups and Yemeni community members marked 8 years of the brutal Saudi-led intervention in the war in Yemen by holding coordinated actions across Canada. Rallies, marches and solidarity actions in six cities across the country demanded Canada stop profiting off of war in Yemen by selling billions in arms to Saudi Arabia and instead take decisive action for peace.
“We are protesting across Canada because the Trudeau government is complicit in perpetuating this disastrous war. The Canadian government has the blood of the Yemeni people on their hands,” emphasized Azza Rojbi, antiwar activist with Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, a member of the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network.. “In 2020 and 2021 the United Nations panel of experts on Yemen named Canada as one of the states fueling the ongoing war in Yemen because of the billions in weapons Canada sells to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the controversial $15 billion deal to sell Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia.”
“Yemen desperately needs humanitarian aid, most of which cannot enter the country because of the Saudi-led coalition’s ongoing land, air, and naval blockade,” says Rachel Small, Canada Organizer with World Beyond War. “But instead of prioritizing saving Yemeni lives and advocating for peace, the Canadian government has focused on continuing to profit off of fueling the conflict and shipping weapons of war.”
“Let me share with you the story of a Yemeni mother and neighbor, who lost her son to one of these airstrikes,” said Ala’a Sharh, a member of the Yemeni community at the Toronto rally on March 26. “Ahmed was just seven years old when he was killed in a strike on his home in Sana’a. His mother, who survived the attack, is still haunted by the memory of that day. She told us how she saw her son’s body lying in the rubble of their home, and how she was unable to save him. She begged us to share her story, to tell the world about the innocent lives being lost in this senseless war. Ahmed’s story is just one of many. There are countless families across Yemen who have lost loved ones in airstrikes, and many more who have been forced to flee their homes due to the violence. As Canadians, we have a responsibility to speak out against this injustice and to demand that our government takes action to end our complicity in this war. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions of people in Yemen.”
Two weeks ago, a Chinese-brokered deal restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran raised hope for the possibility of establishing a lasting peace in Yemen. However, despite the current pause in bombings in Yemen, there is no structure in place to prevent Saudi Arabia from resuming airstrikes, nor to permanently end the Saudi-led blockade of the country. The blockade has meant that only limited containerized goods have been able to enter Yemen’s principal port of Hodeida since 2017. As a result, children are starving to death every day in Yemen, with millions malnourished. A staggering 21.6 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, as 80 per cent of the country’s population struggles to access food, safe drinking water and adequate health services.
Read more about the petition delivery in Montreal here.
The war in Yemen has killed an estimated 377,000 people to date, and displaced over 5 million people. Canada has sent over $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia since 2015, the year the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen began. Exhaustive analysis by Canadian civil society organizations has credibly shown these transfers constitute a breach of Canada’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which regulates the trade and transfer of weapons, given well-documented instances of Saudi abuses against its own citizens and the people of Yemen.
In Ottawa Yemeni community members and solidarity activists gathered in front of the Saudi Embassy to demand Canada stop arming Saudi Arabia.
The Days of Action to End the War in Yemen included solidarity actions in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Waterloo, and Ottawa as well as online actions, coordinated by the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network, a network of 45 peace groups. More information on the days of action is online here: https://