Zarah Sultana in the British Parliament:
On the morning of August 9th 2018 in Dahyan , Yemen, a group of school children were on a day trip.
On their way, their bus driver stopped at a market to pick up water for the children. Then, Mr Deputy Speaker, the bus was hit by an airstrike. At least 40 children were killed, along with a dozen adults. A further 63 people were injured. The bomb had been dropped by Saudi jet, whose authorities later admitted that there were no military targets in the area.
The airstrike was a mistake they said. Mr Deputy Speaker, this is just one of countless examples of apparent war crimes that have been committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
It is a conflict that has now lasted 5 years. More than 100000 people are estimated to have been violently killed in that time and the war has triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Last week the UN warnes that more than 20 million Yemenis are facing starvation, including 10 million children.
80% of the population is now dependent on aid. And now an estimated 1 million Yemenis have Covid-19.
Mr Deputy Speaker, what utterly shames this House, what should be a national scandal, leading the frontpages of newspapers every single day, is that these war crimes and this humanitarian crisis would not be possible without British and American support.
As an expert on war has observed, bombs supplied by Britain and America, are dropped from planes built by Britain and America, flown by pilots trained by Britain and America, and kept in the sky with British and American maintenance.
This war would not be possible without this support. These violent deaths would not occur without this support. And a humanitarian crisis on this scale would not have happened were it not for this support.
Since the war began, the UK government has issued arms export licenses worth £5.3 billion to the Saudis.
In that time, figures revealed in response to a written question I put down, show that the ministry of Defence has recorded 516 known instances of alleged breaches of international law. And yet this summer, the government decided that this violations are not systematic, in spite of their repeated, consistent occurrence, and so it resumed granting export licenses to the Saudis.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this war could have been stopped by the British and American governments. They could have withdrawn their support. They could have stopped selling the weapons, stopped training the pilots and stopped maintaining the planes.
But they haven’t. The British and American governments have put the profits of arms dealers first. They’ve put their alliance with the Saudi dictatorship ahead of basic human rights of the Yemeni people.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this government likes to boast that Britain upholds peace and justice on the world stage. Its record in Yemen is the latest example of what a cruel joke this really is. This government is deeply complicit in this war and in pushing Yemen to catastrophe.
So my message is simple: stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Stop your support of this horrific war. And truly stand up for peace, justice, and human rights on the world stage.